While the definition of ‘sales enablement’ is in a state of flux as the concept continues to evolve, IDC’s definition cuts directly to the core – delivering “the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format and at the right place.”[i] But regardless of which stage of sales enablement’s evolutionary process your organization stands, one thing is clear: sales enablement is about a comprehensive and cohesive effort across the organization to drive sales effectiveness and efficiency.
And the imperative for defining a successful strategy is clear, whether considered from the perspective of buyers, the business, or your own sales team. Consider these statistics from recent studies:
- Forrester Research surveyed executive buyers at global companies during Q4 2013 and found that “only 20% of the salespeople they meet with are successful in achieving their expectations and creating value.”[ii]
- A 2014 survey on sales enablement by Sirius Decisions corroborates Forrester’s findings, citing vendors’ top challenge for sales is “[the] rep’s ability to connect our offerings to client business issues.”[iii]
- 90% of the content produced by marketing is not used by sales. (Source: AMA)
- Salespeople spend 30 hours a month searching for and creating their own selling materials. (Source: AMA)
While content creation is clearly a vital aspect of properly enabling sales, a comprehensive strategy must also include such components as education, performance, feedback, accountability, intelligence, and technology. So, too, must clear goals be defined and aligned with organizational objectives, and common processes established across marketing and sales. To help you navigate the waters of this complex planning process, we’ve compiled a list of the web’s best resources on sales enablement strategies:
Brainshark’s ‘5 Basic Sales Enablement Questions’ help orient you in thinking about a basic strategy and include:
- What does sales enablement mean for your organization?
- What are your sales enablement content needs?
- How will you align your message to improve sales productivity?
- Who will be responsible for the sales enablement process?
- How will you measure sales enablement success?
Forrester’s “Message Framework” helps you consistently create and maintain content that serves the needs of both your audience and your team, and is based on three key ideas:
- “Profiling your buyers is the basis for your message development” – creating the right message for the right audience at the right time
- “[Having] a framework ensures your message sticks in the right place” – linking the right content to the right audience at the right time and facilitating your sales team’s access to and understanding of the content
- Auditing messages and content should be a standard operating process – having a comprehensive checklist ensures that each content piece effectively addresses the needs it has been created to meet.
MarketingProf’s ‘Why asking sales what they want is NOT sales enablement’ is a great resource for developing an effective process for addressing the needs of your sales team. This post recognizes the issue lovingly referred to by salespeople as ‘random acts of marketing,’ and suggests that simply going to the source is not the best way to give them what they need. To make their point, they quote Henry Ford, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Rather, MarketingProfs provides some sage advice in establishing an effective process:
- Define sales activities
- Identify the coordinating goals
- Create an activity map
- Perform a materials analysis
Tamara Schenk’s Sales Enablement blog “covers the entire sales system regarding strategy, methodology, processes and technology along the customer journey in order to equip sales people with the right skills, the right tools and the right content to create winning perspectives and long-term value for their customers, always aligned to the different customer management strategies.” Recent posts include:
- What sales enablement content analytics really mean
- A series of posts on performance accountability
- A series on the collaboration and execution gap in sales enablement and technology
- Placing customers at the core of your approach via a scalable framwork