Are you tired of the ups and downs of sales? You likely want to be able to forecast future revenues predictably, but sometimes have a hard time getting a handle on what’s driving success and failure.
No doubt, it’s frustrating.
Sales leaders’ lack of clarity around what drives sales performance is partially due to a large number of variables, both in their business and in the market, that affect conversion rates. How do you gain more control of them?
That’s what sales enablement is all about.
By providing the training, coaching, processes, content, and tools sales people need to do their jobs, sales enablement makes it easier for them to close more deals. It also makes it simpler to foresee sales results. Sales enablement takes away all the constraints to success, creating a predictable process, and empowering reps to do what they do best—sell. So whether you have a team dedicated to sales enablement or it’s a tight partnership between sales and marketing, you stand to gain by enabling your sales team.
Here are five essential building blocks of inside sales enablement that can put your team on track to make or exceed their quotas.
1. Training—Knowledge Transfer
Sales training is foundational for providing reps with the skills and confidence they need to do their jobs. Your reps must have a solid understanding of the market, your customer, and product knowledge as well as knowledge of sales best practices.
Fortunately, because inside sales people are generally centrally located, you don’t have to fly them in from all corners of the country or globe to attend the training function. That means you can set up a training program that delivers information in bite-sized chunks. To maximize your impact, serve lessons one at a time and reinforce as necessary, making it easier for your salespeople to digest what they learn.
Today, online learning-management systems provide course builders that simplify e-learning program set up and enable you to present information that’s visually appealing. Such solutions make it easier to scale your inside sales team as necessary while also ensuring that everyone receives the same training.
2. Coaching—Knowledge Enhancement
Just providing an inside salesperson with the knowledge they need to do their job is not enough to help them to maximize their performance. Yes, practice will help, but to accelerate their learning curve, they need tips and tricks from an expert.
When you coach, you provide ongoing feedback to your reps individually. For example, perhaps you’ve listened to some of the calls and have some advice based on what you’ve heard. Alternatively, you might just stop by and ask what challenges a rep is facing and how you can help.
The best way to coach is to deliver it frequently, once or more a week, but just a small dose at a time. For instance, you might chat with a salesperson for five minutes to offer a suggestion on how they could have overcome an objection on a call they just completed. Because the information is relevant to an experience that’s fresh in their mind, the information is more likely to stick with the rep.
Another learning opportunity is to have reps listen to their own calls. When they’re not actively involved in the call, they can reflect and determine what they could have done better. The bonus is that it doesn’t take up any of the manager’s time.
3. A Proven Sales Process
Sales should not be a hit-or-miss activity. Take the time to design, use, and optimize a marketing and sales process that gives your reps the opportunity for peak performance. A sales process provides a map from the first contact with a prospect to when you close the sale. It should lay out how you’re going to generate leads, qualify them, convince them how you can help, overcome objections, and close the sale.
When you first develop a process, it likely won’t be the ideal one; however, you have to start somewhere.
The magic for perfecting your sales process is to use marketing automation and a customer relationship management solution to track, measure, and optimize your process so it delivers the best results.
4. Use Tools
Technology is a powerful enabler for inside sales, which can help you maximize your team’s results. Here are some tools, or solutions you may want to consider:
- Marketing Automation to orchestrate, track, and optimize campaigns that support sales
- Market Intelligence Software, which provides information on markets and companies, helping reps to connect with the right people
- Business Directories that give details on businesses by size, industry, and geographic segments.
- Virtual Conferencing to connect and communicate with prospects around the globe and share product demonstrations
- Automatic Dialing to sequence calls, ensure frequent follow-ups and relieve reps from the busy work of dialing
- Customer Relationship Management to manage customer data and record reps’ interactions with them
- Online Learning Management to, as mentioned previously, provide a customized and scalable e-learning solution
All of these tools empower reps to spend more of their time engaging with prospects and moving them through the buying cycle, more professionally and more quickly.
5. Content that Answers Buying Questions
Your salespeople should not have to do all the communicating themselves. In many cases, it’s more efficient and effective to have content at their fingertips that answers the questions buyers ask as they move through the buying cycle. This content includes information that helps prospects to solve a problem and to build a business case internally.
Formats for content that reps can send to customers include ebooks, white papers, case studies, blog posts, videos, webinars, data sheets, infographics and more.
Also, salespeople should have access to information that they can use in their conversations and direct communications. These can comprise of:
- Talking points for structuring phone conversations
- Statistics that add credibility
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- At-a-glance competitor comparisons
- Guidelines on how to overcome objections
- Customizable sales email templates for personal outreach
As you can see, there are many aspects to enabling an inside sales team to produce sales predictably day after day. Don’t expect to be able to conquer them all at once. Start by developing your priorities which should include a formal training program, coaching guidelines, and sales process that you can shape over time. Then empower your reps with tools that make them smarter, and more efficient and effective. Finally, give them the content they need to answer buyers’ questions and reinforce your message.