Many companies that are trying to boost sales performance try out short-term measures. But the best way to improve the performance of sales reps for the long haul is commitment to a formal, systematic sales enablement program.
Here are seven often-overlooked enablement concepts to improve sales performance (and keep it):
- Statistics to the rescue!
- Embrace new technology
- Serve the right content at the right time
- Continuous coaching
- Talk about competitors
- Use video
- Share info between departments
Read on to see how to start improving performance in a sustainable way:
1. Statistics Can Save The Day
If sales enablement is primarily about giving the sales team the tools necessary to better carry out their job, one of the single best tools they can be given is relevant statistics about their own performance. With a clear, specific understanding of their own results, many sales people are able to course-correct and initiate improvements themselves.
Brainshark points to 8 metrics sales leaders should be tracking:
2. Embrace New Technology
New technology can be a great enablement asset and businesses should always be open to it. For instance, customer relationship management software can help your business to manage interactions throughout the customer life cycle, while automation tools can help you to streamline prospecting and other sales emails. After surveying over 500 businesses, Tech News World found that the benefits from adopting the right CRM system are apparent across the whole organization and have far reaching consequences in terms of an overall increase in sales and productivity.
But that's no surprise. CRMs and marketing automation should be the cornerstones of your tech stack as you scale your business. But there are other solutions that can boost the productivity and efficacy of your sales team. Sales engagement tools like Outreach.io, PersistIQ and Yesware can help you create automated email campaigns and provide insight into what type of messaging is working, and what's not.
Furthermore, populating your CRM and MA with reliable data can reduce the amount of time your reps spend researching accounts and creating relevant messaging. Solutions like Datanyze can enrich your systems and serve up technographic and firmographic data right where your team lives and breathes.
Long story short, investing in the right technology can help you increase sales productivity and revenue in the long run, and adopting it early can provide you with a competitive advantage as well.
3. The Right Content At the Right Time
Sales reps spend around 30% of their time on activities like sourcing, and even creating, content, according to Salesforce. This is an unacceptable amount of time being taken away from selling activities. Moreover, 70% of content never gets used by sales teams, because they cannot find it when they need it.
For this reason, content organization is essential. Whether it is a case study, white paper, infographic or a blog post, sales reps must be able to access the right content quickly and easily, in order to move the process forwards. Something as simple as Google Drive can accomplish this.
So how do you identify which piece of content you should use? Let the prospect's circumstances dictate the type of content you utilize. Depending on your potential customer's stage in the sales cycle and their concerns, Salesforce's Shelley Cernal recommends choosing "...pieces of content that address apprehensions, that demonstrate value and the ability to solve a problem, and that show how ROI can be attained. It’s also important to recognize different buyer personas and tailor content appropriately."
4. Coaching Must Be Continuous
Most companies recognize that coaching is an important part of enablement, but few deliver it on a continuous basis. Instead, sales leaders tend to put aside a certain amount of time for coaching duties. Yet, studies show this to be ineffective, as people need the information learned through training to be repeatedly reinforced.
Moreover, learning materials should be easy to access, so that sales reps can, to a certain extent, coach themselves through some of the more basic situations they encounter. A systematic approach to coaching and training reinforcement can have a significant impact on sales people achieving their targets or not. CSO Insights research carried out in 2015 shows that over 94% of sales execs achieve their commercial targets in organizations with great coaching strategies and implementation. Pretty good, right?
5. You Should Talk About Competitors
One of the best ways to build trust with a prospect is to talk openly about your competitors, because it shows real confidence in your own company's offering. Sales staff should not be afraid to reference other products or services, especially if it is in the context of why your business can provide something superior.
What this means is that your sales training should not only aim to keep staff up-to-date with internal product knowledge, but also with relevant external product knowledge about your top competitors. This can be done by sharing a doc with your team that compares your offerings with that of your competitors.
Another simple way to do this is with battle cards, which "...are concise compilations of information about your product, the market, your customers, and your competition," according to PandaDoc's Sheree Whiteley. "Battle cards should be easy for your sales team to understand and refer to during the sale 'battle.' If sales reps have stats, figures, and other specific, substantive information to point to while combating potential customers’ objections, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to close deals."
6. The Power Of Video Content
The popularity of video content is undeniable, with YouTube experiencing a 100% rise in video consumption year on year, according to Hubspot. More importantly, the inclusion of video in an email boosts click-throughs by between 200 and 300%. How can you pass up an increase like that?
Furthermore, Brainshark's Sabrina Cote believes "...using video for prospecting not only offers a more engaging communication method to help increase the likelihood that your message will resonate, but it also provides reps with a level of insight into the effectiveness of their communication that plain text emails simply cannot," because you can track views just like you can track email open rates.
Put simply, if sales reps have access to video content that they can use in sales emails, they will have greater success, so marketing should work closely with sales to ensure this is the case.
7. Share Information Between Departments
Finally, it is vital that information is shared consistently and quickly between departments. Throughout the various stages of the sales process, your departments will be collecting valuable data and your business's sales performance can be drastically improved by ensuring that your teams pass information on to sales staff. According to a survey of over 500 organizations, ‘sharing and distribution’ of data is in the top 6 benefits of a good CRM system, which shows that communication is key to achieve optimum productivity and achieve business goals.
This article is written by Monika Götzmann, EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company.