Do you remember when the iPhone first came out? The advert’s tagline was “There’s an app for that”. It was so catchy Apple registered it as a trademark in 2010. Now here we are almost 10 years later and there really is an app for everything — including selling.
In 2019, selling is both harder and easier than in years gone by. Harder because customers have more choice than ever — and they are also wary about how they spend their money. Easier because we have more tools at our disposal than at any other time in history. These tools enable us to get to know our customers through data, to personalise our messaging and offer them the best possible service. The availability of these tools, together with the growing wariness of our customers and the increase in competition, has given rise to a shift in the power balance between buyer and seller. And that shift has necessitated a move towards Sales Enablement.
What Is Sales Enablement and Why Is It Important?
Sales Enablement is the tools, resources and behaviours that empower salespeople to sell more.
- Tools — software
- Resources — content to share with customers as well as market insight to educate salespeople
- Behaviours — best-practice sales processes learned through sales training and coaching
Sales enablement is important because today’s customer is so much further along their buying journey by the time they talk with a salesperson. They are better informed, so they’re in the final stages of decision-making at the point of first contact. Salespeople have fewer opportunities to influence that decision. So they have to be at the very top of their game to make those opportunities count.
Using data gathered through sales and marketing tools, salespeople can utilise well-crafted resources to share valuable insights with customers to help shape their buying decisions. Sales training and coaching ensures the rep does all of this to the best of their ability. In short: right message, right time.
What Is a Sales Enablement Tool?
Sales Hacker has put together a list of 150+ sales tools. Some are apps, some browser-based software, some are “other”, covering everything from lead generation to contract management and a whole host of tasks in between. Since all of these tools are designed to support salespeople — by helping them work smarter or reducing some tedious admin jobs — any one of them could call itself a Sales Enablement Tool. To keep this article to a reasonable length, we’re going to focus on the content management type of Sales Enablement tools.
These tools give you a place to store content where everyone can find it. They typically give control to one entity (usually the marketing department), so everyone is accessing the most up-to-date materials with approved messaging/branding/etc.
Sales Enablement Tools make it easy to share resources with customers, either in person or over email. They enable content tracking and analysis, so it’s easy to see which materials are used, when, and with what level of success. Ideally, this tool will also sync with your CRM so you can automatically update the customer’s record, giving you a visual on their journey with you.
Those are the features. But what are the benefits?
The Resources You Need, When You Need Them
Did you know sales reps spend an average of 440 hours per year looking for the right content? That’s the equivalent of one eight-hour day per week, every week. Who has that kind of time to waste?
With one central storage repository, well-managed and organised, salespeople can find what they want when they need it – or, more importantly, when their customer needs it. This enables them to seize opportunities to add value — hopefully before their competitor jumps in. And it prevents them from wasting Marketing’s valuable time fielding calls from stressed sales reps looking for content.
One Brand, One Message
Putting all the content in the hands of one department ensures — in terms of collateral — the organisation is speaking with one voice. Having a clear, consistent brand identity helps to build customer trust. No more confusing customers — who have already reviewed your stats on your much-more-up-to-date website — with last-minute slide decks using out-of-date data and an even older logo.
This one step also eliminates time spent by sales reps creating content that it is not their job to create.
Sharing Resources, Whenever, Wherever
Now you have the Sales Enablement tool to find resources easily, you can share them just as easily. In-person, you can follow the course of a conversation, flitting between content sets to find the piece that best answers the customer’s question there and then. There’s no need to say “I’ll look for that and send it on when I’m back in the office”, delaying things. You can show it and share it in the moment.
If you want to follow up with additional content that provides more insights, you can usually email these direct from the app. Again, if the Sales Enablement tool syncs with your CRM, all of this easily records for future reference.
Some degree of tracking and analysis is usually part of the software. This enables Marketing to monitor what resources are used, when, with whom, how often, for how long. Tracking helps marketing to understand what is most relevant and most useful to salespeople — and customers. When marketing knows what works best for your organisation, they know what you need more of. And when successful customer journeys inform your content strategy, you find yourself in a virtuous circle.
Integration with Your Other Resources
If you’re shopping around for a Sales Enablement tool, look for one that can integrate with your CRM. It will save you a lot of time and effort, and it will give you a complete record of your customer relationships. Imagine being able to access a customer record and seeing the exact content shared with them, when and by whom. It would give you a complete insight into how the customer’s journey is progressing. Such insights could inform your sales process, giving rise to more successful customer journeys in the future.
Technology That Enhances Relationships
Sales Enablement tools provide a lot of features. But the biggest benefit is the ability to tailor sales conversations with right place, right time resources.
Customers are looking to salespeople to provide added value to their buying journey. Sales Enablement tools simplify that process and enable you to take what you’ve learned from the successful use of resources and put it to use, creating the right environment for greater triumphs in the future.
About the Author
Charlotte Powell is Head of Design & Marketing at iPresent, a sales enablement tool that enables greater alignment between marketing and sales.