Sales Enablement and Sales Acceleration are two terms every team in the B2B SaaS industry should be familiar with.
Note: I said every team...Because sales enablement and sales acceleration are truly only successful when your subject matter experts (in marketing, product, etc) and knowledge consumers (your client facing teams like your sales, customer success, and support teams) can collaborate and share information effortlessly. Without collaboration between teams, your sales reps won’t have enough knowledge, or the most accurate information necessary to close deals. And you guessed it, that means your business ends up losing money.
If you were to look these terms up, you would find many definitions provided by several leaders in the B2B sales industry.
For example, TOPO Group, a sales analyst firm has provided the following definition of sales enablement:
“Sales enablement focuses on building scalable, replicable programs vs. one-time training events, delivering the right help to the right sales person at the right time.”
And when defining sales acceleration, Forbes provided this simple explanation:
Sales acceleration means to increase the velocity of the sales process”
As you can see, without a smooth functioning enablement process, any acceleration will be hard to attain. And mastering either of these becomes chaotic without the proper tools guiding you along the way.
Providing knowledge without a strategic plan to keep all of the information organized and up-to-date is useless and time guzzling. Take a minute to put yourself in one of your sales reps shoes. Imagine a situation where a customer asks you question that you need to find an answer for.
Without a dedicated sales enablement team and solution in place, chances are you’re searching through multiple repositories where knowledge is stored (Google Docs, Box, chat, and email threads) just to find the information you need. Even if you do find it, who know’s if it’s even still accurate.
When you enable reps with the right information at their fingertips, you lower the chances that you will lose a deal based on factors that your reps can directly control. Losing deals is never fun, but losing them because of something simple like your reps not being able to find accurate knowledge can cripple your sales acceleration efforts over time.
We like to think of sales enablement as a handyman, working behind the scenes, for your business when it’s in growing stages. While your reps are on the frontlines selling your product, they are in the background creating the system that allows them to access all the information they need to close more deals. Without them the system is broken.
Knowledge from subject matter experts on your team is inefficiently delivered in one off conversations, causing a leaky flow of sales knowledge. Maybe one or two of your reps get information when they directly message your experts, but knowledge is not captured efficiently and flowing to your whole team. When you do have a sales enablement person on your team and implement a proper sales enablement solution, the system flows perfectly, with no leaks. Knowledge is routed to the right people, in the right place, and at the right time. Now that is a beautiful sight to see.
So, if you want to get serious about sales enablement or sales acceleration, don’t just focus on one person or team.
Instead, focus on these two groups of people when it comes to creating and consuming sales knowledge in your organization
A well oiled sales enablement machine requires understanding the jobs to be done of both knowledge creators and consumers at the same time.
Your knowledge creators might have titles like product manager, VP of sales, product marketing, sales operations, and many others. They are the ones who create knowledge that all your client-facing teams need to leverage when talking to prospects or customers.
Your knowledge consumers are primarily your client-facing teams and may have titles like sales development rep, account executive, support agents, or customer success rep.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at what each of these personas value in the context of sales enablement.
Your subject matter experts will love you if you can eliminate the shoulder taps and one-off messages that distract them from their job. And distracting experts is costing your company real money; a recent study shows that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from an interruption!
Like we just said, creating knowledge is easy. Updating that content, however, is not as easy. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to proactively remind or push your subject matter experts to update information every so often?
This is the knowledge consumer equivalent to knowledge expert’s distaste of shoulder taps and one-off messages. Your knowledge consumers heavily depend on well-oiled workflows to get their jobs done in the most effective and efficient manner. Nothing is more annoying to them than having to do something outside of their normal workflow. So it’s sales enablement’s job to put the knowledge and content they need to do their job, where they live: whether that’s their inbox, CRM, support ticketing system, etc.
A key mindset of your sales enablement team is to be able to empathize with how a rep will consume the content they create in all selling situations. Short, easily digestible bits of content are much easier to reference on a call than trying to find a specific piece of information hidden within a 15 page document.
Another key reason why your knowledge creators keep getting shoulder taps and one-off messages is because your reps don’t trust that the content in your knowledge repositories is still accurate. Due to the rapidly changing nature of your business, your reps need a stamp of approval from one of your experts to ensure they are still using the latest and greatest content. With that trust, comes less shoulder taps and one-off messages for your experts. That’s a win, win.
Accelerating your sales is tough without a proper sales enablement team and strategy. But, if your sales enablement team keeps these two personas top of mind then it will be much easier to achieve.