Despite rapid growth and expansion, the sales enablement field is relatively young. As such, accepted standards and best practices can quickly change as new solutions are built or more research is conducted. In an attempt to get a handle on this emerging market, late last year Forrester released an industry defining report that determined the leading vendors in sales enablement by interviewing organizations that have implemented solutions.
The report provides a definitive look at the vendors within sales enablement and the platforms they offer. Now, Forrester has distilled those findings and interviews to derive sales enablement best practices. By harnessing the power of the information they collected in their survey, Forrester was able to identify key areas where practitioners of sales enablement should focus their efforts for best results.
Be sure to read Forrester’s full report as it goes into great detail – and includes enlightening statistics – about how to get the most out of a sales enablement solution. Using their framework as a jumping off point, we’ve compiled some sales enablement best practices you can begin implementing, and included some first-hand experiences from our own Customer Success team to provide context.
Organize Your Content in a Logical Manner
One of the biggest upsides of implementing a sales enablement solution is the prospect of hosting an organization’s entire library of content in one central location. Many of the breakdowns between Sales and Marketing when it comes to content usage happen because sometimes it’s simply just too difficult to locate a piece of content. Time spent searching for the right materials is time that could be spent selling; the opportunity cost only snowballs as time goes on and hours spent searching pile up.
With a sales enablement solution in place, content will be stored in a central repository, eliminating the need to pore through far-flung directories and perform exhaustive searches. Both Marketing and Sales can access the content in its centralized location and there will be no confusion about where to go when searching for materials.
However, like any great library, there needs to be a system of organization and categorization in place to unlock the greatest level of efficiency possible. Simply dumping all of the content into one location is not enough to alleviate the burden of finding the right piece. “Have you ever heard the saying ‘garbage in, garbage out’? I feel strongly that applies here,” says Jon Freeberg, Principal Consultant at Seismic.
When content is being uploaded into the library it needs to be properly tagged and sorted so that it will be easy to locate. In a large organization sales reps will have different territories and targets, so not every piece of content will be applicable to their needs. By properly categorizing content you reduce the time people spend wading through materials they have no use for, and increase the time they spend doing what they’re best at: selling.
Freeberg sums up the direct correlation between easily finding content and improving productivity. “Time saved equals more time selling. Time selling equals more sales. More sales equals a better bottom line.”
Integrate Sales Enablement with a CRM + MAP
The greatest thing a sales enablement platform provides is that it gives Sales and Marketing x-ray vision. Well, not in the sense that Superman has x-ray vision, but suddenly these two departments start seeing a whole lot clearer than they had previously.
Traditionally leads are generated by Marketing and passed over to Sales. Like a relay race, this model is a team effort that is actually more of a collection of individual accomplishments than a true cohesive endeavor. As the lead approaches the hand-off moment, there is no insight into how it actually reached that stage, and once it’s passed off it gradually fades out of view.
With a sales enablement solution that problem vanishes. The platform serves as the linchpin around which vital Sales and Marketing technology revolves. By integrating with Sales’ CRM and Marketing’s MAP, crucial information is made available to both teams and improves the relationship between the departments.
With this integration in place the type of details that are uncovered are eye-opening. When Sales is handed a lead, a whole host of information comes with it. They now know exactly what type of campaigns and content the lead interacted with, what parts of the content resonated most, and what particular pain points motivate them most. After handing off the lead, Marketing can generate content recommendations within the CRM that speak directly to a single buyer, follow the buyer’s progress closely by seeing how Sales uses content to close deals, which content Sales actually uses, and definitively determine the ROI of their efforts by measuring content’s usage and effectiveness.
A Sales enablement platform’s ability to integrate with CRMs and MAPs goes a long way towards achieving sales and marketing alignment.
Harness the Power of Reporting
A sales enablement solution offers a whole host or reporting and usage analytics. But just because all of that data is on offer doesn’t mean that it’s being properly utilized. Coming from a world where none of the insights available in a sales enablement platform were available previously can make it difficult to start taking advantage of the data.
It will take time for the statistics to become significant and reveal trends. Upon implementation it will take time for adoption to get underway and for stakeholders to get a handle on the new system. As usage ramps up and everyone gets comfortable with the new operating procedure important insights will begin to reveal themselves – if you harness the full power of the platform’s capabilities.
Initially the most evident and compelling statistics will be the content usage analytics. Marketing will be eager to learn what pieces of content Sales gravitates towards the most and begin shaping future content strategies around their findings. But this data can be taken much further to shed even greater light on content’s effectiveness.
Hear it from Jon Freeberg again, “We urge customers to keep their content fresh and constantly up to date by looking at their content usage all the time. We can use content usage analytics to see what documents Sales is using most often as well as what content they are searching for. With this information we can surface the right content to Sales within one click, no searching necessary.”
Dig deeper into a platform’s reporting capabilities and soon you will discover that you have unearthed a more complete picture of your buyers than ever before. By closely studying in which stage of the buyer’s journey content is used, when and where sales reps deploy content, and how buyers engage with the content, Marketing can begin carefully honing their strategy based on real-world data. Soon the process becomes like a well-oiled machine as the in-depth analytics begin reinforcing theories and buyers begin receiving content that has been created to specifically answer the questions they have and solve their specific problems.