4 Key Criteria for Sales Enablement in the Social Age

Sales enablement has become an indispensable part of enterprise organizations. As buyers have become more digitally savvy, sales teams have had to adapt, relying on new processes and people.

Thanks to technology – especially social sales enablement platforms – sales teams are ready to engage with their buyers on digital channels. But sales reps need a framework in place. This post will help marketing and sales leaders identify the key criteria for their sales enablement efforts.

Let’s get started…

A Brief Overview of Sales Enablement

Sales enablement straddles the worlds of marketing and sales. When sales enablement is done correctly, both departments offer input on how to equip salespeople to have the right conversations with the right people at the right time on the right channels.

Traditionally, support for sales teams has focused on the end of the buyer’s journey, when customers are actively evaluating solutions. But today, sales reps need to hold conversations throughout the entire buyer’s journey – even before customers are aware that they have a problem to solve. (Let’s face it. Not every person at a conference or on LinkedIn is ready to buy.)

As Bob Dylan sang, “Times, they are a changin'” and the sales team is changing with it. Here are four key criteria for developing sales enablement targeted at the digitally and socially savvy buyer.

The 4 Criteria for a Modern Sales Enablement Framework

1. Agree upon a set of goals and responsibilities for aligning sales and marketing efforts

In the digital world, the line between sales and marketing is blurring, which can create confusion between the two organizations. To maintain order, it’s critical that sales and marketing teams need to agree upon goals and responsibilities.

Creating service level agreements (SLAs) between marketing and sales is the best way to achieve alignment. By putting SLAs in place, you set clear expectations. Sales leaders understand how the marketing team will support sales, and vice versa. Moreover, you ensure consistency as both marketing and sales interact with customers across the customer’s journey.

Consistency will help you assess the health of your business, identify problem areas, fix them, and achieve your business objectives. As your sales enablement processes mature and as you continue to learn about your customer, your SLAs will change. Consider your SLAs to be living documents, and never stop iterating on them.

For more information, see How to Write a Social Selling SLA.

2. Understand how content fits into your sales enablement strategy

Content is a “must-have” for sales professionals. And by content, I don’t mean product fact sheets and pitch decks. While those are important, you need more than that.

Blog posts, infographics, ebooks, and research reports are good ways to start conversations with customers. Additionally, content can be useful when you’re following up with customers after a meeting.

To make content count during the sales process, salespeople need to understand when to use each type of content and how to position it with their buyers. So, take the time to build a content plan for your sales enablement team. Determine:

  • What technology you will use to supply content to your team
  • How you will store content
  • Who will supply content content to your team
  • How you will train your team to use content effectively (it’s not intuitive!)
  • What’s the right mix of company-created and third-party content
  • How you will divide your team

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Once you answer those questions, you’ll be able to supply your salespeople with content that will spark engagement. If you’re stuck, you may want to consult The Essential Guide to Social Selling Content or How to Successfully Launch Your Social Selling Program.

3. Be data-driven and measure your efforts

As the modern adage goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Unfortunately, it feels like you can measure far too much online. So, it is important to keep your focus on a small set of key performance indicators.

It might be helpful to divide your sales enablement metrics into two camps:

  1. Performance metrics – How did we do?For example, how much content did our salespeople share this month? How much engagement did that spark?
  2. Diagnostic metrics – What’s working? What needs to be improved? For example, what types of content are our salespeople sharing most often?

Don’t measure things just to measure them. Instead, choose metrics that will help you make important decisions – decisions that will help your customers and increase your company’s profitability.

4. Put Your Customer at the Heart of Sales Enablement

Some companies have their priorities wrong. They focus solely on their company, their product, their messaging, their key differentiators, etc. They make it all about THEM, and they forget entirely about their customers and their customers’ needs.

Their poor focus impacts their sales enablement efforts. Instead of helping their sales teams understand their buyers, they focus entirely on helping their sales team understand their product.

According to Forrester’s research, product-focused knowledge isn’t what most salespeople are lacking. By and large, salespeople don’t understand their buyers.

Helping your customers should be at the heart of all your efforts sales enablement – from awareness to retention.

And that means using the channels that your customers use. Sure, your customers use phone and email, but statistics show that many of them are using social networks, as well.

Bottom Line: Sales Enablement Has Changed

Today’s sales enablement has fundamentally shifted. It is no longer about explaining your companies’ products and helping customers evaluate vendors. It is about helping your buyers. It is about enabling your salespeople to engage throughout the entire lifecycle of a buyer, on the channels that they use.

With this shift come new criteria. By focusing on the four criteria above, sales enablement teams will set themselves up for success. They will be able to empower salespeople to help customers, drive revenue, and show their impact across the buyer’s journey.

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