March 26, 2018

Equipped and Empowered: Best Practices for Enabling Your Sales Team

Written by
Erica Karnes

By now, it’s no secret: sales enablement stems from quality content. And while the right materials at the right time can spark conversations and convert leads—even that isn’t enough on its own. Businesses vying for relevancy need sales teams capable of managing, distributing, and measuring such content. Whether you’re new to sales enablement, still hashing out the specific role of content within your organization, or a longtime industry guru, there’s always room for streamlining your content tactics and thereby optimizing sales enablement strategy.

Consider this

As a solid starting point, consider what matters most to your organization. When it comes to sales enablement, closed sales matter. For competitive companies, what matters can also include things like what sales are chased, and what challenges hinder growth. Businesses that can pinpoint what really matters can in turn consider many different perspectives on sales and sales challenges. In short, these teams can streamline processes, unify teams, and continue striving towards bigger, better goals as one cohesive force.

Sit down with sales, marketing, business leadership, sales operations, and sales enablement colleagues, and discuss where specific issues lie, as well as where untapped opportunities still hide. Ask for insights. Collect suggestions for moving forward from all points of the funnel: strategy, technology, process, and more. From there, you can begin mapping your sales team’s path to improvement.

Contextual challenges

Data doesn’t lie. The more you can use stats to support your answers, the stronger you can make your plan of attack. Ask your sales team the following:

  • Is the problem we’re being asked to solve recurring or new, broad or narrow?
  • How will solving it positively impact my sales and marketing colleagues, as well as my company?
  • Is it reasonable for sales enablement to be asked to solve this problem?
  • Is this problem being measured, and can we track improvement?

Ready, set, KPI prep

Frame your team’s priorities as specifically as possible. From there, present them, print them, update them, and be accountable to them. Know how every action drives sales at the end of the day. Prep your KPIs as such:

  • Review your current status: where your proposed KPIs are today relative to where they need to be.
  • Know where to find the raw data for your KPIs and how often it’s refreshed. Ideally you have full access to all the data points you need. If you don’t, ask for help to include these KPIs in a data visualization tool or in a dashboard within your CRM or sales enablement tool.
  • Ensure your KPIs align with your company revenue targets. If not, adjust accordingly. One of the last things you want is to actively pursue goals outside the primary focus areas of your sales and marketing teams. For example, KPIs aligned with revenue and conversions should be prioritized; those aligned with PR should have less priority.

But first, feedback

Successful sales enablement hinges on an open, honest feedback loop. Organize a system for collecting feedback from across your organization—starting with your sales team. Keep improvement tactics and an innovative enthusiasm in your back pocket—approach team members with an open curiosity, and be willing to really listen. For large or distributed teams, track progress in a project management tool with good collaboration features and dashboards. End-user surveys offer unique insights into sales enablement initiatives, as well as detailed requests concerning tools, techniques and personnel. Establish and uphold consistent times for feedback, sharing, and collective solution-seeking.

Across-the-board alignment

Sales and marketing teams often juggle competing interests and rarely have each other’s backs. Sales often claims marketing content is rarely applicable and impossible to tailor for maximum effect. Whereas marketing’s longstanding dispute is that content effectiveness results in poor ROI. Sales enablement offers the innumerable advantages of bridging both sides. For those working across both sales and marketing teams, consider the following:

Maybe content vs. money content

Look into the current content used by your sales and marketing teams. What’s working? What falls flat? What materials do you use most often, and why? Most importantly, figure out where sales creates their own content rather than requesting materials from marketing. Document all findings, and compare use rates with original expectations. A modern sales enablement technology offers a multiple-birds-with-one-stone approach. The right solution will measure content usage, customer engagement, and break down data via teams, geographic location, product line, and other custom key metrics.

Own it!

Delegating ownership and holding team members accountable ensures sales enablement success. If sales leaders take charge of implementing a platform that delivers the message, engages customers, and measures analytics, fellow sales team members can fully commit to the process. Likewise, marketing teams must be held accountable for maintaining high engagement and better-than-benchmark ROI.

Sharing is caring

Share data with everyone involved. Leverage your team’s technology platform to measure what content works, when it works, and why it works. Track which sales pitches seal the deal, and find out how customers engage with specific kinds of content. Work together with your sales reps to pinpoint patterns within the data and understand—as a team—why some content outperforms others. From there, offer an open-book transparency to the whole organization. Enable and encourage anyone, from any department, to read up on your findings and thereby elevate your business’ cohesive momentum onwards.

Maturity map

Remember—sales enablement strategy doesn’t overlook or exclude a detailed execution plan. Setting unrealistic or overly enthusiastic expectations for your team and company will quickly burn out your talent. Stay grounded as you shake out your strategy. Slower, calculated planning can be extremely beneficial at the end of the day. Sales enablement evolves in stages, and a vital component to mapping your sales team’s path forward requires recognizing where you’re at in the process.

While content remains the cornerstone of sales enablement, equipping and empowering internal teams is an integral piece to any strategic puzzle. Pinpointing goals and obstacles provides a great launching pad for businesses set on moving forward, and the right sales enablement solution can offer seamless strategy and communications across teams, departments, and leaders alike.

Erica Karnes is a content specialist for Highspot, the sales enablement industry’s leading platform for content management, customer engagement, and analytics.