Although more and more companies are paying attention to and implementing sales enablement programs today, many businesses are still not fully capitalizing on these methods. By and large, the majority of companies are just implementing bits and pieces of sales enablement rather than a full strategized intiative, which necessarily leads to diminished results. With that in mind, the following are ten of the most common mistakes companies make when attempting to successfully plan and implement sales enablement strategies.
Sales Enablement Problems: 10 Mistakes You Could Be Making
1. Failing to train sales representatives how to effectively use content.
You can have the best content possible, but if your sales team doesn’t know how to use it effectively—or even find it—it simply does you no good. You must, therefore, implement a system to train your sales staff regarding where this content catalog is and how to use it.
On top of these logistical points, training should also cover the strategy behind content creation. This ensures your sales team can effectively help create that content and use it during a sales call. Your salespeople should be well versed in the following:
- The sales cycle—what it is and how to identify what stage a lead is at.
- Your buyer personas.
- How to use content within the sales cycle in order to take a more consultative approach to selling.
- The technological resources at their disposal to answer prospect questions and facilitate selling (content catalog, CRM, LinkedIn, and so on).
2. Implementing systems where deals get stuck in the sales process.
Poor or incomplete strategic planning can cause deals to stall somewhere in the sales process. Common mistakes range from not granting your salespeople access to the data or systems they need to effectively communicate with a lead to not training those salespeople about the different stages of the buyer’s journey and how to use content to facilitate selling at those different stages.
By creating content that’s targeted to your specific buyer personas at each stage of the buyer’s journey and training your sales staff how to effectively use that wealth of content, that created content should help your salespeople seamlessly drive leads through that sales funnel all the way to conversion.
3. Lacking systems that educate sales about your content system and how to access it.
A fantastic shared content catalog means nothing if your sales team doesn’t know it exists or doesn’t know how to quickly and easily use it.
Therefore, keep the following pointers in mind regarding your content system:
- Everyone should have access to the shared content catalog, CRM, and other sales enablement tools.
- Content should be organized according to specific buyer personas and stages of the sales cycle.
- Every piece of content should have a quick description to alert the user what he or she is looking at. Online, this description could be a meta description. (Remember, a salesperson doesn’t have time to wade through one hundred pieces of content looking for a specific article. It needs to be intuitive and quick.)
4. Focusing on traditional high-level sales procedures.
Sales enablement programs can sometimes receive pushback because salespeople think it means overhauling their “traditional” sales techniques. That’s not the case! Sales enablement is about maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales team by facilitating their sales processes.
If you’re implementing sales enablement but sales and marketing aren’t talking and meeting at least once a month to share feedback on what’s working and not working and strategizing for future content, you’re setting yourself up for little to no positive results.
This collaborative approach to content creation can feel new and different, but at its heart, it’s about utilizing the shared knowledge base of the people on your team in order to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and address the needs, questions, and concerns of potential customers to facilitate lead-to-customer conversion.
5. Sending sales content as e-mail attachments.
This might not seem like a big deal, but e-mail attachments are not the ideal vehicle to send sales content. There’s no way to organize that content, e-mails are easily lost in the shuffle or inadvertently deleted, and it’s not possible for everyone to access that content later in a centralized content catalog system.
6. Creating content that is not specific to your buyer personas or the buyer’s journey.
If you’re creating content, you might think you’re ahead of the game, but that’s not necessarily the case. Creating an onslaught of content is not effective unless that content is highly targeted to your specific buyer personas. Beyond that, you need content that addresses the problems, challenges, and questions of those buyer personas at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
To be effective for your sales team, the content you create needs to be highly relevant to the prospective buyers they are interacting with every day.
7. Having an unorganized or incomplete sales enablement program, which costs your sales team time and loses you buy-in.
This is one of the most common ways companies fall down in terms of sales enablement.
If you implement bits and pieces rather than a full sales enablement strategy, you can needlessly cost your sales team time within the selling process. If, for example, they aren’t trained about how valuable the sales content can be during lead nurturing or they can’t easily and quickly access content within a shared content catalog, it will be difficult for the sales team to see the value in these sales enablement processes. Once the sales team can’t see the value, you will almost certainly lose buy-in.
Buy-in of team members is critical to the success of your sales enablement efforts. Failure to get that often means failure to find success with sales enablement.
8. Not having a sales-level agreement (SLA) in place between marketing and sales.
An SLA is a document created collaboratively between marketing and sales that makes their shared goals and objectives plain and explicit. It essentially lays out what goals sales and marketing are going to work toward together, and because it’s created with both parties, it addresses the concerns, needs, objectives, and collective knowledge of both your sales and marketing teams.
If your sales and marketing teams aren’t talking, working together, and striving for shared goals, your sales enablement efforts will simply never take off.
9. Failing to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for specific goals within the SLA.
A good SLA will incorporate relevant KPIs to ensure you can track your goals and ascertain how well you’re actually achieving or working toward those shared goals.
Sales and marketing should report monthly on these KPIs. This tracks progress, but it also helps identify core challenges and problems. By reporting monthly, these challenges can be identified and resolved quickly—before they significantly impact the teams’ ability to reach shared goals. Don’t forget to implement a quantifiable benchmarking system to ascertain if goals are truly progressing and being achieved.
Just as content should be mapped to the buyer’s journey, your goals should also be linked to achievements at every stage of the sales funnel. That means reporting should be done in the context of achieving goals throughout the sales cycle.
10. Not having the right technological infrastructure in place.
Technology is an important and integral part of sales enablement. It makes things quicker, easier, and more effective for your sales and marketing teams.
The most common technological tools include the following:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system to track and manage lead engagement with your company (website page views, documents downloaded, and so on).
- A shared content catalog.
- Marketing automation tools to make sales interactions more efficient.
These tools help further qualify leads and inform the sales person about how to best start the conversation with that particular lead.
Sales enablement, as an industry term, has been around for quite some time, but there’s still a lot of confusion about what exactly it entails and how best to implement a sales enablement strategy. Part of that confusion stems from the fact that sales enablement is going to manifest differently in every company. There is no coverall application that will work for every business. Instead, you have to take the idea of collaboratively working toward shared goals and apply it to the specific tactics that will work to align your sales and marketing teams, increase the productivity of your sales reps, and ultimately increase company profits.
Learn how to increase marketing and sales productivity by developing a predictable, gowning sales pipeline through isales enablement.