SalesHood - Sales Enablement Platform

How aligned is your sales enablement strategy with your sales and marketing leaders’ top go-to-market priorities?  It’s time to be proactive and refresh your sales enablement strategy. Enablement leaders should always prioritize keep their sales enablement strategy and team charter current and clearly communicated to stakeholders.  

 

In SalesHood’s Sales Enablement Leadership Course, Sheevaun Thatcher, VP of Global Digital Learning and Enablement at RingCentral shares what it takes to bring a strategic approach to sales enablement. Keep reading to find an overview of strategic sales enablement and expert advice on implementing this in your organization.

 

Sales enablement is an essential strategy for many companies, but the field has changed dramatically in the past decade. As technology and sales evolve, the process of equipping your salespeople with vital knowledge, messaging, and tools also needs to evolve to match expectations.

 

What was once a process centered on providing product training and marketing collateral is now a more involved endeavor that supports all aspects of your sales organization. That’s where strategic sales enablement comes in. But how do you make this a reality for your company?

 

In this blog, we’ll share an overview of strategic sales enablement, along with insights from Sheevaun Thatcher, VP of Global Digital Learning and Enablement at RingCentral.

 

 

What Does Strategic Enablement Mean?

 

You may already know that sales enablement is the process of aligning a sales organization around the customer and empowering your team to connect with them. Strategic enablement is the specific approach your company takes to provide the right content, in the right format, at the right time to help your reps sell.

 

 

What Is the Goal of Sales Enablement?

 

Good sales enablement drives revenue. The goal of sales enablement is to equip your sales team with the content, training, coaching, and technology they need to sell effectively. Achieving success with sales enablement can be challenging because every team is different. Leaders have to step up and dig into what their reps and customers need. How Do You Start Crafting an Enablement Strategy?

 

Each piece of sales enablement content you create and deploy needs to move your buyers through their unique buyer journey, from lead acquisition through close. More importantly, your sales reps need to understand the pathway. This requires constantly asking questions like: What are my buyers looking for? How can I provide them with highly personalized experiences? What are best practices for moving my prospects further down their path to purchase?

 

Knowing the answers to questions like these isn’t easy in an ever-changing environment. Your sales enablement strategy must include tools and resources to support your reps so that they understand the right steps to take. Your goal is to empower them to make the best possible decisions.

 

 

Four Things You Need to Develop a Sales Enablement Strategy

 

There’s no elevator to the top, you got to take the stairs, and Sheevaun took them all, for a number of years. She knew she needed to find a company that was looking to create some kind of enablement function to truly make an impact. Now, she leverages SalesHood to help her support enablement goals and her team.

Along the way, here’s what she learned about what it takes to successfully implement a strategic approach to sales enablement.

 

1. Executive Buy-in

 

You can have the best ideas, team, and products in the world, as well as incredible support. Still, if you don’t have a solid partnership with your stakeholders, it isn’t going to work. You need to have them on board before you build out your process. 

 

 

2. Skills and Competencies

 

There are skills that you can build over time, but there are several at the core of sales enablement that are must-haves. These are foundational skills.

 

Foundational Sales Enablement Skills:

  • Communicating
  • Content creating
  • Facilitating
  • Being a team player
  • Confidence
  • Authenticity 
  • Execution
  • Trust

 

There are also advanced and strategic skills that you can hone in on to increase your success.

Advanced Sales Enablement Skills:

  • Writing
  • Curriculum creation
  • Storytelling
  • Coaching
  • Listening
  • Achieving
  • Motivating others

 

Strategic Sales Enablement Skills:

  • Speaking
  • Program strategy
  • Executive gravitas
  • Understanding metrics & KPIs
  • Strategic planning
  • Culture building
  • Ability to be a visionary

 

 

3. Gravitas

 

True strategic sales enablement goes beyond where you are right now. You have to get down to business and be willing to ask yourself questions about the state of sales today and where you want to go.

These questions may include:

  • What are your metrics and KPIs?
  • What are the outcomes? 
  • How are we moving the needle?
  • What can we do to help performance go up?

 

You also need to believe that you are good at what you do. When you believe it, you’re knowledgeable and you walk into that room, people can feel it. This makes it easier for others to connect with you and believe in what you’re bringing to the table.

 

 

4. Finding the Why

 

For strategic sales enablement to be effective, you need information to help reps align with their customers. What kind of challenges are you trying to solve? What is your customer facing right now and what are their pains? Specifically, one of Sheevaun’s favorite questions to ask is: What does a year from now look like?

 

“I love asking this question. It’s a year from now and you’re on stage getting an award. What is that award? That will tell you more about the individual that you’re talking to than almost any other questions you can ask. That will tell you what drives them. Once you can figure out what drives them, you can figure out what you can do to support that.”

 

 

This context is critical to helping your sales team have more productive conversations. Organizations with sales enablement achieve a 49% win rate on forecasted deals, compared to 42.5% for those without.

 

It also helps your marketing team create content that makes sense and acts as an answer to the “why” you uncover. That way, your sales team actually leverages the assets that their colleagues in marketing spend so much time creating.

 

 

What Are the Pillars of Sales Enablement?

 

Sales enablement has many different components. Building a process that works for your organization requires you to evaluate what’s working right now and what isn’t. Then, you can fill in the gaps and better support your reps.

 

Here are the key components you need to have your eye on if you want to take a strategic approach. 

 

Sales Training

 

Any learning initiative that’s designed to improve the skills of your reps can be part of your sales training. The goal is to learn a better approach to interacting with potential customers, as well as the principles of salesmanship. While it may seem basic, it’s more important than many people realize. Research shows that most sales professionals forget at least 50% of what they learn in training programs in less than five weeks. 84% of that knowledge is lost after 90 days.

 

You can tailor programs to meet the specific needs of a business, or give reps a variety of courses to complete as they become relevant. Sales training programs should cover not only the mechanics of sales but also the psychological elements that play into buyer behavior. By ensuring that all reps and managers are up-to-date on sales techniques, businesses can create a more effective sales program and hit their numbers.

 

Content Management

 

This is a system for developing, storing, and sharing your sales assets. The sales assets can be created by marketing or product teams—or even by your reps themselves—and they contain content such as presentations, spreadsheets, case studies, demos, scripts, or any other resource that a rep might need when interacting with a buyer. But, to make the most of all of this content, reps must know where and how to access it.

 

Sales Metrics and Data

 

You can put together a great sales program, but numbers don’t lie. Reviewing metrics helps leaders identify areas where they need to focus their efforts, predict future trends, and measure individual performance.

This also helps you refine your sales enablement initiatives over time. You can use real-time sales data and the insights you collect to adapt to what’s happening in your business and with your customers. The information you gather will help you build out even better training programs.

 

Sales Coaching

 

Knowledge and content are both good, but for salespeople to achieve their goals, they need guidance. Coaching sessions that focus on your reps specific needs, strengths, and weaknesses play an important role in helping them make progress.

You want to provide a clear picture of what reps are doing well and how they can improve. Just a few simple shifts in process can be all that’s necessary to make a difference. You can read more about effective sales coaching and leveraging data in 5 Big Reasons to Enable Managers to Coach With Data.

 

When you can tell the story of why you care, your purpose, and why sales enablement is what you do, you can help people to understand the power of your approach. Breaking down this complex concept and creating partnerships within your organization is what’s necessary to drive sales forward.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

Sheevaun goes into more detail about all of the topics in this post in our Sales Enablement Leadership Course. Take a look at some of the key takeaways our learners were able to walk away with.

 

“Enablement requires knowledge of leadership’s goals and the ability to tailor the message to facilitate buy-in. This is challenging, but leadership must drive the change they wish to see and be the hammer when needed.”

– Meredith Luker

 

“The progression of skills and competencies at each level was interesting to see from a career progression standpoint. And the concept of a career path being a jungle gym was an interesting perspective.”

– Keith Bradt

 

“Partnerships from ALL levels are vital, especially the sales leaders supporting the relationship. You also need to speak the language of the customer at every level of the organization. Figure out their drivers and speak to them.”

– Kimberly Shernoff

 

Putting It All Together: Writing Your Charter

 

To solidify your strategy, it’s important to present the right plans and asks together to secure more investment. Show that your programs will move the revenue needle and impact business outcomes.

 

Sheevaun Thatcher shares: “Having a charter is critical for time management, personnel management, and GTM alignment. You can focus and you can share your focus and direction with others. It cuts down significantly on the requests to fix EVERYTHING regardless of whether they are the right fixes for the business.”

 

This means covering questions such as:

  • Who are your stakeholders and investors?
  • What are the top priorities of your c-suite?
  • How does your program align with the priorities of your top executives and go-to-market?
  • What are the top metrics and KPIs to benchmark, measure, and correlate?

 

You can use the answers to deliver a compelling statement that accurately describes the value of your initiative to stakeholders and investors.

 

Here are a couple of examples from professionals that took our course:

 

“Support GTM growth targets by equipping customer facing roles with the best practices, tools, knowledge, and assets necessary to reach these targets fast and effectively.”
– Noni Kofman

 

 

“Ensure global consistency in the sales process, training, and communications. Provide a foundation that makes it easier for sellers to have easy access to the latest information on services and tools, which ultimately enables them to shorten sales cycle time, drive more revenue, and increase retention/cross-sell and up-sell activities.”

– Sadie Zobelz

 

 

More Sales Enablement Resources

 

Looking for more expert insights on sales enablement? Check out these pieces of content from our team next.

 

What Is Sales Enablement?Click to read

6 Pillars of Intentional Sales Strategy and EnablementClick to read

Measuring Leading vs. Lagging Indicatorsclick to read

Sales Enablement Leadership CourseSign Up

 

About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $500M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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