Sales Enablement Guide

Why You Need Sales Enablement

Let's be honest here, sales enablement is broad and it looks different at every company. So first things first; let's identify what it means for you. Select which pain points you'd like your strategy to address and we can give you the context and help identify the tools and processes that will best fit your needs.
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Establishing what Enablement means for you… yes, you.

As an enablement professional, what are your company's top pain points that you'd like your strategy to address?

Learning and development 

Your L&D needs a little TLC, huh? You’re not alone. Deloitte Insights ranked Learning and Development as their top trend for improvement in 2019. 86% of respondents to their global study indicated that they consider this to be a very important issue yet only 10% of respondents felt “very ready” to address it. So, how can you prepare yourself? 

L&D can often be relegated to an afterthought of an enablement strategy, glossed over or outsourced to sales managers... or other teams entirely. On the other hand, some orgs consider coaching and training to be the primary function of enablement. Don’t let the position be siloed exclusively into the L&D or training space. 

If you haven't already, consider implementing an LMS. We’ll dig deeper into this topic in the Tech Stack section of the guide. Here’s a few quick stats that can inform your LMS: 

  • You aren’t the only one looking to switch up your LMS. 47% of companies are looking to revise their current learning strategy. And with over 282 different LMS softwares available on G2, there’s no shortage of products to evaluate. Ensure that the system you select integrates with your knowledge management platform so that the information people are engaging with throughout these learnings can continue to live in an active space, keeping all of this available and top of mind even after training has been completed. 
  • Only 23% of companies have been using the same LMS for over five years. There’s a lot of turnover, meaning there is a lot of room for growth and change within that space. Keep an eye out for what's driving these frequent changes and make sure that you’re selecting a suitable software that will scale in the long-term. 

A lack of internal opportunities accounts for a large percentage of employee turnover. Turnover often costs money, slows down cycles, and hurts your organization as a whole. Own it! Asking your team members about their professional aspirations can be an extremely valuable part of an enablement strategy. Here are a few ways to fast-track your development initiatives and ensure your teams can visualize their futures at your org:

  • Include a goal-setting process as part of your coaching and development strategy
  • Put a career advancement structure in place 
  • Set up a recognition system 
  • Develop team feedback and appreciation systems 

Cross-company communication

Streamlining communication both internally and externally at your company is an integral aspect of a comprehensive enablement plan. 86% of executives cite lack of collaboration or inefficient communication as the reason for workplace failures. Enablement leaders should be considered the touchpoint for knowledge within your organization. That’s a huge lift for just one person to take on. But siloed communication might be hurting your organization’s ability to carry out initiatives, slowing down sales cycles, and limiting your team's ability to cross-communicate.

 “. . . you need to develop a team to work across traditional organizational boundaries and reporting levels within your company—and that’s a big challenge. But eventually, to be successful with sales enablement, you will need to break down the walls between organizational silos to get customers the information they need.” - Forrester report 

What goes into effective and transparent cross-company communication? 

Messaging platform: Implement tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams 

  • The move away from email and into messaging apps for internal company communication is now commonplace. Spending a good chunk of your day in Slack is the new norm and that’s great! It means you’re communicating. This constant communication is especially valuable for bicoastal or outsourced teams that don’t have the opportunity for those day-to-day, in-person interactions around the Keurig. 
  • As the enablement touch person, you should exemplify best practices in these applications. Be intentional about the conversation threads  you create, and keep noise down and conversations on track in your channels. But don’t be afraid to have fun; share that cat GIF and make someone in the office smile (positive culture and camaraderie enables everyone to be better in their jobs!) 

Don’t underestimate the value of face time

  • We get it. Everyone’s calendars are overrun by meetings, debriefs, off-sites, one-on-ones… the list goes on. But as enablement professionals, you can’t underestimate the power of face time (even if it takes place through a Zoom call). Allocate recurring meeting times to encourage alignment (especially sales and marketing alignment) and run through enablement efforts. At Guru, we do that in a few different ways: 
  • Annual SKOs (Sales Kickoffs) provide a yearly time for our bi-coastal teams to get together, hear from our execs, align on roadmaps moving forward, and generally build company-wide morale to set ourselves up for success! 
  • Quarterly, we hold QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews). These are held in our Philly HQ, while our West Coast team joins in-person or by video call. Various teams present initiatives, and people come away from these two-day sessions with a better understanding of what we’ve achieved over the quarter, where our opportunities for growth are, and how we’re planning to meet our collective goals. 
  • Finally, we refer to our weekly meetings as Empowerment Sessions. They serve a few purposes:  Alignment across teams on company initiatives, product updates, messaging/branding changes, etc. Live Q&A sessions with team leads and customers.

Curious about the actual legwork behind an SKO? Listen in on our webinar all about planning an effective sales kickoff:

Create or refine your knowledge base 

  • Strengthening your knowledge base is the backbone of your enablement strategy. Centralizing your collective knowledge in one accessible location will keep everyone in the loop. Here at Guru, we think that the best knowledge management solutions keep your teams within their workflows, delivering the important information to them, wherever they’re working. An effective knowledge base should ensure that content and information is consistently updated and verified. If teams can’t trust that the information they’re pulling from is up-to-date, the purpose of your knowledge base goes out the window. 
  • Select a tool that will verify knowledge on an ongoing basis; capture and document all changes made to information; and keep your internal content trustworthy. Check out the Knowledge Management section (next) for a deeper dive on how to build a strong knowledge base for your enablement strategy. 

Knowledge management

Although knowledge management hasn’t traditionally been coupled with the idea of sales enablement, it can be a powerful tool that centralizes and informs your entire strategy. Products, particularly in the SaaS space, are increasingly complex, and rapidly growing teams are finding themselves siloed in their bubbles of knowledge. A strong knowledge management tool is a great solution. For example, a rep may have gone through extensive product training but when they get an incredibly use-case specific product question during a discovery call, they won’t have the recall to answer it in real-time. Eliminate “That’s a great question, I’ll do some digging and get back to you with an answer.” With a strong knowledge management system in place, your teams will feel armed with the trusted information they need at their fingertips. A great KM tool should keep reps in their workflows, help them to answer tough one-off questions, and ultimately set the foundation to drive stronger conversations and close more deals. 

‍Use these guidelines to find out how developed your knowledge base is: 

It eliminates the need for shoulder tapping

  • Making sure that internal knowledge is not trapped within silos will cut down on one-off questions. Keeping the answers to commonly asked questions readily available will allow everyone to work more efficiently and uninterrupted. 

It ensures that info is up-to-date 

  • The information in your knowledge base should be updated on a consistent basis to ensure that it can be trusted by your teams. 
  • Tools with an automated verification process will hold people accountable to check up on the information that they own to make sure it’s still trustworthy, and make the necessary updates if it’s out of date. Ideally, your knowledge base will also capture all edits and modifications made to pieces of information to give people the ability to track important changes. 
  • Without a verification process in place, you can expect your knowledge base to go stale in no time. 

It analyzes what content is performing well

  • Knowledge usage should be captured and analyzed to pinpoint exactly what information is most commonly referred to. 
  • Know what you don’t know: a good knowledge base should tell you what topics your team is searching for that haven’t been answered yet, shedding light on those knowledge gaps. 

It centralizes all of your content

  • This should be the touchpoint for access to all content, not just a hub for your salespeople to access marketing collateral. All internal and external knowledge, sales process information, product FAQs, etc. should live within this space.
  • Note: As as part of your sales enablement strategy, one of your key assets to include in this centralized base will be a Sales Playbook. This playbook should house all content, collateral, and information that informs your sales processes and empowers your reps.  We’ll break down what exactly should be included in your playbook later on in the guide. 

It’s accessible within workflows 

  • Accessing the knowledge your reps need to do their jobs should not take them out of their workflows. Whether they’re in their inbox, CRM, or a support ticketing system, the knowledge they need should be there too. Web browser extension capabilities and AI make it much easier to keep knowledge relevant and top of mind at all times. 

Its content is bite-sized 

It is searchable and intuitive

  • When your reps are on a call, they shouldn’t be sifting through your knowledge base to find the answer to a one-off question. The whole point of the knowledge base is to keep the needle out of the haystack.

Curious about knowledge management tools? Give Guru a try for free!

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Onboardings and trainings

For rapidly growing teams, a tight, efficient, and thoughtful onboarding process is a must. Even when your onboarding is airtight, 70% of learning still comes from on-the-job experience, so your process can’t simply start and end with a stack of training documents. 

Strengthening your onboarding and training will get your reps meeting their quota more quickly and ensure that you’re retaining the best talent. 

A Bridge Group report surveyed 350 B2B SaaS companies and found that: 

  • 1 in 10 companies are experiencing involuntary turnover rates of over 55% (the average is about 35%). 
  • The average time to ramp reps has reached 5.3 months.
  • Within this pool of respondents, 67% of reps are actually reaching their quota.

Learning doesn’t end once the onboarding process is completed. Since so much of learning happens onsite, make sure your onboarding and training info isn’t siloed within the first few months on the job. This is an ongoing process so keeping training materials easily accessible will allow team members to continue their learning beyond that initial ramp time.

Reducing onboarding ramp time can have a significant impact on accelerating your sales cycles (which, of course, should be one of the primary KPIs of your enablement plan). Sales enablement plays a critical role in monitoring turnover and ramp time within the company. Find a process that will fit for you and ensure that reps feel heard, appreciated, and able to get up to speed as fast as possible.

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