What is Sales Enablement?To my surprise, the Wikipedia definition of Sales Enablement has been removed and after a few queries I uncovered this definition from Forrester, which aligns with my take on the subject.
"Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer's problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system".
One of the many objectives of the sales enablement team is equipping client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with customer stakeholders. Note this does not say a presentation, but there may be a point in a customer's problem solving cycle where a presentation is appropriate, but it is usually well into the buying cycle.
1. Compelling ConversationsWith the buyer firmly in charge of the buy-sell relationship, when salespeople are given an opportunity to meet a buyer they had better be well prepared for a conversation with the prospect about their business, have a working knowledge their industry, their competitors and be armed with an understanding of their likely issues.
According to extensive research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board, published in The Challenger Sale, 53% of the contribution to customer loyalty comes from the sales experience itself and the interaction with the sales and support team...not brand, not price and not features.
These are table stakes in the new go-to-market equation.
A conversation with a buyer around their issues using the back of a napkin or whiteboard to convey key points and concepts is far more compelling than a product presentation-driven approach.
Having worked on more than 50 messaging alignment projects, most clients prior to commencing a project will rate their messaging clarity somewhere between 4-6/10, where 1 its is completely unintelligible and 10 is crystal clear.
2. Message Clarity
When polled after completing a project, they rate their clarity between 8-10/10. Sales and marketing messaging alignment is a typical high priority item in the sales enablement agenda. Whiteboard story development when done effectively will create a clear value proposition that is relevant to the target audience.
Lack of message ownership is one of the biggest barriers in Selling complex B2B products and services. Typical symptoms of a problem with message ownership are;
3. Message Ownership - Consistency
- lack of confidence in engaging business buyers,
- long ramp times for new hires and longer than expected lead times for new product introduction,
- reliance on PowerPoint to tell the story,
- calling at the level of the user or technical buyer instead of the business buyer...(at least they will understand the product),
- a reliance on pre-sales on sales calls (because the conversation dives into features instead of focusing on the business problem), that contributes to higher cost of sale and longer sales cycle
Practice makes perfect and in the weeks after the role-playing sessions it is important for sales managers to have the sales team continue to practice doing the whiteboard.
A well constructed whiteboard story is easily repurposed to offset its development cost. If the story that drives the whiteboard is well constructed and truly aligned around capabilities that create value in solving the buyers problem, then it can be used for marketing and on the job training.
4. Leveraging the Whiteboard story for marketing purposes
Video-scribing is an exciting new of way repurposing existing whiteboards as it captures attention and engages while the story unfolds. These hand-scribed videos can be posted on the company Website and viewed by customers for marketing purposes and salespeople for training purposes on smartphones and tablets.
Find out more about converting your whiteboard story into a hand-scribed video
5. Behavior Change - Coaching and CertificationThe goal of sales enablement is more than just creating communications and engagement tools, it's to produce a positive behavior change across the whole sales team that drives improved sales results.
Too often enablement and sales training investments fail to produce the desired results.
The key to behavior change is getting people out of their comfort zone in the first place and then using practice, spaced repetition and coaching and feedback from managers and peers until the new behavior becomes comfortable and is ingrained in the individual and the sales culture.
To maximize the value of an investment in the development of a whiteboard story requires an ongoing commitment to behavior change. Certification in 60-90 or 120 days after any training event is an excellent way of forward tensioning the behavior change and getting sales reps to
practice and learn the story.
Certification when used in the induction process at a sales training boot-camp can drastically shorten ramp time of sales reps as they are able to engage buyers in their story from the first call.