Sales enablement is a term we are hearing more and more lately but what exactly does it mean and how can affect your business? In this article, we will address exactly what sales enablement is and what it is not, as well as identify five steps to kickstart your sales enablement program.

Simply put, sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales personnel sell more effectively. This doesn’t mean that the Marketing Department creates content and resources only to throw it over the fence to sales and say “Here you go. Good luck”. Just as important as the creation of content and resources is knowing how to strategically use these tools.

When building a really stellar sales enablement program, there are a few steps that you can follow to make sure that you succeed.

Step 1: Know your buyer

Shortly after moving from a customer support roll to the marketing team, I was given the task to create a sales enablement program. Although, I didn’t realize it at the time it turned out that having spent some time working directly with customers was huge advantage for me. I already knew our customers. I had talked to hundreds of them and knew their business, their pain points, their business structure and more. Knowing all of this helped me create a few personas. Personas are basically a character you create that represents your most common customers.

When creating a persona, you’ll want to gather information about their role, goals, challenges, company, watering holes (who they gather information from), demographics, shopping preference. etc. The more you know, the better. These personas will help you understand how to better sell to customers. These personas will help segment your prospect pool in order to create the content and resources the sales team can actually use.

Step 2: Know your sales process

“You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.” Knowing the sales process at your company is vital to creating an effective sales enablement program. Since the sales process was completely foreign to me, I started shadowing reps as they went through meetings, demos, and other daily activities. I talked to people other than the reps themselves. I listened to call recordings with prospects in different parts of the sales cycle.

Personally experiencing how your sales team works is incredibly important. It’ll help uncover the the good—and bad—of how they do work every day. When seeing behaviors that work, you can turn them into best practices. When you find things you don’t like, great! You’ve just identified an opportunity for sales coaching to drive improvement. Finding a mix of both good and bad should solidify your assumptions and help you focus on skill improvements that need to take place.

Step 3: Have regular communication between Sales and Marketing

If sales and marketing don’t hold a regular meeting with with each other, the enablement program will soon fizzle out. Just like a plane flying from LA to New York, if the pilot and the many instruments aren’t constantly correcting its course the plane won’t arrive in New York.

Holding a regular meeting with both teams to discuss problems and collaborate on solutions will better align the teams and ensure they are headed in the right direction. Don’t just collaborate through email. Face to face interaction will build relationship and trust. The cadence of this meeting may vary from weekly to monthly. But find one that works for your company and stick to it.

Gather feedback from each other. Sales knows why people buy or don’t buy. Marketing knows where the leads are coming from. Set common goals and agree to use the same terminology.

Step 4: Timing is everything

Once you’ve looked over the sales process, identify areas that take up time or delay the process.  You don’t want internal processes to deter the sale. This could be anything from time to first contact by reps, updating contact information, sending emails, time to get contract signed.

After I had learned the sales process, I realized that a portion of our quality leads were never contacted or took several attempts by the rep to schedule a demo. At that same time we had just added HubSpot Sales Pro to our sales enablement tool kit. One of the features of HubSpot Sales Pro is the ability to book a meeting through their Meetings feature. This cut down on the back and forth emails and calls to schedule a demo, and increased the number of scheduled and completed demos. Soon all our demo forms required the prospect to book a time. So don’t be afraid to automate certain tasks as long as it doesn’t jeopardize personalization.

Step 5: Make the most of your content

The first step here is to do a content audit. Find out what kind of content you currently have and what you still need to create. This content could consist of sales sheets, videos testimonials, sales decks, case studies, blogs, eBooks, white papers and more. Consider organizing the content by persona. Each persona may have their own set of needs, pain points, and preferences on how they consume content.

You may also consider organizing your content by where the prospect is in the buying funnel. Infographics and and blog articles are perfect for top of funnel leads, where case studies and sales decks are better suited for the bottom of the funnel.

Whether you are in a company of five or 5,000, these five steps will help kickstart a great sales enablement program. Remember, it’s important to get a lay of the land by understanding your customers and your sales process. Then get marketing and sales working together so they can eliminate roadblocks and provide the right resources to the sales time at the right place and time.

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