The Founder’s Guide to Sales Enablement
Learn what sales enablement is and how it can help you improve your sales performance
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There are 240,000 professionals on Linkedin with a sales enablement title yet most founders don’t really know what sales enablement is. Modern sales teams need sales enablement to perform well, so I created this guide to help you understand it better. Enjoy!
What is sales enablement?
Quick answer: Sales reps are like athletes. They need support, coaching, processes, improvement on specific weaknesses, etc. Sales enablement is a mix of all that.
Longer answer: A workflow used to help sales reps increase their performance by improving the 5 core things that sales teams need to succeed.
Product/service and industry knowledge: How well do our reps know what we sell, do they understand exactly how it works, do they know the main use cases, etc.
Sales process: Does our process slow down our reps, are there any bottlenecks, do we spend too much or too little time on certain steps, etc.
Sales content/materials: Can reps access all the necessary templates, presentations, and other materials they need, do we have everything they need for our sales process, etc.
Sales skills: How is their demo quality, do they need to know how to negotiate, do they follow up in a way that adds value to the conversation, etc.
Use of tools: Do they know how to use the CRM features that matter to us, how well do they know our XYZ tool, what part of their daily tasks can we automate without impacting the quality of the interactions, etc.
Isn’t that the job of the head of sales?
Quick answer: In most cases no.
Reason #1: Lack of perspective. If you’re in a situation, it’s harder to understand what doesn’t work. That’s why in the early days, sales teams hire ad hoc sales performance consultants/coaches, and later on, they build an in-house sales enablement team.
Reason #2: Lack of time. If heads of sales have the time, they can take some distance from day-to-day tasks, collect data, see where problems are, and try to fix them. But in most startups, they don’t. They have to focus on selling, supporting the existing rep(s) on open deals, and helping the founders with strategic growth initiatives.
Do we need sales enablement if we have less than 5-10 reps?
Quick answer: Yes. In my experience, the most inefficient sales teams are the smaller ones.
Reason #1: Rare rockstar sellers. Most experienced sellers look for sales roles in popular companies where there is less risk for them, and better career prospects. Earlier-stage startups attract a mix of seller profiles, and therefore there are always performance issues. That’s why sales enablement can make a huge difference in startups with less than 5-10 reps.
Reason #2: There is too much going on. In the earlier phases of a startup, many things are changing, sales teams are still learning, typically the close rates aren’t the best yet, and there are a lot of unknowns. Improving sales performance through sales enablement can run in the background and help you improve month-over-month without distracting you from other growth efforts.
How would we start with sales enablement?
Quick answer: Find the things that worked until now, figure out how to make them repeatable, and start with those to increase sales rep performance.
Longer answer: In every new process, you need quick wins. Once everyone gets comfortable with the idea that this is working, you can embark on improvements that will drive results in longer cycles.
Start from the end by listing the last 30 deals you won: Those that make sense, not random/accidental ones.
Map the process that led to the close on a spreadsheet: # of days, calls, emails, if your record your calls, listen to call recordings to map the structure of the calls, etc.
Identify patterns that lead to success: We’re not looking for identical patterns as in “from now on you must send exactly 20 emails for a deal to close“. Understand the flow that leads to a won deal.
Update everything: The sales process, the use of tools, the sales materials/content, and coach reps to follow the successful path you identified.
Should we change the way we onboard new sales reps?
Quick answer: Yes. Onboarding is one of the areas where sales enablement can have a massive impact as you set up reps for success.
Longer answer: Avoid at all costs the “death by virtual classroom” type of onboarding. It has to be engaging and interactive otherwise it won’t work.
Content: What videos/recorded calls/emails do they need to review, can they review them in peer groups, can you make it a role-play instead of a video lesson, etc.
Checklist: What steps do they need to complete within their first 30/60/90 days? Tip: Send calendar invites from the first day for those so that it’s on their calendar.
On-demand resources: How can they find whatever they need when they need it? Case studies, templates, knowledge base articles, etc.
Q&A time: As they onboard, they will have lots of questions. Block some time slots for them to ask questions and for you to answer them live or fast.
Do we need a special tool for sales enablement?
1-10 sales reps: No. A typical stack such as CRM + Zoom recordings + Google Docs + Slack is more than enough.
10+ sales reps: Yes. It becomes too hard to manage a DIY stack.
Do you feel your sales rep(s) could perform better? Are there any sort of quick wins that can generate results within 30 days?
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