Tightening the Lead-to-Deal Cycle with Sales Enablement
The first contact of the buyer with company and product information today is the Internet and, more precisely, the handheld device, which is an all-too-familiar sight anywhere in the world, even in its remotest corner.
Gone are the days when the company sales representative would knock on the doors of the buyers and share information about his product, hoping to make a sale, eventually. The internet has taken over the lives of the buyers completely.
With the kind of overwhelming information that is available on the internet in a single swipe, there is no wonder that the buyer knows a lot about your product, company, competitor products, the category and almost everything there is to know, from the internet. You may, therefore, ask – “Of what use is our sales representative?”
Good question. Your sales representative needs to be well equipped with advanced information that will pre-empt all the prospects’ queries, doubts, concerns at that stage of the buying cycle.
A sales representative needs to remember that buyer queries at this stage when he has gobbled up all the information from the internet, tends to be highly advanced, specific and sophisticated. How does one handle this? The answer is two powerful words- Sales Enablement.
Brainshark defines Sales Enablement as a “Systematic approach to increasing sales productivity, by supporting reps with the content, training, and analytics they need to have more successful sales conversations.”
Sales Enablement demystified
For all the glamor or mystery that shrouds sales enablement, it is a simple concept that encompasses all those activities that optimize the effectiveness of the sales effort.
Sales enablement is known to increase sales productivity with sales enablement tools. It covers many aspects such as client-facing content; education and analysis; coaching, training, buyer’s insight, content creation, guidelines for using sales assets, sales automation, technology for finding and accessing the right content, and fast and easy access to the right content and knowledge. This helps the salespeople in having all the tools at their beck and call so as to focus on providing value during client discussions.
It has been shown in a survey of 400 B2B Sales and Marketing professionals that 57 % ranked their sales efforts and effective or very effective, in organizations that had sales enablement. In another survey, one could see a clear 50% increase in sales team goal attainment. It is all very well to see and say that sales enablement is a must for sales effectiveness and sales acceleration. However, implementing it the right way needs a certain amount of discipline on the organization’s front. This can be applied in three ways:
Sales and Marketing working as a Team
Too often we see sales and marketing passing the buck on each other. Sales say, marketing does not generate enough leads or generates poor leads, while marketing says, sales wastes the leads given to them. If instead, the two join hands and communicate in unison with the customer, the effort will be fruitful. Marketing can glean and share insights generated through nurture campaigns and digital listening with sales. This way, sales can work on intuitive insights thus leading to better results and conversions with customers.
Integrating systems to ensure the end-to-end lead flow
With all the talk going on, about lead generation, nurturing and conversion, one cannot afford to ignore the integration of systems so as to leverage the lead to deal process. The smooth flow of leads in the funnel from marketing to sales is important.
Marketing should pass on all the insights to sales that are generated during the nurturing process; they need to create a clear customer profile for sales; so that when sales walk in, they pass on the right message, catch the right white space opportunity and move in for closing the deal. Today, this smooth flowing of leads, lead profiling, and customer understanding is critical because sales come in later in the buying cycle than used to happen earlier. The marketing and sales alignment helps the sales organization follow up with the right communication and cut down the duration of the buying cycle.
Talking about sales enablement and sales transformation is easy, but implementation, not as much. Like any other new tool, technology, process or practice that needs to be incorporated into an organization, even this one needs top-level backing.
The support also has to be active; with clear, planned communication, benefits, and schedules from the top, reinforcing the change. Sales and marketing leadership is the best place to begin this shift.
A good part of sales enablement is good, impactful content. If sales have to try hard to access it, they lose time. If they do not understand what content the buyer needs in a face to face discussion, they lose the buyer. Sales enablement does not come alone. To go with it, it needs good content and great integration between sales and marketing, in spirit, function, and systems. This will help organizations in upping their customer experience, making a positive difference in conversion rates and improving sales effectiveness and productivity.
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About the Author
CEO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm
Milind is CEO & Co-Founder of DemandFarm. Having practiced and evolved the ‘account farming’ principle for over a decade he established DemandFarm and is passionate about delivering the best B2B key account management tool to serve the needs of key account managers. Milind also serves on the Board of LeadEnrich & is a Strategic Adviser.