Your revenue engine is the most important structure in your business—with all the turbulence in the market, it’s more important than ever to shore it up with the right support structures, knowledge foundation, and infrastructure. Sales enablement plays a big role during this process, as it gives salespeople the resources they need to manage every stage of landing a sale as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The problem many organizations encounter is that, while sales enablement is tremendously effective, it’s often not well planned and implemented. In fact, HubSpot notes, “While just 37% of salespeople use sales enablement content in their role, 88% of those using it say it is moderately to extremely important to making a sale.”
To fully engage in sales enablement best practices, you need systems and resources that sales reps see value in. You need buy-in and consistent use. In this guide, we’ll uncover what modern-day sales enablement best practices should look like, the role of AI-based training in successful sales enablement, and why focusing on training processes benefit several different aspects of your business at once.
What Is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is the process of providing salespeople with the resources they need to manage account relationships, convert leads to customers, and increase lifetime customer value. These resources include educational materials, training, sales meetings and kickoffs that provide motivation and information, and more. Whatever your team can do to help salespeople do their job—whether that’s information, motivation, or skills-building—that’s sales enablement.
Of course, some sales enablement efforts work better than others. Before providing more sales enablement resources, leaders need to determine best practices by identifying their specific objectives. Is the goal to train sales reps about new products? Modernize the pipeline for customer retention efforts? Quickly determine the value of potential leads and prioritize high-revenue or highly likely opportunities?
By isolating specific goals, you can ensure that the resources you provide help your salespeople in those pursuits. Then you can ask sales reps for feedback regarding the effectiveness of the resources you provide and what resources they think they need for even more wins.
From Outdated Sales Support to Modern Sales Enablement: What the Process Looks Like
Most organizations already have some amount of sales enablement in play. However, these resources may be hard to find, only intermittently used, or even out of date. Some of the most common challenges organizations have with outdated sales enablement efforts include:
- Wrong information: Sales resources ranging from discounts and promotions to product descriptions may be wrong if they aren’t frequently updated and verified. This leaves salespeople at the helm with wrong information, and that erodes trust with new and repeat customers. Disjointed communication between marketing and sales can also cause problems. At best, the two teams aren’t using consistent wording to resolve customer pain points. At worst, the entire shopping experience is turbulent, and customers feel like they’re dealing with two completely different companies.
- Training methods don’t apply: The sales process is constantly changing, especially in the past few years. How consumer and commercial shoppers behave has changed drastically, and selling tactics need to change at the same lightning-fast pace. If your sales training sessions and resources focus too much on in-person demos and not enough on conversational phone calls, for example, your salespeople won’t be able to operate as well as your competitors on today’s most frequently used sales channels.
- Lack of resource use: Static documents that may or may not be accurate, having to send emails to a sales manager for one-off answers, and old examples of previous sales situations simply don’t get the job done, and sales reps don’t like using these clunky resources. Remember: Salesforce found that salespeople valued enablement resources enormously—but only if they were likely to use them in the first place. Breaking this barrier by providing convenient, up-to-date, and immediately valuable resources is key.
If you think these barriers are getting in your way, take these steps to start optimizing your processes:
1. Identify Your Objectives
Your high-priority objectives will shape which resources you enable your sales reps with first. For example, if you want to prioritize lifetime customer value, then conversational skills, identification of customer pain points, and the ability to cultivate a relationship are key.
If you have strict quotas next quarter, then you might prioritize giving sales reps the skills to recognize hot leads and information about discounts or offers that won’t need individualized approval (which can create bottlenecks). No matter what objectives you choose, they lead the way toward considering and developing matching sales enablement resources.
2. Update Your Resources and Create a Living Library
One of the biggest problems is bad resources, and this step is built to eliminate them. Review all of your existing resources, or simply start over. Build documents that provide up-to-date answers, and schedule frequent review periods so they can be revised by the appropriate parties.
This step mainly focuses on internal products and processes, not sales skills. However, it’s important to provide an accurate library so sales reps can convey the right information with authority, as speedily and persuasively as possible.
3. Provide Better Training Resources That Assess and Teach Soft Skills
Sales skills training should be a constant for every sales organization. After all, many reps forget their training within weeks, especially if they find the skills challenging or don’t have the opportunity to practice them and develop a strong foundation. Salesloft reported that salespeople can lose 87% of new skills within a single month.
How can you significantly reduce that percentage?
You need training that can deliver:
- Bite-sized and easy-to-understand lessons
- Frequent opportunities for practice, including simulations
- Coaches that can give sales reps instant feedback about their progress and what they need to change so good habits and tactics become engrained
- Motivation, especially in the form of certifications, assessments that tie to bonuses or internal promotions, and clear boosts in their skill levels and comfort level when making sales.
Sales training should be at the heart of your updated sales enablement best practices initiative because you can train your reps on the best practices for your organization’s branding, help them develop skills using the right informational resources, and increase their conversational IQ so they can put customers at ease and create trust-based sales relationships.
What You Need From a Sales Training Program to Optimize Sales Enablement Efforts
Just like creating the right informational resources is essential for ensuring good internal practices, choosing the right training resource is essential for getting your team’s soft skills and sales tactics where they need to be.
In today’s world, that means an AI-powered training platform that can create personalized learning tracks for each salesperson, assess their growth in simulations, and track improvements. Impersonal sales coaching is simply inefficient in comparison. Look for a solution that offers the following elements.
Assessment of Dozens of Soft Skills
Soft skills make or break a sale. Can your reps put customers at ease and give them trustworthy, knowledgeable answers? Can they identify key pain points and position your products as the right solution? Every step of landing a sale requires a wide range of soft skills, which are hard to practice without actually practicing on leads. So look for training software that can provide training simulations and actually track those dozens of soft skills so your team members know exactly what they need to practice.
Customized Training and Learning Paths for Every Salesperson
Everyone learns differently, and everyone needs to learn different things. Group training sessions won’t get you the ROI you need. But the right AI-powered training platform can create unique profiles for each of your sales reps, assess their skills, and create custom lesson plans and learning tracks that give them the fastest rate of meaningful improvement. They don’t have to practice skills they’re already 100% on; they can focus on what makes the biggest difference.
AI Coaching With Instant Feedback
With the power of AI, everyone gets their own coach 24/7. No matter who the student is, whether they’re a traditional student or an experienced salesperson upskilling their tactics, immediate and personalized feedback is critical for learning the right behaviors and never learning the wrong ones. Look for options that let your team learn with instant feedback and the opportunity to put that feedback to the test.
Instant feedback is especially important for soft skills because it makes the vague and uncertain much more measurable. Human coaches may not be able to put their finger on what makes a sales call good or bad, especially at the higher levels. But a high-quality AI can assess all of the invisible factors that make up conversational IQ, from word speed to word choice.
Growth Records and Metrics
Data isn’t just for tracking sales and leads. Sales management and leadership teams benefit from getting objective insight into their sales team members’ growth, performance in training, and willingness to interact with training. You can see who is the best fit for different roles, which reps are motivated, and who’s ready to be promoted.
Actionable Coaching With Proven Results
All of these factors drive toward one thing: coaching that works. Trying to make do with in-person coaching or infrequent sessions simply doesn’t measure up.
Benefits of Modern Sales Enablement Processes
Your day is already full of responsibilities, and upgrading your sales enablement processes may feel like something that needs to be pushed to the back burner. But providing the support your sales reps need to make better sales faster is too important to push to the next quarter.
While we’ve looked at a few negatives of keeping your conventional processes in play (low engagement, informational errors, forgotten skills, etc.), there are also a lot of benefits your organization will immediately see from your updating your sales enablement best practices. Those positives include the following:
- Boosting Confidence for Every Sales Rep: An infusion of confidence makes every sales rep’s performance stronger. Giving them the information they know is up-to-date and a solid foundation of soft skills gives them that critical boost.
- Boosting Confidence for Sales Managers and Coaches: Leadership can also be more confident that their teams can handle the quotas and sales goals in play. While this is always essential for forecasting, it’s even more important for businesses trying to grow quickly.
- Convenient Skills Growth: Online platforms are available 24/7. Reps can finish up a lesson at their convenience or during a slow period instead of trying to match their schedule with a training manager’s.
- Smoother Customer Conversations: Today’s selling environment requires a blend of sales and service. Salespeople can achieve this with strong conversational skills that help customers feel listened to and understood. That’s just good business.
How to Improve Sales Performance With Sales Training Software That Does It All
Quantified specializes in serving sales organizations with AI-powered coaching software that integrates with — and elevates — sales enablement best practices and strategies. Our platform provides customized, convenient training that powers learning and leads to more effective selling. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a demo.