If you fail to understand buyers’ needs, you will fail to convert leads to customers during the prospecting phase. Compounding this challenge: A sales pitch that works for one prospect may not work for another.

Some of the key challenges your sales reps face when meeting buyers include:

  • Assessing lead requirements: Sales reps may struggle to differentiate the unique needs of buyers and understand how the product addresses their requirements or provides specific advantages for their situation.
  • Communicating the value proposition: Matching the value proposition of the product or service to the lead’s business requirements is often overlooked as sales reps are tasked on sales campaigns that focus on one product or service targeting a narrow audience.

Sales reps who employ a “one-size-fits-all strategy” during the sales management process and focus on selling, rather than helping prospects solve problems will fail to convert high-priority deals and lose potential customers. These failures will ultimately hurt the brand.

Employing sales enablement methods and best practices will help small businesses train their sales reps to better address buyer challenges, leading to a higher volume of closed deals.

In this article, we will briefly define sales enablement, list sales enablement components, identify best practices, and evaluate how sale management solutions can bolster sales enablement best practices.

Sales enablement practices will help your reps empathize with buyers

Gartner defines sales enablement as follows:

“The activities, systems, processes and information that support and promote knowledge-based sales interactions with client and prospects.”

Sales enablement is a ubiquitous concept that helps sales reps understand buyers’ needs through new sales prospecting techniques, sales training, and leads analysis, as well as leveraging consumer-based technologies and multiple communication channels to target potential leads more effectively.

It is driven by three critical components—content, technology, and training.

3 Components of Sales Enablement

Components of situational awareness

As market competition increases and buyers get more empowered, sales enablement helps sales reps target the right accounts, use sales and marketing content more effectively, have quality conversations with buyers, and most importantly, improve sales and increase the return on investment (ROI) of sales efforts.

Businesses that implement sales enablement best practices are 52 percent more likely to have a sales process that is closely aligned to the buyer’s journey.

But how do you implement these core components of sales enablement into your small business sales process? Should you incorporate all three components or focus on one?

These are some critical questions we’re addressing in the next sections, where we lay out three sales enablement best practices you should follow.

1. Implement situational awareness of buyers’ sales cycles

The sales cycle often takes longer than the buyer originally anticipates, so they may end up forecasting a deadline for closing the deal that they fail to meet. As a result, sales reps are forced to move on to other leads to meet their monthly targets.

Reasons for these delays include:
  • Evaluating user reviews of the product or service
  • Presentation of the business case to senior managers
  • Product testing/trial service testing
  • Evaluating multiple vendors
  • Negotiations through multiple departments

The length of time spent on each step varies among small businesses.

So, how can small business sales reps anticipate delays in the buying cycle and fine tune their sales enablement strategy?

The answer is: situational awareness.

Often, sales best practices focus on the core aspects of selling, such as the products and their functionalities, market competition, and buyer personas. These aspects should be integral to any small business’s sales enablement strategy. But, they aren’t enough to provide a holistic overview of a buyer’s purchasing patterns.

To have a 360-degree overview, sales reps must incorporate situational awareness into their strategies.

Situation awareness comprises three components: relationships, readiness, and rules. These elements must be embedded in all aspects of your sales enablement best practices.

The 3 Components of Situational Awareness

Components of sales enablement

Situational awareness is key to bolstering traditional sales enablement practices. If you focus on the three components above, you stand to realize the following benefits:

  • Reduced sales cycle; helps sales reps gauge early on in the sales process whether the buyer is interested in continuing in the purchase cycle.
  • Increased sales win rate margins because of the lower chances of sales project cancellation.
  • Improved awareness on the part of sales reps about the purchase cycle rules and regulations imposed on buyers

2. Facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing to leverage high-quality content

To successfully implement sales enablement best practices, strengthen collaboration between your sales and marketing teams.

Misalignment in the sales and marketing teams’ goals costs businesses $1 trillion annually in wasted productivity.

Here’s one reason for that: Only 20 percent of sales reps use existing marketing content to engage potential buyers. This means that your marketing team is working hard to produce relevant content, but most of it is not used by sales reps and therefore, only leveraged to a fraction of its potential.

Here are some steps you should take to increase collaboration between sales and marketing:

  • Ensure that sales reps have access to and use in-house marketing content (whitepapers, webinars, videos, blog posts, etc.) to support every stage of the sales cycle and provide value to buyers at every step.
  • Provide sales reps the right insight about customer demographics based on market segments to help sales reps create a more targeted sales strategy.
  • Proactively share feedback with the marketing team about key customer pain points. Regular collaboration and sharing of feedback between your sales and marketing teams will help align the goals of both teams’ initiatives.

3. Equip your sales teams with the right sales enablement tools

The next recommended action is to enhance sales enablement best practices through the use of sales tools that help convert more leads into customers.

According to a survey, 45 percent of businesses are already using third-party sales enablement solutions, followed by 35 percent that use home-grown solutions. However, 21 percent of businesses say they are not using any sales enablement solution at all.

Small businesses that want to give themselves an edge and accelerate the implementation of sales enablement should consider implementing a sales enablement solution.

Here are some examples of sales solutions from GetApp’s sales enablement software directory with the highest average number of customer reviews, sorted in ascending order:

Salesforce Sales Cloud

Salesforce Sales Cloud is a cloud-based CRM solution that’s designed for sales reps. The solution automates sales forecasting and tracks customer and lead interactions through a centralized database.

The solution’s customized lead management feature is designed to help sales reps implement sales enablement best practices. The Salesforce Engage and Sales Collaboration features aim to help sales rep send more targeted and personalized messages to buyers. In addition, the tool helps sales reps collaborate with the marketing and customer care departments .

Pipedrive

Pipedrive is also a cloud-based solution that automates key functions of sales management—from pipeline management to sales forecasting to identifying crucial leads.

Pipedrive aids sales enablement by integrating marketing and sales functions through its Solution Integration feature, which allows syncing/integrating data with third-party apps that are specific to marketing.

HubSpot Sales

HubSpot Sales is another cloud-based sales management solution that offers a freemium pricing model. In this version, sales reps are able to use the core features for free. Additional features are available under different pricing tiers.

HubSpot Sales helps to implement sales enablement best practices by focusing on reporting and analytics, enhancing sales content, and automate sales prospecting. In addition, the reporting and analytics features provide new lead data insights in real time.

Next steps and additional resources

Sales enablement best practices help streamline your sales operations to ensure the smoothest and shortest buying cycle to your business revenue.

Here are some immediate steps that you can take to implement sales enablement best practices in your business:

  • Document best practices within your sales team aimed at increasing collaboration between marketing and other departments.
  • Develop a continuous training plan with increased frequency to help sales reps get new key insights into changing changing buyer preferences.
  • Identify areas for streamlining processes by tracking where your sales reps spend time in non-sales related activities.

If you want to explore sales enablement tools even more, check out the following GetApp resources:


Research for this piece contributed by Deeksha Malik.

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