How do you build a best-in-class sales enablement function and where does sales enablement even start?

There are as many definitions of “sales enablement” as there are for “success.” While it could involve technology or training, one factor is always seen across verticals and industries: Sales enablement acts as the glue between sales and marketing. The best performing sales enablement functions provide your sales teams with the right people, process and technology to meet the modern buyer.

Aberdeen Group released a research-driven report on modern sales enablement best practices. Here are some of the main takeaways: 

Fully Sales-Enabled

Aberdeen Group‘s research defined fully sales-enabled sellers as those with these two characteristics:

  1. Sales teams had easy access to a centralized repository of coachable, best sales tactics/activities/messages. These reports are based on analytics of wins and losses.

  2. The entire team had tools and technology to specify how customers engaged with company content so sales could prioritize work on their best prospects.

Sales And Marketing Alignment

The best-in-class sales enablement teams are an extension of sales teams. The study found that companies with this kind of content strategy in place excelled at creating a reliable pipeline with higher revenues. In fact, the best-in-class companies outperformed the competition by 2X in total company revenue, 2X in the average deal size and nearly 3X the growth rate for CRM adoption. Sales-enabled sellers massively outperformed their competitors in lead conversion as well.

As the glue between sales and marketing, sales enablement helps measure the effectiveness of content assets, messaging and collateral that are sent to buyers. There is a significant uplift with organizations have have solidified this alignment. Below details the sales enablement process and the results from formally tracking what marketing content is most and least often presented by sales reps to their buyers.

This graphic demonstrates the connection between sales performance metrics and marketing ideas:

Achieving that kind of success, though, took a sustained commitment to align the efforts of marketing and sales teams. The result was that marketers learned to measure the content’s effectiveness based on sales KPIs, while sales reps gained the facility to deliver the right content to buyers at just the right moment. For successful alignment between sales and marketing, learn more about the topic here in this eBook here co-authored by Jill Rowley.

Aggregation, Engagement and Analysis

The most effective sales-enablement initiatives succeed by improving the aggregation, engagement and analysis of their content. Sales-enablement leaders shortened search times by aggregating their content under criteria such as industry, buyer persona, product or stage along the buyer’s journey. The next step was to measure content engagement using marketing automation tools. The results were then made freely available to sales reps and channel partners to help them plan their next steps.

Analysis of this data allowed sales reps to “adjust the sails” around messaging to buyers. Aberdeen reported that best-in-class companies are 33 percent more competent than their competitors at deploying content using predictive analytics. They can “better understand what content to use, when to use it, who to use it with (e.g., aligning content to buyers and stages of the marketing/sales funnel) and how to present it.”

Most Likely to Close

While great sales enablement may come in many forms, what really matters is its effect on profitability. Fully sales-enabled sellers deliver more successful closes and waste less time.

Aberdeen’s study demonstrated that best-in-class companies perform 21 percent better than competitors at adding extra resources to deals most likely to close. By 13 percentage points, they lead in with a better understanding of which opportunities are most likely to close. Perhaps most importantly, sales-enabled leaders are 26 percentage points better at coaching and developing their people in a winning sales process.

Sales enablement’s greatest gift may be time itself. Half of the best-in-class firms were able to demonstrate a strong competency in avoiding losses due to sales that ended in “no decision.” That’s a 30 percent advantage over the industry average of 20 percent. By delivering better intelligence about where preferred buyers are in the purchase decision, fully sales-enabled teams are better able to avoid slow downs and devote their time to successful sales.

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Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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