Most technology revenue teams include a sales enablement function, but its mission has been evolving over the last several years. Recently, enablement has flexed to provide better support for sales in the face of the post-pandemic business environment and increasingly demanding technology buyers. Whether your team plans to re-focus training efforts, take on new tools, or play a bigger role in helping sales align with other areas of the organization, here are some strategies for effective sales enablement to drive results and revenue in 2023.
Emissary recently hosted a virtual roundtable with sales leaders in the tech space. Here are some key takeaways from our discussion:
Hire the Right Talent
Sales enablement starts long before onboarding. It begins with finding the right talent. With the current hiring challenges, it may be difficult to find the perfect applicant with experience in your product and industry. So as revenue teams build up the team for next year, they need to focus on the soft skills and aptitudes that make good producers in the open positions.
Enablement leaders will get a good sense of which natural abilities a candidate should have by assessing both the superstar performers and those dependable folks who make quota year after year. Do they empathize with others, have high emotional intelligence, or exhibit resilience in the face of rejection? Sales enablement can teach product knowledge, but soft skills are harder to nurture.
Train Early, Often, and in Small Doses
Sales enablement teams are realizing that traditional training courses aren’t enough for effecting behavioral changes. People need to hear information repeatedly over a long period of time, and learners prefer short, focused modules they can easily find and consume when they need to apply the information.
For example, if reps need help configuring a deal or using an ROI tool, they want a brief video or reference document that addresses the specific questions they’re grappling with. This approach to training, also called “nanolearning,” helps reps develop skills faster because they’re seeking out information to solve an immediate challenge, not as an academic exercise.
Many enablement functions are also incorporating gamification into training programs. With gamification, you can set goals for learners to earn badges and level up. Different teams can compete for points and rewards. It adds an element of fun and engagement that encourages reps to participate and gives new employees an opportunity to gain early wins and make progress.
Customize Training for Individuals
Sales enablement teams have also started to tailor training to individual preferences and needs. Not everyone needs the same skills, and people often have preferred ways of learning. Some want to follow a self-directed development path; some prefer more active intervention from leadership. The enablement function can assess each person’s effectiveness in all phases of the sales process, identify gaps in ability, and curate a learning program that will have the most impact for each person.
Customized programs are successful when they focus on the essential behaviors that make good salespeople and set reasonable goals based on the amount of information and change each representative can handle in a given time frame. Training leaders track improvements with KPIs that reflect the targeted behaviors.
Enablement teams can also customize training by providing a support line for reps who need to get quick answers. Whether they need help drafting a quote, following up on an email, or prepping for a prospect meeting, reps can call or chat with someone immediately. Help lines usually have pre-determined staffing hours for guaranteed access so reps are never left hanging.
Enhance Mentoring Programs
As part of customizing skills development, enablement teams are also fleshing out their mentoring programs. Many people prefer to work with mentors to help them apply knowledge and practice skills in their daily work. Peer mentoring helps experienced, accomplished reps impart their wisdom to newcomers, and colleagues can discuss challenges that a junior rep may not feel comfortable taking to a manager or the sales enablement staff. These programs also help employees build relationships and contacts across the company, which increases job satisfaction and team cohesion.
Mentoring is expanding up the ladder, as well. Enablement teams have realized that sales leadership requires skills which even the best reps may not have. But recently promoted managers often get little training and support. Formal mentoring and coaching play a major role in helping new managers make decisions and develop effective behaviors. While it takes resources and effort to implement a working mentorship program, the benefits of strong leadership reverberate through the entire team.
Align Across the Organization
Sales enablement teams are in the perfect position to help sales align with the rest of the organization. For example, enablement can meet regularly with marketing on branding messages, industry trends, coming products, features, or services, which they’ll communicate to the revenue team. The alignment helps ensure sales conversations are consistent with what buyers have already heard from field marketing or outreach campaigns.
Enablement can connect with the product team as well to provide feedback about how buyers perceive the value of your offering. With buyer feedback, product development and sales can adjust pricing models, value propositions, or roadmap priorities to emphasize features and benefits prospects and current users value most.
Adopt Tools That People Love to Use
There’s no shortage of sales enablement tools for everything from training and content management to coaching and skills assessment. But tools are only valuable if reps can easily incorporate them into their daily workflow. Tools that integrate with your central sales management platform, such as SalesForce, will be easier for people to use because the app is right there when they need it. Or if tools don’t integrate with existing software, a central landing page with pointers to the full suite of apps will make it easier for reps to find what they need.
In addition, enablement teams are demanding tools with an intuitive UI that takes little effort to learn. And they’re considering new tools carefully before buying. More software isn’t always better; teams need a carefully curated set of apps that coordinate with each other, provide measurable benefits, and make reps’ lives easier.
Effective Sales Enablement Could Be the Game Changer
Regardless of the plans you implement going forward, there’s no doubt that sales enablement will become more and more important to technology revenue teams in 2023. Effective sales enablement strategies that prioritize data, focus on meaningful measurements, and pivot away from inefficient processes will help new and tenured reps learn faster, work smarter, and drive bigger deals. And as technology sales are unlikely to get easier in the foreseeable future, effective sales enablement could make the difference between a decent year and a blow-out.
Emissary is a human intelligence network. We connect enterprise sales and marketing professionals directly to our community of over 10,000 talented senior and C-level executives with recent experience in your most important accounts. We help sellers and marketers shorten sales cycles, close more deals, and build positive long-lasting relationships with clients and prospects.
Emissary helps sales enablement teams support reps with Industry Insider Guides on vertical issues, trends, and personas. We also bring the voice of the buyer to account strategy sessions, long-term coaching, and deal facilitation.