Part VI: A Word of Advice about Sales Enablement
For companies looking to adopt the discipline of sales enablement or to increase the effectiveness of an existing team, the Four As of enablement are assess, audit, align and action. By adopting a continuous process of addressing each aspect, an organization will quickly improve its content effectiveness and discover a more energized and successful sales force.
The first step in sales enablement is to assess the effectiveness of available content and to understand which collateral the sales force uses and why they don’t use the other pieces. It also means identifying the sales process and the target personas in preparation for updating or creating new content and the supporting framework for sales enablement.
Next, every piece of collateral should be inventoried and graded in terms of effectiveness and usability. If a piece cannot be clearly identified as useful to a specific persona or a specific step in the sales process, it should be retired or revamped.
The audit should also identify gaps in coverage so that missing items likely to have an impact on sales can be given a high priority on the editorial calendar. In addition, the effectiveness of the content management and delivery systems should be evaluated.
After formulating the sales enablement strategy and plan, the entire company needs to be aligned to the new, more disciplined content creation process. This may take some time as departments that have been used to creating content independently from the marketing team may take some time to adjust, but the impact on sales will make the adjustment worthwhile.
Without alignment, the company will continue to create content haphazardly. The content may or may not enable the sales force to move the deal along the sales process. It may or may not help the customer to realize the value of the product under consideration. Unless the strategy, content and the delivery are aligned, there will be waste in the process that reduces sales force effectiveness and does not help the company achieve its goals.
Finally, it is time to take action to improve the effectiveness of the sales enablement content and for the sales force to go into action using new pieces as they are released. It’s important to ensure continual communication between the sales force and the sales enablement team during all phases, but especially during the action phase.
Sales enablement must find effective ways to notify the sales force that new content is available, and they must educate the reps on how and when to use the new pieces most effectively.
The sales force must provide feedback to sales enablement about their success or issues with collateral and content, including any customer feedback. Effective content management tools will help here by measuring content usage, but specific feedback is extremely valuable even on an anecdotal level.
When working properly, the sales enablement process is a closed loop feedback system that enables the company to reach higher and higher levels of achievement. Each iteration of content helps hone the message and improve its resonance with the prospect so that the sales force is enabled to orchestrate the sales process in a structured and predictable way.
Sales enablement may be a new name for a new business discipline, but it’s not actually a new concept. However, the confluence of content management and control technologies with the shift in buyer education and research preferences means that the time is right for companies to adopt a structured sales enablement program.
Companies that decide to move forward with adoption of sales enablement will find that their marketing budget goes further as their content becomes more effective and reusable across platforms and channels. In addition, they will enjoy more predictable sales cycles and a more even revenue stream. Their sales force will be more successful, reducing turnover and helping to increase the effectiveness of its marketing and sales enablement disciplines. While it takes some effort to adopt a disciplined sales enablement program, the positive results far outweigh the initial efforts.
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