It will please some of you to know that I almost titled this article “Sales Enablement AF.” Begrudgingly decided against it because I realized that no one truly cares.
But I care and here’s why you should as well…
As I sit at an international cafe in Las Vegas, lightweight eavesdropping on languages and narratives I do not understand, I start to relate each plot to sales. I think to myself, “if I were to sell something to these folks, how would I do it?” and “Why do I love this function so much?”
Personally, I believe sales challenges your character and it begs the question of, “How do you make people love you?”
Think about it. It doesn’t matter if you have a dope product or service ever. Without enabling your sales team to master the technique of winning people’s hearts, you will lose out on sales opportunities.
We live in an – oh look a squirrel! – fast-paced world, which is a good enough reason to get your low-ranking reps up to speed as quickly as possible. To maintain a high-performing sales force, you need an enabling culture that nurtures attitude development; a series of focused behavioral skills that inspire at just the right time.
It simple: if you want to accelerate sale revenue, you must have a repeatable, scalable process that can be applied across your entire sales team. You need to augment the program with training, tools and human resources. Listen, I won’t pretend business blogging is not boring. In fact, most SaaS products are quite drab. In this article, I’ll share 3 reasons why the heck sales enablement matters – and how sometimes it can even be fun.
Let’s begin with the question, “How do we make people love our products and services?”
Sales leaders would say, “streamline sales rep training.”
Here at ClosedWon, we say “Enable people because people buy from people they like.” Internet protocol has changed the game, buyers bypass early sales cycles. By the time visitors get to meet with your salesperson, they most likely read about you, know what you offer, and your competition. Heaping pressure particularly on newer members of the team to learn products quickly and jolting senior members to ante up.
The first contact is rarely an exploratory meeting. Rather, reps often have to confront detailed questions regarding product specs, complex custom requests and may even be called upon to troubleshoot equipment onsite. Imagine that! Courtship is almost non-existent. It’s like having your ideal lover accosting to ask, “How will you benefit me? What are your advantages and how do they fit my needs?” while they poke around at your body parts. It’s daunting if you get thrown into the shark tank without resources to keep you alive.
People enablement is sales enablement targeting your team’s core character. Members of the sales team should rely on sales enablement to reinforce training materials while at the same time giving them just-in-time access to information that the more experienced salespeople might have. Without daily tips, tricks and pseudo-life coaching your sales team is paralyzed.
I still recall my first Account Executive role at Yelp. The first day of class our trainer explicitly exclaimed, “Leave your drama at the door.” And the following 365+ days after that moment my manager enforced the theme with “Oh. Cry me a river.” The directors, managers, trainers and senior AEs all had the same message, “Stop complaining or get the f*ck out.” The message to improve my attitude was echoed every day for 5 years, consistently. For me, it was fun to challenge my young adulthood paradigm. Boy oh boy, was I a brat. If it weren’t for Yelp’s sales enablement program, I’d probably still have a bad attitude.
Ultimately, not all folks bring the same amount of good character, experience, and skill to a sales job. A bad attitude and extended learning curves will derail any sales opportunity. In fact, a bad attitude alone can ruin a life forever. With greater reason, the need to integrate psychology and positive behavior with sales enablement practices are crucial to every business.
Sales enablement matters because it will guarantee a consistent brand message that will unite your audience’s perception of your company, rather than from the product or service itself.
Let’s use Yelp again as an example. Every time a prospect asks, “What is Yelp?” We’d say, “Yelp connects your business to potential customers.” 9/10 times I’d hear ‘not interested. *click*
Over the years, I learned to tell stories like “I passed by your storefront the other day and tried your sandwich. Loved it! I tried inviting my friends but when I checked your Yelp listing, I found Ike’s Place advertising on your page so we all ended up going to Ike’s place instead. I still love your sandwiches and I want to help.” Immediately, I’d get connected to the business owner, establish trust and sign them up on ad impressions with a one-call close. Storytelling improved my closing ratio. Let’s be honest, closing deals is the ‘most fun’ of them all.
If you have a big organization, it means your sales operations will span a number of cities, states, countries or even continents. The challenge is that you need to have every one of your reps singing from the same songbook, and consulting from the same playbook. Digitize each narrative and conduct training sessions where storytelling is the primary focus. This can’t be possible if you don’t have a digital repository. Luckily, there are tons of sales enablement software out there. All these platforms run on a DAM (digital asset management system) which will help your company move beyond the traditional “accordion file” mentality.
By transitioning to digital files, organizations can better organize, collaborate, store, retrieve and share mission-critical data. The sales cycle also becomes shorter and people spend less time researching. Dovetail a sales enablement software system with traditions of anecdote and your sales team will have all the latest success stories, use cases, and pricing promotions at the tip of their fingers. Real-time access to product specs, pricing, and payment options are helpful but without storytelling, the result can have the difference between nailing that sale or not.
Another mantra at Yelp was “Trust the Process.” Sales Enablement is the combination of processes, tools, technologies, and training with the ultimate goal being to drive more closed-won deals. And to measure any performance, core KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are benchmarked with industry standards. The Yelp KPI average was “3-5-3.” After 3 months, the 3-5-3 became a fun game to me. I saw it as a hit or die kind of day. So for 5 years, I’d either hit and go home or over-deliver with 5-7-5. Schedule a call with me here and I’ll tell you what these numbers mean (shameless plug). In all seriousness without KPIs, you’ll never know how effective your sales enablement adoption and implementations are.
Below are 3 use cases that will help you measure and implement the effectiveness of your sales enablement program.
Are members of your sales team following the sales enablement process you’ve detailed? Processes fail because of human nature. If your team does not know why they are doing it, they won’t apply it. You need to understand the percentage of your team that is following the plan, whether it’s selling or prospecting. At least 90% process adherence rate is mandatory.
Answer 5 questions when solving for process adherence:
If they are following the processes, be confident that your salespeople are putting your assets and tools to use, and marching to the beat of one drum. Chances of you hitting your numbers are high because your team members are synchronized to leveraging assets when the moment calls for it.
Conversion rates are important because it allows you to lower your customer acquisition cost. If you optimize conversion rates, you fundamentally increase revenue per prospect, acquire more clients and expedite end goals of increasing sales velocity. On average, sales folks convert roughly 7% of quality meaningful conversations to sales forecast, which means every conversion rate must be evaluated. In my opinion, 7% is unremarkable, so make yours 10%. #raisethebar
Here are 10 conversion rates that will help you optimize performance:
Pivoting and tailoring your sales enablement program for behavioral training depends on your understanding of the root cause of poor and therefore winning performances.
Evaluate database hygiene, monthly. Apply the 80/20 rule. Be sure that 80% of your data are up to date. Failure to comply will be counterproductive to your sales enablement program. The sales enablement plan is designed to foster and support fantastic activity for your sales team. Sadly, 30% of sales activity is wasted due to inaccuracies. Dirty data is like a disease. First, you see email bounces, then you notice that you are getting flagged for spam. Finally, you get blocked by servers and quarantined from sending emails.
A misspelled email is a missed sales opportunity and a fake email is terribly consequential. A dirty strategy is destined to sink the ship. Don’t dilly-dally, clean up your CRM database today.
Productivity is a no brainer. Instead of admin tasks, research and pointless meetings, reps are able to find answers and apply fruitful case studies to overcome objections. Further, onboarding new reps are far more efficient with a proper sales enablement platform than scheduling a full week of orientation to teach processes and methodologies, over and over again. A backfire will occur especially if you are a startup and do not have a sales enablement leader assigned to mentoring the new kids on the block.
Empowerment is another advantage of implementing a sales enablement program. Students educating potential customers to make smarter recommendations due to transparency and eagerness to earn trust for your company. Students are constantly looking for ways to validate themselves and those who are encouraged to teach – rather than sell – will win.
Mastering a repeatable process means simplified flows. The final advantage is simplicity. The buyer journey is complex and providing value in the simplest form is an exceptional advantage. By creating a simple and unique experience, potential clients will purchase from you time and time again. Get rid of jargon, encourage layman’s terms. Apply simplicity to methods, content and flows. Instead of 5 clicks, get to 1 click. Instead of 5 paragraphs, use 3 bullet points. Instead of complex hierarchical approval processes, use the email bcc/cc.
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So there you have it, 3 reasons why sales enablement matters. If you have another reason, you’d like to share please drop some knowledge in the comment box below. Otherwise, I’d love to learn more about your sales enablement woes – schedule a call with me here.