Sales Enablement: A Sales Leaders Secret Weapon.

SalesEnablement

Every sales leader looks for an edge. They may have a dozen different levers they can pull in their attempt to improve results.  Some may provide a quick result, while others take time to build momentum.  The key is finding the right mix of short and long term actions that enable their team to sell more, in a shorter period of time. Introducing sales enablement can become the sales leaders secret weapon to achieve their goals today, tomorrow, and the next day.

The simple objective of sales enablement in any business is to maximize each interaction a sales person has with every prospect with the goal of winning the business. Said differently, it’s all about improving my team’s win ratios.  The major components of sales enablement include:

  1. Recruiting and On-Boarding
  2. Sales Training
  3. Team Development
  4. Conduit between Sales and Marketing

As a sales leader who has championed the introduction of sales enablement in a number of different companies I have experienced the following results:

  1. Improvements in selecting the right candidates – up to a 90% success rate in the first year.
  2. Significant decrease in ramp time – from 9 – 12 month ramp, down to 90 – 120 days fully producing sales representatives.
  3. More effective sales presentations leading to better outcomes – introducing sales training that focuses on providing a balance between knowledge and the application of that knowledge has created a 15 – 30% increase in close rates.
  4. A strong brand ambassador for the company – a better trained sales representative is more likely to project a sense of strength and confidence that likewise fosters confidence with the buyer.
  5. Great collaboration within the Sales team.  Sharing best practices that can be collected and put into a sales playbook creates energy, excitement, confidence and momentum for any sales team.
  6. Great collaboration between the Sales and Marketing teams. When Sales knows what Marketing is doing, and Marketing understands the outcomes of those efforts from a Sales viewpoint, alignment is created between the two.  Collaboration tears down walls and fosters a culture of learning, or testing.  When Marketing and Sales work together the business wins more than the revenue they created collectively.

I would love any stories you have on your sales enablement successes.  I’d also be interested to hear from the skeptics as well. There is a growing body of work on sales enablement that I’d be happy to share with those who are interested.

4 Tips When Selecting Sales Training for Your Team

Ponder

Sales training is one of the most important resources you can provide your team. With companies spending an average of $1,500 dollars per person each year on sales training, it’s no wonder sales managers continue to look for ways to justify the spend. Even more challenging, how do you measure the effectiveness of the training itself? How can you prove what, if any, lift was created by this training.

It is reported that less than 30% of the training sales people receive, is incorporated into their selling efforts. While sales leaders look for candidates who possess the ability to adapt and flex with changing circumstances, when it comes to how they sell, sales people tend to be quite resistant to change. Many believe, and operate, with the “what got me here…” mentality. If you’re the Sales leader, how do you decide what content you want your team to learn? What’s the best approach that aligns with your buyer’s journey? How will you distribute the training content? Online, classroom, a combination of both? Who will produce and deliver the sales training content to your team? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to ask as you evaluate your options. Here are 4 tips to consider before selecting your training program:

  1. Your personal selling philosophy? What’s your background? How do you approach a sale? Are you a relationship builder? A challenger? Are you a scrappy, street brawler? Your own philosophy on selling, mixed with your ability to evolve and change, should be considerations as you select training for your team. After all, you’ll be accountable for your team’s results which will produce the ROI results you’ll be sharing with your CEO. A note of caution: it’s both challenging and frustrating to deploy a sales methodology  that is in direct conflict with your abilities to teach it and support it. This misalignment will create frustration for your team and for you. Take the time to do some deep thinking relative your personal selling beliefs.
  2. Sales CRM. Are there tools and a process in place to reinforce the sales methodology you plan to deploy? Do you have a sales CRM? If so, is it capable of being customized enough to track and report on the key metrics required to execute your selected sales approach? What templates or frameworks have been created for your sales manager’s to assist them in reinforcing this training? Training can only be effective if it’s able to be reinforced, and results measured.
  3. Buyer’s Journey. Have you mapped out your buyer’s journey? Do you know the steps your buyer goes through on their purchasing journey? How do they educate themselves? Where do they do their research? Who are their trusted advisors? Is the sales training you’re considering aligned to this journey? I have been exposed to dozens of different sales training philosophies throughout my career. Some I have liked, others not so much. As I’ve grown and evolved as a sales leader I have learned how to customize sales training, taking some aspects of one method, and blending it with others in order to arrive at a solution that will work with my specific buyer. Note of caution: I do not believe there is a silver bullet for sales training. One method may work with a specific buying journey while others will not. I realize this statement may create some controversy but none the less I have found this to be true throughout my career. Whatever sales methodology you decide upon as the Sales leader be sure to consider your buyer FIRST and then your team’s capabilities second.
  4. Current Sales team composition. Are you building a sales team from the ground up? Are you focused on improving the production results of an existing team? Do your sales people sell face-to-face or via an Inside model? Are you in the B2B space? B2C? B2B2C space? Is your solution sold directly to the end user or is it through a channel, an influencer, or trusted advisor? Are your existed sales people and managers continuous learners? Are they consistently reading, sharing new ideas with the team? What traits do they possess that suggest they can absorb, assimilate and practice new ideas? Do you have access to profile tools and assessments like the Caliper, DiSCForte, Kolbe, or Myers Briggs?  Once you understand how your buyer buys, understanding your team’s abilities to execute on a specific sales methodology is critical.

One last consideration, that I’ll explore in a future blog post surrounds Sales Enablement. Your sales enablement capabilities, or lack there of, should also play into your selection process. There’s a lot to think about and consider. With both time, and money at stake, sale training is one of the most important decisions a Sales leader will make for the company.