Modern sales enablement teams play a critical role in the growth and sustainability of today’s customer-centric organizations. Enablement teams are well-suited to help drive revenue by diagnosing areas of drag in the sales cycle, and implementing solutions to help accelerate the pathway from prospect to customer.
Finding Friction in the Sales Cycle
A healthy, friction-free sales funnel is the goal of every Sales organization. But even the most effective Sales teams experience bottlenecks and friction at certain stages in the process. With the visibility that Enablement has into the full-cycle sales process, we are in an ideal position to identify and rectify areas of drag – while further demonstrating value.
There are three key areas where Enablement can typically identify opportunities for improvement: 1) sales process, 2) sales training, and 3) sales tech and tools. There are top and mid-funnel challenges that are straightforward fixes, resulting in big dividends further down the sales cycle and which prove to yield big wins.
Accelerating the Sales Process
Taking a good look at your sales process can uncover areas of friction – often found between steps or stages – and finding a way to close those small gaps can significantly increase your sales funnel’s velocity.
Monitoring your Account Executive’s (AE) progress can often highlight areas that need attention. You may identify a potential problem if you have otherwise competent AE’s who aren’t consistently converting prospecting leads into opportunities in the time frame you’d expect.
Some AEs get hung up between qualifying leads and converting leads to opportunity stages, and difficulty in scheduling meetings is often a culprit here. 48% of sales professionals say it’s harder to manage their calendar than their inbox because the average initial sales meeting takes 7.3 emails to coordinate. Eliminating this back and forth can save days, even weeks, and keep momentum with interested prospects.
Process documentation is another gap for Sales teams. Do AE’s know and understand the exit criteria required to convert between sales stages, particularly when navigating deals through procurement? If not, can they easily find documentation guiding them through the proper way to navigate exit criteria? When your documentation isn’t detailed or easy to access, your team will do one of two things: 1) not use it, or 2) spend too much time trying to figure out how to use it. These options negatively impact AE performance and, similarly, expose gaps in your Enablement efforts.
Implementing Sales Methodology
Sales methodology is sometimes lumped-in with sales training when thinking about how we enable teams. However, methodology should be recognized as a stand-alone initiative, and as an initiative that should be equally driven by enablement and revenue leaders, alike. Aligning customer-facing teams around a methodology is critical to removing friction from the customer journey, thus, making this a top priority for Enablement teams. Customer-facing teams’ adoption of consistent messaging and terminology relieves confusion as multiple people- Sales Development Reps, AE’s, Solutions Engineers, Sales Leaders, Customer Success Managers- each interact with the same prospect as they navigate their buy cycle. Given that most customers will talk to multiple team members during the sales process, all must be reading from the same playbook and speaking the same language, especially when communicating value proposition and competitive advantages.
Training on consistent terminology can help ease the transfer between reps and eliminate the time required to unravel customer confusion. It also improves customer satisfaction because there is a clear understanding of what you will be delivering to the customer by everyone on both sides.
Another area that can often be improved with sales methodology is to teach reps how to quickly assess a customer’s pain and then customize product demos to show how your product solves their business issues and drives business impact. Showing customers what they want to see is a great way to help improve your conversion rate and speed up your funnel.
Implementing Sales Tech and Tools
You don’t need to be an IT specialist to analyze your sales tech stack and find areas where you can improve your sales velocity by automating and optimizing certain functions.
If your AEs are not gaining an advantage by utilizing the tech tools you have provided (or if they are not using them at all), then you need to understand the issue – and how to fix it. Often the culprit may be that sales tech tools were created for a specific part of your sales cycle but are not fully or properly integrated into other tools, like your CRM.
The effort spent jumping from one tool to another – or creating home-brewed hacks – can be a significant time suck. Research shows that 50% of sales professionals cite “time spent using or managing inefficient productivity and collaboration tools” as the number one thing that most negatively impacts their productivity at work. Eliminating that friction by recommending tools that integrate well with your core sales tech is critical.
Performance Measuring and Reporting
While eliminating tools that don’t play well with others can help you improve efficiency, finding the right tools can take your enablement process to the next level. The time it takes to schedule meetings is the number one killer of momentum for new deals, as 43% of sales professionals say they spend “an outrageous amount of time” scheduling meetings and rearranging their calendars.
One SaaS company, Bitly, encountered many of these same challenges and implemented scheduling solutions throughout their workflow. Sales development representatives stopped making phone calls to inbound leads and instead sent emails with direct links to prospects to allow them to schedule meetings on their time. This led to a 100% increase in demos scheduled and a 40% increase in customer conversions through the website. Standardizing and documenting this process allowed the company to scale these tools throughout the sales process and onboard new employees in a much shorter time.
Reaping the Benefits
Properly reporting your results can demonstrate that Enablement plays a significant role in generating revenue. Cutting ten days out of a 100-day sales cycle improves sales velocity by 10%. If Enablement initiatives help new hires reach quota for three consecutive months within 120 days instead of the normal 180 days, you can boast a 67% improvement in ramp and quota achievement. Other high visibility metrics you can track include opportunity conversion rate, average deal size, win rate, and the amount of pipeline generated.
No one in your organization can overlook numbers like these. When Enablement can effectively assess the sales cycle, identify areas of drag, and implement improvements, the results speak for themselves. You improve employee morale and satisfaction, cement your position within the sales organization as a strategic partner rather than an order taker, and ultimately contribute to sustaining and growing revenue. Effectively reporting back to the business the impact of your work builds your credibility with leadership and builds the case for future investments in tools or headcount to further dive value for the business.