This book from Wiley provides everything you need to get started with sales enablement.
Developing a sales enablement strategy is never easy – but it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve. With these 12 tips, you will be more effective in your strategic initiatives, onboarding, coaching tactics, and keeping your program fresh over time.
1. Start with a 100-day Plan
Whether you’re a new sales enablement leader or setting up a new program, it helps to go in with a plan. As an example, here is what your first 100 days might look like:
- First 30 days – Learning is the main objective to start. Go through the current sales onboarding process to learn about the company, culture, products, and industry. By doing so, you will be able to evaluate the training for new hires. Meet with key people across the organization to get clarity on their expectations.
- 60-day mark – Build on the foundation of the first month by reading up on key competitors, shadowing sales calls, and delving deeper into your current sales (and enablement) processes.
- Days 90-100 – Aim to have a detailed yet fluid plan of the projects that sales enablement will focus on in the next 6 to 12 months. Determine your success measurements and KPIs upfront and get buy-in from key stakeholders on your initial plans.
2. Know the Terminology
CSO Insights has defined sales enablement as “a strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and frontline sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.”
Sales readiness is at the core of a successful sales enablement program. It involves all the strategic activities designed to prepare sellers with the skills and messages needed to make the most out of every buyer interaction. Ultimately, it's what gets reps ready to sell.
Onboarding and training, content delivery, and coaching fall within the enablement and readiness buckets, as do trends like social selling and triggers for learning such as business transformations.
3. Find out how the best do it
It's essential that you establish what great enablement looks like for your organization, not only for your reps but for you as a leader.
Check out what leading companies are doing in terms of sales enablement and how they define success. Sync up with analyst firms or experts in the space and have them evaluate your maturity or tactics as a sales enablement department. Continuously iterate on your sales enablement initiatives and stay aligned with the needs of the sales organization and sales leaders. Their success depends on your success (and vice versa).
4. Hire the best talent you can find
The skills of sales enablement leaders and professionals can still be somewhat undefined. But here are the essential traits to look for when hiring:
- A strong sense of empathy (i.e., can they think like a salesperson?)
- Solid communication skills, not only for product and company information but to pitch initiatives and get buy-in.
- The ability to be both proactive and reactive, allowing them to respond quickly to situations while also thinking about what sales reps need before they need it.
- Previous sales experience is a plus but not always required (85% of enablement pros have worked in sales, according to SiriusDecisions, though others come from training or consultative roles).
5. Focus on the metrics that matter
To know if your sales enablement programs are working, you need to focus on the right data. Track activities across your teams to quickly see who’s learned the most, scored the best, finished the fastest, or missed the mark.
Analyze team-wide learning and coaching trends to diagnose skill gaps and determine if a rep has fallen behind, ultimately impacting performance in the field. Readiness scorecards give you the ability to prove to leadership your reps are ready, and your enablement programs are working.
Monitor key sales performance metrics (opportunities, pipeline, etc.) to diagnose problem areas, prioritize coaching efforts and motivate reps to improve. Go a step further by pulling in Salesforce data to track your team’s readiness activities alongside the sales KPIs that drive productivity. Gain unique insights into who on your team has the skills to succeed – and who still has work to do.
6. Assess – don’t guess
Don’t assume reps are ready for game time, only to have them practice and fail in front of a buyer.
Assessments help you figure out if reps are ready ahead of time. An effective way to test reps’ readiness is through video coaching activities where they’re asked to relay key information through a video response.
For example, reps can record video responses to situations involving negotiations, pricing, or competitors. Assessments can also involve reps recording their screens for a demo presentation or (of course) pitching your company and products.
7. Invest in enablement for managers
Sales enablement is all about supporting reps, boosting productivity, and increasing positive business outcomes. By developing an enablement program designed explicitly for managers you will help them become more effective managers and coaches to their teams.
For example, you can have a plan in place to "coach the coaches" by providing a playbook that includes tips on how to provide meaningful, constructive feedback to reps. You can also give new sales managers their own onboarding programs to develop a better understanding of the role and daily routine. If there's a new product feature release, create a training track for managers (before training reps) to ensure they master the material first, then reinforce the material when coaching their teams.
8. Harvest your organizational knowledge
Your top sales performers already have a wealth of expertise and best practices to share – find a way to capture them! Have sellers share examples of how deals were won, compelling pitch examples, objection handling, and more.
Sales readiness platforms like Brainshark make this easy. Reps can easily record short videos to be easily accessed and shared with the entire sales team. Vet the content to ensure the best examples are shared, and the content is of good quality.
9. Appeal to your reps learning style
Research shows many reps prefer informal, just-in-time training they can consume in “snackable,” bite-sized amounts.
Provide a healthy mix of formal and informal learning and make it readily available. You can incorporate leaderboards to drive internal competition and keep reps engaged. Reps are known to be ultra-competitive and like to be recognized.
10. Let technology do the work
Sales readiness technology can make life a lot easier for you and your reps. Consider solutions that allow for:
- Analytics to measure reps’ progress and overall team readiness
- Video coaching for practice, reinforcement, and assessments
- Easy creation and distribution of your custom learning content
- Integrations with systems sellers already use (e.g., Salesforce, Gong, Seismic)
If executives are part of the buying process, you can help them understand how the technology will help reps be more prepared to sell more and help contribute to the company’s bottom line.
11. Coach with a purpose
When coaching, it's important to have the key skills in mind you want reps to improve upon and give constructive feedback. That said there are some skills all reps should have, regardless of their industry. This includes time management, storytelling, active listening, objection handling, communication skills, and the ability to understand the buyer's needs. These are all great opportunities for coaching.
Make sure coaching feedback is sincere, specific, timely, and acknowledges the sellers' effort (not just the results). In addition, you can give reps something to strive for by providing examples of what good looks like.
Save time and simplify the coaching process even further with Brainshark’s unique engine for video scoring and AI-powered insights.
12. Compete against yourself
If you have nothing to compare your sales enablement strategy to, how do you know if you're successful? Set your benchmarks, align with sales goals, and review the metrics each quarter to see if you're meeting or missing the mark. Don't be afraid to stop doing something if it's not working.
Ask reps what’s helping them and what’s not. Look at your initiatives compared to the number of closed deals and whether those reps completed all their training and coaching activities. Ask whether people are aware of sales enablement’s initiatives and the impact; if they aren’t, inform them of what you’re doing and the results.