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What Is Sales Enablement? A B2B Marketer's Guide

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Conor Bond on Thu, Feb 4, 2021

Sales, in general, is a tough job. Whether you’re a server trying to maximize tips or an account executive trying to hit quota, communicating value to a prospective customer is difficult.

Naturally, we find ways to do our jobs more effectively. The server learns which drink best pairs with a given entree. The account exec learns which feature best addresses a given pain point.

This imperative — communicating value effectively — is a key element of the topic of today’s blog post: sales enablement. If you’re a B2B marketer, this is likely a term you’ve come across a handful of times. And if you’re looking to learn more about it, you’ve come to the right place.

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have gotten an answer to each of the following:

  • What is sales enablement?
  • Why is sales enablement important?
  • What are the benefits of sales enablement?
  • What are the different types of sales enablement content?
  • How do you measure the impact of sales enablement?

Let’s jump in!

Take your strategy to the next level with the Ultimate Guide to Sales Enablement

What Is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is the process of empowering your sales reps with the tools, resources, and competitive intelligence they need to do their jobs effectively — i.e., to win deals.

From the perspective of a B2B marketer, sales enablement is all about working with your sales reps to figure out (1) what’s keeping them from winning deals and (2) what can be done to minimize or eliminate those roadblocks.

Roadblocks that may keep a given sales rep from winning deals include:

  • Lack of experience running discovery calls and demos
  • Weak content that fails to pique the interest of prospective buyers
  • Outdated competitive intelligence

Steps you can take to help a frustrated sales rep overcome these roadblocks include:

  • Offering discovery call and demo training sessions
  • Regularly refreshing content to ensure alignment with buyers’ pain points
  • Delivering real-time competitive intelligence in the form of dynamic battlecards

what-is-sales-enablement-battlecard

In plain English, sales enablement is doing what you can to help sales reps succeed. And if you find yourself wondering why this matters to a marketer … keep reading.

The Importance (and Benefits) of Sales Enablement

Sales enablement matters to marketers because the value of marketing is not truly realized until deals are won — won by sales reps, that is. As a marketer, to neglect sales enablement is to diminish the utility of your own work. Why bother to promote your product and generate leads if you’re not going to help your sales reps convert these efforts into revenue?

If you neglect sales enablement, your sales reps will win some deals and your work as a marketer will be somewhat worthwhile. If you embrace sales enablement, your sales reps will win a lot of deals and your work as a marketer will be indisputably worthwhile.

Now, as I step down from my soapbox, let’s talk benefits.

Three Major Benefits of Sales Enablement

Far from exhaustive, here’s a quick list of three major benefits of sales enablement:

  • Improve your bottom line. All else being equal, enabling your sales reps to win more deals will translate into a greater profit margin.
  • Prove your value. As a marketer, there’s nothing better than pointing at an enormous pile of cash and saying, without stretching the truth, “You’re welcome.”
  • Create a better experience for your prospects. A sales rep who’s good at talking about your product and its alternatives is a sales rep who creates awesome experiences for prospective customers. There’s value in that regardless of whether or not a given deal closes in your favor.

Now that you understand the importance of sales enablement and how it translates into positive outcomes across your organization, let’s discuss what it looks like in action.

Types of Sales Enablement Content

There are, generally speaking, two types of sales enablement content: internal and external.

Internal Sales Enablement Content

Internal sales enablement content is never shared with anyone outside your organization. It’s created in order to help sales reps succeed in their conversations with prospects, but it should never be presented to prospects themselves.

Examples of internal sales enablement content include:

  • Battlecards: Sales battlecards (a.k.a. competitive battlecards) arm your sales reps with quick, at-a-glance information as to how your product compares with alternatives in the market. You should have one battlecard dedicated to each of your competitors, and each one should include your relative strengths, your respective pricing structures, up-to-date field intelligence, and so on.
  • Pricing calculators: In the B2B world, pricing can get complicated. Depending on how you charge your customers, the price tag on one contract could be many times greater than the price tag on another. Pricing calculators — which often live in spreadsheets — can make life infinitely easier for your sales reps. This is crucial, as price is often a major concern for prospects evaluating solutions in a crowded market.
  • Win/loss data: Sales reps perform better when they know why they tend to win deals and why they tend to lose deals. If, for example, you can confidently tell a sales rep that they (1) tend to lose deals when confronted with Objection A and (2) tend to win deals when confronted with Objection B, that sales rep knows exactly what they need to focus on going forward.

what-is-sales-enablement-win-loss-analysis

External Sales Enablement Content

External sales enablement content is meant to be circulated outside your organization — primarily with the intent of nudging prospects and buyers down the sales funnel. Sales reps should feel free to distribute it as they see fit.

Examples of external sales enablement content include:

  • Slide decks: Whenever a sales rep gets the opportunity to chat with a prospect, chances are they’re going to prepare some slides — this is one of the most common ways in which solutions are introduced to potential users and buyers. Slide decks are useful even after the initial presentation, as prospects can circulate them to their coworkers and/or managers in order to (hopefully) generate interest in a follow-up call.
  • Case studies: If you’re thinking about buying a product, almost nothing is more persuasive than a real-world example of someone using that product and thriving as a result. The case study is one of the most powerful types of sales enablement content as it allows prospects to visualize themselves as your customers. If your product addresses a pain point that people actually care about, this visualization exercise should often work in your favor.
  • Thought leadership content: A great way for a sales rep to win the trust of a prospect is to demonstrate the authority with which your company discusses certain topics. Thought leadership content — which can come in the form of blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, ebooks, industry reports, etc. — is a signal to prospective customers that your solution is the solution. If you were evaluating a product, wouldn’t it be comforting to know that the people selling it sincerely know what they’re talking about?

what-is-sales-enablement-thought-leadership-wistia-example

Wistia creates awesome thought leadership content around video marketing.

How to Measure the Impact of Sales Enablement

As we discussed earlier, one of the major benefits of sales enablement — from the perspective of a marketer, anyway — is that it allows you to prove your value.

Okay, cool. But how does that work? How do you measure the impact of sales enablement?

Here are a few ideas you can use to (1) show where your sales enablement efforts are paying off and (2) find out where your sales enablement efforts should be focused moving forward.

Look at Competitive Win Rates Over Time

For a given competitor, your competitive win rate is the rate at which you win deals over them. In other words, your competitive win rate tells you how often your sales reps succeed when going head-to-head with a specific competitor in the sales process:

CWR = # deals won over Competitor A / # deals involving Competitor A

Now, let’s say that three months ago you rolled out a battlecard focused on Competitor A. How, if at all, has your competitive win rate changed since then? If it’s improved significantly, that’s evidence of effective sales enablement content. If it hasn’t changed — or if it’s worsened — then it’s safe to say that you have work to do.

Determine Where Prospects Tend to Abandon Ship

You can learn a lot about the effectiveness of your sales enablement efforts (or lack thereof) simply by determining where your prospects tend to go dark.

If prospects tend to go dark before taking a demo, your sales reps may need resources to help them better position your product via email. If prospects tend to go dark after taking a demo, your sales reps may need resources to help them more effectively demonstrate your product.

Again, when it comes to measuring the impact of sales enablement, we’re interested in looking at how things change over time. After you gave your sales reps new resources to help them write better emails, did you see an increase in the rate at which prospects take demos? A decrease? No change at all? Answering this question — and others like it — is essential to proving the value of your sales enablement strategy

Talk to Sales Reps About What Is and Isn’t Working

Although quantitative data is undeniably useful, you shouldn’t overlook the power of simply talking to your sales reps about what is and isn’t working in terms of sales enablement. You can get a lot of insight from questions as simple as:

  • How have your demos been going since our last training sessions?
  • Which competitor do you feel most prepared to discuss when chatting with a prospect?
  • Do you have a go-to piece of content when you’re trying to nurture a prospect?

Of course, you can quantify the responses you get to these questions; there’s nothing wrong with creating a quick, simple survey and asking your reps to complete it whenever possible. Our point with this last tip is not to discourage quantitative data, but rather to encourage candid conversations with the people you’re trying to help.

Embrace Sales Enablement As Part of Your Job

As marketers, we have a tendency to obsess over certain metrics: website traffic, social media follower growth, email open rates, etc. These metrics are important, and we should continue to track them. But we can’t allow them to distract us from what matters most: revenue.

Sales enablement is a must for anyone who wants to (1) help their organization grow revenue over time and (2) demonstrate the value (in dollars) of the work they’re doing every day.

If that’s you, then make it a priority to embrace sales enablement as part of your job as soon as you can. Talk to your sales reps, find out where they’re hurting, and start creating the resources they need to bring more revenue in the door.

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Topics: Sales Enablement

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