'Inbound & Down'
Question of the Day

Published September 23, 2019

What is sales enablement?

  1. The process of training and equipping a marketing team to learn how to sell, thus eliminating the need for a full-time sales team.
  2. Training and equipping a sales team with the necessary tools and knowledge to efficiently field and assist leads.
  3. A sales technique where a prospective client is enabled to make purchasing decisions independently by being provided with all relevant resources.

The Answer is B.

As a marketing department or agency, it is not enough to simply generate leads for clients. It is just as vital to ensure that the company is properly equipped to make the most of those leads, ultimately leading to a positive return on investment.

Through the process of sales enablement, the sales team is provided with the necessary tools and knowledge needed to efficiently field and assist leads. These tools are typically centered around an optimized CRM, set up to help the sales representatives move as quickly as possible, removing friction between marketing and sales, and maximizing the level of adoption.

If a CRM is viewed as a burden rather than an asset, it can impede the sales process, instead of bolstering it. Technology should ideally allow people to work where they want, in a manner they feel most comfortable, and eliminate the need to document those activities that have the potential to be automatically logged. In instances where information does need to be manually entered, it's vital that users understand how that data can personally benefit them in the long run.

One example of how technology has the ability to remove friction from the sales process is by integrating a booking form with a salesperson's calendar. Rather than going back and forth with a prospect trying to coordinate a call or meeting, a salesperson can provide a form that looks at all available slots in the calendar—limited to only those days and times the salesperson wants to meet—and allows the prospect to select a time that works. This form can then immediately generate the meeting info and add the event to both calendars. 

Another example of minimizing friction between marketing and sales is creating full visibility into a person’s history with your company. When a lead is handed to sales, it is extremely valuable to provide a complete picture of who the lead is and what his/her experience has been, ultimately leading the prospect to seek assistance.

How long have they been exploring the website? What pages and content have shown interest in? Are they qualified to make a decision, or are there others at their organization also involved in the sales process? Demonstrating your full understanding of a person and his/her engagement with your company can help instill a deeper level of trust.

Trust is crucial to the sales process. Buying habits have changed, and it's important that salespeople understand exactly how and why. This is why another key element of sales enablement is training. Today's buyers don’t need salespeople to serve as gatekeepers of information. They prefer to conduct most of their discovery and decision-making online and, when they do request direct communication, they expect help in making a decision. 

One way a sales team can provide value is by leveraging the content produced by the marketing staff. When these two components work together to craft helpful content like blog posts, one-pagers or videos, they can make a point to address those common questions and objections the sales team is regularly confronted with. This can be achieved with a Service Level Agreement, or SLA.

It is not uncommon for a sales department to blame the marketing team for poor leads, and a marketing department to pass responsibility to the sales team for wasting opportunities they've queued up. 

Per the terms of an SLA, marketing commits to generating a certain volume of leads over a set period of time; in exchange, sales agrees to follow up with those prospects within a designated deadline. Periodically, both sides will sit down and review the progress of the buyer's journey.

Through this collaboration, the hope is that each party may learn ways in which to improve the process, as well as their respective roles within it—from lead quality and content production to improved communication and closing the loop on the sales process. Meetings should be recurring and consistent, and will likely lead to the evolution of the SLA over time. 

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