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7 Steps to an Awesome Sales Enablement Strategy

Modern culture has given the word enabler a bad rep, associating it with scruple-less friends who indulge our every bad habit, but the actual definition of the word according to the Oxford Dictionary is, “a person or thing that makes something possible.” When you pre-empt enabler with sales and think of it in the context of its original definition, an enabler quickly becomes the fairy godmother of sales, making formerly impossible things now suddenly possible. It’s no wonder then that sales enablement is a marketing strategy that has increased a whopping 343 percent over the last few years. When marketing becomes the ultimate friend and champion of sales, good things happen. In fact, a good sales enablement strategy:

  • Produces a 15% improvement in low-performing salespeople
  • Results in a 49% win rate on forecasted deals (compared to 42% for those without)
  • Leads to an increase in sales of up to 20% in 76% of companies

Obviously, increasing sales is on everyone’s holiday wish list since it means greater profitability, increased budgets and a Christmas bonus worth singing carols about. In today’s blog, we’ll walk you through everything you need to put a solid sales enablement strategy in place.

Step 1: Arrange Meetings Between Sales and Marketing

If you are to conquer the great divide between sales and marketing and unite everyone on the same team to achieve common goals, you’ll need to do a lot of communicating first. Our advice? Start with a few one-on-one meetings with top sales people and be humble. Ask them to walk you through their process in a typical sale. Find out what helps them close deals. If they are using homemade sales tools, refrain from becoming defensive with regards to tools you have previously created for them, but that went unused. Your goal in these meetings is to establish trust by being a good listener who comes prepared and asks all the right questions. A few you might want to consider include:

  1. What are the obstacles you face in a typical sales process?
  2. What marketing tools do you currently use?
  3. Are there specific tools you would like, but don’t have?
  4. How can marketing assist you better in fine-tuning your sales process?

In addition to talking to sales superstars within your organization, make it a priority to talk to mid-level and poor performing sales people, as well. Doing so will enable you to better identify opportunities marketing has to help them be more successful, and win they win, marketing wins, too.

Step 2:  Interview Old and New Customers

Sometimes what sales thinks is a key selling point and what marketing believes is a key selling point are miles away from what actually caused a customer to pull the trigger on a purchase. Your mission in your customer meetings is to invite a few of the faithful out to lunch for an informal interview of what their journey was like. Ask open-ended questions and take notes. We recommend one-on-one meetings in which one customer is at the table doing all the talking. You want to be able to pick their brains for any insights you can glean that will lead to process improvements between sales and marketing. A few questions to consider are:

  1. What pain point led to you seeking our products/services?
  2. What led to you contacting the company, i.e. a referral, a video, an ad, etc.?
  3. What part of your customer journey did you like best? What did you not like?
  4. What marketing pieces (website, brochures, webinars, etc.) did you find valuable?
  5. Is there something we could have done to make this decision easier for you?

Step 3: Revisit and Revise Your Customer Journey Map

Your interviews with sales team members and customers should have provided you with solid intel on the bumps in the road to becoming a customer. Armed with this information, you are ready to take a fresh look at your current customer journey map. If you don’t have one in place, check out our blog: 5 Steps to Mastering the Art of Customer Journey Mapping. As you map out each touchpoint between your company and the customer, look for opportunities to help sales close the deal faster. Next, create a prioritized list of marketing pieces that can be useful at each touchpoint. Lastly, establish a budget and timeline for developing each piece. Make sure you account for any training you will need to provide to sales people on how to use each marketing piece, i.e. how to personalize a template, etc.

Step 4: Calculate Your Speed to Lead

One of the biggest challenges both marketing and sales face in attempting to close more deals involves how quickly they respond to customer and prospect inquiries, a.k.a. speed-to-lead. The basic principle behind speed-to-lead is the faster a company responds to a lead, the more likely they are to ultimately win the sale. What’s more, research shows that the optimum lead response time is between one and five minutes, but the average B2B response time is 42 hours—Yikes! Still more sobering speed-to-lead statistics report that:

  • 78% of B2B customers purchase from the vendor that responds first
  • Responding within one minute increases lead conversions by 391%
  • After five minutes, the odds of qualifying a lead drop by 80%
  • Only 27% of leads ever get contacted

Find out what your current speed-to-lead is and then set a goal for increasing speed until you reach the golden response rate of a one- to five-minute response time.

Step 5: Automate Lead Management

One of the best ways to help sales get off on the right foot with prospects is to automate the process of managing incoming leads. Essentially, you want to take the burden off of sales of vetting and responding to queries by having a lead management tool in place for receiving leads from a variety of locations, including third-parties, and providing them with an immediate response with the right content. This can be accomplished by creating a simple drip email or SMS/MMS campaign that provides content personalized to a prospect’s known interests. By automating the first contact with a lead, you empower sales to respond to all inbound leads with greater speed and accuracy.

Step 6: Create a Library of Content for Sales to Use

As you create compelling marketing pieces with messages that support sales at each stage of the buyer’s journey, make sure you organize all that great content in an easy-to-use library. Your goal at this stage of your sales enablement strategy is to empower and equip sales with beautifully branded templates that they can use to send personalized messages. These templates should be integrated into their favorite sales tools, like Outreach and SalesLoft, and be intuitively easy to use. However, you should also have quick-start guides that new sales team members can refer back to as they learn how to leverage marketing’s content library to its fullest advantage.

Step 7: Host Monthly Sales Enablement Meetings

The key to any long-term relationship is regular communication. Sales needs to hear from marketing regularly about how you are supporting their efforts, from the number of leads vetted and responded to, to the performance of new automated campaigns, to testimonials from top sales people about the pieces that are working for them, and so on. Sharing the latest wins enables you to keep everyone united in their pursuit and excited about what marketing has made available to them. After all, making more sales possible is what your sales enablement strategy is all about.