Selling a product relies on more than your sales team. Every section of your selling funnel has to work, from initial lead generation to the content shared with a prospect and techniques used by salespeople to close the deal.
If you don’t have a sales enablement strategy, you risk forming silos that lead to less transparency within your teams. The less transparency there is, the more missed opportunities your team will have because they didn’t collaborate.
Using sales enablement in your selling strategy can help every piece of your puzzle fall into place. It provides your team with the tools, resources and knowledge they need to market and sell your product to your customers confidently.
In this article, you’ll discover how marketing and sales teams working together helps close deals quicker and how to build a sales enablement strategy of your own, as well as learning a simple sales enablement definition.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is the strategic process of creating and gathering the tools needed to empower team members to sell products effectively. This includes decks, guides, techniques, sales training, digital tools and more.
Research shows that switching from an informal selling method to an informed sales enablement strategy can boost win rates by around 18%. A sales enablement methodology uses optimization at every step of your sales and marketing funnels by focusing on collaboration and shared resources.
For effective sales enablement, both marketing and sales teams create assets to use in the buyer’s journey. These assets are usually things like:
Blog content and product walkthroughs
Case studies highlighting customer success stories
Technical documentation for product implementation
Sales scripts/pitches to help with product demos
Some of these items, such as blog posts and case studies, will be created by a marketing team. The sales team can utilize these assets when they are trying to close a deal, as they can help reinforce to a customer how helpful a product has been or answer any technical questions they may have.
Let’s say, for example, one of your sales reps has just finished a demo with an interested prospect. On the call, the prospect requested information on how similar companies have used it as well as some specific details about how to integrate it into their systems.
With a sales enablement methodology, salespeople will have access to a shared knowledge bank thanks to the marketing team’s content. Within five minutes after the initial call, the sales rep can pull three or four relevant case studies and send them to the prospect over email along with a PDF explaining how to integrate their product using the API.
A sales enablement program is a bridge between marketing and sales
Sales and marketing teams play very different roles in the customer journey.
Your marketing team may be responsible for developing an effective content strategy and measuring social media engagement.
Your sales team may be on video calls or talking to prospects over email, closing deals and measuring win rates.
Both sales and marketing can benefit from each other’s insights. Marketing can use data and analytics collected by the sales team to help decide what assets to develop next, while sales can use relevant content developed by the marketing team to win over customers and close deals.
A sales enablement strategy brings this information together.
How to create a sales enablement strategy that empowers reps
A sales enablement strategy relies on giving your sales reps every tool and asset they need to close a deal. Each company is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a sales enablement strategy.
Start by looking at what your sales team needs and where the gaps in your current selling strategy are so you know what you need to fill. By analyzing what resources your sales team has on hand, you’ll get a better understanding of what content you need to add to your sales enablement efforts to help them sell convincingly.
Audit your entire sales funnel and find out where its weak points are. For example, if your sales team is booking enough demos but your close rate is low, you need to find out the problem. It may indicate:
A lack of assets, such as case studies or testimonials to help them convince prospects to buy.
Insufficient training. Deals can break down without proper training in selling strategy or overcoming objections.
Stalled demos. If the demo technology isn’t great or the pitching strategy isn’t making an impact, deals can fall flat.
After an initial audit of your current strategy, take a deeper look at how your sales and marketing team can work together.
Task 1: Focus on sales content creation you can use to sell your product
Having the right information on hand can be extremely helpful when trying to close a deal with prospects as it helps do the talking for your product.
You should incorporate any relevant content generated by your marketing team that could help answer a question or reinforce value during sales conversations. Examples of marketing initiatives that your sales reps can use include:
Certain types of content, like blog posts and case studies, are especially helpful for sales reps to use as a persuasive technique.
Blog posts are an easy way for your sales team to communicate your authority to prospects.
These assets can help prospects understand certain pain points in their industry, overcome a problem with a how-to guide or provide more details about a product’s functionality. They are also an excellent way for salespeople to nudge a prospect down the sales funnel without being pushy, as blog posts can be a way of persuading them that your tool is a good fit.
Case studies are arguably the most crucial piece of content in a sales enablement strategy as they show prospects that your product works.
These assets tell the story of a current customer experience and highlight how your product has helped them overcome a pain point or reach a goal. Additionally, case studies should include metrics to back up their claims, like how much money the customer saved or how many customers they acquired.
At Pipedrive we use case studies on its website and in sales pitches to highlight how it helps customers.
Each case study is formatted so that the most important takeaways are at the top. Prospects may not have time to read the whole case study, so these sections highlight the main details for easy scanning.
Since Pipedrive’s marketing team has already written and published over 50 case studies from customers in various industries, sales representatives have plenty of assets to choose from to send to prospects during the buying process.
Start collecting customer statistics and developing case studies as soon as possible. Prospects are more likely to reach out to you if they can see where you’ve helped customers with similar problems to theirs, and case studies are an ideal way to build trust in your brand and product.
Sales scripts are also a helpful guide for reps in any sales enablement strategy.
These scripts should be fluid enough to give your sales reps freedom, yet remind them to mention important product features and cover the basics so they don’t forget anything when talking to prospects. Here’s what a typical script that representatives can follow looks like:
Introduction. Who you are and the reason for calling.
Opener. You can warm up the call with a personal introduction by introducing someone you know or something you have in common.
Reason for calling. What’s your positioning? Provide a brief overview of your product.
Value proposition. Hook your prospect with a one-liner. Include an explanation in your sales pitch of how your product can help and any social proof relevant to your prospect.
Leading questions. Open-ended questions help fill in knowledge gaps. Ask questions about challenges, aspirations and any products or services they’re using now.
Close. Every conversation your sales reps initiate should have a close in mind ahead of time. At the end of your call, know the action you wish to take, whether you want to sell, book a demonstration or schedule a meeting for five minutes.
Scripts should also cover what a sales rep should do if they’re faced with an objection. Once again, this helps your team’s message stay consistent and sharing techniques to overcome objections can help more of your reps succeed in closing deals.
Making a video of these scripts is ideal for engaging your sales reps and showing them what overcoming an objection looks like in real life. Here is an example of a tutorial Pipedrive has created to help its reps deal with common objections on a call:
Like other pieces of sales enablement content, sales scripts should be stored inside a shared space so everyone has easy access to them.
Finally, bring all the content that will be helpful to your sales organization into a centralized area.
Use a wiki or knowledge base to store content so it’s easily accessible to your salespeople when they’re talking to prospects.
Content libraries can be stored in tools like Google Docs or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to make them instantly accessible when your reps need an asset. Try and choose a tool that allows your salespeople to tag and search for assets so they can quickly find and share content to send to a prospect.
For example, the team at Notion uses a wiki to share information between its sales, marketing and customer success departments.
If a sales rep needs a testimonial or case study to share with a prospect, they can search for a current customer that matches their needs inside the wiki using tags and filters:
The wiki is a living document that is updated in real time. Sales reps can also be confident that every asset is up to date and relevant when sending it to a prospect.
Task 2: Decide if anything in your sales process can be automated
Several steps within a typical sales funnel can be taken care of using automation.
Automating tasks frees up time for salespeople to book more meetings and focus on closing deals. Common tasks that can be automated include:
Emails and lead nurturing. Sales reps and other team members can send follow-up emails if prospects do not respond within a specified period. A CRM like Pipedrive can automatically trigger sequences to nurture prospects with follow-up emails using tags and templates. If your reps send multiple emails a day, automating these workflows can free up their calendar for higher-priority tasks, like demos and meetings.
Lead generation and prospecting. Automated prospecting can fill your sales rep’s calendars with potential leads without them spending hours trawling LinkedIn or Twitter. Instead, prospects who are ready to buy can schedule a conversation with the rep using the calendar link. This will allow reps to simply open their calendars every day to find multiple meetings with qualified buyers already there, saving them hours of prospecting time.
For sales teams interested in automating lead generation, tools like conversational chatbots can qualify prospects straight from your website. For example, Pipedrive’s LeadBooster add-on uses playbooks to qualify leads based on the criteria you set. It then assigns quality leads to the most appropriate sales rep based on location, availability, experience level and expertise.
Task 3: Invest in sales enablement software to help with reporting and analytics
Sales enablement technology brings all your content and selling strategies under one roof.
The right sales enablement tool can track content engagement and sales productivity to give sales enablement managers a more accurate idea of how well the overall sales strategy works. Each part of the sales cycle is connected within the platform, so you can track deals and touchpoints to see where better content or more engagement is needed.
Sales enablement solutions also track sales performance and metrics inside dedicated dashboards. Common metrics to track within a sales enablement strategy include:
Average sales cycle length. This metric tracks how long it typically takes for a prospect to convert. This data makes it easier for sales managers to see where the cycle slows down and improvements are needed to speed up the selling process. If the sales cycle seems drawn out at the lead qualifying stage, for example, reps may benefit from playbooks with personas that close deals quickly or close higher-value deals.
Deal win/loss percentage. Visualize the win/loss rate for every deal in your pipeline. Breaking down each deal by rep, organization and time-to-close period allows managers to see if any are getting blocked at a certain stage in the pipeline or if individual representatives aren’t performing. Knowing which reps need additional support shows sales managers where to direct sales enablement material, and knowing what types of deals they miss out on informs the type of resources they need (e.g., call scripts, content wikis, etc.).
Revenue forecasts. Get a clear picture of estimated future revenue to understand what deals have been closed and which ones need work. Forecasting helps sales leaders get an accurate estimate of the future resources available and how sales cycles impact the company’s bottom line. Looking at what deals you still need to close to reach goals can tell you which resources reps might need. If the remaining deals on your list could all use a demo to get the sale over the line, you can gather your best demo material, along with anything else your reps might need. Managers can also see ongoing deals arranged by their likely close date next to deals that have already closed for easy comparison so their team knows which ones to focus on.
It’s essential that your chosen sales enablement platform closes the loop between your sales and marketing teams. Content and assets should be easily accessible and shared between departments, so sales reps are empowered to close more deals.
How to hire a sales enablement manager
Assigning a leader for your sales enablement program can help implement and launch it successfully.
This is usually the job of a sales enablement manager. Their role is to support the sales enablement team and build bridges to other departments so relevant content can be sourced and shared easily.
The manager will also be in charge of coaching their sales reps on using tools like sales enablement platforms, wikis and content hubs to find and share assets when trying to close deals.
The day-to-day tasks of a sales enablement manager will include:
Sourcing and storing assets from marketing, customer success and sales operations
Acting as a bridge between different departments and stakeholders
Understanding how assets fit into the sales team’s funnel and finding content to fill any gaps
Implementing new tools and processes
Tracking and analyzing which assets get used
Learning new sales strategies and training reps on sales enablement processes
The role and responsibilities will differ depending on the size of your company and the number of sales reps employed on your team. However, the sales enablement manager will always be in charge of bridging the gap between marketing and sales and implementing any new processes and strategies around shared content management.
If your company needs to hire a sales enablement manager, look for someone with a background in sales who understands the cross-functional role they’ll play (i.e. the bridge between your sales and marketing departments).
In addition to having a mix of sales, marketing, training and customer success knowledge, the ideal candidate will be organized and comfortable with researching and implementing cross-departmental strategies.
A typical sales enablement manager’s salary is around $93,000 a year, while senior sales enablement managers make an average of $130,000 annually.
Sales enablement is a way to let your thought leadership and practical guides do the talking with prospects.
While sales reps are pitching in meetings and running demonstrations, borrowing key assets from your marketing team can make all the difference when they’re trying to close a deal. With the right content, you can build credibility in your brand and let the stories of successful customers convince prospects that your product will work for them.
Be sure to invest in sales enablement tools. The right platform can help your teams exchange information and useful content and improve the collaboration between sales and marketing for every deal in your pipeline.