When it comes to marketing in today’s go-go-go, always-on, like-worthy, re-tweetable, deeply digital world, there are people who get it, and those who don’t.
Matt Heinz gets it. And he’s really good at helping other people get it too.
Today, we have a treat for you. I was able to interview Matt recently about what it takes go get more out of sales enablement—especially for those just starting down the path of rolling out a solution—and I think you’ll find a lot of value in what he had to say.
Without further ado, here’s Matt!
What do most organizations miss when it comes to setting up sales enablement?
Well, a key theme that emerges when you start talking to people about this topic is that they don’t realize sales enablement is more than just creating content. Achieving sales enablement success is about having the right conversations, developing the right stories, and creating the right message for the right prospects. It’s more than just writing up more sales content like case studies or datasheets and tossing them over the fence to sales. It requires the successful rollout, implementation, and measurement which tactics and content devices work and don’t work, so that the next prospect gets a slightly better version of the material than the previous one and so that sales always has the best materials for the situation.
So if an organization wants to start rolling out a structured sales enablement platform or solution, what do they need to do first?
When it comes to successfully deploying sales enablement, it really comes down to four simple steps:
- Do the math: Know the volume of leads—how full your pipeline has to be—to be successful. It continues to surprise me how many companies don’t do the basic math to know what is required to successfully fill the pipeline to meet their quotas.
- Create a clear customer profile: The term B2B is misleading. Businesses don’t sell to businesses. People sell to people. And to sell to people, you need more than good content. You need to know and understand the nomenclature or slang of your customers to address, resonate, and recognize buying signals and trigger events that are related to that customer’s problems—which may or may not have to do with what you’re selling, but could be the key to getting their attention.
- Map the sales and buying process: One of the biggest benefits of sales enablement is the ability to map the sales and buying process to ensure you understand how your customers buy. What stages do they go through? What hurdles do they face? What are the steps that they need to execute internally to buy? Your sales process has to be mapped to that, and sales enablement is a huge component of operationalizing that within an organization.
- Plan to fire lots of bullets: The most successful companies fire lots of bullets—they try at lot of things at once, assuming that all the tactics will work, but they know that some may work better than others. If you don’t have a reporting structure in place to know what content is being deployed and how effective that content is in generating momentum and engagement with your prospects, you have no idea how your marketing efforts work in the sales process.
We recently partnered to conduct a study of nearly 450 B2B sales and marketing professionals, aimed at understanding the state of sales enablement in today’s selling environment. What was the biggest take away from that study, in your opinion?
It has to be the enormous gap between the perceived importance of sales enablement and the actual effectiveness of it.
What we saw was that if you ask people the importance of sales training and onboarding, you’ll get a big answer (on a scale of 1-10, we saw it was close to 8.3); but when we asked how effective sales training and onboarding was, the answers were more modest.
There is a band of mediocrity where we find most companies land when it comes to sales enablement. And, this is where there is huge opportunity that doesn’t require buying more leads, doesn’t require a big, expensive ad campaign, and doesn’t even require hiring more sales people. It requires simply putting systems and processes in place to improve the consistency, predictability, and success at what you are already doing. That’s what sales enablement platforms can do for any company that sells a product.
Matt, I know you have eight key items you talk about when helping people understand how to be successful with sales enablement. Can you give us the rundown here?
Sure. In fact, I gave a webinar on this recently where I go into much more depth. But in a nutshell, they are:
- Active CRM Ownership and Optimization: A good sales enablement solution doesn’t eliminate CRM—that’s never going to happen—but it makes the most of the time sales reps spend in their CRM systems while they are actively selling. Integration is absolutely key.
- Tools Integration: We learned in the study I mentioned above that there aren’t a lot of people using a dedicated sales enablement tool. The vast majority of people are still using email and/or other one-off methods to send out information and content to sales teams. When we send updates through email or multiple tools—even though it might seem faster and easier—it’s counterproductive. We’re only creating confusion and increasing non-active selling time among our reps. Having an integrated tools plan is where sales enablement can help sales teams be more efficient, and ultimately more successful.
- Better Reporting and Dashboards: Reporting is only as valuable as your ability to take action on it. Often times, sales and marketing report out on many things, but don’t know what to do about any of the data they possess. If the data isn’t extrapolated to mean something—if you can’t act on it—you should start questioning the value of the report.
- Process Improvement: Building process around the things that you want to be consistently successful at is important, and our recent study found that one of the most important items that needs a consistent process is ensuring sales teams can find content. When you introduce something like sales enablement, you need to be very explicit about how you develop the program, how you launch it, and how you train and enable your team to use it. And, of course, one of the most important factors is how you manage and optimize its usage for future iterations.
- Best Practice Collection, Inventory, and Sharing: How does your organization access best practices? If someone misses a meeting, loses an email, or doesn’t see a newsletter, will they miss a key learning? I highly encourage sales enablement professionals to think about a proactive best practices strategy so no one misses the valuable best practices that emerge through doing business.
- Vendor Filter, Triage, and Selection: When it comes to sales enablement solutions, there are a ton of vendors out there, and sometimes it can be really difficult to create a set of priorities that will help you lock in on the right vendor for you. It’s important to start by creating or finding a Sales Enablement solution evaluation checklist that you can use to evaluate multiple vendors to find the right fit for your organization based on your priorities.
- Comfortability with Customers: Companies don’t often spend a lot of focus on this topic, but it’s important. To be a good seller, you have to both understand who your customers are, and also be comfortable talking to them. In a lot of the Sales Kick Offs (SKOs) companies are having right now, there’s a lot of talk about the company and its products, but we don’t hear a lot of talk about the customer. As a sales enablement professional, it’s important to provide your sales reps with a way to be comfortable, and that often means giving them tools that give them access to the right insights and talking points at precisely the right time.
- Ownership of Templates and Collateral Inventory, Consistency, Access: Sales enablement is a proactive and strategic version of what sales operations or sales administration use to be, which means they own the collateral and how it reaches the sales team. As a result, sales enablement has become one of the most important roles in the sales organization, and having a proactive focus on the elements that have been covered here can make it even more successful, streamlined, consistent, and predictable in terms of output. The bigger your sales team, the more important this becomes. In fact, the bigger the sales team, the bigger the opportunity cost of not addressing many of these issues across your sales team and the greater friction, frustration and chance of not hitting your numbers.
I hope you found this interview with Matt helpful. He knows a lot about this topic, and we’re appreciative he took the time to share some of his pointers with us. Want to learn more about Matt? You can catch up with him at his blog over here.