How to Set Your Sales Reps on Fire – A Guide to Sales Enablement
What is Sales Enablement? It's a question we've been asked a lot. Even though the term is becoming increasingly recognized within people working in or around sales, its meaning has remained blurry to many.
The short answer is that Sales Enablement is equipping your salespeople with the best possible resources to maximize their productivity. That is to say, giving them what they need to sell as much as possible. We see a lot of potential in optimizing sales processes in organizations and we think Sales Enablement is the key opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage and business growth. However, it isn’t that simple! There’s a wide variety of factors impacting it. Since we’ve been working with this topic for as long as we've been around, here’s an overview of what Sales Enablement is all about and insights on how organizations can use it to their benefit.
The Fundamentals of Enabling Sales
As mentioned, there are a lot of ways to improve your sales team’s productivity. In categorizing these ways we’ve identified three fundamental basics how sales organizations and sales reps can sell more.
1. The Client – Listening, Understanding, Helping, and Executing Sales
First, clients are always the source of your revenue. Consequently, the viability of your business and sales is always dependent on whether your company can provide value for the clients. The processes and/or people contributing in your company must constantly make an effort in the beginning to convince a new buyer to trust you and later to ensure customer retention and growth of your sales by delivering those customers value. How do you know your value for your client?
How do you know your value for your client?
A must for a mutually beneficial relationship is listening to the client. Understanding their situation is key in guiding them and planning together, how they could organize their business operations better. You’re in a strong position if you can identify improvements and business opportunities for your client even before they've noticed them.
If you’re only asked how you could help after the client has already figured out what they need, you’ll likely end up in a time-consuming process competing with other providers. In that situation, there is only one outcome where you make the sale and many outcomes where you don’t. That’s not where you want to be.
Figure out their situation, give your full attention and your expertise to help them make the most with their operations. After having the desire to help the client improve their business, your sales are a natural consequence. The moment of truth is when the client is making a buying decision. If, at that point, they don’t even have to question your value for them, you’re in a very good position. No matter the tools, processes, management, equipment or tech stack in your organization, in the end closing sales requires repeat action. In other words, a constant ability to help the client. Whatever your service or product, ensure with your guidance, communication and instructions that the client is utilizing it right and creating the most added value for their business. That’s the key for an ongoing partnership that provides value for both you and your client.
Here’s a key truth about sales: it’s about helping the client, the buyer! If you don’t focus on them in your sales, you might as well hang up your gloves and quit.
On-going work and development drives the relationship. If you’re lacking the desire to help the client and to make things happen with them, it’s only a matter of time before someone else can provide something better for the client, who are then perfectly happy to give their money to someone else for more value in return. Here’s a key truth about sales: it’s about helping the client, the buyer! If you don’t focus on them in your sales, you might as well hang up your gloves and quit.
2. Human Resources - Recruitment, Training, Coaching
People are the most expensive resource in a company. Usually, you need personnel to deliver the service that provides some value or adds something to a client’s business.
One of the most important things, then, is to create processes that help you find the right talents and further down the line help them in their day-to-day sales.
You want to ensure that your employees have the necessary know-how. They need to be able to make business decisions every day. If someone else has to make decisions for sales reps, the company is wasting its resources. If they constantly need a supervisor or a superior to make judgement calls for them, they’re wasting both their and their managers’ time. All that time is taken away from more productive tasks. The key here is to empower your people to make the right calls without supervisors hovering over and micromanaging them.
If someone else has to make decisions for sales reps, the company is wasting its resources.
It seems there are two types of salesperson. There’s the experienced veteran, who’s been around the block more times you can count, but who will most definitely do things their way, even if you have a new solution that’s demonstrably better. Then there’s the whippersnapper who’s eager to please but has no experience and needs constant guidance.
That’s not really true.
There are plenty of old school salespeople who are open to new ideas, new tools and new processes. Just as there are plenty of young, inexperienced salespeople who still somehow think they know better and will do what they want.
Finding the right people for your organization isn’t just about staring at a resume. It’s more about finding people who will work independently, but also embrace the culture of your company.
Still, even the best sales talents can’t work well if the company can’t help them build an understanding of how they can help their clients and sell at the same time. Selling is the responsibility of a salesperson but onboarding them and developing the knowledge they need is up to managers.
3. Equipment - Tools, Technologies, Reporting, Optimization
If you really want to maximize salespeople’s productivity, they’ll need the right tools to support them.
Otherwise, they might end up wasting a lot of their time on useless tasks, which doesn’t serve their core function: selling. The more time they spend updating reports, trying to manage systems, tools and so on, the less time they have for their clients and sales efforts.
The more time they spend updating reports, trying to manage systems, tools and so on, the less time they have for their clients and sales efforts.
There are thousands of different platforms, tools, systems etc. which companies can utilize in their sales operations. Obviously, it’s a whole different story figuring out which tools are the right ones for your company. In these cases, you should stay focused on what truly serves your employees and provides ROI. Many companies make significant investments in technologies, but at the end of the day, many of those technologies end up not being used. Why is that? You might see different departments pointing fingers at each other, saying things like “they don’t really understand how we work” or “there was no consideration for the use cases, when choosing that tool”.
Often, there’s a lack of communication between sales, marketing, IT and other related parties during decision making. As a result, certain employees might consider the solution only from their perspective and end up choosing something that doesn’t provide value for the whole company. So, if you really want to find valuable tech to help your employees sell more and accelerate your business, make sure that your organization is internally aware of the needs of sales and have the means to set up architecture that makes working more efficient and doesn’t just create extra costs or waste resources.
If you can put the right stack together, the positive return can be mind-blowing.
When you give employees the right, simple tools that help them in their daily work, it enables them to streamline their daily work and become more productive. Your tech stack should help your sales, not add more workload! How many times have you heard salespeople being frustrated with updating data in CRM systems, finding and putting together the right content for their presentations, sharing materials with clients, filling some Excel or Google sheets, digging for information for reporting or doing other activities that aren’t serving their goals at all?
Your tech stack should help your sales, not add more workload!
In the worst case, there’s no communication or integration between systems, resulting in information not being accessible when needed. Review thoroughly what the best way to organize and integrate your tools is. It’s always costly when salespeople spend their time finding something or filling in information if that time could’ve been saved with better processes and management. All these hours could be better used on productive sales work that adds value and brings in revenue. When you think how much all this irrelevant workload costs monthly or annually, you get a picture of the significance of using the right tools.
If you use the right technologies, and use them right, the return is huge. You can make or even automate efficient processes that previously required significant amounts of man-hours, including reporting, automated communication or marketing, preparations, material sharing, scheduling and so on. Salespeople might only use about 30-40% of their working time on sales. The remaining time is used on preparations, updating information and other tasks that generate zero revenue for the company.
Modern tech helps you measure, analyze, optimize, automate, use AI, and utilize lots of other features that people couldn’t even dream about a couple decades ago. Still, few companies are utilizing these possibilities efficiently. You don’t need to use and do everything. Rather recognize which are the most important functions that can be reorganized with tech to improve your operations. Just a few priorities can give you a significant competitive advantage. Usually keeping it simple works well also in your sales tech development.
Once More for the Ones in the Back Row (TL;DR)
To summarize, listen to your clients and try to identify their needs even before they do. Try to find people who fall in line with the company message but exercise independent thinking in making daily judgement calls and make sure they have the knowledge and skill they need to do that. Choose carefully which new tech to invest in, making sure that everything you spend your valuable resources on makes your processes simpler and more efficient.
There’s much more to Sales Enablement than that, but keeping these three main points in mind, you’re on your way to transforming your sales operations to something much more effective.
If you’d like to read more on our thoughts on Sales Enablement, there’s plenty more stuff in our blog and if you’d like to talk with us in more depth, feel free to book a call with one of our Sales Enablement experts or just shoot us an email!
Lauri Ruhala, CEO
+358 50 410 0052