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Your 2022 Sales Enablement Platform Buyer’s Guide (+10 Tools to Consider)

If you could spend a day with sales teams from some of the most successful companies in the world, what would you see?

Here’s my guess: you’d see a GTM organization working together like a well-oiled machine. They’re all on board – marketing, sales, product, customer success, and executive leaders. Their sales tools are integrated effectively, coaching is readily available, and sales reps are happily using their CRM. How do they do it?

They have a sales enablement plan and the right sales enablement platform in place. We’ve created this guide to explain the nuts and bolts of the process, what questions to ask, and which vendors to check out.

What is sales enablement?

The mandate for sales enablement is to increase the effectiveness of their go-to-market (GTM) strategy by providing coaching, training, and introducing sales enablement platforms and tools.

An effective sales enablement program delivers insights about:

  • How to gauge your sales reps’ knowledge, skills, and daily behaviors
  • How to tightly align sales enablement with high-level business goals
  • How to replicate the success of “A” players

This explanation from Roderick Jefferson sums it up well: “Sales enablement is centered around getting the right people in the right conversations with the right decision-makers in the right way.”

Sales enablement has evolved quickly. Before, sales enablement leaders were primarily responsible for onboarding new sales reps and delivering an annual sales kickoff program. Now, this team is an integral part of multiple orgs and drives constant improvements in reaching company revenue goals.

Businesses that implement a sales enablement function see increased quota achievement at the rep and team level. They also tend to reach their revenue goals or even exceed them.

So what is sales enablement responsible for?

You could call sales enablement the formal structure of law that enforces the use of best practices through continuous engagement with reps. Sales enablement platforms offer a lot of flexibility with how you engage.

Consider if these styles will work for your GTM org:

  • On-demand consultation for sales reps: choose a sales enablement platform that allows reps to move fast with instant access to the information they need.
  • AI for sales enablement: include AI software in your tech stack that can answer reps questions and alert them to changes with push and pull messaging and 24/7 instant response.
  • Sales bootcamp: host regular bootcamps through a learning management system, and not just for new hire onboarding. These are opportunities to help lift up low performers to be, at least, on par with average attainment. This is an investment in their potential.

Isn’t sales enablement the same as sales engagement?

Not exactly.

While both are intended to help reps close more deals, sales engagement is a tool to engage buyers.

Sales engagement platforms integrate your marketing automation systems with your team’s workflows so reps can provide a customer-centric experience that’s created specifically for your target audience, resulting in improved lead conversion rates.

What categories of sales enablement tools are there?

Sales enablement tools tend to fall into a few more specific categories based on what you need to support your sales team.

Conversational intelligence software

Conversational intelligence tools use data collected from transcribed calls to identify what phrases or words work best with potential buyers. They help businesses identify where improvements are needed and how to coach reps on best practices.

Content management tools

Bottom line: if your reps can’t find the content they need when they need it, then your content is going to waste. Content management software creates a library of videos, case studies, white papers, and competitor analysis that are easy to navigate and search. These tools reduce the time reps spend collecting the resources they need, allowing them to focus on their prospects.

Learning management systems

Building a learning experience that will scale is very difficult if you’re manually tracking everything. With a learning management system (LMS), your sales enablement team can track coursework, enrollment, module completion, documentation, and certifications in a centralized and streamlined workflow.

Sales intelligence software

Sales intelligence tools are a newer addition to the enablement space. They help sales reps and marketing teams identify and surface contacts at your target companies. Instead of going through outdated CRM contact details or spamming numerous directors and VPs on LinkedIn, reps will know who to talk to to reduce time to purchase.

Sales readiness tools

Sales readiness software helps companies assess and certify whether salespeople are equipped with the proper skills and knowledge to progress their prospect through the buyer’s journey. They are especially helpful when reps are speaking to new buyers whom they’re not familiar with yet.

Do I need a sales enablement platform?

If you are seeing stagnating sales, big gaps between high achievers and everyone else, or that buyers are not engaged, then it’s time to make some changes. Some of the reasons for these problems can be difficult to improve, but don’t let that hold you back.

Here are some typical scenarios in which sales enablement platforms can help:

  • Your high performers prefer their own processes, and your low performers are struggling to get by. Companies that have this “weakest link” management philosophy risk having the culture driven by their most successful, but least cooperative reps. Sales enablement can help secure the buy-in for change from all reps by including them from the start.
  • Your new reps’ ramp time is too long before they reach full quota attainment. On average, it takes five or more months for new reps to ramp at SaaS companies today. Guided coaching tools can ramp them faster and close business sooner.

How do I prepare for evaluating vendors?

With hundreds of sales tools on the market, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Remember, adding a bunch of sales enablement tools isn’t going to magically solve your problems. If they aren’t the right fit for your team, it could actually make things worse. So before you start evaluating, have a plan for these considerations first.

Align your stakeholders

Before you try to build and deliver a sales enablement plan, you must have buy-in from your key stakeholders. The saying it takes a village really applies here. Put together a team of problem-solvers that you can depend on. Choose people from diverse backgrounds who have worked in sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and training.

Dependencies and blockers

Review your existing tech stack; these tools need to align with the goals of the business:

  • CRM
  • Training platforms
  • Marketing automation tools
  • Prospecting tools
  • Forecasting tools

Change management will always encounter obstacles. Your GTM teams are made up of people, and people are resistant to change how they learn and sell. The types of obstacles will vary based on the size of your company.

Startup hurdle: headcount

  • Everyone working at a new startup that has aggressive scaling plans wears multiple hats. Set realistic goals and delegate tasks.

SMB hurdle: buy-in

  • These companies have seasoned reps who have their own way of doing things without any oversight. You will need to sell them on new ideas, tools and procedures.

Enterprise hurdle: bureaucracy

  • You can’t avoid it. You can still accomplish your goals but remember that getting buy-in from internal champions will take time.

Timelines and adoption

First, provide a roadmap for the company showing how you will elevate sales enablement from just an onboarding and training function, to a business partner.

The key milestones for your plan should include:

  • Identifying target buyer personas
  • Aligning the sales process with the buyer journey
  • Aligning sales content with the awareness, consideration, and decision marketing stages
  • Customizing sales tools
  • Establishing feedback loop

How do I evaluate vendors?

Evaluating vendors can be done by stakeholders, timelines, cost and ROI, and dependencies.

Stakeholders

Survey your sales team to find out their top three pain points. You can do that with forms or set up 1:1 meetings with representatives from each sales segment. Then create a small committee of sales reps that can join demos, pilot the product, and champion the selected tool to the team once it’s purchased.

Timelines

Work backwards from your ideal go-live date in order to schedule all of the steps in the evaluation. If you need a new tool in one month, you’ll have to move fast through the steps:

  1. Needs assessment: Interview your reps to identify pain points, review your existing tech stack for gaps in functionality, and assess any unique security requirements.
  2. Research vendors: Exclude any tools that don’t have key functionality or that are definitely out of budget, find out what the set up costs will be, and find out what type of support they offer customers.
  3. Shortlist and evaluate vendors: Set up demos and trial accounts, ask for social proof that their product is effective and start negotiations for a contract.
  4. Select a vendor: Work with your finance and legal teams to make sure the contract terms are acceptable.
  5. Post-sale set-up: Assign an implementation team internally, deploy your committee of sales, marketing, sales ops and finance to review processes, and integrate your new software with your sales tech stack.

Costs and ROI

Aside from the direct cost of the software itself, there are other considerations when measuring the ROI of purchasing a new sales enablement tool:

  • The cost of the manual processes that the software will replace.
  • The amount of revenue growth you could see with more efficient reps
  • The benefits to the whole GTM team of expanding the number data points this tool provides

Dependencies

Before you begin researching vendors, you need to have answers to the following questions in order to avoid wasted time:

  • Who will lead the evaluation process?
  • What are your budget limitations? Is it worth signing up for an annual contract or choosing a month-to-month contract?
  • What is your timeline? How urgently do you need to choose a tool?
  • What is the approval process for purchases at your company? Whose signatures do you need?

What questions should I ask vendors?

As you begin your evaluation, start with these high-level questions. Once you’ve created a shortlist, you’ll need to dive deeper into technical requirements and negotiating your contract.

  • Is your functionality intuitive so that my reps can pick it up quickly?
  • Does your platform automatically capture call recordings, deliver scorecards, and can be customized based on methodology and goals?
  • Does your platform offer formats (PowerPoint presentations, call recordings, team exercises) that engage visual, auditory, and tactical learners?
  • Can managers custom assign training modules to reps? Can they track their team’s progress through reporting?
  • How easy is your content library to organize, access, and search?
  • How easy is it to share updates to content and make sure reps are using the most up-to-date information?
  • What guided selling functionality do you offer?
  • Can I see the types of content in my library that buyers engage with more?
  • Can sellers customize content for their buyer and presentation needs?
  • How robust is the search function for tags and other metadata?
  • Will the data you capture integrate with my CRM and my sales dashboards?
  • Do you have reports tying my team’s coursework completion to their performance?

How do I measure ROI?

Measuring your sales enablement program through all stages is crucial to showing the value that your program and enablement tools deliver to your organization. Assess KPIs for completed coursework and behavioral changes on calls.

Connect everything back to your revenue results:

Assessing learning and behavior changes:

  • # of content views
  • # of certifications
  • # of video practices
  • # of calls recorded
  • # of coaching activities

Assessing revenue results:

  • Time to revenue
  • Quota attainment
  • Lead conversion rate
  • Time spent actively selling
  • Content usage
  • Sales funnel transition rates
  • Average win rates
  • Average purchase value
  • Number of closed deals
  • Product mix

11 sales enablement tools to consider

We’ve compiled a list of 10 sales enablement tools (in no particular order) that can help streamline your team’s workflow and functionality.

1. MindTickle

Mindtickle is the market-leading sales readiness platform, helping revenue leaders at world-class companies be ready to grow revenue by defining excellence, building knowledge, aligning content, analyzing performance, and optimizing behavior throughout their sales organizations.

“We have direct evidence that sellers who have a higher level of engagement, including in their Mindtickle training and communications completions, are 50% more likely to exceed quota.” – Beth Shirey, Trimble Viewpoint

2. Seismic

Seismic allows marketing teams to personalize content at scale when they equip large sales teams with the right content they need for every interaction. The Storytelling Platform gives marketers the ability to administer content delivery on all channels. Sales reps can practice engaging with prospects through every step of the buyer journey.

“Seismic regularly releases new features as well as additional products that go beyond content management to social selling and marketing project management. Their team has been very receptive to feedback on the product and roadmap.” – Jackie Retig

3. Highspot

Highspot combines intelligent content management, training, contextual guidance, customer engagement, and actionable analytics. This supports GTM teams in delivering a unified buying experience.

“Great way to manage content and serve it up to sales, marketing, and any customer-facing teams and to be able to track both internal and external-customer engagement with content. We were able to directly relate influenced opportunities and influenced revenue within the first few months of usage.” – Pamela Dake

4. LevelJump

LevelJump is an outcome-based enablement solution built 100% inside Salesforce. Companies can use it to centralize sales readiness with outcome-based training and coaching, automate sales and revenue milestone achievement, and tie enablement to revenue impact to close the loop on sales productivity.

“It gives us the ability to visualize the full picture of what top performers are doing differently than B or C performers, identify those success patterns, and optimize rep performance accordingly.” – Fiamma Jean-Baptiste

5. Showpad

Showpad’s sales enablement platform includes sales content management, training and coaching within a single user experience. Sellers can prepare before their buyer interaction, becoming trusted advisors during the call. This tool also has video coaching and training to certify sales teams.

“This tool is fantastic and the company actually listens to their customers! The most recent feature release answered so many of our needs without us even needing to ask.” – Lena Eisenstein

6. Allego

Allego is designed as a rep-centric platform to improve success for virtual teams. They provide activated content for reps to close deals faster. Their asynchronous video and AI powered coaching facilitate learning and peer-to-peer collaboration.

“We began using Allego as a coaching tool and loved it – leaving “point in time” comments on a video is very helpful! It allows the coachee to go back and listen to what they said and get coaching advice in sort of a “real-time” setting.” – Renee O’Donnell

7. SetSail

SetSail has a revenue execution platform which uses machine learning and AI to identify buying signals reps need to win deals. By tracking these signals, sales leaders can create automated programs that guide rep behavior. All of these customer interactions can be sent to your CRM.

“SetSail provides a positive reinforcement chain for sales reps. It’s much easier to reward behavior than slap them on the hand for no work.” – G2 Reviewer

8. MediaFly

MediaFly’s sales enablement and content management tools include interactive sales presentation tools, AI-powered content automation, CRM integration, detailed content usage analytics, and supports most content types.

“Mediafly is a platform that empowers all areas of the company to think about how they engage with content for external or internal use cases. They are a fantastic partner when it comes to new ideas, issue resolution or just forward-thinking discussions.” – Kevin White

9. DocSend

Docsend’s link-based system supports notifications when someone has viewed a file you shared and content analysis on a page by page basis. You can create modern virtual deal rooms and know that your company is secure with tailored security preferences for each stakeholder.

Our team builds a Space for each of our clients and adds to it throughout the client journey, ultimately using that same Space for contract/renewal signatures. Clients constantly compliment the experience and we’re gaining valuable insights behind the scenes.” – Tayler Childers

10. SalesHood

SalesHood is an all-in-one sales enablement platform that combines learning, coaching and selling into a streamlined system for remote teams. Their system helps revenue teams collaborate virtually to improve ramp time, quota attainment, and sales velocity. Managers can prescribe learning paths by role and automate just in time learning with templates, tips, and video sales coaching.

“SalesHood has truly created a community. This is true of the SalesHood staff as well as SalesHood customers, who regularly come together to share best practices and tips/tricks.” – Chelsea Waxenberg

11. Klyck.io

Klyck.io provides B2B sales enablement solutions and integrations into CRMs. They work with clients in industrial, internet of things, industrial automation, biotech, and life sciences.

“This tool has provided a much needed solution for telling our story. This solution makes it very easy to keep current information in front of our global sales team, ensures everyone has access to the same message and key points by application and is successful in our mission as a company.”- Lisa N Gray

How can I learn more?

When it comes to sales enablement tools, one size does not fit all. If you have more questions, visit the Sales Hacker community’s Sales Enablement channel.

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    • 1
      Profile picture
      @
      ( 0 POINTS )
      1 year, 2 months ago

      This list is pretty exhaustive. Yet in uncertain times up your sales team to handle tough reasoning/unreasonable client and plus make reps active negotiators instead promotion driven or commission chasing. Up their skill level. Sell more honest with least tools at hand.

      • 0
        Profile picture of Colin Campbell
        @colin-campbell
        ( 14k POINTS )
        1 year, 1 month ago

        This is too true.

        Fundamentals are really where it’s at. If the team isn’t on top of the simple stuff, it’s not a good use of resources to start adding tools.

        • 0
          Profile picture
          @
          ( 0 POINTS )
          1 year, 1 month ago

          Second that

    • 1
      Profile picture of Ilon Adams
      @ilonadams
      ( 345 POINTS )
      1 year, 1 month ago

      Brilliant research!

    • 1
      Profile picture of sidg91
      @sidg91
      ( 195 POINTS )
      8 months ago

      Really nice article Colin. A quick question. Don’t you think that integrability of tools is also a huge evaluation parameter along with the ones you mentioned. I worked in a large sales team in my past experience and they had this whole in-house CRM. If the manager asked them to use some tool outside the CRM, the whole team would start crying & cursing. but if they would get the same functionality inside the existing CRM, they would bless him.

      I felt that the perception of being able to use something new inside the existing system was much more important to them than an objective cost / benefit analysis as you have suggested above.

      Any thoughts?

      • 0
        Profile picture of Colin Campbell
        @colin-campbell
        ( 14k POINTS )
        4 months, 2 weeks ago

        This is 100% true. When enterprises acquire new software, they typically look not just at the ROI of that one piece on its own, but also how it’s integrability will increase the ROI of other systems they’ve already purchased.

        Cost of implementation and ease of adoption are super important, and it’s hard to reduce cost and make it easy to use if tools don’t work well with one another.

        Personally, I’d take sub-optimal systems that work excellently together over excellent systems that don’t work well together.

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