How Does Sales Enablement Help Me Generate Consistent Revenue Growth?
I get it; marketing and sales consultants have a tendency to use a lot of fancy jargon. To some of you this might be one of those terms, but understanding what sales enablement means might also be the difference between missing your revenue goals and exceeding them, this year and next year.
Forrester, the research company, defines sales enablement as “a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving lifecycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.” Wow, that’s fancy.
Let’s keep trying. HubSpot offers a definition of sales enablement. They consider it “the technology, processes and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity.” That’s pretty good, but still a little technical for my tastes.
What is sales enablement? Simply, it’s the systems, processes and methodology that help salespeople turn more leads into new customers faster. But to be more direct, effective sales enablement helps you create a sales process that matches almost perfectly to your prospects’ buyer journey. This makes your prospects feel safer and more emotionally connected to your company, team and products/services, and the result of those feelings is increased close rates and shorter sales cycles.
Here’s typically how sales enablement produces increased close rates and shorter sales cycles.
Guiding Prospects, Not Selling To Them
I want you to consider your own perspective. How do you feel when you walk into a store and a salesperson approaches you? Do your defenses go up? Do you feel anxious? Do you tell them you’re just browsing? Sure, we’ve all felt that. Your prospects feel like that too when your sales team tries to sell.
Now how do you feel when someone asks you questions while you’re shopping? What about when they educate you on what’s available or what other people with the same issue you have purchased and why? What about when they give you educational material that might help with your purchase decision? What about when they honestly appear to care about you and not about making a sale? You feel differently. You’re open to their help when they’re being authentic and actually care.
Most people don’t buy for a living. When they do start a buying cycle or journey, most are doing it for the first time or maybe the second time, but not the 50th time. Most people are nervous about buying. They don’t want to make a mistake. Mistakes are scary. Mistakes could cost them money, wasted time or even get them fired. Your job as a sales leader or salesperson is to help them through that journey, not try to convince them to buy. The more you guide them through and advise them along the way, the more you’ll be in a position to guide them to your solution and your company.
Consider strategically the concept of guiding instead of selling. A good guide becomes critical to getting where you want to go. A good guide can be the difference between getting there or getting lost. A good guide can save you money and time while limiting the stress associated with a trip. When we don’t have extensive experience doing something, a guide can be the difference between success and failure. You have to be that resource for all of your prospects.
Leveraging Content In Context
Part of being a good guide is providing education. Along the journey, your prospects are going to have questions. Their questions at the beginning of the journey are different than the questions in the middle and at the end of their journey. A good guide knows that and has resources available for all stages of the journey. In our case, content becomes an important asset in a guided sales process.
But the key to leveraging content to deliver good guidance experience is to deliver it in context. Here’s an example: You want to take a whitewater rafting trip with your family and you find a wonderful tour company that offers rafting trips. Your guide is going to help you create the perfect trip for you. You want to go for a few days, so overnight lodging is a part of your trip. The person helping you sends you three hotels to choose from: one economy, one mid-range and one high-end hotel. All are approved by the tour company and highly rated on TripAdvisor. Now you can make a more educated decision about where you want to stay, based on your budget and travel preferences. That is content in context.
What if the same person helping you said, “there are many local hotels in the area; just Google them and let us know where you want to stay”? You should be able to feel the difference in the experience and how one feels much better than the other. People make purchase decisions emotionally, so feelings are important.
Asking Smart, Strategic And Diagnostic Questions
This idea of feelings and emotions is important. Your prospects are getting a feeling about your company from the first time they visit your website and from every single touch point along the way. Send them an email with a typo, and they get nervous. Take too long to respond, and they get nervous. There are a lot more ways to lose a hot prospect than to secure a hot prospect. One way to get your prospects to feel safe is to ask them questions.
People like talking about themselves and their businesses. It makes them comfortable because generally they know all of the answers. They also feel like you’re taking an interest in them (and you are). You actually need to ask them a lot of questions so you can put together a customized, personal and well-thought-out set of recommendations.
Going back to our whitewater rafting trip, which feels safer? The guy who says, “we have three packages on our website; take a look and let me know which package you want,” or the guy who says, “let me see what you had in mind; let me ask you some questions about the trip you want to take and then I can customize the trip to meet your exact needs”? Even when you know the answer, you still should ask the questions and create the idea that this is just for them.
Creating A System That Is Scalable, Predictable And Repeatable
Once you find the series of interactions that consistently turns leads into sales opportunities and then sales opportunities into new customers, you should want to make it repeatable and scalable. If one person can generate four new customers a month, then two people should be able to generate eight new customers and three people should be able to generate 12 new customers — month after month after month.
Isn’t that the goal? You want predictable revenue. To get that, you’ll need a system that’s supported by technology, methodology and process. To be clear, your system and methodology for turning leads into new clients is not about software. Yes, software can automate some of the process, but without a rock-solid process first, software will be a complete waste of money and time.
Once you have the process that produces repeatable and predictable revenue, then you use software and tools to make it efficient, easier to execute and highly data driven. Buying software before having the system is a mistake that a lot of people make. Don’t make the same mistake.
Getting Data On Every Aspect Of Sales
Marketing is a science and so is sales. In 10 minutes, with the right data, we can identify where in your funnel you’re having challenges. You can ignore the data or act on it. We had a prospect who had a big blockage in their funnel right after sales-qualified leads. New customers were signing up, but many more were filling out forms, asking for demos and never moving down into and out of the funnel. We wanted to help clear the blockage, but she only wanted more leads in the top of the funnel.
Again, selling is different than it used to be. Use data to gain insights and then apply upgrades based on those insights. Start asking for conversion rate data at every stage of your funnel. Understand the actual length of your sales cycle from first visit to signed paperwork. You should know what percentage of total website visitors turn into new customers. Getting smarter about the science of sales means you’ll be better equipped to build the revenue machine of your dreams.
This might not sound like your current sales effort. Sales has been more art than science for centuries. People with big personalities and track records of success have controlled sales. But today, the scientists are taking over and applying analytics, systems and processes to what has historically been little more than a hope and a prayer. I hope we get that deal. I hope Company A closes this week. That must change.
Instead, you should know exactly what every sales rep is doing every step of the way. You should have 100% visibility into every action, every email, every call and every conversation. You should be able to adjust each and every touch point like moving levers and dials on an equalizer, fine-tuning every aspect of your prospects’ experience until you create the perfect experience and you get the quantitative results you’re looking for — more new customers, a higher close rate, shorter sales cycles and consistent overachievement of your revenue goals.
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