5 Best Practices for Improving Sales Enablement

In today’s frenetic, go-go-go B2B sales environment, it can be hard to ensure that your sales team is having the right—or optimal—conversations with their prospects to deliver value and drive deals forward. The biggest blocker, unfortunately, is a seemingly easy, but in reality complex, problem to solve: equipping sales with the right content based on their unique prospects and specific selling situation.

Shared drives, social file sharing, and cloud document delivery services can hurt our ability to effectively enable sales because they feed the beast of one-off, random, reactive content management. This leads to waste: wasted time, wasted budget, and wasted opportunities for more closed deals. Beyond the content distribution problem lies another issue: inefficient processes for sales teams.

Solving these sales enablement challenges breaks open the floodgates to better content quality, better sales and marketing alignment, and more closed deals. In fact, research from Aberdeen Group reveals that best-of-breed sales organizations are implementing sales enablement practices and seeing incredible results, such as:

  • 99% overall team attainment of sales quota
  • 9% advantage in year-to-year revenue growth over the industry average
  • 4% year over year growth in average deal size

Odds are, your organization already has some form of sales enablement in place, as 80% of organizations with sales teams bigger than ten people currently use sales enablement tools and practices, according to research from Highspot and Heinz Marketing. But are you getting the best results from your efforts?

If you want to make an immediate impact on sales enablement, consider these five best practices to ensure your content creation and distribution efforts drive measurable, bottom-line results:

1. Reduce the Time Sales Spends on Non-Selling Activities

This seems a little straightforward, but most organizations have multiple portals or tools where sales reps are supposed to go to find what they need, and reps are spending between four to eight hours a week just searching for the right marketing content to send their prospects. SiriusDecisions’ webcast Activity-Based Enablement: Helping Reps How and Where They Work provides a great framework for analyzing and eliminating inefficient activities by focusing sales on revenue producing activities and allowing marketing to gain better insight into content usage and impact.

2. Give Your Reps Easy Access to Content

The fact is, 90% of content goes unused by sales, according to the American Marketing Association. This is largely because sales simply can’t find it. Is your sales enablement system flexible? Can your content be organized in a meaningful way for your sales team in one centralized library? Flexible content organization and content recommendations based on performance, informed by your marketing automation platform, help keep conversations on point and accelerate conversions. You might also want to consider adopting a modern sales enablement platform that provides a single, easy-to-manage repository for all your content and tools, and integrates with your existing systems to help streamline the selling process.

3. Make Sharing Best Practices a Best Practice

Sales is a very dynamic environment with products and messaging changing regularly and buyers’ needs varying across industry, company size, and buying stage. Good sales reps constantly communicate with their peers about what is working well in order to improve performance, so it’s important to create a closed-loop feedback process around content, training, and best practices.

Having a platform in place that enables data-driven analysis of what content, strategies, and processes are most effective in various situations lifts the performance of the entire sales team. This applies to them sharing insights with your marketing team as well. Aberdeen Group reports that 60% of best-in-class firms have a formal, current competency around knowledge management whereby marketing has visibility into the sales teams’ utilization of content and assets.

4. Get on the Training Train

According to our own study, the 2016 Sales Enablement Practitioner Survey, 65% of practitioners stated that improving sales training was a top priority for their sales organizations. The idea that you can train an entire sales force—regardless of size—on new products, new methodology, new features, new resources, and even new sales techniques in two days once a quarter is dead. It’s been proven wrong many times, and yet so many organizations are hanging onto this idea as “the way it’s done.” Successful organizations integrate ongoing training and communications into their content and tools workflow so that sales reps know exactly what will be most effective throughout the entire sales cycle.

5. Turn to Technology to Close the Gap

Many sales departments don’t have the time or resources to evaluate and implement new technology. And yet, the right technology solution can help them be more effective in hitting their numbers and closing deals. This is an area where marketing can step in and help. As you’re vetting, deploying, and implementing best-of-breed solutions, consider what applications, features, or solutions can help sales prioritize leads and work more efficiently and effectively, driving results across the entire organization.

Organizations that commit to a structured, measurable sales enablement process through dedicated resources and modern technology are seeing significant improvements across the board. What other tips do you have for improving sales enablement? Share them in the comments below.