Why Do B2B Sales Teams Need A Sales Enablement Strategy?

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The executive teams in many companies are concerned that their B2B sales teams can’t be relied on for predictable new business revenue. This is because they worry that there is a lack of science and rigour in how the sales team goes about their business.

This concern is amplified for businesses selling complex solutions. Do these criteria sound familiar to your business?

  • The sales process is not simply a linear, five-stage process. In fact, each stage contains multiple steps
  • Multiple decision-makers and influencers on the buyer side drive longer sales cycles
  • The customer’s buying process is “high involvement” as opposed to “highly transactional”
  • The importance of the purchase (and risk of failure) in the customer’s eyes means that the contracting phase is a whole process in its own right!

This level of involvement creates ambiguity and hence the potential concern that sales are running a totally bespoke effort on every sales opportunity.

Sales enablement tools can provide a platform for more science and rigour in how your sales reps execute the sales processes and leverage sales content for more predictable sales performance.

Further below I’ll also explain why your Sales CRM can provide more rigour for data management – but can actually harm sales pipeline discipline.

Everyone wants sales performance that they can count on

sales-enablement-process

Successful sales teams are the main driver of profitable growth for companies operating in a B2B marketplace.

The Sales team is relied on to produce reliable, repeatable sales revenue. You also want your sales reps to communicate with customers in a way that reinforces and builds brand reputation.

Your sales organization can bridge the gap between market communication and the customer to achieve consistently superior conversion rates.

A sales team that can be relied on to deliver consistent revenue growth is a huge asset for the executive team. It means that strategic decisions can be made with confidence on future revenue streams and cash flow.

Successful sales teams are excellent in three areas:

A. The discipline to execute a repeatable process across all members of the team

A proven repeatable process is crucial – without this, there can’t be repeatable revenue – only hope. Successful sales teams are not reliant on a small number of rainmakers (though every team needs its rainmakers) to deliver the numbers each quarter.

B. The agility to adapt and evolve the process to suit changing market conditions

Agility is important. The sales process needs to evolve in a considered manner but not change at the whim of the sales team.

C. The ability to onboard and ramp up new sales talent onto the sales process

Onboarding is also a key competency. The Salesforce talent pool needs to be renewed when Salespeople inevitably leave the organisation. Of course, onboarding is especially crucial for sales teams that need to grow fast.

But, when sales miss their quarterly number does anyone know why?

sales-enablement-solution

Sales are seen as a mystery to many in the business. It doesn’t seem to have the same disciplines and structure as say, Finance, Engineering or Operations.

When the revenue is flowing in, everyone is happy. No one questions how the sales team works. When sales dry up – questions are asked but answers are unsatisfactory.

There are several problems behind inconsistent sales performance:

sales-funnel

1. Sales organisations often fail to develop a coherent and detailed sales process.

The most common problem is that the documented sales process details only the key stages in the pipeline – it does not articulate the various steps that the customer needs to take through each of the stages.

Without this detail, there isn’t a process that can be followed and tracked by the sales team.

For example, “Present Proposal” might be the stage – but what are the key steps that must be executed to maximise chances of success – eh “ Preview with the customer” or “Rehearse the demonstration with the team”.

2. Getting everyone on the same page is really difficult.

Salespeople will cut corners and “do their own thing” unless there is a compelling reason to follow the company sales process.

Variation in the process means inconsistent results. It means your sales results are dependent on a small number of rainmakers to “save the quarter”

3. The scope and complexity of content and knowledge is often overwhelming

Salespeople can’t find the right content or guidance when they need it in the sales process

4. Capability development is ad hoc and performance measurement is not fit for purpose

A team that has a proven process naturally should ensure it is confident that

  • The salespeople are capable of executing
  • The salespeople ARE executing the process day in day out

The ad hoc nature of skills development does not support reliable revenue

Measurement systems are big on numbers that don’t relate to capability and process execution.

5. Sales opportunity management is conducted at a superficial level

Sales opportunities are reviewed, analysed and strategised at the “stage” level. For example, we have presented the proposal – now we wait for a yes”.

This means that sales meetings and 1-1 discussions about the pipeline rarely drill down to the detailed “step” level of sales process execution. The consequence of this is stalled deals and low pipeline velocity.

6. Sales teams fail to develop and retain their “know-how”

A proven sales process is a combination of the stages and steps where each step has a best-practice set of actions (eg. the proposal template, the elevator pitch, the objection handling etc). But there is an infinite universe of variability in how the buying process can run.

The Sales Process is the best proxy for how we would like the process to run. But, your sales reps are tapped into all the variations. For example, you might have the “top 10 questions customers ask” in the sales content section of your sales playbook. But your sales force of 100+ sales reps might know of dozens more. Or they might be able to improve on the best responses that were documented originally. Or they might have specific variations for questions when asked in particular industry segments.

Science and Art

I am not pretending that salespeople can be “cloned” or “sales automation” is a literal thing in B2B Sales (not for a while, let’s hope). What we are aiming for here is a little more science and less reliance on ‘art’ to get the numbers over the line.

How can Sales Enablement Help?

customer-engagement

A sales enablement strategy is the approach your business takes to provide sales with the resources they need to effectively sell. This strategy is tailored to your specific sales team’s needs so they can better target your audience and close more deals.

An effective sales enablement program will incorporate both the resources and the sales enablement tools needed to execute on the areas described previously. An effective program will support sales management’s ability to

  • Provide clarity on the sales process
  • Encourage salespeople to execute the process
  • Improve pipeline management and forecasting
  • Drive content management
  • Support sales capability development and measurement
  • Encourage the capture of sales knowledge and know-how

The Sales Enablement Manager

The sales enablement platform is a combination of both the people and sales enablement tools. According to Hubspot (Sales Enablement Survey August 2021 ), a dedicated sales enablement team is critical to the success of the future sales organization.

65% of sales leaders that outperformed against revenue targets have a dedicated sales enablement person or team. Sales enablement is no longer a centre for rep support, but a proactive team that improves sales productivity. With a partially or fully remote sales force, the sales enablement function is critical for arming reps and managers with the tools, technology, reports, and content needed to sell more effectively.

The sales enablement manager or sales enablement specialist usually works in the sales operations area or what is now often referred to as “Revenue Operations”. Their mission could be described as “to develop the knowledge base in the sales organisation” or to “develop the sales IP” of the sales organisation.

If your business does not yet employ a sales enablement person full time, you need to be thinking about how to incorporate these functions into the marketing and sales teams

The Sales Enablement tool

sales-enablement-teams

The sales enablement manager needs to select the right sales enablement tool to support the overall goals of sales operations teams and sales enablement. Again, these key goals are to:

  • Provide clarity on the sales process
  • Encourage salespeople to execute the process
  • Improve pipeline management and forecasting
  • Drive content management
  • Support sales capability development and measurement
  • Encourage the capture of sales knowledge and know-how

Can CRM tools support your Sales Enablement Processes?

partner-relationship-management

Customer relationship management tools help sales teams improve data management in terms of customers, contacts, opportunities and activity tracking. But they are not architected to provide a viable user experience for the sales and marketing teams in terms.

Specifically, they don’t provide the knowledge and sales content management capability integrated with the detailed motions of the sales process.

Sales CRM software could actually be harming pipeline forecasts because there isn’t a clear and unified understanding across sales organisations on how to categorise opportunities within each stage of the process.

Sales Enablement Software

sales-communications

There are various sales enablement platforms to chose from such as Seismic, Highspot and Bigtincan. And there is, of course, the SalesGRID solution for Sales Enablement.

SalesGRID puts the sales process at the heart of the user experience.

Here is how SalesGRID addresses the key problems that sales and marketing teams face:

1. Sales organisations often fail to develop a coherent and detailed sales process.

The Playbook feature set helps sales teams quickly and collaboratively develop a detailed sales process for managing the sales cycle. It seamlessly documents this process and places it at the centre of all sales management activity.

2. Getting everyone on the same page is really difficult.

Salespeople are more likely to follow best practices because SalesGRID

  • Puts the sales process front and centre – it’s not an artefact like most sales process docs
  • Provides easy access to the best sales and marketing assets provides effective activity management at the deal level (not useless CRM tasks)
  • Gamification features promote engagement with the sales process

3. The scope and complexity of content and knowledge is often overwhelming

SalesGRID’s content management system is integrated with the playbook – providing amazing contextual search for users as well as sales analytics.

4. Capability development is ad hoc and performance measurement is not fit for purpose

SalesGRID’s roadmap incorporates feature sets that will empower users (sales reps, sales managers, to self assess and assed their teammate’s ability to execute the process. This will include the full range of activities such as sales conversations, the usage of sales content,

5. Sales opportunity management is conducted at a superficial level

Detailed sales playbooks enforce a focus on the step detail. The 360-degree view of the opportunity provides a roadmap and content options to consider the best moves to make.

6. Sales teams fail to develop and retain their “know-how”

Collaboration tools, visibility of content, momentum built by successfully accessing content when needed … all leads to driving salespeople to share their best stuff. SalesGRID becomes the sales IP depository for sales and marketing stakeholders.

In conclusion

effectively-engage-buyers

There are more than 600 CRM products listed on G2Crowd and dozens of Sales Enablement tools. So, does the sales world need another software tool?

Well, we have been using CRM products and related sales enablement tools since the early nineties, and we at SalesGRID think it’s time to shake things up.

SalesGRID is a business venture backed by four leading experts in the Software and Sales Performance Space. Combined we have over 80+ years of experience in designing and executing sales strategies that drive sales engagement and increased sales Performance. We have started and exited two highly successful sales SaaS businesses and we have been exposed to more sales data, incentive plans, and sales strategies from small businesses to the ample Enterprise space than most people would care to.

Marc Fasel is Co-Founding SalesGRID after being the CTO of Performio for 7 years and building world-class software that meets stringent IT security requirements for global organizations like Johnson & Johnson, Vodafone, Veeva Systems, Zurich Insurance, Westpac, and many more.

Personally, I have also led high-growth SaaS Sales teams. Every time I sat down with my Sales team, they had five different reports, web pages, etc., that they needed to step me through; Salesforce, To-do list, email communications, email tracking, Linkedin, etc.

It always frustrated me that there was no single place where I could talk to our sales process, sales content, opportunities, and activities in one place.

Hence, SalesGRID is the consolidation of all of those efforts into a central easy to navigate product that doesn’t require technical help to set up.

SalesGRID is the result of everything we have learnt from our customers and seen them trying to execute on.

Our goal is to provide an easy-to-use tool for sales teams who want to improve their pipeline velocity and sales conversion by getting better at sales execution.

We are guided by the following principles when we develop SalesGRID functionality:

1. To focus exclusively on B2B new business sales teams selling complex products or services.

Everything we do is about the sales professional and the team they work in. We are not creating a marketing platform. This is all about the tools that salespeople need to guide opportunities through the sales process.

2. SalesGrid is for you if you understand the importance of the sales process.

You are also aware of the limitations of the process – salespeople aren’t robots. But you believe in the benefits of having key guard rails and signposts along the way for even the best salespeople.

3. We are building a product that is easy to use and does not allow configuration mania to ruin the user experience for salespeople.

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