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Best Practices in Sales Enablement

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Welcome to Highspot’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement.  This is where you’ll find guidance on planning, selecting, deploying, and optimizing the sales enablement solution that’s best for you.

We’ve designed this page for sales enablement pros who rely upon field-tested tools and techniques.  Topics range from finding sales enablement analysts and vendors to accelerating sales performance, improving content management, measurement, and more.  Our experiences and the insights they’ve yielded are now yours to reference.

Best Practices Guides

Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of our Best Practices Guides are now available for download.  This three-part series delivers a range of proven techniques for driving faster sales through more efficient and effective sales enablement.

In Best Practices Volume 1: Faster Sales Start Here, we share perspectives on getting started with sales enablement, from subject and role definition to responsibilities, strategies, and tactics. The goal of Volume 1 is to equip sales enablement pros to make informed pre-deployment decisions.  Volume 2, Put Your Sales Content to Work, dives into deployment and how to launch a sales enablement platform and achieve maximum impact. Volume 3, Transform Your Business, focuses on optimization and strategies for creating long-term competitive advantage via sales enablement process and technology.  

Sales Enablement Best Practices

Volume 1 highlights include:

Definition and Principles.  How to make informed, strategic decisions based upon a clear understanding of what sales enablement can accomplish.

Scoping Your Sales Enablement Role.  Ideas on the function of sales enablement in driving higher conversion rates and content ROI.

Focusing on Alignment.  Proven strategies for achieving sales and marketing alignment through tighter collaboration and closed-loop technology. 

Establishing a Foundation.  Making the sales enablement platform choice that’s best for your team, plus how to build a project plan, get executive sponsorship, and more.

Click the image above and download your copy of Volume 1 today.

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Volume 2 highlights include:

Mapping Your Content.  How to classify available sales content, identify what you need, and position your content where sales and marketing teams can make the most of it. 

Validating Your Content Map.  Ideas on how to achieve cross-organizational endorsement that what’s in your content map is comprehensive, easy to understand, and ready for sales to use. 

Launching Your Solution.  Key considerations when loading your content, provisioning users, and training users on your sales enablement platform.

Ensuring Successful Adoption.  How to bring users up the learning curve fast by aligning your evangelization focus to phased goals and usage metrics.  This is also where we share ideas on why and how to infuse sales enablement into your day-to-day activities.

Maintaining High Performance.  Proven approaches to ensuring your ongoing operations run as smoothly as possible, from governance to analytics, reviews, and rigorous use of closed-loop feedback.

Click the image above and download your copy of Volume 2 today.

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Volume 3 highlights include:

Optimizing Your Platform.  How to consistently develop and deliver content that meets the needs of your sales team and positions your business to achieve long-term revenue growth.   

Sales Enablement Leadership.  Recommendations on expanding the impact of sales enablement processes and technology, from building an outstanding team to driving faster conversions through deeper insights.

Preparing for the Future.  How to stay on the cutting edge of sales enablement innovation and leverage your platform for broader integrations, multifaceted analytics, and tighter alignment across marketing and sales.  

Click the image above and download your copy of Volume 3 today.

Getting Started with Sales Enablement

An effective business process for sales enablement will require organizational, process, incentive and technology changes in order to better align sales and marketing. With a combination of analytics and accountability, organizations can turn frenemies into true partners amongst unlikely participants.

To get started, here are a few steps will set you on the right path:

  1. Put the right leader in charge
  2. Build a culture of alignment
  3. Define the respective roles and responsibilities of sales and marketing 
  4. Align sales and marketing on incentives
  5. Institute regular operating processes and review meetings 
  6. Implement closed-loop sales enablement technology
  7. Establish a Sales & Marketing Alignment Performance metric 

Don’t get me wrong. This process isn’t easy. It will take work and persistence. It will take determination to push through the challenges posed by the “way we’ve always done it” mentality. But, the hard work will be worth it in the end, because you’ll have measurable results on which to base educated conversations.

For more detail on every step on Sales and Marketing alignment, watch the video or download the whitepaper.

Finding Sales Enablement Analysts

In a market as dynamic as sales enablement, independent research and analysis is important as companies formulate their long-term strategy. Independent firms can also be helpful when selecting and evaluating sales enablement tools. In addition to reports and consultations available exclusively to their clients, many analysts share insights publicly via LinkedIn, Twitter, and their blog. 

To kickstart your search, we’ve made available a complimentary vendor landscape report from one of the leading analyst organizations: 

SD-Sales-Asset-Management-Report-290x175-03042016

Identifying the right analysts and finding their various online resources is not always easy. So we have compiled a list of analysts (in alphabetical order) from leading firms that have sales enablement as an important part of their practice.

Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement

In nearly every function of a modern business, teams are using data to improve both their effectiveness and their efficiency. Except Sales, where reps and managers are too busy “closing business” and process improvement generally relies on intuition and anecdote. This is the genesis of the modern Sales Enablement function; A team dedicated to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of sales through data science and by applying all available resources, including content, training, tools and process (playbooks).

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The Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement provides a comprehensive picture of what is needed to successfully understand, evaluate, design, launch, and operate a sales enablement function:

  1. Introduction: What is Sales Enablement?
  2. Calculating the ROI of Sales Enablement 
  3. Sales Enablement Platform Capabilities 
  4. Maturity Model
  5. Deployment Guide 
  6. Solution Design, Content Mapping and Organization
  7. Measuring Sales Content Performance
  8. Measuring Seller Readiness
  9. Measuring Solution Health
  10. Directory of Analysts
  11. Directory of Sales Enablement Software and Tools 

The result of successful sales enablement is that sellers engage more effectively with customers, increasing value to the buying process and closing more sales.

How Sales Enablement Can Increase Sales Performance

What if you could help your Sales team grow revenue 100% faster?

It sounds audacious, but with the right sales enablement practices, this goal is absolutely possible. In fact, Aberdeen Group has provided the proof in a recent research report.

It’s true that “sales enablement” means different things to different organizations, but the common thread that stretches across all industries, verticals, and revenue bands, is how to best manage customer-facing content. Content, after all, is the backbone of the sales cycle. Without it, sales has nothing to show prospects.

However, to help sales sell marketing needs feedback on the content it produces to make sure it’s hitting the mark.

The good news is that there is a way for both organizations to get what they need and the better alignment is having incredible results on top-line growth.

Quota Busting with Sales Enablement

Learn how Best-in-Class organizations are pioneering new methods in sales enablement in this Aberdeen KnowledgeBrief, “Building Towards a Sales Enablement Win: Where do I start?” In it you’ll find:

  • Aberdeen’s new sales enablement framework: Aggregate, Engage, Analyze
  • 4 concrete tips on making it successful
  • Research data and benchmarks to set as 2016 goals
  • When to consider rolling out a sales enablement platform in your organization

Download this report to ensure you’re taking advantage of what other organizations are quickly learning.

Best Practice in Sales Enablement Team Structure

Making the decision to invest in sales enablement is a huge step towards truly accelerating your customer acquisition efforts but how do you structure this organization?  What are their core objectives and responsibilities?

Sales enablement is different than sales operations.  According to SiriusDecisions, the difference is as follows:

“Generally, sales enablement focuses on on-boarding and certification, sales asset management, sales communications, and coaching and training skills. Sales operations, on the other hand, handles planning, territory optimization, compensation, sales analytics and technology.”

With this in mind, learn about best practices and the three core areas of responsibility that lay the foundation for how to structure and staff your sales enablement team.  The roles and responsibilities will vary based on the size of company, sales and distribution model, and markets served but these three areas will remain constant.

Finding The Best Sales Enablement Vendors

The sales and marketing technology landscape is incredibly crowded. Based  on chiefmartec.com’s excellent research, as of January 2015 there were 1847 vendors in this space, up from an already incredible 947 vendors in 2014.

Martech Sales Enablement Landscape 2015

In the sales enablement category, there are 52 (some have been acquired since the report came out) companies listed. With so many companies, just researching the top sales enablement tools and software is difficult which is why this easy to use directory with a summary of each vendor’s offering (in their own words), their contact information, and a screenshot of their current web site is incredibly useful.

Evaluating Sales Enablement Tools

In today’s marketplace there are an increasing number of vendors with similar marketing messages. In practice vendors have significantly different strengths and weaknesses. While reviewing vendor product sheets is a good way to get started, ultimately you will want to dive deeper into the relative performance of each feature important to your team.  Start by prioritizing your organization’s needs and scoring the relative importance of each requirement. Then run a systematic review of how well each vendor delivers each of those requirements.

In addition to any particular set of features, ease-of-use is an important consideration as the platform will only be successful if adopted by your sales team. The best practice is to take a systematic approach to evaluating vendors so that important differences can be identified and you can determine the best fit for your organization.

To help you, we’ve developed an evaluation checklist that provides the framework for prioritizing, scoring and evaluating sales enablement vendors–you fill your specific requirements and vendor scores.

Mapping and Organizing Sales Content

When you are developing your solution, the Design stage is particularly important—it lays the foundation for the project. We have found that these four steps are the best practices to reliably lead to a solid design:

Sales Enablement Solution Design Best Practices

Sales Enablement Deployment Best Practice

There is a tremendous amount of value that you can unlock through sales enablement. But it is important to keep in mind that you don’t have to “boil the ocean” right away. The best practice among successful deployment projects we have seen deliver value quickly by starting with the most painful problems that hold back your sales efforts. Once the system is up and working successfully, it is much easier to extend it into new areas and to support additional roles in the company.

Sales Enablement Deployment Lifecycle

Six Characteristics of a Successful Sales Portal

We’ve talked to hundreds of companies about sales portals, and what we’ve heard is remarkably consistent. If they have a sales portal, they hate it. If they don’t have a sales portal, it’s because they are pretty sure they’re going to hate it.

Everyone knows that there must be a better answer. We live in a time when technology has revolutionized our ability to get the information we need .. in our personal lives. Want to learn about almost any topic in the entire pantheon of human endeavor? No problem, you can get what you want in seconds on the Internet. Need to find a crucial document to help close a deal? Sorry, good luck with that. It doesn’t have to be that way.

A modern sales enablement platform connects sellers to the most effective content and makes sure that it is working hard to deliver the sales results you need. You can take advantage of the same techniques that Internet services use to connect millions of people to the information they want. The right solution also integrates with and enhances the tools your company already relies on – services that track your sales activities (like Salesforce), that manage your files (like Box), and that you use for Web conferencing (like join.me).

A sales enablement platform should deliver on these six essential best practices, to make sure that your sales team gets the maximum value from the content you work so hard to create.

Build a Sales Portal that gets used from Highspot.

Best Practice in Measuring Solution Health

The solution that you have implemented is not going to do much good for the company if it isn’t being used. We have found the best practice  is to measure solution health in three distinct ways:

  • Adoption. How many people have ever used the solution. If the solution requires users to sign up for an account, the number of accounts that have been created is a simple way to measure adoption. If you are using single-sign on, where accounts are automatically created as needed, you can use the number of people who have visited the enablement platform at least once.
  • Breadth Usage. This is another fairly simple metric, showing how many people used the solution over a period of time. Our primary view is the previous 30 days, which is usually a good way to understand normal usage. Patterns of use will often vary quite a bit over a single day or week, and those numbers can be affected heavily by a short-term event like a holiday or the end of a financial quarter. But if the solution is a core part of their work, looking at a 30 day period gives a reasonable picture.
  • Depth Usage. This metric can take more thought to compute than the other two, which don’t vary too much from one company to another. The goal is to measure how many people have used the product to accomplish something of value. We use a standard set of depth metrics that work reasonably well across many different organizations, but you may find it worthwhile to develop your own custom depth metrics to measure the activity that you are most interested in encouraging on the platform.

Improving Sales Content Performance 

When it came to content, we used to rely almost entirely on anecdotes and guesswork. That is no longer good enough – content is at the heart of the sales and marketing process and we must know how it is being used and how it is performing.

Marketing Automation tools made that a reality for marketing content. They let marketers analyze and optimize content marketing efforts during the first half of the sales cycle, providing analytics to show how effectively content moves customers through the funnel. But until recently, as soon as a deal was handed off to the sales team, it entered a content black hole.

There has been no way to answer very basic questions about sales content. Do reps have what they need? Do they use it? Do customers pay any attention to it? Does any of this actually generate real revenue? Even in our increasingly data-driven world, sales content has remained back in the days of guess and hope. But an emerging set of Sales Enablement platforms has changed that. They manage sales content throughout your sales engagements and use analytics to give you full visibility into how that content performs.

This guide walks through best practices and the eight reports that answer the key business questions about sales content and shows how to use them to optimize the way your company engages with customers.

Best Practice in Assessing Seller Readiness 

A modern business is deeply data-driven. Once you have your sales enablement solution in place, you are ready to analyze and optimize your sales process.

There are ten best practice reports that will allow you to analyze and optimize your training investments. Each one answers an important business question. Together, they paint a complete picture of the training that you have, how it is being used, whether it is effective, and how much business value you are getting from it. 

Sales Team Readiness Reports

The ultimate goal is to measure the return on your training investments. Training is expensive—you need to develop the courses, deliver them, and pay the opportunity cost of putting your sellers in a training session instead of having them focused on selling your products. You’d like to be able to say “I spent $X on having this seller trained and it generated $Y in additional revenue.” Your sales enablement system can answer that question, but it will also provide intermediate metrics that yield additional key insights.

Activity metrics help you diagnose why you aren’t getting the business impact you want. You might not have the training that your employees want. They might not know about the training that is available. It might not be effective, and everyone avoids it because it is a waste of time. Each of the ten reports gives you insight into one particular area of training performance, and together they let you understand the whole picture and dig down as needed to understand where the problems are.

Putting It All Together

Fixing the Sales Content Problem 

Watch a Webinar with SiriusDecisions’ Jim Ninivaggi talking about how to address the sales content challenge in sales enablement.

Highspot in Action

Watch a 5 minute video on the Highspot sales enablement platform.

Additional Resources: More Highspot in Action Videos

To learn more about how sales enablement can turbocharge your business, check out the Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement as well as Sales Enablement Tools and Software for a complete list of sales enablement vendors.


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