B2B sales enablement: steps to a powerful strategy in 2018

by Kyle Firle
January 16, 2018

Marketers today wear a TON of hats; demand generators, creative directors, analytics junkies, the list goes on. With a focus on B2B enterprise marketing, we’ve been seeing an uptick in demand for more effective sales enablement strategies that can scale to worldwide teams and partners. Often, the request comes in the form of tactical tools and content, and that can certainly be the right solution. More often than not, however, there are multiple points throughout the sales process that need to be analyzed to determine where to invest your hard-earned marketing dollars to get the biggest return on your dollar.

First, let’s make sure we’re defining sales enablement the same way, here’s a good quote from Brendan Cournoyer, president of corporate marketing at Brainshark,

“[Sales enablement] is any asset created to prepare salespeople to have more effective buyer interactions and validate that they are ready to sell, from onboarding resources to continuous learning and updates.”

Here are some things to consider when you’re planning your 2018 sales enablement strategy:

What sellers NEED to know
Who their customers are.

A seller’s success is driven by an ability to empathize with customers’ worldviews. Sellers need to know who their customers are, why they buy, why they don’t, and what questions they ask at different stages in their buying journey (check out the value of collecting psychographic information). More empathy = less surprises = more seller confidence = more customer confidence = more closed business. A good package for this type of information is a Persona Buyer’s Journey.

Why it matters

If a seller doesn’t understand why what they are selling matters to their customers, and the impact their offering has from a financial, professional or personal level, it’ll be hard to get them out of bed in the morning. Let alone, sell effectively. To communicate this information effectively, we often uncover what truly resonates for end customers through extensive interviews and online observation, and translating that insight into a Story Arc. To learn more about how we structure a story arc, check out Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle).

How to customize the conversation

Every client has unique needs and requirements that must be satisfied to justify doing business with you. The ability to offer solutions aligned to specific client problems helps build trust with customers. Consider giving your sales teams content and tools that identify common customer challenges, goals, objections and buying requirements, and create a matrix of solutions that address each. The first step is building the matrix. The second, and where you can waste a ton of money if not done mindfully, is creating the content or tool set that sellers actually WANT to use. Most importantly, it needs to be easy to use.

The bitter truth

Getting F2F with a customer is great, but statistics show that buyers want to self-educate themselves through 70% of the sales process, and most would avoid talking to a sales person altogether, if possible. Therefore, it’s important to build sales enablement tools that can live on the web and be available to the public for their own purposes.

How do I decide what to do?

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Where do I start?” Here are steps we go through with our clients to build a strategic sales enablement recommendation plan:

1. Internal Workshop – bring all stakeholder knowledge to the table to identify gaps and perceived challenges.

2. Audit of your existing materials – map out what we have to work with.

3. Evaluate competitor strategy – find what we can on your competitors selling process, positioning, and solutions.

4. Talk to sellers – Take the guesswork out of the equation. We need to know what sellers actually want and need, and how they would use it.

5. Talk to buyers – Ask the tough questions to get clear on the real challenges and buying criteria that buyers go through during their evaluation process, from early awareness to recurring client.

6. Synthesize all this data to create a formalized buyer journey including questions, triggers, considerations, where they look for information, and their emotional state at EACH stage.

7. Compare that journey to the resources we currently have, and from the ashes, we engineer a sales enablement recommendation plan that is mapped to selling gaps, leverages existing content, and is aligned to buying behavior.

When it happens, it’s a thing of beauty.