Sales enablement strategy: What they need, when they need it

December 15, 2021 - 21 min read

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What is sales enablement strategy?

Why is sales enablement strategy important?

3 reasons why you need sales enablement strategy

How to align sales and marketing

How a sales enablement strategy streamlines the process

8 characteristics of a sales enablement strategy

How to plan your sales enablement strategy

3 best practices for sales enablement

If sales is the lifeblood of the company, a strong sales enablement strategy is the diet and exercise routine to keep the circulatory system healthy. Great sales enablement empowers your sales professionals to represent your company and your products. 

A successful sales enablement strategy is the one that helps your company grow. What that looks like depends on your industry, product, and business model.

At heart, most sales reps want to be able to connect with prospects, have conversations, and close deals. Make it easy for them to do that confidently and competently.

A sales enablement strategy equips reps with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to achieve consistent results. But it shouldn't stop at just sales tactics or product information. 

The right strategy will also keep sales reps engaged. Engaged sales reps reach higher quota attainments. Truly enabling your salesforce also requires paying attention to the mindsets and behaviors that will help them be successful. Coaching for mindsets and behaviors builds the capabilities that have been shown to increase quota attainment and will sustain a sales team over time.

Read on to find out what a sales enablement strategy is, why it’s important, and how to start planning yours today. 

What is a sales enablement strategy?

A sales enablement strategy supports the sales team with a variety of resources to help them close more deals. This includes everything from new tools that streamline processes, to content such as blog posts and webinars. Sales training is usually part of the strategy, although the format, focus, and effectiveness of training vary widely.

While sales enablement strategies often focuses on specific products, broader sales performance coaching is an important part of sales enablement. It can support and uplevel the sales team independent of product. 

Usually, the marketing team is responsible for executing the sales enablement strategy. Marketers can help the sales team highlight differentiating features that are important to customers while safeguarding brand consistency.

Without a sales enablement strategy, sales reps may create their own content. Although this can help them close some deals, an effective sales enablement strategy is a more efficient way to help the sales team succeed. 

Why is a sales enablement strategy important?

You may be wondering if a sales enablement strategy is crucial. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, having a solid strategy is actually more important than ever. Especially since according to one survey, 70% of respondents reported that their company’s sales process has become more challenging.

Many industries are experiencing constant change now. But most sales organizations have been changing significantly, even before the pandemic. New tools, new sales models, and for many, more complex and rapidly evolving products to sell. Many sales teams and their sales leaders are stressed, feeling pressure, and even burnt out. That makes being effective and confident difficult.

However, a thoughtful sales enablement strategy takes the reps perspective to give them just what they need, when they need it. Combined with sales performance coaching for sales team managers, a robust sales enablement strategy could help your sales reps stay focused. Tasks such as content creation, copywriting, and training can be handed over to a different team. With good collaboration between sales and marketing, sales can thrive when there’s a separate group working on sales enablement initiatives. 

3 reasons why you need a sales enablement strategy 

Clearly, sales enablement is an important activity for your company. Let’s break it down, though.  Here’s why you need to develop a sales enablement strategy: 

1. A sales enablement strategy aligns sales and marketing by clearly defining each team’s role in the sale. This makes your whole company more efficient (and effective)!

2. A sales enablement strategy streamlines the sales process by anticipating customer questions and concerns. The right content helps answer buyers' questions and addresses their top-of-mind issues, in language that makes sense to them.

3. A sales enablement strategy equips sales reps with the tools, resources, and confidence they need to make more sales, faster

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How a sales enablement strategy aligns sales and marketing 

Arguments between your marketing and sales directors. Last minute deadlines for creative assets and content pieces. A stressed out, frazzled team. Do any of these situations sound familiar? If so, it’s time to create a sales enablement strategy. 

You can melt the tension between your marketing department and sales organization with the right strategy. Clear expectations, a commitment to producing content, and shared goals will lead to more sales, and happier employees

Sales enablement is an opportunity to leverage the creative talent of your marketing department. A person with marketing expertise can help communicate your company’s unique value to prospective/current clients. 

Involving marketing in the sales enablement process just makes sense. Marketing can safeguard your brand standards. At the same time, they can save sales valuable time on content creation. Let everyone do what they do best — you won’t regret it. 

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How a sales enablement strategy streamlines the sales process

Without a sales enablement strategy, your sales organization is liable to become overwhelmed. They may become distracted trying to answer dozens of client questions — that could easily be addressed in a blog post or webinar. Salespeople may even try to create their own educational content to help themselves. Though this may sound good, you can quickly end up with scattered, inconsistent information in the hands of clients and prospects. 

Instead of putting content creation in the hands of your salespeople, let them focus on what they do best — closing deals. Sales reps will be grateful that they can send over a link, flyer, or webinar to a client instead of spending hours trying to explain one product feature. 

A solid sales enablement strategy will streamline content and answer client questions before they even have a chance to ask. This will ultimately improve the customer experience, too. Clients will love having access to an array of valuable, consistent resources.

How a sales enablement strategy helps the sales team make more sales 

When roadblocks are removed, your team has space to flourish. That’s what sales enablement is all about. Set up the sales team for success by introducing enablement technology and creating valuable content. You can also work to provide hands-on training for sales reps. With these resources, sales enablement will be able to relieve common pain points.

The best way to help sales be more focused, productive, and energetic? Remove daily frustrations like unanswered client questions and outdated technology. This will lead to more efficient processes, less time wasted, and ultimately, more sales. 

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8 must-have characteristics of an excellent sales enablement strategy

There are good sales enablement strategies, and then there are bad ones. Before you develop your own sales enablement strategy, make sure you know how to make it effective. 

These are the 8 characteristics of an excellent sales enablement strategy: 

  1. Having a written plan
  2. Clearly defined goals 
  3. Goals are aligned to business outcomes
  4. Utilizes a variety of methods
  5. Up-to-date content 
  6. Takes advantage of the right tools 
  7. The right leader is in charge
  8. The team is committed

1. Have a written sales enablement plan 

A documented, clear plan is the best way to make sure your sales enablement strategy actually works. It’s easy to simply say you’re going to do certain things. However, writing out the specifics for your sales team shows that you’re serious about your commitment to supporting them. This will also keep the team responsible for doing sales enablement accountable. 

2. Sales enablement goals should be clearly defined

When it comes time to make your sales enablement strategy, make sure you have specific goals. Goals can be based on your sales team’s pain points, repeated client questions, or anything else relevant.

Here are some sales enablement examples: 

  • Create a certain number of content pieces for a specific buyer persona
  • Introduce a new technology or tool to solve a common sales rep frustration
  • Host training for sales reps on how to better use their CRM/a new tool
  • Launch a webinar to help answer questions and move prospects down the sales funnel 

3. Sales enablement goals must be aligned with business outcomes

Once you start developing your sales enablement plan, it can be easy to get off track. There are many opportunities to support the sales team, but you need to make sure you stay focused. Keep business outcomes — whether that’s a specific quota, a revenue number, or something else — at the top of your mind. Otherwise, your sales enablement strategy won’t stick.

4. Utilize a variety of methods

When it comes to your sales enablement strategy, be sure to use a few different methods to support the sales team. Instead of focusing simply on content creation, for example, spend some time training your sales team on new product features too. That way, your sales team will be equipped for anything that comes their way.

5. Keep content up-to-date

In today’s world, things are always changing. That likely includes your product and/or company. As you create sales enablement content, be sure you have a plan for keeping it up-to-date. This includes blog posts, videos, social media, and other digital media. If you record trainings for your sales team or webinars for clients, check on those periodically as well. 

Ultimately, part of your content strategy should be introducing a content management system. This will ensure your sales enablement content remains relevant and makes the most impact. 

6. Make sure to take advantage of the right tools 

When developing a sales enablement strategy, take note of what tools could help your sales team. Are they currently using a CRM? Is there a more modern version they could be using, or do they just need training on the one you have already? Could automation technology, like a chatbot, be helpful? Be sure to get insight from the sales team when considering what tools could make the most impact

7. The right leader should be in charge

Whether marketing or a dedicated team manages sales enablement, you need the right person to lead the way. This could be a sales manager, marketing director, or anyone else who understands sales enablement. 

Here are some key traits that a sales enablement leader should possess: 

  • Empathy 
  • Tech-savviness 
  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Formidable experience managing teams (who sometimes have competing priorities, like sales and marketing) 
  • An understanding of the sales process
  • An even deeper understanding of sales pain points

8. The team is committed 

Without commitment, a sales enablement strategy will fail. The sales enablement team must be committed to producing relevant content, constantly re-evaluating processes, and listening to sales. Sales must be committed to using the content, taking the time to learn new tools and technology, and listening to the people that are trying to help them. 

Make sure to outline clear deadlines and reporting processes. This will help maintain commitment over time. With these eight characteristics in your sales enablement strategy, you’re sure to succeed. 

How to plan your sales enablement strategy 

Now that you know what makes a great sales enablement strategy, where do you begin? We’re here to help with a step-by-step guide. 

Here’s how to plan a sales enablement strategy: 

  1. Identify sales pain points 
  2. Outline a few ways sales enablement can help 
  3. Get buy-in from all the teams that need to be involved 
  4. Create definitive processes for sales enablement 
  5. Execute the sales enablement strategy 
  6. Constantly report and re-evaluate 

1. Identify sales pain points 

As you start to plan your sales enablement strategy, one of the best things you can do is talk to sales. Find out what their biggest frustrations are. Ask what slows them down throughout the day. Is it technology or lack of automation? Too many questions from clients? You can also take this opportunity to see if they’ve had any sales enablement ideas. The people you are trying to help will be your best resource during this process. 

2. Outline a few ways sales enablement can help 

Before you tell everyone about your big ideas for sales enablement, take some time to write out your plan. Outline specific ways that sales enablement can address the problems that sales reps have. Share the strategies, content, trainings, and resources that sales enablement can provide. Then, try to directly tie these items to your company’s business outcomes and define key metrics that will show your success. 

3. Get buy-in from all the teams that need to be involved 

Once you have the plan outlined, you need commitment from sales, marketing, and anyone else who will be involved. This is especially true if you need budget to hire new staff members or introduce new tools. Make sure to link the sales enablement strategy directly to a potential increase in sales and/or revenue. Remember the reasons why you need a sales enablement strategy (jump to section above).

4. Create definitive processes for sales enablement 

Now that your team is on board, you need to clearly define processes for sales enablement. This way, you can see results faster. In addition, you can eliminate any confusion on your team. Share clear expectations for when certain deliverables will be ready. Also, define when and how you will communicate about sales enablement. 

5. Execute the sales enablement strategy 

The most important part is actually executing the sales enablement strategy. Deliver the resources, knowledge, and tools that your sales reps need, and they will thank you forever. In addition, sales enablement will add tons of value throughout the customer journey.  

6. Constantly report and re-evaluate 

In order to keep your sales enablement program relevant, remember to constantly report on results. Survey your sales reps to get their honest feedback on new initiatives. You can also measure sales over time to see if they can increase with a sales enablement strategy in place. 

Finally, always be re-evaluating your efforts. If any sales enablement content, tools, or resources start to feel irrelevant, leave them behind. Always keep your efforts aligned with what your sales reps need and what the business hopes to achieve, and you’ll find success. 

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3 best practices for a sales enablement strategy

Now that you’re ready to plan your sales enablement strategy, take note of these 3 best practices: 

  1.  Reflect the buyer’s journey 
  2. Align sales and marketing
  3. Always be results driven

1. Your sales enablement efforts should reflect the buyer’s journey 

Be sure to keep the buyer’s journey in mind, especially when creating sales enablement content. Think of ways you can create strategic content for your blog, social media, or website. Each piece of content should be relevant to different parts of the sales cycle and overall customer journey. 

For example, you may know that many buyers enter your sales funnel knowing nothing about your product. In response, you could write blog posts, case studies, and informational flyers. Sales reps can easily share these materials at the beginning of the sales process. A well-crafted piece of content could save them valuable time and help prospects feel more informed. 

2. Align sales and marketing 

The bottom line is, as long as sales and marketing are on two different pages, your win rates will be impacted. To make your sales enablement strategy as powerful as possible, get sales AND marketing on board. Take each team’s strengths, and use them to drive growth. 

3. Always be results driven

Once you have a steady sales enablement strategy running, it could be easy to become complacent. By keeping your eyes on results, you can avoid this and keep your sales enablement efforts effective. 

Constantly ask questions like the ones below: 

  • Are your sales enablement tools working? Are they still as effective today as they were a year ago, or is there a better product on the market that could drive more results? 
  • Is our blog actually getting any views, or should you shift focus to social media such as LinkedIn? 
  • What kind of sales enablement emails get the best open rates? What do our prospects and clients actually want to see? 
  • Where are the knowledge or skills gaps within our sales team members? What do we need to do to close those gaps and help them be even more productive? 
  • How is our win rate today compared to before we introduced “x” initiative? Are there any variables that we need to change to see better results? 

You won’t regret starting a sales enablement strategy 

Sales enablement doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right strategy, team members, and best practices, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. 

Hopefully, with these tips and best practices, you’re ready to bring a sales enablement strategy to your organization. Most importantly, remember that when your team members feel confident and informed, so do your buyers. 

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Published December 15, 2021

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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