Part I: What is Sales Enablement
Sales enablement has two major purposes. The first is to educate the sales force so that they understand how to sell the product or service effectively. Sales enablement education touches on:
- Product specifications
- Industry requirements or challenges
- Specific target buyers and their unique challenges or needs
- Competitive offerings and comparisons
- The value and benefits of the company’s offering
The end result of the sales enablement education process is a confident sales force capable of holding detailed business oriented conversations with executives and end-users alike. The enabled sales force has the necessary facts at its fingertips to discuss business or industry challenges, product specifications and the true value and benefit of a product in the context of the customer’s business and individual role.
The second major goal of sales enablement is to engage the customer or prospect with the product and brand so that they can envision solving their problems using that particular product. Sales enablement also helps customers overcome concerns and or move past roadblocks during the sales process by helping them to build a business case or justification for the investment.
In today’s competitive environment, the days of one size fits all content are long over, and the sales force is no longer viewed as a necessary source of detailed product information. In the current environment, the enabled sales force requires content precisely matched to a prospect’s business issues and challenges. The new generation of sales professionals must establish themselves as peers of executives and business leaders so they are perceived as a source of insight and thought leadership rather than simple product specifications. This requires marketing support that is laser focused on creating content that both customers and the sales force find educational, useful and actionable.
Next up, check out part two in our six-part series to learn why you need sales enablement.
Part II: Why You Need Sales Enablement
Professionals recommend that content creation should represent almost a third of an organization’s marketing budget, yet the amount of wasted time, money and effort is staggering when you consider that historical stats show that approximately 80% of the content created by marketing departments is rarely or never used by the sales team. With marketing resources stretched thinner than ever before, it is incredibly wasteful to use those scarce resources on content that doesn’t move the sales process along. However, since it is difficult to attribute a lead or a sale to a specific piece of content, most marketing leaders continue to operate blindly rather than basing content decisions on measurements of success.
Companies continue to flounder, creating content in response to random requests rather than according to a planned strategy. As a result, content does not tell a consistent story, address a specific buyer’s need or engage the customer with the product or brand.
In the not so distant past, sales people proved their value to customers and prospects through the value of the information they had about product capabilities and specifications. But customers and prospects today have access to a great deal of information about product capabilities and competition before they ever speak to a sales person. As a result, sales people must prove their value in other ways, specifically showing an understanding of the challenges facing a customer and demonstrating how a product addresses these needs.
Demonstrating value requires new ways of engaging with customers and presenting solutions in a way that makes their value clear. Customers expect salespeople to be able to address their specific needs and to demonstrate solutions to their specific challenges. Sales enablement provides the tools that reps need to gain this credibility and earn customer trust.
Traditional forms of content such as white papers, presentations or brochures have rarely had this targeted and engaging quality. According to Amanda F. Batista from IDC3, B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies has cost them upwards of 10% or more of revenue per year, or $100 million for a billion-dollar company. Clearly, effective sales enablement is a worthwhile investment.
See part three on the challenges of creating effective content.