In our first episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast, Seismic’s Daniel Rodriguez and Scott Santucci of the Alexander Group discussed best practices for building a sales enablement foundation and getting executive buy-in for a sales enablement initiative. “Sales enablement functions are like snowflakes; they’re all different from one company to the next,” said Scott. So you can imagine that the process of getting executive buy-in for a sales enablement function—and the steps to success that follow—differ from one organization to the next.
The responsibilities of sales enablement can range from training and onboarding to strategically bridging the gap between sales and marketing—and typically everything in between. The value and importance of sales enablement are real and measurable, but when and how can it make an impact that drives corporate initiatives? Instead of being overwhelmed by the uncharted waters and seemingly unending road ahead, organizations should pull best practices from other companies’ sales enablement initiatives. This is why Applied Systems shared its story of successful sales enablement execution with a packed room of SiriusDecisions Summit attendees back in May.
Here is the five-step process Applied Systems took when planning and executing its sales enablement strategy to help drive corporate initiatives:
- Sales content management: Without organized, consolidated and findable sales content, it’s impossible for organizations to properly equip salespeople with the resources they need to sell. When Applied Systems first came to Seismic, it had its content stored in a number of disconnected, disparate repositories:
Once these disparate content sources were connected and consolidated, Applied Systems then did an audit of its existing marketing content, and in effect eliminated duplicate, outdated and off-brand content. This step also included giving marketing a single location to create, organize, store and deliver content to sales.
- Activity-based enablement: Next, Applied Systems measured and assessed sales activities to minimize the time reps spent searching for and creating their own content. During this process, Applied Systems found that reps were spending 25-30% of their time searching for content. It also found that reps were spending considerable time in email and Salesforce, so it integrated Seismic—and its newly consolidated content repository— with its CRM and email hosts. This helped Applied Systems streamline its sales processes and eliminate reps’ unnecessary and time-consuming tasks. Reps also had this content available anywhere—laptops, tablets, mobile phones and within Salesforce.
- LiveDocs® enablement: Now that reps had easy and quick access to content, Applied Systems wanted to make sure that reps were sharing the right content with the right people. Applied Systems’ salespeople can now customize content for the exact person, company, and buying stage. LiveDocs® provide two levels of customization: LiveForm prompt, where reps fill in customer and company data to populate the right statistics, case studies and more into presentations; and automated filtering through CRM that serves hyper-relevant content to reps and then incorporates customer-specific data. Using Seismic LiveDocs®, Applied Systems’ salespeople experienced the following benefits:
- Sales and marketing alignment: The first three steps in Applied Systems’ enablement execution were very technology-heavy, but sales enablement is much more than just technology. The fourth step involves bringing in the right people who are invested in and responsible for sellers’ This step requires business stakeholders to understand each other and sales and marketing’s needs. Once needs, goals and priorities were identified and aligned, Applied Systems used the information gained to build strategic content for both Sales’ internal and external usage.
- Company-wide enablement: the previous four steps are the foundation for company-wide enablement, but must be completed and executed in full before enablement can be rolled out company-wide. This step involves extending enablement to other functions of the organization, which for Applied Systems includes Education Services, Product Management, and Support.
As a result of this five-step execution process, Applied Systems has experienced impressive results in terms of time saved by its enablement, marketing and sales teams. For example, two enablement employees were spending five hours each responding to 25-30 content requests weekly, and personalizing content was taking 100 hours per week. These hours are now dedicated to creating high-value, core selling activities and more strategic marketing initiatives.
Your organization’s sales enablement execution may not employ the exact same five-step process as Applied Systems, but it’s a great place to start during the universally relatable “now what?” panic. Understand that sales enablement execution takes careful planning and strategic execution to see results, and taking an incremental approach is the most effective way to do so. Many thanks to Applied Systems for sharing their story of successful sales enablement execution at the SiriusDecisions Summit!