Tag: sales effectiveness


The Competitive Edge for Sales: Dedicated Sales Enablement

Source: Business 2 Community

Does your organization have a sales enablement strategy?

It should!

No matter the organization size or industry, a thoughtful strategy for sales success—including a dedicated sales enablement (or sales readiness) team and a Sales Enablement platform—is a game changer.

Clients often come to us because they need help closing the divide that exists between sales and marketing, and our platform can help do just that. But, the platform is only one part of the equation, and we were curious how many companies have implemented holistic sales enablement programs across the board, what they consider as sales enablement activities, how effective they are, and how actively are organizations executing them.

So, that’s why we partnered with Heinz Marketing to conduct a study comprised of nearly 450 B2B sales and marketing professionals, aimed at answering those questions, and more.

In the interest of time, we’ve summarized the top five observations we gleaned from the study, which should help you plan your 2016 marketing investments.

1. If you think your sales team isn’t effective, you’re not alone.

It may seem like sales is getting thrown under the bus, but just over half of the survey respondents were from sales departments! This is a clear indicator that sales teams need more help, especially because 60-70% of the buyer’s journey happens before a prospect ever talks to sales. However, it’s the sales team’s job to engage with the customer and close the deal, and only 48% of survey respondents ranked their sales efforts as effective. Organizations with dedicated sales enablement teams scored much higher in this area. It’s worth noting, too, that a good sales enablement program can boost sales’ ability to meet quota by 50%, so the opportunity for improvement in this area is significant.

2. Companies with sales enablement teams perform much better on meaningful business metrics.

Across the board, organizations recognize the importance of sales enablement activities and rank them high in value. Sales enablement teams produce real business results, including:

  • increased conversion rates,
  • helping increase sales productivity,
  • improving sales’ ability to sell, and
  • improving marketing’s ability to deliver the right content to support sales efforts.

Organizations without sales enablement teams report very mediocre effectiveness in sales enablement tasks.

3. Sales enablement drives effectiveness in key areas.

The numbers reliability pointed to the effectiveness of a regimented sales enablement program: 57% of respondents with sales enablement teams reported that their sales efforts were effective or very effective versus only 35% without. Organizations with sales enablement teams were also significantly more effective (by as much as 25%) on key sales support activities versus organizations without.

4. Unfortunately, most organizations are slow to focus on Sales Enablement.

Even though its importance appears widely recognized, only 37% of organizations have a dedicated, focused sales enablement team. It makes perfect sense, then, that 31% of all companies reported that their sales enablement efforts were ineffective. The opportunity here is wildly untapped. And considering the benefits a dedicated sales enablement team brings to sales performance, organizations should make this a priority for 2016.

5. Content is king. But only if it’s in the right hands at the right time.

Four of the eight activities that defined sales enablement centered on content; producing, organizing, distributing, training on, delivering to prospects and measuring content. Solving the “content problem” requires a complete solution, including publishing, organizing, making accessible by sales, presenting or emailing to customer and measuring quality and performance. Without a reliable, structured way to distribute content, all of the other aspects of it become moot. The fact is, more than 70% of respondents rely on email to distribute content to their sales organization, and more than 45% rely on a shared network drive to deliver sales collateral and content—this is not efficient or effective. And without a closed-loop process to measure the performance and quality of content, marketing has no reliable way to improve content effectiveness. Only 12% have a dedicated Sales Enablement solution in place, which would help solve almost every aspect of the content problem, aside from actually creating the content in the first place.

How does your organization stack up in these areas?

If you’re falling short, don’t be discouraged. This is a relatively new area, and the study shows that most organizations have much room for improvement. Think of this as an opportunity to create a competitive advantage, not a problem.

For better sales performance, Make Sales Enablement a priority in 2016.

It’s very clear to us that:

  • Dedicated sales enablement teams deliver results because they help reduce the friction that often exists between sales and marketing and drive towards the common goal— increasing revenue
  • The right Sales Enablement platform can fix the “my sales teams can’t find the content” problem, and focus both organizations on creating better conversations with customers

Build Sales Effectiveness Your Marketing Team Can Be Proud Of

Source: Spiro

Sales and Marketing don’t always get along – but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other. As sales professionals, how are we able to best utilize the materials that marketing gives us?

Thinking about such things are people like Alex Lee, Head of Marketing at Cantina. Alex is a stickler for sales and business effectiveness. He’s spent over two decades in sales and sales management – so he’s spent a lot of time pondering on how to make his reps more effective.

Having sat on both sides of the table, Alex was able to offer us some good insight on sales effectiveness. He was nice enough to walk us through his top tips for success.

Do Your Homework, And Apply The Specifics

You need to let the other person know that you’ve done your homework. That means if you’re going to visit them repeatedly on LinkedIn before a meeting (for those of us even on it), make sure you know your stuff when you show up. You should be prepared to talk about the prospect’s business, and about their role specifically.

Alex says that the best sales professionals can do this with ease. They have their content prepared in such a way that it creates a sense of comfort with customers. And this doesn’t mean just regurgitating easily found self service help either – you need to show how the value add applies specifically to the customer.

This will result in trust – and we know that when you can demonstrate that you are trustworthy you are much more likely to make the sale.

Come In With The Right Level Of Energy

Sales professionals should come with energy to their meetings and calls. How off putting is it when you are dealing with someone who is just going through the motions? Imagine if April Ludgate was running all of your sales calls.

This does not mean you should be hyperactive, though. As a sales professional you need to be calibrated to your customer. A natural and fitting enthusiasm will go a long way with building good rapport with the customer.

Have A Repeatable Process (But Break The Pattern If You Need To)

There are many processes and methodologies out there that tell sales professionals what they should be doing next. Effective sales managers will often have repeatable techniques with measurable outcomes that are designed to help their reps be effective. Having a repeatable process is a great way to keep you on track and focused on the important things.

On the offhand chance that all the normal things aren’t working, then sometimes it can be helpful to change it up. Of course you should keep doing all the right things, but sometimes you need to be just a little different to stand out from the pack.

There are many ways you can break the routine. Emails getting stale? Try some hand written notes. Packed schedule? Try communicating after hours or on weekends. Sending gifts to gate keepers and administrators is also an effective way to stick out. Out of ideas of what to send? Make sure to do a quick scan around the office, or a quick poke around on social media.

Learn More

Some pattern breaking is good, especially if you don’t want to sound like a sales robot. Keep in mind – while you’re on your way to world domination, try not to sound TOO much like a sales guy.


4 Ways to Measure Sales Effectiveness Through Social Selling

Source: Inc.

Want a new way to measure every business’s most important challenge?

Without customers and sales you don’t have a business. That’s why every business needs to quantify its sales activities.

Yet accurately measuring the impact of different sales strategies and techniques is often easier said than done.

So here’s a new approach based on social selling. If you’re unfamiliar, social selling is the process of building stronger relationships with potential customers based on understanding their needs and problems (in short, actually knowing the people you hope to do business with.)

I talked with Nick VanWagner, the Director of Sales Insights at LinkedIn, about how you can use social selling to measure the effectiveness of your sales team. (If you use Sales Navigator, LinkedIn just integrated their Social Selling Index to make it easier to track your results.)

Here’s Nick:

Back when the stars of any sales team were the people who made the most calls, measurement of sales metrics was all about quantity. Cold calls made and meetings scheduled were the measures of success.

Sales has grown up since the days of nonstop cold calling, and today, social selling–in which sales people use social channels to build networks and knowledge of prospects–is the place where deals get their start.

That means measurement takes on an entirely different look and feel. Certainly, revenue and deals are still tracked, and are valid metrics of success–but cold calls and emails no longer signify sales teams are efficiently using their time to nurture prospects.

Sales, which was always driven by relationships and connections, now has a new way to strengthen these bonds: social selling. Measure your sales team’s ability to build quality relationships by tracking these skills and activities:

1. Establishing your professional brand.

Do your salespeople take pains to build out their social profiles, and add rich media to engage viewers and teach them about products and services? Are they contributing blog posts that set them up as thought leaders–and that are gaining page views and followers?

Salespeople’s willingness to tell a story about their value to customers is an important indicator of their ability to work with prospects and customers. Salespeople should also spend time thinking about what their brand represents–asking themselves questions like, “What am I most passionate about? What do I have to offer that no one else does?”

2. Finding the right people.

Do salespeople take a strategic approach to identifying decision makers? Do they make use of social channel search and list-building tools to find the right targets and then reach out to them?

Salespeople who make efficient use of their social networks will seek out connections to people who are already connected with their own network (then they can request warm introductions).

3. Engaging with insights.

Part of this skill is being a thought leader, and authoring content that shows customers your salespeople know how to address their pain points. When you become known as a problem solver, you strengthen personal connections. Take the time to identify a pain point and provide information to help solve it.

The other part of engaging with insights refers to how salespeople use the information they glean from social selling relationships. For example, at LinkedIn, our Social Selling Index (SSI) measures sales people’s response rates for InMails, the private messages that one LinkedIn member can send to another member.

If salespeople are crafting InMails so they encourage thoughtful discussion with prospects–as opposed to just doing the hard sell–the open rates for their InMails should be higher.

4. Connecting to people that matter.

Social selling is about quality connections, not quantity. Are sales people getting as many notches as possible on their social selling belts because they want the numbers? Or are they only adding people to their networks who they can engage with to help solve business challenges, and eventually close a deal?

Our Social Selling Index measures this skill by tracking accepted connection requests versus total connection requests sent by a salesperson. A low number of accepted requests may mean the salesperson is not convincing the invitee that the relationship would be beneficial to both of them.

Another way to gauge the value of connection and networks is to measure how many valuable connections sales professionals have at each key account. Multiple entry points into important accounts is critical when you’re trying to nurture a prospect. You can track this metric by looking at social connections, but also by examining contacts within your CRM solution.

Social selling has upended many of the old rules of sales, and in a changed world, measuring sales effectiveness requires a new perspective.

Measuring social selling may require a new approach, but it’s critical for future success.