Sales Enablement Consulting Lessons

A sales enablement consultant helps clients apply a combination of content, coaching, training and technology to achieve significant improvements to staff productivity and revenue results. We know this because this is our profession.

We also know that taking the typical tools-focused approach generally falls short of expectations. So, in this article we're going to share lessons that we've learned from over a decade of experience. We will also share our integrated approach of engineering the tools to achieve the most important performance and revenue outcomes.

But first some context. Before jumping into tools or outcomes, we need to describe this process improvement discipline in a way that it is defined and measurable. And while there is no industry consensus definition, the description below is a generally accepted among professional circles.

Sales enablement is the process of delivering information, content, guidance, and tools to sellers, so they improve their performance and grow company revenue.

Successfully equipping the sellers with these assets and guidance facilitates customer engagement. And it's the engagement that's proven to improve staff productivity, conversion rates and revenue growth.

But success is elusive for many.

Taking the all-too-common tools approach delivers an IT solution to sellers that don't really care much about IT. Sellers care about closing deals and making quota. So, a better approach is to directly align enablement capabilities with the most important outcomes.

The Four Building Blocks

To start, understand that salesperson enablement equips salespeople with content, coaching, training and technology.

Sales Enablement

The first sales enablement consulting lesson is that each of these capabilities are much stronger together than apart. Also, these four building blocks can be mixed and matched to deliver progressively bigger revenue impact. Here's some additional insights.

1

Content

McKinsey advises that reps waste 10 to 20 hours per week searching for content and then curating or recreating content because they can't find what they are looking for. The problem is a double whammy as SiriusDecisions reports that Marketing goes to great effort and expense to create content, but 60 to 70 percent of it goes unused because it's not found.

A content management system (CMS) is the best tool to centrally store and manage content. However, to proactively deliver the right content to the person at the right time, you need to know where each sale opportunity is in the sales cycle. That information is in your CRM system.

CRM systems can take content accessibility to the next level of contextual content delivery. Several CRM applications can be designed to proactively suggest scripts, collaterals, artifacts, insights, offers or other assets based on a combination of customer type, persona, sales step, sales cycle stage and other factors. This push-based technology facilitates guided selling, eliminates search time, and better leverages the company's content.

According to Gartner, by 2026, employees will reduce the time spent looking for information by 50% as information finds them in the context of their current work activity.

2

Coaching

Business to Business selling is a team sport. And the team needs a coach.

Good managers recognize their greatest impact is to grow the contributions of each of their direct reports and achieve a workforce multiplier effect. But a frequent coaching misstep is incorrectly allocating limited time among sales performers.

Most managers spend the most time coaching the highest and lowest performers. While all sellers need coaching, investing more time with the middle performers will deliver the greatest upside financial impact.

Sales coaching research shows that active coaching delivers significant and sustained performance improvements in the areas of opportunity conversions, quota attainment, year over year revenue growth and staff tenure. No other productivity investment delivers a bigger financial impact than effective coaching.

Sales Coaching Maturity Model

According to CSO Insights Fifth Annual Seller Enablement Study, "For the last five years, sales coaching has had the greatest impact on win rates and quota attainment."

3

Training

Sales training is area of frequent disappointment.

While training classes are informative, the problem is that about 94% of the information presented is forgotten within 36 hours.

There are two solutions for this problem.

First, instead of the traditional classroom style training, consider shorter, bite-sized and on-demand online training delivery. We often use a concept we call Just-enough-learning which makes shorter learning sessions available with each sales cycle step or based on sales cycle events. We also use something we call Just-for-me-learning which delivers specific role-based content to targeted audiences (which often aligns with a day in the life approach for each role.)

The most successful training programs are designed for the employee experience and change the objective from delivering training to measuring learning. We prefer the four-stage progressive training model of See it, Know it, Try it and Do it.

Second, make training experiential.

New information, instruction or content is applied when it's embedded into the company's sale methodology or selling process. Even better, when you insert new training topics into best practices or Sales Playbooks, and leverage your CRM system to deliver them at the right step in the process, they become routine and effectively used.

4

Technology

Many companies make the mistake of acquiring sales technologies individually or as a response to the problem of the day. That ends up creating fragmented applications, data siloes and inconsistent user experiences. It also increases IT costs for system integration and maintenance.

A better approach is to plan a holistic sales technology stack in place of ad hoc and piecemeal systems.

RevTech Stack

Start with CRM as your underlying platform. Then leverage the platform's ecosystem (i.e., Salesforce AppExchange or Microsoft AppSource) for best of breed apps that are pre-integrated and share consistent user experiences. They also share common tools such as workflow builders, predictive analytics or artificial intelligence (AI).

Recognize the most empowering sales force enablement technology is AI. Most CRM platforms have built-in AI that can harvest sales cycle data, customer data and historical data of comparable customers and opportunities. It then applies this data to determine things like which leads are qualified, which buyers will buy, and which customers are at risk of churn.

AI can maximize the three prior building blocks to proactively push content, coaching and training for each opportunity at exactly the right points in the sales cycle. It can detect customer sentiment to improve customer engagement. It can surface in-the-moment buyer insights, suggest the best content or make next best action recommendations.

AI brings it all together.

The Top Outcomes from the 4 Building Blocks

The three most impactful business outcomes that can be accelerated and amplified as part of a seller enablement program are described below.

Sales Enablement Benefits
  1. Improve sales force productivity

There are three ways to improve selling productivity. You can redesign processes to be more streamlined and effective, apply technology to automate manual activities and develop analytics to work smarter.

Enablement programs typically pursue the first two. They often automate processes to inject content or insights when and where they can be applied.

One caution though, you need to streamline processes before you attempt to automate them. There's no sense in automating inefficient business processes.

We often use Agile Value Stream Mapping as the design method to streamline selling processes. It can quickly identify idle periods which extend process durations and designate process steps by value or non-value. It's particularly well suited to eliminating non-value-added steps and activities.

Once processes are effective you can use a combination of your CRM application, Sales Force Automation (SFA) software and selling enablement apps to integrate your sale methodology, automate your sales process and deliver content, coaching or training as guided selling recommendations.

  1. Increase salesforce win rates

Poor closure rates are often a consequence of earlier actions and not the real problem. For example, if marketing is acquiring leads that don't fit the company's Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or otherwise passing unqualified leads to the salesforce, conversions will suffer.

The selling process must be looked at holistically to understand how improvements in any of the upstream actions will yield downstream improvements.

Enablement programs often start with content that includes the 360 degree customer view as that data can be applied in a high number of selling scenarios.

360 Degree Customer View

Enablement apps can also play a big role. For example, Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) apps can greatly reduce the time needed to create complex quotes, perform route planning to maximize customer visits and use digital contracts with e-signatures to accelerate closure.

Other enablement apps will likely be baked into your CRM platform and include things like AI-calculated lead scores, next-best-action recommendations and automated delivery of contextual content or artifacts based on position in the sales cycle. They also facilitate team selling with enterprise social networks such as Salesforce Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Increasing closure rates delivers significant and sustainable revenue growth. It is also more effective and less costly than just playing the numbers game of increasing the volume of sales pursuits.

  1. Build a high-performance team

The two most influential selling enablement programs to raise team performance are sales coaching and sale methodologies.

Coaching applies structured conversations to develop each seller's full potential and grow the cumulative revenue impact of the team. These dialogues seldom tell staff what to do and instead focus on helping them develop the right skills and reinforce the behaviors that deliver results.

When part of an enablement program, coaching is more than just a sporadic activity. It's initially delivered in the onboarding process, continuously delivered as part of a recurring program, and with the help of sales automation technology, proactively delivered in a just-in-time format.

Sale methodologies integrated within CRM software accelerate selling cycles by providing road maps to get to the destination in the shortest time. Using CRM workflow to facilitate processes saves time, creates consistency among reps, provides measured visibility and enables predictability.

The Point is This

The top sales enablement consulting lesson is that selling enablement assets and tools are cool, but sales outcomes rule.

Avoid the temptation to start with tools and apps and then seek out problems they can solve.

Instead, engineer the tools and apps to deliver measurable and predictable revenue performance results. Only then will you succeed in getting the sales team to actually use the enablement solutions.

See the sales enablement consulting lessons that drive double digit improvements to team productivity and opportunity win rates.

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