Sales Enablement – Delving into the Fundamentals

Sales | 7 minutes to read

22nd Apr, 2019

Often misconstrued as a buzzword, sales enablement has always had this element of intrigue tied to it. While a segment audience now understands the concept and even applies it, still, there remain many pockets where people struggle to understand this terminology.

What does Sales Enablement mean? What are the core elements that define it?

Sales Enablement has been constantly evolving through the years. Often being a nebulous concept, it has been defined differently by different organisations.

Overall, it includes all the activities and elements that facilitate sales. In business terms, the realm of improving sales productivity and effectiveness and ultimately bridging the gap between strategy and implementation is called sales enablement.

In bridging this gap between strategy and implementation, sales enablement becomes an all-inclusive and end-to-end concept which defines best practices for strategizing, implementing, recruiting, enabling and analysing sales acts to drive optimal returns for enterprises and achieve desired success in sales.

Let’s look at the elements that comprise sales enablement:

Strategy Formulation and Consulting
This is the foundation of a rock-solid sales enablement plan and hence of critical importance. This includes a thorough understanding of the challenges the organisation is facing or is expecting to face w.r.t to the available resources along with the requirements.

Execution – Strategy Implementation
Once the plan or strategy is in place, the next step is to execute it. However, before execution comes in various levels of checks to ensure preparedness and in case of detection of any gap, timely fulfillment of the same.

This implementation stage is further divided into pre, through and post set of sales activities.

Please elaborate on the implementation stage of Sales Enablement.

The execution strategy may have a fluctuating ratio of human and technology interventions however, the phase-wise division can be clubbed into pre, during and post set of activities.

Pre-Rollout Stage
At this stage the execution technique is furnished by enrolling domain specialists, preparing and furnishing them with the essential sales tools, according to the strategy.

Rollout Stage
This stage encompasses deployment support, adoption, tracking and review for checking campaign adequacy. The accomplishment of this stage is reliant on the go-to-market methodology and exact rollout of the equivalent.

The Enhancement Stage
This stage involves segments like analytics, marketing (digital just as on ground activation led) and technology platforms, like advanced BI tools etc. that improves execution.

How does an effective implementation of sales enablement practices prompt the acceleration of ROI?

While sales enablement is in active conscience of sales pioneers, but many are perplexed when it come to the effective use of sales enablement engine. Questions like “Will it increase sales for us? or “By what method will we measure our business achievement?” amongst others are persistent.

Therefore, let’s dig deeper and understand how a successful sales enablement strategy can help you achieve success in your sales enablement journey.

Preparation
Relevant content creation for the use of sales teams along with the provision of adequate training of salespeople on the product / service messaging as well as the technology tools which are part of those product/ services, makes up for preparation.

With prospective customers becoming more knowledgeable, tech-savvy and well-researched, the sales rep cannot afford to go ahead being ill-prepared or informed only at superficial level.

Comprising of elements like training, research support as well as customised guidance for demand generation and independent prospecting, it forms the bedrock of entire sales engine. Now-a-days, the trend for on-the-go and on-demand personalised training sessions are also seeing significant hike.

 Engagement
Ensuring high-impact engagement through written, spoken or presented content which drives involvement from all the parties involved comes under the engagement phase.

After all, the preparation needs to see the day light and that too with right tools and the best opening statement. Here, experimenting with various channels of engagement, be it webinars, social media, email, face-to-face etc. is done based on the requirement.

The knowledge of technology tools as well as equipment used to engage with prospect also holds a key value. For example, a sales rep toiling with a laptop or another one with the presentation deck over an iPad can be perceived differently.

Proceeding
Post-meeting communication follow-ups till the closure along with an assessment of previous activities through analytics and re-feeding the insights for maximising the effectiveness of the plan comes under this act of proceeding or advancing.

With relevant analytics results such as which part of the content has garnered more attention or views etc. informed follow-ups can also be driven along with a view into how far the prospect has progressed into the sales funnel.

The data-driven assessment and advancement approach also helps in polishing the first step further by channelizing the apt derivations into the training engine.

With various implementation strategies accessible, how can one decipher which sales enablement strategy will possess all the necessary qualities, as per their business requirements?

From a standard scale, there are numerous implementation techniques like Feet-on-Street, Telesales, Hybrid approach etc. while on a progressively granular dimension, this portion is consistently developing, owing to the rise in demand for personalized services and the consequent advancement in sales tech tools domain.

With that aspect, let’s have a look at different sales enablement implementation strategies which are there, basis which one can decide which one fits the bill for them.

Telesales
It allows conversion of feet-on-street salespeople into consultative administrators, leveraging telesales. As consultative selling has picked up pace a couple of years back, telesales has also got its high spot since then (dynamics are in volatile stage at the moment though).

As a part of sales team, telesales representatives interact with customers to generate leads, process orders, make direct sales, support ground sales delegates by setting up arrangements, or take part in customer service. Ensuring greater geographical reach, it is most effective when product requires controlled consultative selling.

Feet-on-Street
Being the most traditional method of selling, this approach deploys sales people on the ground to implement the sales plan. Here, in general, the sales representative is in total control of the communication with a potential customer – sharing all the benefits of the product and convincing him/her to make a purchase.

Traditional sales is represented by territories/ coverage areas and each territory is sub-divided into quotas (how many customers to target in a particular area).

A successful feet-on-street strategy is dependent on profile fitment, effective deployment plan, territory mapping and coverage plan and a well thought out monitoring and reporting plan. It enables targeted geographical reach and is most effective when the product requires hard selling.

Technology
With the advent of technology, buyer preferences has experienced a noteworthy change. From the traditional modes of pitching to the new procedures in the market, sales processes have been changed drastically.

Thus, it is vital to ride on prevailing technology trends and use platforms like insightful CRM tools, unconventional sales force and workforce automation tools etc. depending on the precise need of the business.

Digital Marketing
With digitally empowered and tech-savvy group of buyers taking the centre stage in the world of sales, overlooking digital marketing has turned into the biggest sin for any organisation who’s serious about its revenue.

This strategy leverages social media and other digital channels, along with effective content and context to maximize sales. By cooking the prospect database and bridging the gap between marketing initiatives and sales activities, it enhances sales conversions exponentially.

Marketing Activations
This strategy segment is all about being focused on activating sales and driving foot falls at the point of sales. With point-of-purchase driven activities, such as store promotions, road shows, visual merchandising, sampling activities, events etc., this strategy emphasises driving inbound sales.

Considering the nature of the activity to drive on-the-spot sales, customer experience via instant gratification is of prime importance in this case. It not just leads to incremental retail sales but also enhances brand visibility and ensures impeccable customer experience.

Hybrid Approach
Depending on the complexity of the project, at least one of the above strategies can be amalgamated to execute an effective sales stratagem and the approach can be referred as a hybrid one.

For instance, many fruitful strategies require a decent blend of tele and feet-on-street, while another may require tele and technology running simultaneously. Considering the nature of implementation, hybrid strategies provide enhanced flexibility and productivity.

Ultimately, with an understanding of the concept, core elements and constituent strategies, you can revamp your sales enablement approach.

All in all, a well-oiled sales enablement engine can transform a business completely by having a strategic, tech-enabled and contextual approach.

Essentially, the key lies in getting on board with a partner who perfects this art and science of sales and is ready to walk in your shoes to customise the plan as per your pain points and precise needs.

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