Sales enablement is all the rage these days—and for good reason! Simply put, sales enablement is the strategic approach to provide the info and tools sales needs to close deals while maintaining cohesive messaging and brand integrity
That sounds easy enough, right? (...sigh!)
Anyone who’s been on either side of the sales or marketing fence knows this works perfectly in theory…but is much more challenging in practice.
Here are five tell-tale signs that your company could use a more strategic sales enablement approach.
1. Sales is creating their own materials
Sometimes the quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line…which doesn’t always include sales taking a trip through the marketing department. This is a nightmare for your marketing team who has spent months (perhaps years) researching your audience, crafting your key messaging and developing the overall voice and tone of your brand.
If the sales team is getting fed up with long approval processes, or just flat out not getting the materials they need, it’s only natural for them to go rogue and start hacking together Microsoft Word sell sheets and PowerPoint presentations to share with eager prospects. Shoddy graphics and off-brand collateral is the first sign sales and marketing need to be working more closely.
Solution: Ensure that your sales team is armed with the marketing tools they need to show value, answer questions and nurture leads further down the sales funnel.
“But we give them all kinds of approved materials, they just don’t use them!”
If this is the case, perhaps it’s time that both teams sit down with each other and figure out what information would be most beneficial to prospects at specific stages in the buyer’s journey.
2. You don’t talk to sales
The next big red flag: you’ve never had a sit-down meeting with your sales team. The sales team is on the ground, talking to customers, hearing their wants, needs and desires on a daily basis. If that doesn’t scream qualitative, first-party-data…you need your ears checked!
Your sales team is a treasure trove of knowledge when it comes to understanding your buyer persona. Many B2B marketers look to sentiment analysis and shell out big bucks for technology to analyze how customers are responding to their marketing. Yet, some marketers neglect the fact that they have a team of “sentiment analysts”—their sales department—right under the same roof.
Solution: Schedule regular meetings (we recommend monthly, if not bi-weekly) with the sales team. Establish processes that allow salespeople to transfer customer feedback to the marketing team.
3. You have a long sales cycle
If your buyers are in their buying journey for a lengthy amount of time, it’s important to proactively use strategic sales enablement. Here’s why…
B2B sales are logical decisions, not emotional ones. Your prospective buyer is researching not only your services and products, but your competitor’s as well. When it comes down to it, they will choose whichever vendor and product makes the most business sense for their company. So, if you don’t know what your sales team needs, or if they are working with limited materials, or even hacking together their own, they won’t be well-equipped to move prospects toward a sale.
With a long sales cycle, this means losing out on a percentage of your potential revenue…not because your products and services weren't the right fit, but simply because the sales team didn’t have what they needed to help customers make an educated decision.
Solution: Identify the stages your customers go through in their sales cycle. Then, create a package of materials for the sales team to share with customers at each stage of their buying journey: prices, case studies, presentation materials, etc.
4. Your sales team spends most of their time prospecting
Sales and marketing should be a “divide-and-conquer” effort, not an “all-hands-on-deck” exercise. Ideally, your marketing team attracts potential customers, re-enforces features and benefits, provides content and encourages prospects to engage through a conversion (like downloading content, signing up for a webinar or requesting demo, for example). Once converted, the classic passing-of-the-baton to your sales team happens when they further your leads through the buying process.
When the sales team tries to recreate the wheel and duplicate marketing efforts, teams start to run into trouble. Instead of working together, cold-call contact lists are purchased, messages get crossed and chaos ensues when each team blames the other for dropping the ball on a lost prospect.
Solution: With an available marketing team, raw prospecting and cold calling should not be a part of sales reps’ jobs. If your sales reps are prospecting more than 25% of their day, you have imbalance between the number of leads you bring in vs. the number of sales reps you employ. To get balanced, focus on solutions that get more leads into your funnel. Then, focus on the right sales enablement tools your sales teams need to help close more deals.
5. You’re losing deals
If you’re getting leads over to the the sales team, but you’re losing more deals than you’d like, something is off.
Losing hot leads while they’re in the sales process is a sign that it’s time to improve your sales enablement. Be sure to take note of when you are losing deals in the funnel. Identifying the stage of the buyer's journey where leads drop off will tell you which messages within your sales process are weak.
Solution: After figuring out when the drop-off happens, analyze your messaging during that point of the buyer’s journey. Change up the messaging, test and optimize as necessary.
Implement your own strategic sales enablement
If any one of the above applies to you and your team, it’s definitely time to adopt a stronger sales enablement strategy. Your next hurdle may be selling your sales team on sales enablement. But, once everyone is on board, you can slowly start to implement some of these solutions. Define which solutions would be quick wins, and determine which will require a long-term strategy.