This book from Wiley provides everything you need to get started with sales enablement.
You know sales enablement is important and choosing the right technology to help power your team is critical. Whether sales enablement technology is a new initiative for your organization, or your current solution isn’t getting the job done, you need key decision makers on board with your vision for success.
Are you ready to make your case?
This post provides tips and ideas to help you demonstrate the value, gain buy-in from key stakeholders and ensure successful adoption.
1. Do Your Homework
People don’t always like change, whether it involves a new technology or not. You can counter this by presenting a well-informed proposal to your decision-makers. You should know enough about the market to answer questions and explain how your proposed solution will be more effective than the status quo.
For example, if your company already uses a corporate learning tool (like an LMS), you may want to be able to clearly articulate why a sales enablement solution is better equipped to meet the unique learning needs of your salespeople. (This article can help.)
It’s also helpful to know how various sales enablement tools differ from each other. Some enablement solutions place an emphasis on sales content authoring and buyer engagement, whereas others focus more on readiness, training and coaching before a buyer interaction takes place. (And some, of course, do both.) Your proposed solution should make the most sense for your current business needs.
Depending on your priorities, other areas you may want to research include security features, integrations and partnerships, ongoing support, and the reliability and reputation of the vendor.
2. Identify Your Needs
Before you can make the case for a sales enablement and readiness technology you must first identify what your needs are. The need for increased sales productivity may seem obvious but drilling down further will help you build an even more powerful case. Where are the gaps in your current sales enablement strategy?
As an example, let’s assume you’ve estimated your reps are spending five hours every week looking for content to prepare for calls. Wouldn’t you rather they spend those five hours actually preparing or engaging in other selling activities? Five hours may seem like a drop in the bucket but think of how many additional hours are wasted on calls your reps aren’t prepared for – the right technology can help.
Once you pinpoint the specific needs your organization has, use this knowledge to do some initial research into appropriate solutions for your team.
3. Collect Proof Points
Information that puts your organization’s unique needs into context will only make your business case more compelling. Consider looking for proof points in the following areas:
Analyst reports and independent research can serve as further validation for investing in a sales enablement solution. They can also help provide additional insight into the market and different product capabilities when making your selection. For example, if readiness and training are among your enablement priorities, reviewing reports from firms like Forrester and Aragon Research can be valuable sources of third-party information.
Case Studies & Testimonials
Obvious? Sure. But testimonials remain among the most requested proof points when making the case for a new technology. If possible, focus on identifying success stories from companies with similar use cases or that fall within your same general vertical. Those success stories will best illustrate how your company can and will utilize the solution.
In some cases, vendors may also be able to help you put actual dollar signs on the projected value you can expect from the solution. (Think “ROI Calculators.”) While this level of proof is not always a requirement to make the purchase, this type of data can be very helpful when selling a new solution to higher level decision-makers like heads of sales or even your CEO.
4. Gain Executive Stakeholder Buy-in by Aligning with their Goals
It never hurts to have the backing of a key executive stakeholder. This could be a VP of sales enablement, head of sales or your chief revenue officer. This executive will help champion your business case all the way to the final decision and will have a key stake in the success of the investment.
Meet with your prospective sponsor armed with the proof point you previously collected to show them how you expect to improve onboarding, accelerate time to productivity, drive message consistency and achieve the maximum yield per salesperson with the investment in a readiness technology.
If a goal is to speed up new hires’ time to productivity, show how the solution can streamline your onboarding program, get sellers ready faster, lower training costs, or even improve the employee turnover rate.
For example: If you have 20 new sales reps, and on average it takes reps three years to get to an output of $100,000 in annual revenue before they plateau. In other words, it takes your reps three years to get to maximum output and fully ramp up. If your technology can help speed up this level of productivity to one year, you’d be able to generate $1 million more from those 20 sales reps during their first year with the company.
These are the types of benefits key executive stakeholders will have difficulty saying no to.
The right sales enablement solution can help in a variety of ways. If you truly understand a solution’s strategic use cases you will be well-versed in the different ways investing in a sales enablement tool can solve multiple challenges and deliver a return on your investment.
5. Identify and Gain Support from Less Obvious Stakeholders
The decision to purchase the right sales readiness technology shouldn’t be made in a vacuum. In addition to your executive sponsor and members of the sales team, be sure to engage anyone and everyone who has a stake in making the adoption and implementation a success. It’s likely these are not the people you initially expect. Do your diligence ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard later. This typically means involving human resources, marketing, or anyone else who contributes to the sales learning process.
It is also important to identify any systems you may need your technology to integrate with, and who else will be using the new solution. You’ll want to ensure you get the support of these stakeholders as well to address a potential roadblock prior to purchasing your new solution.
For example, the CFO may require cost justification for the new expense. If your enablement tool is expected to integrate with your CRM, then a Sales Operations leader may have questions about how the solution fits within the current technology stack. Depending on your organization, it’s possible even IT will require answers about the security and reliability of the platform.
Ask around and identify these additional stakeholders early, so you and your vendor can present the product in terms they care most about. (Tip: Only include the most critical information; too much detail may overwhelm them and in turn, weaken your case.)
6. Think Like a Salesperson
Think about a typical sales process. The more your reps know about the prospect’s challenges and goals, the higher the likelihood of closing the deal. The same is true when “selling” a new technology internally.
Record feedback from your sales team and observe the day-to-day challenges the right sales enablement solution can help solve. Maybe the learning content they have access to is out of date and the platform will make it easier to update existing resources. Or maybe sales managers struggle to provide effective coaching, and the tool you choose will simplify the process.
All this information can highlight potential gaps a sales enablement tool could address. It will also help you develop internal champions to support your business case in front of leadership. If a sales manager is frustrated with her inability to see which reps have completed mandatory training activities, and you’re giving her a solution to this problem, her support will help you sell the solution internally.
7. Present Your Business Case to the Decision Maker(s)
You’ve identified your needs, collecting proof points and got buy-in from all necessary stakeholders– now you just have to present to the primary decision maker(s). This could be your entire executive team, the head of your department, or maybe your CFO.
The key thing to remember is to only present the most important information and at the highest level. Start by comparing the status quo with what your sales productivity would look like when supporting by this new technology. Explain how sales readiness is not just about purchasing a tool or platform but instead will become part of your culture. Show how you have created a change management game plan around the cultural transformation to ensure successful adoption.
Finally, just because you are going into the conversation with a plan to present only the necessary details at the highest level don’t be blindsided by more specific questions. Some questions to prepare for include:
- How is this going to help sales hit their targets?
- What kind of ROI should we expect to see?
- How long will it take to implement?
8. Set Your Technology Up for Success
Of course, the buying decision is only half of the success equation. You’ve made your case and got approval now is the time to create a project plan to put your sales team in a position for successful adoption right out of the gate.
Your project plan should include:
- Criteria for success
- Realistic timelines
- Key points of contact
Also, make sure your champions understand and are able to convey how sales readiness is about a mindset shift – not the purchase of a new tool. The learning process is never over. Reps should be ready and prepared to come to every single sales conversation with the knowledge to win the deal—and with the right technology in place, sales leadership will have the confidence reps are prepared to succeed.
Sales enablement and readiness technologies provide powerful solutions to the challenges impacting B2B sales productivity. Success starts with doing your homework and choosing a solution to best fit your team’s needs. This will make it easier to get the support of an executive sponsor and other key stakeholders – but your job doesn’t end there. To ensure successful adoption of your new solution, create a project plan to keep everyone on the same page. With these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to an airtight business case and a more productive and efficient sales force.