One of today’s biggest misconceptions about sales is that “great products and services sell themselves.” But when salespeople lack the tools or knowledge they need to do their jobs, it doesn’t matter how great the product is—sales suffer.
What are the principles and practices at the heart of sales enablement?
The most important digital play no one’s talking about:It’ s SALES ENABLEMENT (yes, really)
IntroductionHere’s a simplified version of a business plan we see a Just take a look at the data 1:lot of these days: 41% of salespeople say that they don’t know which sales tools to use, how to use them, or whenStep 1: Create a relevant, quality product/ On average, salespeople spend an estimatedservice/cupcake store that directly solves a 30 hours per month searching for and creatingtarget customer’s need. their own selling materialsStep 2: Watch the profits roll in. (“This That’s a lot of inefficient salespeople spending time awaysoftware/fitness class/chocolate-sea salt from their primary job – generating revenue.cupcake is amazing! It will sell itself!”) Random acts of salesIt’s one of the most common misconceptions in businesstoday. In fact, nothing sells itself. We all get thatorganizations need to make sales to drive revenue. Butwhat are you doing to equip your people with the skillsand knowledge they need to sell? If you’re honest with support: disjointed efforts that lead toyourself, it’s probably not enough.When it comes to sales enablement, most organizationspractice what Forrester Research calls “random actsof sales support”: disjointed efforts that lead to unused unused tools buried somewhere on atools buried somewhere on a web portal. web portal.1 Source: IDC (International Data Corporation) INTRODUCTION /1
A framework for aligning salesAs with any employee engagement, rallying sales teamsto greatness means creating experiences that follow five Principle #3: Usefulguiding principles. Helpful, generous, turning people into willing users and participantsPrinciple #1: Purpose-ledAnchored in the business and brandpurpose and intent Principle #4: Intuitively designed Anticipating how users will want to interact Principle #2: Creative and cut-through Telling, enabling and building stories that cut through the clutter Principle #5: Expertly delivered Brought to life creatively, effectively and impactfully A FRAMEWORK FOR ALIGNING SALES /2
Sales Experience RequiredSo how can you turn your 1. Sales tools This may sound familiar: a new sales tool is announced to yourcompany into a selling machine? salesforce with great fanfare. It has attracted all sorts of attention (and dollars), but then fizzles out shortly after its launch (or sometimes evenSales enablement is, at its heart, about brand experiences: both the before). Why? Most likely because it simply wasn’t useful.experience your salespeople have with your brand (through tools,training, and messaging), and the brand experience they ultimately Sales tools need to be useful to be used. And the only people that candeliver to customers. confidently tell you what is useful are salespeople themselves. Involve them in every step of sales tool development – from identifying the needIt’s up to you to craft these experiences in ways that inspire to prototyping and testing – to ensure tools are relevant, intuitiveboth audiences. and helpful.Let’s take a look at how you can make three common salesenablement touchpoints work harder for you – and your bottom line. 2. Sales training Be honest. When’s the last time you got excited about completing a corporate-mandated training course? Most of us see training as something to endure, not something of value – because frequently it just doesn’t addFour key value to the things that are most important to getting our jobs done.. More often than not, corporate training doesn’t capture the imagination of sales people who’ve heard it all before.ingredients: Successful training has four key ingredients: inspiration, instruction, exploration and evaluation. Most companies skip right over the inspiration part – and those programs are doomed from the get-go. You’ve got to inspire as well as educate, and that means ensuring thatinspiration, salespeople truly understand the value they are offering customers – not just a list of product features.instruction, 3. Messaging. Salespeople need to deliver the right message to the right customer in the right way. So, yes, the message is critically important. But repeating yourexploration message is not the same as staying on message. Message maps are useful tools, provided that the messages are targeted, differentiated, and answer real customer needs. (And, of course, that your people are trained correctly on their use). Successful messaging is asand evaluation. much about understanding your customers and your competitors as it is about knowing your company’s products and services. SALES EXPERIENCE REQUIRED /3
ABC: Always (and Anywhere) Be ClosingLet’s face it. We communicate differently than we used to, and Not only are budgets tighter than ever, but time-to-market hasthe rise of smartphones, tablets, social networking and our accelerated in nearly every industry. Your window of opportunityalways-connected culture means new opportunities for is small: Wait for the next regularly scheduled training module andsales enablement. you may be too late to capture the opportunity.Consider this: Salespeople need to be connected to the absolute latest information – and their peers – at all times. In a world where more and more 82% of millenials expect to have an app that helps people work outside traditional offices, it’s imperative to give them them gain knowledge and skills2 “anywhere access” to the knowledge they need to do their jobs successfully. 60% to 70% of work-related learning occurs in informal contexts 3 Instant messaging, social networks, Skype and other tools can put the latest information and advice at their fingertips. Use them. 10% of content delivered to sales reps is currently done so in “a useful format” 4Training is no longer about one-and-done events or courses.Learning needs to be continuous, easy-to-access, and The 21st-century salesforceimmediate to be most effective. is more social, mobile, andThe days of (only) getting everyone together once a year toreview the new sales aid are behind us. agile than ever before.2 Source: ASTD (American Society of Training Professionals)3 Source: ASTD (American Society of Training Professionals)4 Source: Tinderbox ABC: ALWAYS (AND EVERYWHERE) BE CLOSING /4
Tech SupportOf course, your salespeople aren’t the only ones living a moredigital life. Your customers are too. That means that sales callsthemselves are changing. There is still unparalleled value inface-to-face interactions, of course, but are your salespeoplefollowing their customers and prospects on Twitter? Do theyschedule Skype touch-bases and “share screens” to go overquick updates? Send additional information that can be easilyviewed/interacted with on a mobile device? Of course, your salespeopleAnd how are those in-person sales calls going, anyway?We’ve seen sales forces have great successes with digital aren’t the only ones livingselling tools, interactive content, and tablet-based programs. a more digital life.One caveat: we’re not advocating using technology fortechnology’s sake. We are advocating for using technology Your customers are too.to interact more frequently, more efficiently, and moreorganically with your most important audiences.Salespeople need to be trained on how(and when) to use technology and digitaltools to become more effective. TECH SUPPORT /5
Cupcakes Anyone?Here’s the bottom line: successful sales enablement is critical togrowth. (Don’t take our word for it: Fortune 500 companies withstrong sales enablement programs report an average15.3% growth).It takes a company-wide commitment to create the tools, training,and messaging that will best help your sales force succeed. It takes Fortune 500 companiesa willingness to embrace our newly connected and digital world.And it takes a belief in the power of your people to deliver a top-notch brand experience.Or you could cross your fingers and hope to discover with strongthat mythical product/service/cupcake that does indeedsell itself. (And if you find it, please let us know.) sales enablementJoe Panepinto, Phd is Vice President, Senior Strategist at Jack Morton.You can reach him at programs report strong firstname.lastname@example.org. CUPCAKES ANYONE? /6