Long, long time ago, before the Internet has been invented, a meeting between a customer and a salesman was often the first stage of a buyer's’ journey. Today everything has changed; customers are well equipped with technology to learn about products or solutions, even before they meet a sales representative.
In the past, it was a salesman who provided key information to a customer to help him to take the decision. Now, customers can quickly do their research online, so a salesperson must be prepared for creating an individual, up-to-date, and high-quality content to build the dialogue.
Preparation of such materials requires time and attention. In most cases, it is not a B2B salesperson who should spend time on building and editioning the offer, white paper, or a case study. Business organisations are challenged to build an internal mechanism to support salespeople. In other words, to increase sales productivity, companies must ENABLE the salespeople to ensure that conversations with the customer are efficient.
What the salespeople say
“To do my job well, I need to be confident that I provide the right content to a customer. I can hunt the customer, and prepare some materials myself, but to achieve high sales results I need support. There should be some source of information and materials that I could easily use to prepare a personal offer for a customer.”
In many companies, the sales enablement equals access to a high-quality content that a salesperson can easily review, assemble, edit and use to prepare materials for customers. You may be surprised, but this is a very narrow approach: PowerPoint slide decks, email templates, product demos, white papers, case studies, customer testimonials, podcasts, products descriptions are important but do not think it would is enough to name it a sales enablement.
In fact, there is a broader spectrum of sales enablement functions in the organization.
Why don't you try to add to the picture sales training, the managerial coaching, sales communication or a sales process improvement? All these functions support salespeople at a particular stage, and from a general perspective, the follow a concept of reducing peripheral sales tasks and optimizing a sales process. Operationally, this approach results in a development of a sales back-office.
Sales enablement is an internally driven system that supports salespeople and their conversations with customers.
Sales enablement is a systematic approach
Organisations build systems and provide a spectrum of tools for people working in a sales team to make the sales successful, business.
Many companies employ additional non-selling specialists who work as a backing for sales accounts: sales assistants, sales engineers, sales operation or sales support specialists work close in the team and help in almost every sales activity. The better the system is set, the more time a sales representative can spend on building relations with customers.
Often, motivation systems of people working in such back-office teams relate to sales plans and are dependent on the sales results achieved by the team.
Considering that a structural and operational character of the sales enablement we are closer to the definition provided by Brainshark, one of the companies that provide sales enablement software solutions:
“The sales enablement is a systematic approach to increasing sales productivity, by supporting reps with the content, training, and analytics they need to have more successful sales conversations.” Brainshark
Sales becomes an internal customer
The more complex products or solutions the company provides, the more sophisticated sales support system is required. In such a case, a sales team becomes an internal customer inside the organization. Specialists from different teams in a company provide original content or information requested by a prospective customer. Quality of work people outside the sales team, but also their responsiveness and willingness to support, directly influence the sales process.
Operationally, an experienced sales director must demand a high-quality support and quick response from teams supporting sales. A proven approach is that companies appoint people in various teams whose responsibility is to be a point of contact for salespeople
This situation creates a space for marketing. In many sales-oriented businesses, the marketing department animates the sales team enablement processes. In such organizations, marketing provides market analysis, helps developing account development plans, builds training plans, animated sales communication and actively provides materials and content that salespeople can use in front of customers.
The activeness of marketing should not be just a one-way support. If the marketing department positions itself as a delivery team only it creates problems in many aspects. Quality of materials that are shared with customers must be known to marketing specialists. If not, it will be the dependant on the personal attention of a sales representative. Marketing should have rights to control how B2B sales representatives use materials provided or to measure how sales training are adequate.
If not, there is a possibility of creating an internal conviction that the marketing is just an assistant to sales. Such confidence is unwanted; organizations should always position sales and marketing as partners in building market success.
There is no a single definition of the sales enablement. You can find many interpretations of this function. In general, it helps companies to improve interactions with customers with some relevant sales content and equipping salespeople with knowledge and appropriate tools. If executed correctly, sales enablement has an essential impact on time sales effectiveness and win rates. It strategically aligns marketing and sales teams that have a common goal: sales successes.
To help position marketing function in the organization appropriate the B2B sales should allow marketing to shape sales enablement system which should consist of content management, sales communication, marketing insight, and sales training.
A considerable sum up to this topic have been expressed by Scott Albro, the CEO of the is a research, and consulting company TOPO. He says: “When it comes to sales enablement, the best organizational rule is that marketing is a better creator and sales is a better enforcer.”