“If you ask ten different people what Sales Enablement is, you’re going to get ten different answers.” tweet
As a job function, sales enablement is a relatively new idea. Figuring out exactly what sales enablement jobs entail is challenging—and differs from workplace to workplace. So we turned to someone who thinks about enablement—all day, every day.
Ben Schneider spent the bulk of the last ten years driving sales—starting at GE Healthcare and is now Director of Sales Training & Development at Badger Liquor Co. In between, he’s also worked on sales teams that offered financial planning software and cybersecurity tools. Ben started his career in a BDR role, but soon moved into training and enablement—helping hundreds of reps improve their skills along the way.
I kicked off our conversation with one simple question: How should we define sales enablement? He cited the Sales Enablement Society as a starting point:
“Sales Enablement ensures buyers are engaged at the right time and place, and with the right assets by well-trained client-facing staff to provide a world-class experience along the customer’s journey. While utilizing the right sales and performance management technologies, in addition to synergizing cross-organizational collaboration, Sales Enablement optimizes the selling motion in order to increase pipeline, move opportunities forward, and win bigger deals more efficiently to drive profitable growth.” tweet
Let’s break that sales enablement definition down a bit. Here are three key insights Ben shared with us:
Engage Buyers Along the Customer Journey
“Any training or any enablement should start by fully understanding the prospective customer. A lot of training starts with, ‘What aren’t our sales reps proficient in? What are some of their challenges?’ In reality, if the customer isn’t reacting to our sales reps in the way we want them to, then something in that customer’s journey isn’t lining up the message our reps are delivering.”
Ben was quick to note that a laser focus on the customer is essential for great sales enablement. When a sales team really understands their prospect’s challenges, the entire sales process—and entire company—should become rooted around their needs. It’s important to match training—in sales, marketing, customer support, and more—to the customer’s problems.
One way to ensure great sales enablement is to bring in key customers and learn directly from their experiences. If possible, Ben encourages sales reps to practice pitches and scenarios with real-life customers to improve their skills. “Managers can do a pretty good job of replicating scenarios, but actually bringing in a customer and getting them face-to-face with the reps is the best possible feedback.”
Well-Trained Staff, Utilizing the Right Technologies
Helping reps be the best salespeople they can be is the core of great sales enablement. To do that, it takes a village. Ben always tries to engage subject-matter experts (SMEs) in sales training. “One of the common objections I hear from subject-matter experts is ‘I just don’t have time.’ My goal is to make it as easy as possible for the SMEs to interact with the training team. Giving them tools either through eLearning, quick on-demand modules, or podcasts makes it easy for them to help you.”
Ben has used a number of tools including Articulate, Camtasia, GoAnimate, Podbean, and Lessonly for training. Whether choosing a learning management system or a video coaching tool—leveraging technology is a key to sales enablement. However, when designing engaging and shareable training, he looks to another app for inspiration: Netflix.
“If you think about Netflix, you’re inclined to go and tell your friends, ‘Hey, I love this movie. You should go watch it. I know you’d like it.’ Similarly, I want managers just as excited about assigning micro-learning to their reps as they are about recommending movies, knowing that it’s going to help their team improve. When sharing like that happens, that’s the sort of sales training I’m proud to be a part of.”
Shareability isn’t the only lesson that Netflix offers to sales training programs. Ben adds, “Netflix is so successful because it allows you to consume any type of content—from documentary to comedy to action—anytime, anywhere. It’s frictionless. We want that to be true about training as well.” Great sales enablement aims to create a similar frictionless learning experience for the entire organization. That means many different options, based on what the rep needs at any given time, and accessible from anywhere.
There are roughly 400+ sales enablement solutions in the market. When choosing your sales enablement tech stack—be sure to pick tools that offer convenient, bite-sized, shareable, and easy-to-consume content to help the team improve their skills—and close more deals.
“Increase Pipeline, Move Opportunities Forward, and Win Bigger Deals”
In the end, great sales enablement is fairly easy to see: It drives results. But continuous improvement is the name of the game when enabling a sales team. In order to do that, Ben recommends evaluating sales success through two lens: team performance and individual success.
For team performance, examine the win/loss rate for the entire team. What deals are being won, and which are being lost? Similarly, identify stages in the sales process where opportunities are getting stuck. Perhaps the team’s message isn’t reaching a certain vertical or deals don’t work out in companies of a certain size. Dig deep into the data and success metrics to determine why deals are or aren’t closing—and enable your team accordingly.
At the individual rep level, it’s important to review the nitty gritty of a sales process. Are they engaging the right decision-makers? What content are they providing prospects? How are their presentation skills? Do they address customer pain points? If any of those pieces are falling apart, focus on coaching and training to plug the gap.
The Heart of Sales Enablement
Sales enablement is a wide-reaching job function that has the potential to impact an entire organization. Ben’s insights on enablement could have filled an entire book. But as a concluding summary, he notes a recurring theme surrounding enablement:
“Sales is sales, if you can sell one thing, there’s a good chance that—if you have those core, leadership, question-asking attributes and are able to tie value to a solution—you could go and sell anything. But still, everybody needs training. Everybody needs coaching.”
In the end, sales enablement is about helping salespeople—from new hire to seasoned veteran—continue to improve. With the right focus, technologies, and feedback loops, great enablement empowers sales teams to meet and exceed their goals. And with training as compelling as Netflix, sales teams won’t be standing on a House of Cards—they’ll be taking home the [sales] Crown.
Lessonly is Simply Powerful Sales Enablement Software
One of Ben’s favorite quotes about sales enablement is, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” While we’re committed to creating sales enablement and training tools that salespeople love—we’re even more passionate about helping sales reps grow and improve. Want to see if our team, and our software, could help your sales org do better work? Take a tour of Lessonly today.