Research shows that salespeople spend only 37% of their time selling.
From start-ups to large enterprises, sales enablement is one thing you can bet your life savings on. If and when you do get it right, floodgates of sales open up to your organisation – give you have a strong value proposition and the right pricing strategy in place. Years ago, sales enablement was very different than today’s landscape which is primarily driven by customer micro engagements and crazy data analytics that can be so sophisticated that BI tools and data scientists are an all-time high demand. The era we live in, although more and more competitive, we have an abundance of tools and technologies that if well utilised with, of course, the customer being at the centre of what you do, can truly change your game and take your business to the next level.
Sales enablement still is about providing salespeople with the knowledge, tools and tactics they need to perform at their peak. But this knowledge and these tools and tactics are what changed, quite dramatically. Buyers are more conscious and savvier, but at the same time, you have more tools and access to more information. So, you could argue that while it’s becoming easier on one end, it’s more difficult on the other end. The truth of the matter is, all businesses that focus on sales enablement, excel much more than those who don’t. So much so, that some organisations have dedicated sales enablement teams.
1. What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is the science and art of providing the sales organisations with the information, content, and tools to ‘enable’ the salesforce to sell more effectively. The foundation of sales enablement is to provide your sales team with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process. A successful sales enablement framework typically comprises of
- Sharing information and knowledge about buyers and prospects
- Alignment between sales and marketing to establish one coherent story
- Utilising marketing technology to create engaging customer journeys
- Identifying buying signals to enable the sales force to focus on promising leads
- Creating a buyer-centric blueprint for sales best practices
Consider these two scenarios:
Your sales team get leads in the CRM where they have visibility on basic information like name, email and phone along with perhaps the lead source channel (Google, Facebook, referral, etc.). They don’t have much visibility on what content visitors and prospects have seen before they landed in their CRM and they don’t have an effective sales training program that focuses on the key buying drivers, motivations, buyer persona, objections handling, etc.
Your sales team get leads in the CRM where they can see in micro-details the journey of the lead from the 1st time they interacted with one of your brand’s content/interface. They can see things like what website pages they visited, what specific parts of your product or service they are interested in. Equally important, they can see the lead score of every lead to determine which ones to give more priority for as well as a bunch of other buying signals that your analytics and marketing automation tools have tracked. This is combined with a comprehensive sales blueprint as well as a culture where there is a high level of alignment between sales & marketing ensuring transparency and visibility on how and what we communicate with our prospects.
You can bet your money that your team in scenario B will be performing better as well as your organisation as a whole. Why? Because we have maximised their knowledge about the potential buyers they are interacting with and empowered them through sales best practices. It seems trivial, doesn’t it? But there is a lot that goes into it and hence why large enterprises create dedicated sales enablement teams. But smaller organisations don’t necessarily have to pay the same price to get the same outcome. Your focus is to
- Map out the buying journey
- Understand communicate the voice of the customer
- Analyse and solve your buyers’ pain points
- Monitor and communicate buying triggers
- Define the value messaging that will drive the enablement
- Leverage marketing technology to develop a lead nurturing engine
- Prioritise your salesforce time based on leads more likely to convert
When you nail these activities, you have nailed your sales enablement for the most part.
2. What is Marketing Automation?
It is perhaps a concept you would always get a different definition for. If you ask digital marketers what marketing automation is? They will all give you different answers. But, essentially marketing automation is the leverage of technology and systems to improve two things: customer experience and your customer acquisition function. Today, the marketing technology industry is one of the fastest growing industries, thanks to AI and other tech leaps and bounds made over the last few years. There are thousands if not tens of thousands of tools in the marketing tech world. What are they all for and purpose do they serve? We’ll cover this in another post. Let’s go back to what is marketing automation. One of the other ways you can look at it is that it bridges the gap between marketing and sales on many fronts. At the core of it, marketing automation is a sales enabler. That’s really all it is. It is a set of frameworks, tools, strategies and tactics that enable marketers to communicate more effectively with
What is marketing automation very good at?
- Personalisation of communication
- Customer engagement and reach
- Scalability of the marketing operation
- Segmentation and Information gathering
3. How to leverage Marketing Automation to enable sales
Marketing, especially through technology and analytics, will often have a deeper perspective on the customer and the buying path than the rest of the organisation. Yet, almost half (47%) of Marketing teams don’t have a documented buyer’s journey. To enable sales teams, marketers need to create a ‘single view of the customer’. To do that, you constantly need to be learning and redefining your customer persona.
3.1 Nurture Content
To target objection points before they arise at the sales stage
Content is king but when used right. That means when you send it at the right time to the right person through the right medium. And, that’s what marketing automation is about. Done right, your content will nurture your prospects, educate them and move them down the funnel. The first question you need to ask yourself is, what do you my prospects care about? What do they find interesting? What do they need to know? What problems do they have and how can my content help them solve these problems? Next, you need to decide on
- What’s the best format(s) to send and push your content?
- What are the best channels to use? Should you mainly rely on emails, SMS, Bots, Website / App Push Notifications or a combination of those?
- What should be your gated content that you’ll use to gather information?
- How frequent should you communicate and send messages to your prospects?
3.2 Qualification Process
To help them be more productive and target ready-to-buy leads
One of the primary benefits of using marketing technology tools is improving conversion by pushing through more qualified prospects into the sales pipeline so that the sales team can close deals more effectively. Qualifying leads is one of the most important activities a marketer will do in their lifetime. In fact, if you don’t get this right, nothing else matters. Qualifying leads is about taking them through this journey of nurture, engagement and discovery. Your objective is to keep your prospects close and qualified prospects even closer. How? By setting up an effective communication journey and a marketing funnel that learns about your true buyers and engages them with content that they care about. To score an effective lead qualification journey, you will need to do the following:
Setup your prospect journey of various touchpoints ensuring that you are communicating one coherent message based on your buyer’s persona key drivers and triggers.
Set, collect and deliver relevant customer data to the CRM to empower your sales team close more leads by learning about how they interacted with us and essentially shortening the discovery phase for them.
Split Test your journeys to determine the effectiveness of your journeys
3.3 Lead Scoring & Prioritisation
To help them focus on the leads that matter, first.
Not all leads are made equal. No matter what you do in nurture funnel, some leads will be more interested and likely to buy than others. Your job is to ensure that your sales team spends their time on leads that more likely to buy aka with higher lead scores. But first, you need to score leads appropriately. How? There are essentially two buckets of criteria to look at when scoring leads. The first is buyer persona criteria i.e. how much does this lead fit your buyer persona. This could be in terms of demographics or collected info about their particular interests. The 2nd bucket is about their interaction with your which behaviour-based lead scoring. How many pages have they visited and how much time have they spent on your website – are a good example. How many emails have they opened and clicked? And so on. Equally important, you need to look at the criteria or behaviour that would decrease their score. So, for instance, have they unsubscribed from your email list? Are they bouncing off your landing pages straightaway? You could also create a level of discrimination in leads by the source channel assuming that your channels have a significant level of intent and you know historically that one channel performs better.
Before you set the lead scoring methodology, a good starting point is to analyse your existing database of customers and look at any correlations and trends to see if you can draw any conclusions on what do leads have or show that can predict their conversion likelihood.