Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement

Complete Guide to Sales Enablement 

This five-part guide can help accelerate your sales enablement initiatives — whether you are researching, vetting, evaluating, or adopting sales enablement.

Part 1

Researching Sales Enablement

Understand the fundamentals of sales enablement and the state of B2B sales.

Why is Sales Enablement Important?

Because selling is more challenging and complex than ever before.

Buyers Are More Informed

Buyers now can obtain product information, reviews, and pricing, embarking on as much as 57% of the buyer’s journey alone before ever speaking to a sales rep. Because buyers are more educated, they expect salespeople to present them with information that is tailored to their business that will ultimately help them make a purchase decision.

Era of the Smarter Seller

Without a customer-centric approach to selling, a sales force will not succeed. If a salesperson can’t show how a product will solve a customer's business problems, the buyer will lose interest. Sellers must find new ways to engage with their customers. They need to apply their product knowledge to customers’ specific needs with detailed product capabilities from the exact perspective of a specific buyer.

Challenges in Sales Today

 

%

of sales reps' time is not spent actually selling.

%

of marketing content goes unused by sales.

%

of executive buyers claim salespeople do not have relevant materials.

Sales Enablement FAQ

 

Sales enablement is constantly evolving. Here are common questions to understand why world-class organizations maximize their sales enablement investment.

What is sales enablement?

Sales enablement is a strategic approach to unite stakeholders in sales, marketing, and operations around the common goal of providing salespeople with the right resources, processes, and technology needed to sell effectively.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is the process through which traditional barriers are removed between Sales and Marketing. Sales enablement improves the entire content process, increases collaboration, enhances alignment, and unlocks insights that lead to better-informed business decisions. These initiatives are often accomplished through numerous internal stakeholders, a concerted strategy and process for execution, and a technological solution that provides users with the tools necessary to be successful.

Read more on the Sales Enablement Definition and Best Practices

What is the difference between sales operations and sales enablement?

Sales operations is a tactical position that helps the sales organization run smoothly and efficiently while managing the tech stack. Sales enablement is an over-arching strategy that improves sales and marketing and manages the content strategy.

What is Sales Operations?

Sales operations is your boots-on-the-ground team that is closely aligned with the daily activities of the sales team. They will be administering Salesforce (or your chosen CRM) and handling any issues that crop up because of that. They will help with lead routing, so sellers receive leads that fit their territory/solution.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is about strategically aligning people and technology behind a common goal: sales successes. It helps organizations streamline sales cycles by improving buyer interactions with better, more relevant sales content and equipping sales teams with the tools they need to be more informed and productive sellers. When executed properly, sales enablement has a measured impact on time spent selling, win rates, and deal size.

Read more on Sales Enablement and Sales Operations

Why is content management important for your organization?

Content often goes to waste simply because salespeople can’t find it or don’t know it exists in the first place.  Sales may then use outdated resources or resort to creating their own presentations. This is a huge drain on sellers’ time and overall productivity.

Why Content Management is Critical to Sales Enablement

Think back to the days before CRM when salespeople would peruse the phone book for a prospect’s number and track activities in a notepad. Modern sales executives shudder at the thought of returning to such primitive practices.

On average, organizations have 5 separate content repositories. Your sellers need a single source of truth.

But believe it or not, some sales organizations still rely on similarly outdated tactics in the way they manage another important component of their business: sales content.

When content is managed correctly, it’s a win for salespeople and the entire ecosystem that supports them. Marketers can understand the ROI of what they produce.

Read Why Content Management is Critical to Sales Enablement

Is a sales enablement platform the best content management system?

Basic document management systems are outdated and static. Salespeople need to have access to relevant content in the heat of the moment. A sales enablement platform lets content that is contextually relevant find the seller.

Sales Enablement Platform is the Perfect Document Management System

Basic document management systems are outdated and static. No longer should marketers simply creating as much content as possible and hope that Sales can find it.

A sales enablement solution is one of the most powerful tools that an organization can leverage. It rolls many different capabilities into one easy-to-use, intuitively designed platform. A sales enablement platform streamlines the process of document management by giving marketing the necessary tools to properly tag content so that it can be surfaced to sellers when they need it. Marketing can rest easy that content is being surfaced solely to people for whom it’s relevant.

Sellers can search for content in a variety different ways. Can't remember the exact title? Only remember a part of quote or fact? Looking for materials for a specific industry or buying persona? No problem, a sales enablement platform can find that content and deliver to your sales team.

A sales enablement solution will alert sellers when a certain piece of content is trending, has been successful in the past, or is even contextually relevant to the deal they are currently working. And the content finds them wherever they are: CRM, email, or on the road.

Read Why A Sales Enablement Platform is the Perfect Document Management System

What are the essential content types for sales enablement?

Content comes in many styles, from professionally formatted documents to videos, infographics, selling scripts and competitive data. Provide your sellers with the right types of content, so they can have better conversations that solve your customers' biggest challenges.

5 Essential Content Types for Sales Enablement

The true mark of a working sales enablement strategy is a sales force that constantly maintains meaningful conversations with prospects and customers. It doesn’t matter how documents the sales enablement team puts out; the important thing is to provide the sales team with content that is relevant and helpful at each stage of the sales process.

What content you should create depends on the particular needs of your reps. Given that B2B sales processes are often pretty sophisticated, various forms and types of content will be required.

The essential content types include: product training, selling scripts, and persona documents. Sellers should also be provided with competitor research and analysis and customer-facing marketing materials so your sellers are best prepared.

Read the 5 Essential Content Types for Sales Enablement

How can sales enablement solve marketing and sales challenges?

Sellers spend too much time creating presentations and pitch decks. They want more flexibility. Marketers want more control to ensure up-to-date messaging and branding. Sales wants more visibility into performance insights. Sales enablement solves these issues.

3 Sales and Marketing Challenges that Sales Enablement Can Solve

1. Creating sales content or pitch decks takes too long.

A sales enablement automation platform can update your sales content, pitch decks, and fact sheets in a matter of minutes, allowing you to create documents faster and more accurately than ever. As a result, sales reps can deliver hyper-personalized content to prospects and customers in a timely manner.

2. Marketers want guardrails, and salespeople want flexibility and control.

With a sales enablement automation platform, both teams can get what they want: marketers can maintain their organizations’ branding, and sales can quickly create hyper-personalized sales content based on marketing-approved messaging and assets.

3. Enterprise sales content isn’t a collaborative process.

Sales enablement aligns sales and marketing, ensuring more collaboration. This alignment can help lower costs, increase revenues, ensure brand integrity and compliance, and close more deals.

Sales Enablement Definition

Sales enablement is a strategic approach to unite stakeholders in sales, marketing, and operations around the common goal of providing salespeople with the right resources, processes, and technology needed to engage with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey and sell effectively.

Sales Enablement Overview

Sales enablement focuses on the buyer and the experience sales provides to prospects and customers at every point of engagement. Sales enablement a strategic approach to unite and align sales, marketing, and operations around the common goal of equipping salespeople with the right resources, tools, and processes to sell effectively… And enhancing and supporting it all with technology.

Sales enablement has made its way into the mainstream; top analysts write about it, top companies hire for it… and dozens of software companies claim to be it. But it’s important to note that sales enablement is not just technology; sales enablement is a strategy to maximize sellers’ ability to communicate value and differentiation in a clear, consistent, and compelling way. Sales enablement technology was created to help clients reinforce and drive process around their sales enablement strategies. It was built with the intention of helping companies open the lines of communications between the people creating customer-facing assets (marketing) and those charged to leverage these resources in deals (sales).

Even the greatest athletes in the world can improve their performance and with the help of better tools, superior coaching and training, and easy access to resources such as intelligence on new techniques for better performance. This same concept applies with sales enablement, because even the most talented reps can benefit from the right support, structure, and technology.

What Sales Enablement Is Not

Sales Enablement is not Content Marketing

Sales enablement is the strategic process of providing salespeople with the tools they need to consistently have valuable conversations with buyers at each stage of the buyer's journey. Sales enablement includes the resources, content, tools, and processes salespeople need to succeed at all stages of the deal from oppportunity to close and upsell.

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, and ultimately drive profitable customer action. Content marketing is a way to interact with prospects without selling. It educates prospects before, during and after interactions with salespeople. In a B2B environment, content marketing and sales enablement aren’t at odds; they work together. Now more than ever, sales reps rely on the right content to support their sales conversations.

Sales Enablement is not Sales Operations

Sales enablement is about strategically aligning people and technology behind a common goal: sales successes. It helps organizations streamline sales cycles by improving buyer interactions with better, more relevant sales content and equipping sales teams with the tools they need to be more informed and productive sellers. When executed properly, sales enablement has a measured impact on time spent selling, win rates, and deal size.

Sales operations is your boots-on-the-ground team that is closely aligned with the daily activities of the sales team. They will be administering Salesforce (or your chosen CRM) and handling any issues that crop up because of that. They will help with lead routing, so sellers receive leads that fit their territory/solution.

Part 2

Vetting Sales Enablement

Is your organization considering investing in sales enablement?

Enablement. Real Problem. Real Word.

Sales enablement is no longer a buzzword.

LinkedIn Users with Sales Enablement in Current Job Title

Source: LinkedIn

users in 2016
users in 2018
users in 2018

Companies with a Dedicated Sales Enablement Person,  Program, or Function

Source: CSO Insights - 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Study

%
of companies in 2015
%
of companies in 2016
%
of companies in 2017

The Forrester Wave™:
Sales Enablement Automation Platforms, Q3 2018

 

The sales enablement space is growing because more enterprises are seeing sales enablement as a key way to address their top challenges. Discover how to choose the right sales enablement solution for your team.

When Is a Good Time to Start Sales Enablement?

To answer to this question, let’s understand the major business initiatives a typical organization will go through before beginning to invest in sales enablement.

Document Management

Process in place that streamlines the storage of records, presentations, content, and other collateral.

Customer Management

A process for managing relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.

Content Management

The strategy that answers the questions of why, how, and where content is stored. Sales enablement improves the efficiency of this process.

Content Creation

Creating content is a pain; it takes a lot of time and is hard to automate. Sales enablement is about unlocking efficiency of this process.

Document Management

Most organizations—whether mature, or fast-growing startup—will begin with document management. This is the simple process of storing and managing the documents that an organization uses in its day-to-day activities. This will typically be an unsophisticated process without much strategy or initiative behind it. Document management is a process that streamlines the storage of records, content, and other assorted pieces of collateral.

Document management is more of a procedural process than one that solves big problems or effectively reduces inefficiencies and increases productivity. An organization that is focused on document management typically has more important areas to focus on: product development, ramping up sales, creating a marketing team, ensuring excellent customer service, building a company culture—or the organization may be in an old industry that has yet to take to newer trends.

Customer Management
Content Management
Content Creation

Who Owns Sales Enablement?

Depending on available resources, headcount, overall goals, and priorities, sales enablement ownership will be slightly tailored to your organization.

Marketing

Making sales enablement the responsibility of Marketing is the classic approach to this question because although sales enablement ultimately results in closing more deals in a more efficient manner, a lot of the work is done in improving Marketing’s overall efficiency.

By embarking on a sales enablement journey, a marketing team is committing to revamping their entire relationship with content. They acknowledge that their content needs to be easier to find; speak more directly to buyers' needs; enable Sales to create their own approved, personalized content; and prove its ROI.

Marketers spend their entire careers thinking about those concerns. Thus, sales enablement would fall under the purview of Marketing. Marketing can handle integrating a solution into the tech stack, present an easy-to-understand overview to Sales, and measure the success of the overall effort. Allowing Marketing to own a sales enablement initiative is best suited for organizations that are looking to unlock new efficiency with their entire content process, as well as improve sales and marketing alignment.

Sales
Sales Enablement

Content Management Best Practices

Marketing creates three times more content than Sales uses, yet Sales feels like they don't always have the content for their selling situation. Provide your sellers with content that is easy to find, personalized, and professionally formatted, so their sales pitch is tailored to solve your customers' biggest challenges.

Why

Why does content management matter?

Centralizing all of your assets is valuable in and of itself – that’s why ‘single source of truth’ is an industry term. The statistics speak for themselves in terms of the efficiency, scalability, and visibility content management brings to your business.

Bottom line: If you have a single, mastered content library, you’re better able to manage your materials efficiently to build an organization without introducing additional complexity. That’s at the heart of every solution in the ECM, DAM, and SAM categories. It’s that simple.

What
Where
Who
When

The Importance of Content

%

of buying decisions are directly influenced by content.

%

of buyers view at least 5 pieces of content before they purchase.

%

of sales reps say they don't have enough valuable content.

The Challenges of Content

%

of B2B marketers do not measure engagement of their content from sales.

%

of content created by marketing goes unused by sales reps.

%

of a sales rep’s time is spent searching for or creating content to share.

Sales Content Strategy

 

Build a buyer-focused content strategy that sellers will love.

What are the benefits of a successful sales content strategy?

%

increase in content usage

%

boost in conversions

%

increased revenue by new reps

Part 3

Evaluating Sales Enablement

Looking to assess the benefits of sales enablement before getting started?

Sales Enablement Aligns Marketing, Sales, and Operations

This alignment yields lower costs, increase revenues, ensure brand integrity and compliance, and close more deals.

Marketing Teams

 

Create more effective, data-driven sales materials. Learn what content resonates today so you can make smart investments in the future.

Sales Enablement & Sales Operations

 

Equip your teams with powerful selling tools. Give them the resources to become experts in today’s tough selling environment.

Sales Teams

 

Create predictable results by collecting insights from top performing sellers. Make every seller your best seller with hyper-focused deal-winning content.

%

of companies plan to increase company alignment.

%

average annual growth rate due to alignment.

What does Sales Enablement Look Like In Practice?

Marketing collaborates, automates, manages, and distributes content from one place. Sales Enablement and Operations delivers those materials, training, and analytics to the right teams. Partner and Channel teams have access to a library of content that feels like it was personalized just for them and for the deal they’re working on.

What does sales enablement look like without technology

Ad-Hoc Approach

 

Most organizations start from a state of Ad-hoc enablement. In this stage, enablement functions are undefined. Only certain content is available for sales staff across various repositories, marketing insights on buyer's engagement with sales content are anecdotal, and technology is siloed.

As a result, salespeople waste time finding the right materials, new content is created after it's needed, and collaboration across departments is stifled.

What does sales enablement look like with technology

Integrated Approach

 

With an integrated approach to enablement, people, process, and technology are strategically aligned to drive sales success.

Marketing and sales are empowered with a platform to communicate, store, automate, and refine content to answer buyer questions. Organizational goals are maintained cross-departmentally to ensure accountability and ROI.

Sales Enablement Plan

 

Now that we’ve identified the importance of the sales enablement function, let’s look at the key elements of an effective sales enablement plan. Marketing, product marketing, sales leadership, and a dedicated sales enablement team will often work together to train and equip sales people. Continue below to get started.

Part 4

Sales Enablement Technology

Understand how a sales enablement platform fits in your tech stack.

What are the benefits from a sales enablement platform?

Marketing Efficiency

 

Say goodbye to data entry headaches. Increase efficiency with batch updates, reliability, and automation.

Sales Productivity

 

Surface the most impactful content while giving sales and service teams the power to customize their own.

Risk Mitigation

 

Collaborate and manage content workflows effectively. Ensure every piece of content is on-brand and compliant.

Sales Enablement Technology Evolution

As sales enablement technology continues to modernize and change the way sales and marketing teams work together, it's helpful to understand how technology evolved.

History of Sales Enablement Technology

Challenges with Current Sales Technology

Part of the problem is that the “original” sales technology, the CRM, was not built with effectiveness in mind. Marketing automation focuses more on marketing and less on improving sales productivity. A sales enablement platform reduces burden on salespeople, streamlines their workflow and provides marketers with insights.

crm-illustration

CRM

 

Customer Relationship Management technology is a system of record for managing relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.

ma-illustration

Marketing Automation

 

Marketing Automation is a system to automate repetitive marketing tasks such as e-mail, social media, and other website actions using predefined conditions and triggers.

sales-enablement-illustration

Sales Enablement

 

A sales enablement platform provides a repository for sales collateral and marketing materials for all stages of the selling cycle.  A sales enablement platform also provides insights on content analytics and how it affects deals and sales performance.

Seismic is the final piece to your tech stack puzzle.

 

Our platform not only integrates with the technologies you use every day, we enhance them. From Salesforce to Marketo, Seismic makes your tools work harder for you.

Sales Enablement Platform

Technology built for scaling sales enablement initiatives.

Content Management

A central, single-source-of-truth repository serves sellers the marketing-approved content they need to have the conversations that improve win rates.

Sales Communication

Communication-focused tools empower reps with relevant knowledge and information from teams and departments devoted to their success.

Sales Training

Sales-readiness features help sellers by focusing on the time leading up to those customer conversations through videos, coaching, and certifications.

Marketing Insights

Teams have the information needed to know what’s advancing deals so the sales content creation process can improve and be even more effective.

Part 5

Adopt Sales Enablement

Ready to get the rest of your team and organization involved?

Building a Business Case for Sales Enablement

 

Implementing a sales enablement platform is a large investment that will affect many people throughout an organization. As such, there will be a lengthy process for selecting the correct vendor and winning over decision-makers. Here are  steps to get started.

Sales Enablement Resources

The content you need to answer any of your sales enablement questions.

Researching Sales Enablement

Understand the fundamentals of sales enablement and the state of B2B sales.

Vetting Sales Enablement

Is your organization considering investing in sales enablement?

Evaluating Sales Enablement

Looking to assess the benefits of sales enablement before getting started?

Sales Enablement Technology

Understand how a sales enablement platform fits in your tech stack.

Adopt Sales Enablement

Ready to get the rest of your team and organization involved?

  • Researching Sales Enablement
  • Vetting Sales Enablement
  • Evaluating Sales Enablement
  • Sales Enablement Technology
  • Adopt Sales Enablement