The Technology & Strategies Driving New Wave Sales Enablement

Published: April 7, 2021

The days of spray-and-pray initiatives have quickly become a thing of the past with the emergence of customer-centric, empathetic sales and marketing strategies. As customers desire more personalized experiences, sales teams are tasked with figuring out how to meet that need while still hitting their numbers.

Unfortunately, a HubSpot report indicated that the adaptation didn’t go according to plan. Forty percent of sales leader stated that they underperformed on revenue goals in 2020 and struggled to keep their teams up to speed. While the quick adaptation to remote selling with no blueprint was likely the cause, the greater need for sales leaders to enable their teams to sell successfully in a remote environment was highlighted throughout the research.

“You have marketing, product marketing, HR, sales and sales enablement all trying to do the right thing on behalf of the customer or prospect, but sometimes we’re misaligned and stepping all over each other,” said Roderick Jefferson, Author and VP of Field Enablement of Netskope. “Sales enablement is about getting it ‘right’ — the right conversations, methods, time, level and people. It’s imperative that we realign our company’s messaging, positioning and our selling motions.”

To mitigate sales teams’ issues and help them sell to their full potential, leaders need to focus on aligning internal teams, supplying their sellers with the latest technology and preparing them for the next phase of the pandemic (and post-pandemic) sales journey.

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Throughout this report, we’ll dive into the latest trends and technologies fueling sales enablement and examine the best methods of increasing internal alignment. With additional insights on how companies can prepare their strategies for the post-pandemic world, topics of discussion include:

  • Identifying and closing communication gaps between sales and marketing teams;
  • The impact automation and video conferencing have on teams; and
  • How organizations can prepare for selling as the world begins to enter the post-pandemic “next normal.”

Aligning Sales & Marketing To Develop Stronger Communication With Buyers

Addressing the disconnect between marketing and sales is the first step to enabling sales teams’ continued success. Luckily, there are a variety of solutions companies can use to work toward a more closely calibrated internal work culture. During her presentation at the B2B Marketing Exchange in February, titled: “Leveraging Your Existing Marketing Programs & Content To Enable Your Sales Team,” B2B Marketing Consultant Pam Didner attributed the disconnect between marketing and sales teams to:

  • A lack of understanding on the marketing side about the needs of sales reps;
  • Miscommunication in identifying the marketing elements that are also applicable to sales and putting them into practice; and
  • Leaders not taking the steps to address the previous two needs.

It falls on the shoulders of sales leaders to help marketers understand what the teams’ priorities are and to have honest conversations about how marketing can help, according to Didner.

“Marketing teams have to understand what matters to the sales team and think like a salesperson,” she said. “Marketers tend to focus on the top of the funnel, while sales is about the bottom; marketers focus on the buyer’s journey and end users, while sales stays in a mindset of sales stages. The way marketers understand their clients is to create a buyer persona. If you’re putting that amount of effort to understand your customers, you need to put that amount of effort to understand your salespeople.”

To accomplish this, Didner recommends marketers ask salespeople:

  • How they get their leads;
  • The kind of content they create and the content they need;
  • If they’re meeting their quotas on a regular basis;
  • Their goals and aspirations;
  • The common challenges they encounter; and
  • How they can help.

Additionally, sales teams should take a new focus on how they sell. Instead of pushing the solution or product, Jefferson recommended reps instead focus on the experience the clients will get from working with their specific organization. Consequently, this opens the door for more collaboration between marketing and sales, which creates consistent verbiage and communication styles for clients in all stages of the sales funnel.

Given the desire for first-hand experiences, Michael Londgren, CMO of Seismic, said companies should maintain strong relationships with their existing customers by tapping into them as brand advocates.

“Put forth the voice of the customer, as prospective customers are interested in knowing what existing customers are doing,” said Londgren in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “Bringing that voice of the customer forward through videos, testimonials, online content, etc. helps shape perceptions of the company and its offering and the value that the customer can get. So really, the company’s core value proposition is associated with having customers that are truly getting value using the solution.”

Increasing Reliance On Digital Tools

Once sales and marketing teams find common ground, leaders need to ensure that their sales reps are selling to the best of their ability. The HubSpot report indicated that this includes providing reps with access to the latest technology to automate time-consuming processes, such as scheduling meetings, generating contracts and delivering content.

The majority of those surveyed pointed to CRMs and video conferencing tools as the biggest enablers for remote selling. In fact, 61% of overperforming leaders stated that they rely on their CRM to automate aspects of the sales process to free up time for sales reps.

Additionally, the report indicated that data generated from CRM systems provides valuable insights into any adjustments needed to strengthen sales’ performance — most respondents in the report stated that they are relying on CRM to generate forecasting reports, monitor rep activity and identify performance against quotes.

Another key tool in sales teams’ toolboxes is video calling, with about 48% of leaders citing video conferencing as the most important tool to their sales teams’ success. Video conferences help strip away the “used car salesman” stereotype commonly associated with salespeople by allowing prospects to come into their homes. There’s no longer the seriousness and pressure that come along with presenting in a stuffy boardroom — Jefferson explained that a barking dog or a crying baby are issues almost everyone deals with, so it opens the door for more comfortable, genuine conversations.

While video conferencing enabled a more sanitized version of face-to-face contact, the overwhelming increase in video conferences has led to what professionals are calling “Zoom fatigue.” Now that sales teams are spending a large chunk of their day in front of webcams, Jefferson recommended leaders to take steps to help salespeople decompress from the constant demand to be on camera.

“Not every meeting needs to be on Zoom or Teams,” Jefferson explained. “Sometimes it’s about picking up the phone or stopping. I go through what I call a three-email rule — if I go back and forth with an individual three times, I stop emailing and pick up the phone. And I’ll say, in bold, ‘phone call; no Zoom.’ It’s an opportunity for us to connect and reassess without being on camera all the time.”

Preparing For The Next Level Of Selling

With what seems to be an end in sight to the pandemic, companies need to start preparing their teams for the next phase of selling. As organizations get ready for the newest normal, Jefferson recommended viewing it in a different lens.

“I don’t think there’s a new normal, because that infers that it’s something that we’ve seen — there’s a roadmap, best practices and tips and tricks,” he continued. “We have none of those; we’re in completely foreign water now. So, we’ve got to figure out what that ‘next normal’ is going to look like.”

According to Jefferson, the next normal is going to vary slightly from company to company. However, each organization should:

  • Reassess current ideal customer and buyer profiles;
  • Focus energy, goals and deliverables on things that can be impacted by enablement;
  • Deliver a deeper level of product/solution value;
  • Offset negative press about what’s going on in the world; and
  • Continue to keep open lines of communication between internal teams.

“It’s about clear, concise and consistent communication between marketing, sales and sales enablement,” said Jefferson. “Make sure you define the purpose and that all actions align with your company culture. The teams need to agree on what success metrics look like, and make sure the right structure is in place to achieve that.”

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