Companies everywhere are now being forced to face a rapidly changing business landscape. Agility takes on new meaning as we all redefine our value, adapt our messages to the challenges of customers and optimize our go-to-market strategy and processes. Sales enablement approaches and technology increase our ability to pivot and adapt to market needs.
Because B2B buyers can do so much research and education on their own, salespeople are under increased pressure to understand and address each buyer’s unique challenges, shift their perceptions to align with your product’s value proposition and design personalized interactions that build trust and earn their business.
A remarkable prospect experience starts with an easy-to-navigate, information-rich website where prospects can find answers to their deepest needs. It needs to offer a unique value proposition that’s designed to attract your ideal prospects.
Once they begin talking to your salespeople, they must be armed with tools and resources that will support a highly personalized, consultative selling approach. Your sales reps need to have fingertip access to marketing materials that address prospects’ key pain points, answer their questions and position your solution as superior to those of your competitors.
Ultimately, your salespeople need to be able to customize their sales conversations around the unique needs of each prospect and efficiently nurture them toward a sale.
As with any technology, the journey starts with a solid strategy before implementing tools to enable it. The first step is to map the customer’s buying process, then align it to your sales process. This gives you a customer-centric perspective.
Fortunately, modern sales enablement is supercharged by tools and technologies that enable sales and marketing teams to:
- Deploy precisely the right resources at the right time in the selling process,
- Provide data that reveals what’s working and what’s not, and
- Gain the insights you need to improve your materials, processes and alignments.
These tools fall into four categories:
- Internal tools for planning
- Sales training
- Sales aids
- Sales enablement software
Let’s take a closer look at each of them:
Sales planning information
This category of tools covers a wide variety of resources that help salespeople to deftly discern and respond to the needs of their prospects:
- Calling guides for different stages of the buyer’s journey, which can be customized based on job title and buyer personas, vertical markets and buyer segments within those markets.
- Key account plans, which focus on specific high-value prospects, outline the members of their buying teams and their needs and outline a plan of attack for communicating with each one.
- Sales and marketing alignment workshops, where salespeople can learn more about the materials and messaging the marketing team has placed in-market. At these events, marketing people can obtain first-hand feedback on specific customer needs they must address.
- Service level agreements (SLAs) – written contracts between marketing and sales that spell out how they will work together to serve prospects and customers and achieve their revenue goals.
Sales onboarding and training tools
Sales training portals contain all the resources that new salespeople need to get up to speed quickly. They also help reps to be more successful at converting prospects into customers. They need to clearly understand who their buyers are, the journey they’re on and the support they need to provide to help their prospects to make an informed purchase decision.
Also, your sales reps need to determine:
- Which resources to put in front of their prospects based on where they are in their buyer’s journey,
- The nuances of their needs (such as product applications), and
- Their contacts’ roles in the solution selection process.
Ideally, your sales training portal should contain learning and resources that help your closers to absorb and articulate clear, concise and compelling value propositions for each of your products and services.
Many companies publish sales aids, but then forget to train their salespeople on how to use them effectively. This type of portal can be used to remedy that oversight.
In addition, some sales training portals incorporate collaboration tools where your best closers can share insights and knowledge and elevate each other’s effectiveness. These tools transform sales training into an ongoing activity.
These portals may also include:
- Virtual tours of your facilities (especially valuable in the current era of social distancing),
- Best practices in tailoring a product demonstration, objection handling and pitching the unique value proposition,
- E-learning to help reps quickly gain product and competitive selling knowledge,
- Incentives and badges for reaching significant training and sales success milestones, and
- Training that enables reps to learn techniques and tips from your best closers.
For best results, your sales training portal should be well organized so your salespeople can quickly find the tools, resources and training they need while in the office or the field.
Collateral and selling aids
This category of sales enablement tools encompasses all of the marketing and sales resources you place in front of your key prospects – on your website, in emails, on social media and other structured interactions – that will help them consider you one of their best potential vendors. All of this comes down to providing an outstanding customer experience.
Before interacting with a salesperson, for example, online calculators and product configurators can help prospects to zero in on their needs and determine if your solution matches their criteria.
Once they’re in contact with a salesperson, selling aids may include visuals that dramatically contrast the prospective buyer’s world now with how it will be transformed after they select your solution. It may also include competitive selling charts that visually emphasize the superiority of your offering to those of your competitors.
These tools have a singular aim: To make the value of your solution visible and consumable by your busy prospects, so they can make better-informed decisions.
Other examples of selling aids include:
- Collateral and sell sheets,
- Video demos/tours to cover basic information,
- Customizable sales decks and PowerPoint templates,
- Guided selling tools that incorporate calculators, data visualization and other tools that can transform presentations into conversations, and
- Sample social posts leveraging timely campaign messaging.
Sales enablement software
Sales enablement software takes sales enablement up a notch. It is an advanced technology that puts planning, training and collateral all in one place, combined with performance data. Comprehensive AI-driven platforms provide sales performance insights to management while putting all the information and tools in the hands of reps to perform at their best. An AI-enabled sales force has a complete view of its targets, sales metrics, forecasts and predictions.
Sales enablement software helps sales reps to close more and bigger deals, faster. And it does so whether your sales rep is meeting in person with a prospect or interacting with them digitally.
To help your company assess its sales enablement readiness, Cultivate has created a new Sales Enablement Scorecard. Download it today to identify areas where you need to improve the effectiveness of your sales and marketing strategies, materials and processes.
For more articles in this Fast Forward series, please click on the links below. Each article contains a free, downloadable worksheet, which can help you get started implementing the approaches you’ve read about: