Working in sales isn’t for the faint of heart. However much you might describe your products as “being able to sell themselves,” you still need a sales team to close those deals. This can be high-stakes for the organization, so it’s essential to ensure your sales teams have all the skills and tools they need to succeed.
Sales enablement refers to the tools and systems you have in place to make life easier for your sales teams. Great sales enablement can help your sales team overshoot their quotas and drive more business to your organization.
Let’s look at exactly what sales enablement involves and how you can harness it within your organization.
What is sales enablement?
Put simply, sales enablement is the range of systems, processes, and tools that your organization uses to help support your sales teams. It’s everything you provide to facilitate and enable your sales teams to do their jobs effectively.
There are two main types of sales enablement.
The first type involves the full set of tools, training, and content you provide to your sales teams designed to improve their performance. This includes anything that helps them understand your product, your target market, the pain points your product helps to overcome, and more.
This kind of sales enablement helps your sales team to sell smarter and, therefore, sell more.
The second type of sales enablement includes everything your marketing team does to support your sales team. This primarily consists of the process marketers follow to generate and manage leads and how they hand those leads over to the sales team at the correct time.
When done well, sales enablement is a comprehensive strategy designed to empower your sales teams and give your organization the best chance of winning new business.
What does sales enablement do?
If we had to sum sales enablement up in one sentence, it would be this:
Sales enablement makes your sales teams perform better.
If you have a successful sales enablement process, your sales teams will sell better, which will show up across all performance metrics. That means:
- Increased revenue: With sales enablement, teams attain 32% more of their quotas.
- More time spent selling: Without enablement, top sales teams spend an average of 6 hours per week researching their leads.
- Faster onboarding: Organizations with enablement programs see new hires become productive 3.4 months earlier than those without.
- Consistency of messaging: Having a consistent message between your sales and marketing teams makes organizations 67% better at closing deals.
- Maintaining best practice: 84% of sales training is typically forgotten within the first 90 days. Enablement processes keep this information fresh.
How to measure sales enablement
It’s clear that sales enablement can lead to a wide range of improvements for your sales force. While this is generally an asset, it can present a challenge for organizations wanting to measure the effectiveness of their sales enablement strategy.
Here are a couple of good ways to measure the success of adjustments to your sales enablement approach.
Your overall win rate is a great measure of how well your sales team is performing. To calculate your win rate, divide the number of deals won by the number of realistic opportunities your teams worked on.
Remember that a realistic opportunity isn’t the same as a lead. Only some leads will result in an opportunity, and only some opportunities will result in a deal.
Your overall win rate will depend on many factors, only one of which is the performance of your sales team. The sector you’re working in, the size of deals, and how you define opportunities will all influence your win rate.
Rather than obsessing over the exact number, consider how your win rate changes over time. If you upgrade your sales enablement processes and your win rate increases, that’s a clear sign that you’re on the right track.
Sales cycle length
Your sales cycle length is the time (measured in days) between a lead being passed to your sales team and a deal closing. The faster your sales team can close the deal, the sooner they can move on to the next lead, and the more efficient they will become.
Again, sales team performance is only one factor in your sales cycle length, but trends can tell you whether your sales team enablement is effective.
4 sales enablement best practices
With so many connected aspects of effective sales enablement, it can be helpful to know where to start. Here are some of the most important best practices to keep in mind.
1. Be clear about what you’re aiming for
Sales enablement is as much an art as a science, and you won’t find one-size-fits-all solutions. You will need to learn what works best within your industry and for your organization. That means you need to be especially clear about your goals and how you measure success.
Before making any improvements to your sales enablement processes, you’ll need to get a good sense of your starting point.
Decide which metrics will be necessary to you, and ensure you have plenty of data to show how your teams are performing before the changes. If your industry has seasonal peaks or troughs, you’ll want to factor these into your calculations as well.
Once you know where you are, create clear, achievable goals that will make a meaningful difference to your business.
2. Communicate your goals to your sales and marketing teams
One of the first rules of change management is to be clear with everyone involved about what you’re working to achieve and how it will make their lives easier. Improving your sales enablement processes is a perfect example of this in action.
Meet with your sales and marketing teams and explain what sales enablement is and what you’re hoping to achieve. Show them the goals and objectives you’ve set and get buy-in by showing them how it will help them.
For example, show your sales team that these new processes will make them more likely to achieve their quotas. Highlight the new information that they’ll have at their fingertips. Emphasize that this is a change you’re making with them, not to them.
3. Align your sales and marketing teams
Once both teams are on board, look at ways to increase links and connections between the two teams. The more they understand each other, the better they’ll work together.
One effective strategy is to share onboarding and training materials across the two teams. Anyone joining the marketing team should receive much of the same training as those joining the sales team and vice versa.
Consider having regular team check-ins where people can share observations and experiences. Depending on the size of your teams, you could create a cross-team sales enablement group to offer suggestions and look for improvements.
4. Provide comprehensive training in manageable sections
We’ve already mentioned that people forget most sales training material after three months, but that isn’t an argument for less training. Instead, ensure your sales team has access to ongoing, consistent training and development.
Try asking your teams to complete one new training each month to promote continuous learning — and make sure that your learning management system (LMS) is easy to use.
Selecting the right sales enablement tools
Sales enablement isn’t a task you complete and move on. It’s an ongoing improvement process for your sales and marketing teams and your whole organization. Having the right LMS lets you easily train and support your sales team.
Moodle makes it easy for you to offer customized training, update courses, and share best practices across your entire organization. It also integrates seamlessly with your other systems, helping you analyze the relationship between sales enablement and performance.