Sales Enablement Best Practices

Top 5 Sales Enablement Best Practices for SME Business

If you are in a sales leadership role you are most definitely a busy person these days. You’ve likely spent the past few months reviewing your department’s annual performance with an eye to next year as you develop corporate strategy and revenue projections. Of course, there’s also the matter of year-end, something that demands exponentially more attention as we approach the 31st of December, which happens to be a Sunday this year, but of course, you already knew that.

As you diligently Cratchit-away the remaining days in the quarter and year, you can be forgiven for not giving your 2018 plans your full and undivided attention. But, come January, when thoughts of sugar plum fairies have already faded, you will be fully engaged in the next fiscal, and the challenge of how to increase your team’s performance and efficiency will be unavoidable. If you are thinking about the content, tools and training your team will require to be more effective then you’re thinking about sales enablement.

If the phrase ‘sales enablement’ is a little unfamiliar then don’t worry because it hasn’t hit peak-hype yet, which means that if you’re reading this article you should give yourself a pat on the back because your business acumen and good instincts are second to none.

“Sales enablement is the technology, processes, and content that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity.”

Hubspot’s definition of sales enablement captures the essence of the activity in its simplest form: “Sales enablement is the technology, processes, and content that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity.”

Start thinking of sales enablement as an overall strategy rather than a quick fix, one-size-fits-all training session. It’s a process that you should engage in continuously because it is something that is never done.

CapacityFlux has put together this list of the top five sales enablement best practices to help you prepare for the New Year. The intent is to get you off and running with an effective sales enablement strategy and practice for 2018.

Sales Enablement Best Practice #1 – Make the buyer’s experience central to your sales enablement strategy

The most effective thing you can do as a manager is to consider how your sales and marketing activities map to the buyer’s journey. Sales enablement is all about addressing the customer or buyer’s requirements.

It’s no secret that the internet has changed how customers purchase today. Once a customer has identified an issue they turn to the internet and begin researching that problem, inevitably stumbling upon content that validates their issue and provides potential solutions. This is the premise of inbound marketing, and again, you shouldn’t be surprised that sales enablement and inbound marketing are closely linked.

Providing your sales team with access to relevant resources that buyers are looking for is critical. If you know who your customer is, and where they are on the buyer’s journey then you will also have a good idea of when the customer will want access to information that is relevant to their progressive journey through your sales funnel.

Sales Enablement Best Practice #2 – Understand and Map Your Customer Touchpoints

Think of every opportunity a customer has to interact with your business—there are probably quite a few. Think about how they might discover your brand. Did they look you up because they just suddenly knew who you were? Nope. They did some googling and discovered your company for a reason, probably because your content marketing is working. Now think about all the other ways a customer could discover your business: social media, phone calls, trade shows, email correspondence, newsletters, conferences, webinars, white papers, case studies—you get the idea. Those touchpoints represent all your customer touchpoints. Now map that out.

Sales Enablement Best Practice #3 – Connect Customer Touchpoints to Content Throughout the Buyer’s Journey

Does marketing or sales own the customer touchpoint for a case study? The answer may depend on which stage the customer is at in the buyer’s journey. A white paper discussing the relevant challenges of an industry use-case, distributed across social media channels might attract a customer during the awareness phase, but a more specific customer case study supplied in an email interaction with a helpful sales rep might be what’s required during the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey.

Or, if the customer’s problem is complex, and they spend a lot of time in the consideration or evaluation stage you may find reasons for providing more educational content that helps them decide if your product or service is the right fit.

Knowing how and when customers interact with your content will greatly improve its effectiveness. This, in turn, will also help you stand out from the sea of vendors that are literally throwing content at their customers in the hope that some of it will stick. Remember, hope is not a strategy.

Sales Enablement Best Practice #4 – Ruthlessly Qualify Your Leads

If you haven’t read my post on lead qualification I recommend you do. Better lead qualification can significantly improve your sales team’s performance and efficiency. Understand your ideal customer, realized in your buyer personas, and start categorizing and qualifying leads against those personas. Do not invest time in selling to prospects that are not ready to buy, or that do not fit your ideal customer profile. If you aggressively qualify leads it will save your company time and money, because you won’t waste resources chasing down customers that are a bad fit.

Sales Enablement Best Practice #5 – Get Technology Out of the Way

Don’t let technology roadblock your success. It’s tempting to look at the ‘shiny new thing’ and hope it’s going to help you hit your number, but before investing time and effort on a new system consider providing training on the tools and process you already have in place. Effective sales enablement seeks to remove roadblocks and improve efficiencies.

Technology is a double-edged sword. It enables us to do so much more, whether it’s being more efficient or increasing the impact of our efforts, but it can also become a barrier to success if the product or platform itself becomes the raison-d’être rather than the solution to a problem it is ultimately intended to deliver.

A familiar example of a massive potential tech roadblock is your CRM. Customer Relationship Management technology manages your company’s customer relationships and interactions, and it’s a critical requirement for any business today. Tools such as Salesforce, Hubspot or Pipedrive all include a CRM as a component of their platforms.

However, as you will quickly discover, the CRM is just one small part of a much more complex set of tools. The why’s of low consumption/adoption rates is a topic for another post, but the root of frustration for so many sales reps is often the convoluted and onerous process that builds up around the function of using and maintaining a CRM.

Knowing the consumption rates of the tools in your toolbox will help you understand where your sales force spends its time. Check out the login rates on your CRM. Odds are it’s lower than you think. I know a lot of sales people that hate using their CRM and only interact with it when they have to. The likelihood of success of your sales enablement strategy will be greatly impacted if it is designed around a CRM that nobody uses.

new-years-eve-2776646_960_720These sales enablement best practices are designed to help you focus on activities that will contribute the most value to your sales activity in the coming months. You may already be following some of these best practices without knowing it, and if not there’s still time to get your team ready for the next fiscal.

Best of luck in 2018!

Singapore Roadracing to Vidyard Partnerships

Building Relationships Creatively with Radical Transparency

This is Part 2 in my interview with Marcus Jung, Partner Manager at Vidyard. You can read Part 1 here if you missed it.

Partnerships is still selling, but it’s about communicating the value of winning together. Partnerships are critical for any startup.

Marcus’ role with Vidyard is a new one for him. He has always focused on building partnerships with his clients, but now it’s the focus of his job. “Partnerships is still selling, but it’s about communicating the value of winning together. Partnerships are critical for any startup. If we are going to hit our growth targets we can’t only do it as a direct sales team. It means we have to build programs that enable technology, agency, and distribution partners to be on our side when we’re speaking with customers. That’s what I manage.”

Having worked on the partner ecosystem team at Hootsuite, I’m familiar with the impact a strong and values-based partner program can have on brands and product. In today’s SaaS software world partnerships enable stand-alone products to compete with full-stack solutions, offering the customer a range of additional functionality to simplify workflows and improve efficiency.

Marcus is focused on building strong partnerships that leverage Vidyard’s brand recognition. “When we speaking with potential partners we have to come to the table with something that will help the other party,” he says. “We want to give them tools to sell more of what they do. We have to make them sticky.”

I discovered that a competitor was working the same deal, so I cold-called [them]…

If your responsible for technology, reseller or channel partnerships you should know that you can sometimes run into challenges that are somewhat unavoidable. Marcus agrees, “internal conflict is the biggest challenge we run into. There’s a natural tension and reps don’t always trust that partnerships are going to benefit them.”

He continues, “there’s an extra layer of complexity when partners are involved. You need to find a way to work together, a mutually beneficial way to work together, and sometimes it can be a major hurdle to figure out what that thing is. What’s interesting about Vidyard is that we can coexist with our competitors. Someone on the outside might see one of our partners as a direct competitor, but everyone has an edge somewhere, and we strive to find a way to work together.”

To illustrate, Marcus tells me a story of how he took a different approach when he was trying to close a deal with a customer. “I discovered that a competitor was working the same deal, so I cold-called the competitor, and said ‘hey, we’re both in this account, and here are my notes.’ I shared all the other people I had connected with in the account. Then I said, “I think we can with this together,’ and in short we became partners and we won the deal together.”

Partnering can shorten the deal cycle dramatically.

That’s a pretty confident thing to do, and I can just imagine sales manager reading this and panicking about any of their reps using this approach, but it does show the power in partnering. Marcus continues, “partnering can shorten the deal cycle dramatically. In this case, we shared budget numbers, figured out how we could both get what we wanted out of the deal and presented our solution to the customer. It worked and more importantly we shortened the deal cycle to a week.”

Sharing info is something a lot of old-school managers don’t want you doing, but in the world of SaaS, it’s almost necessary. Marcus is a big fan of his current boss. “She’s the greatest. She’s remote, and sometimes remote bosses can be challenging, but she’s fantastic. She’s a magician because she’s always there when you need her and she’s always supportive. She listens to me and really hears my ideas, and she knows how to motivate me and the rest of her team. The best thing is that she trusts you, and lets you do your thing.”

So how would she respond to Marcus’s radical transparency approach? “Sometimes you have to take the chance. It’s a high-risk game though. It can blow up on you. With partnerships, its a trust exercise. You learn quickly who can you trust. If it’s not a huge corporate risk, I think it’s a risk worth taking. I’ve had it succeed more times than its failed.”

Every vendor in our space was already wining and dining him, and there wasn’t anything we could do that was going to impress him.

Speaking of high-risk activities, we should probably get to the story of the car race challenge. Marcus had re-located to Hootsuite’s Asia HQ in Singapore, and had set himself a personal goal of owning the logos dotting Singapore’s incredible skyline.

He explains, “I was trying to find my way into one of the largest bank accounts in Asia, who’s HQ is in Singapore. I was very persistent, and one day I did manage to connect with the right VP at the bank. He was really transparent with me, saying that every vendor in our space was already wining and dining him, and there wasn’t anything we could do that was going to impress him.”

He continues, “so I thought about this for a moment, and then I went to work. I did some research on the prospect. I discovered that he is a big car junkie. He loves cars, he collects them. He races them. He writes about them on blogs and social media. So I got back in touch and said, ‘I bet you’ve never been challenged to a race before.’ He responded immediately, saying ‘when and where?’

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my sales career is to find a way to immediately differentiate yourself. Be different, but in a smart way.

This story is awesome in so many ways, and it demonstrates the power of making yourself relevant and unforgettable. Marcus explains that he was “looking for something to humanize me with the prospect. I had to find something that he is passionate about, and find a way to connect. People remember how you make them feel. In the case of the bank, my customer had never been challenged to a race—and race we did. Of course he destroyed me, but more importantly, I broke through. I built a human relationship, and he is still someone I speak with to this day.”

From affiliate marketing to social media to personalized video communications, Marcus Jung is someone you can always count on for a great story, and a killer close rate. I’ll leave the final word to Marcus: “the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my sales career is to find a way to immediately differentiate yourself. Be different, but in a smart way.”