Sales Management Digest

Stop Neglecting Seventy-Five Percent of Your Sales Team
Selling Power Editors
Are your "hunters" out searching for prospects right now? Or are they spending hours searching your CRM or knowledge-management system for assets and content that could help them sell better?

Simply put, the true power of sales enablement is the ability to predict which resources salespeople will need to sell better and faster and provide those resources in an easily accessible, effective way. This is very different from providing a knowledge-management system and asking reps to perform searches to find resources that can help them win.

According to Scott Eidle, director of product marketing at The SAVO Group, his company's research has clearly shown that reps either don't use search functionalities or, if they do use it, they use it incorrectly.

"Having been a rep and in strategic sales support roles, I know that 50 percent of reps won't search," says Eidle. "This is because you are leaving the action up to them, and most reps lack the initiative to take this step."

On the SAVO blog, Eidle also points out the following facts about the way salespeople search for sales-enablement content.
  1. Of the 50 percent of salespeople who will actually try a search, half will use the search function incorrectly.
  2. Most marketing and operations people don't know the language of their sales teams. If your product has a formal market-facing name but your reps abbreviate it or call the product something else entirely, your reps won't find the right information.
  3. Salespeople won't know where to physically start the search – what folders, what system, etc.
  4. Salespeople don't have a vision of what they want to find, so they don't know how to start.
So if you are relying on a rep-based search function to enable your sales reps, you will be able to realistically support and help only 25 percent of your sales team.

Here are four key practices Eidle recommends to successfully and proactively enable one hundred percent of your sales force.

One: Think like every type of salesperson. Every organization has various types of salespeople with varying competencies. For example, senior reps know what they're good at and tend to focus on the things they do well. The key is to understand the psyche of these different types of reps and design solutions that appeal to the entire sales force.

Two: Prioritize which selling situations you want your sales-enablement initiative to address. Trying to boil the ocean is a sure sign of impeding failure. It's not only difficult to coordinate the process, content, and automation for every selling situation, but it's also too overwhelming for the sales team to digest. Prioritize two or three types of selling situations you want to address and nail down the success at these spots in order to quantify the value of sales-enablement projects.

Three: Map a core, fundamental sales process. You don't have to have a commercial sales process; however, you will need a lowest-common-denominator understanding of the different steps and stages in your company's sales process. There's no excuse for not having a sales process – there are consistencies and repeatable steps in every company's sales activities. Commit as much time on this analysis as necessary. If you don't understand your sales process, your sales-enablement solutions will not be effective.

Four: Replicate the results of your top sellers. Everyone in sales leadership dreams about cloning the highest-performing sales rep, and while that's the right idea, it's not the most effective (or ethical) practice. The best way to employ this strategy is to take a page from Tony Robbins: study the top five sales reps or subject-matter experts, and see what consistent attributes they display that others could replicate and repeat. Then figure out a way to enable your other sales reps to develop or replicate those attributes. (Don't attempt to address all attributes – just focus on a few.)

While overall themes such as "the right content at the right time" or "a consistent sales process drives repeatable success" work for almost all companies, one size does not fit all, and it's up to you to figure out how to drive the right effort to achieve the revenue results.

There's a never-ending list of best practices for improving your organization's sales performance, but by practicing these four ideas, you'll be well on your way to creating a more effective sales-enablement program.
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