61% of organizations had a dedicated sales enablement person, program, or function in 2018, according to data from CSO Insights. Just five years ago, that number was 19.3%.
This explosive growth comes as no surprise, as successful programs are proven to have a large, quantifiable impact on sales success, specifically:
- The percentage of reps achieving quota improving by 22.7%.
- Win rates for forecast deals boosted by 14.5%.
Clearly, having a successful sales enablement program can (and should) improve your bottom line, but only if you follow best practices.
Read on to learn three things you should do — and two you should avoid — to build a Sales Enablement approach that positively impacts revenue.
Sales Enablement Best Practices
How do you ensure your Sales Enablement program affects your bottom line? To start, do these 3 things.
1. Do: Develop a Charter
The first step of creating an effective enablement program is to develop and ratify a charter. This is your business plan, outlining the who, what, when, where, and why of your program.
A charter helps formalize your program. Plus, having one in place improves your chances of success. The same CSO Insights report mentioned earlier found that organizations with a charter have greater close rates than those that don’t.
Each organization’s charter will look different, of course, but here are five elements all organizations’ charters should include.
Audience – Your audience is the reason your sales enablement team exists. Be sure to document exactly what that audience looks like at your organization.
Mission Statement – A mission statement helps your entire organization understand the purpose of the sales enablement function. It also serves as a “north star” for those on the team, guiding them in their day-to-day work.
Scope – Laying out what is (and isn’t) in scope will set expectations and avoid unnecessary confusion about your team’s areas of responsibility.
Goals and Metrics – Make a list of goals you have for your program and the metrics you’ll use to determine success.
Executive Sponsor – Programs often fail due to lack of support, so it’s important to designate an executive sponsor.
2. Do: Develop an Enablement Cadence
A key step to launching a successful program is to establish an enablement cadence, which is the frequency at which you release new continuous learning initiatives.
The right cadence varies by organization, and as your company grows and evolves, the cadence will need to change, too. The important thing is to establish a predictable cadence that you’ve agreed to with sales and marketing leadership.
3. Do: Access Your Tech Stack
If you’re like many organizations, you use a combination of software and manual processes to manage different operations. These systems may or may not work well together.
Make a list of the different job functions you support, and the sales enablement tools each function uses. Consider tools like:
- Training platforms
- Email marketing platforms
- Prospecting tools
- Forecasting tools
- Marketing automation tools
Then, look for opportunities to audit and streamline your tech stack.
1. Don’t: Forget About a Communications Plan
A communication plan is a critical — but often overlooked — component of a successful sales enablement program. It essentially outlines how you plan to disseminate information to your audience.
Obviously, your audience needs to be stay updated in order to be successful sellers. But if you over-communicate, your audience might start to tune you out.
It’s key to find a balance and develop a communication plan that keeps your sales team well informed without overwhelming them.
The first step is to designate sales enablement as “air traffic control.” In other words, all communication is filtered through your team so Sales receives all key information from one, reliable source.
Each organization’s communications plan will look different, but there are five elements that should be included in yours:
Communication Inputs – These are teams that frequently have information to communicate to the field. Today, they may be sending out communications on their own when they have information they need to share. You’ll want to work with the leaders of each of these teams to designate a member that’ll be your point person.
Communication Audiences – These are the same people listed in the “audience” portion of your charter.
Communication Channels – Agree on (and document) what channels you’ll use to communicate with your different audiences. Channels might include:
- Text-based emails
- Email newsletters
- Alerts via your sales enablement software
Communication Cadence – Your communication cadence outlines how frequently you plan to communicate with your audience. Here’s a simple example:
- Monthly: Email newsletter to the entire field compiling all the latest information from all contributing teams
- Biweekly: Email communication to sales managers
- Ad hoc: Announcements via sales enablement software to let team know new information or content is available
Measurement – You won’t know how effective your communication is unless you measure it. If you use email marketing software to send communications, you can see who is opening and reading each communication. Then, you can use that information to optimize future communications.
2. Don’t: Put Your Program on Autopilot
Once your program has launched, don’t be tempted to put it on autopilot. Instead, make a commitment to continuous measurement, analysis, and improvement. This ensures your program is firing on all cylinders — and it continues to meet the changing needs of your business.
Remember those metrics you listed in your charter?
- Make sure you’re reviewing them regularly.
- Share the results with the appropriate teams.
- Then, use the data to make improvements to your program.
In addition, remember that as your business changes, so do the needs of your program. For example, let’s say your company acquires another organization or a new competitor enters the landscape. You’ll need to revisit your plan to ensure it meets your current business needs.
Finally, schedule regular meetings with your executive sponsor to discuss ongoing strategy. You’ve got to understand overall company goals and strategy if you want to develop programs that will effectively support growth.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Sales Enablement is proven to improve the performance of sales teams. With a strong strategy in place, your reps will be well equipped to deliver experiences that win more buyers.