Driving success from Sales Enablement investments

Moving from sales documents to a database of selling knowledge

Robin Griffiths

Where next in Sales Enablement?

In solution selling and value-based selling programs, we all know the challenges our sales teams face:

  • Lack of knowledge on customers
  • Inadequate preparation before calls and meetings
  • Selling features instead of value
  • Not aligning the right message to the industry and persona

Fundamentally, sales enablement is about equipping sales people with the guidance, ideas, insights, messages and materials to have more compelling conversations through the sales process.

But up to now, sales enablement solutions have been pretty much focused on the materials part – making it easier for sales people to put their hands on the right deck, sell sheet, brochure or case study for the current step in the sales process. And then tracking usage and customer engagement with these items.

We can call this ‘Sales Enablement 1.0’.

What we’re seeing in the next stage in the evolution of sales enablement, is the focus shifting to equipping sales people with the intelligence and tools to help them prepare more effectively for calls and meetings, and deliver better outcomes.

Programs like ‘The Challenger™ Sales Model’ from Gartner have heightened awareness of the need for sales people to arm themselves with deep insights into a prospect’s business, what they do and the challenges and opportunities they face. Sales professionals also need to be able to discuss possible solutions and explain how their company’s offering delivers value and is differentiated.

Building a database of selling knowledge

The traditional approach to capturing the insights, guidance, value propositions and messages sales people need for solution selling, is to gather a few people in a room, capture their thoughts using flip charts and sticky notes and then write it all up in a document.

The output is typically issued to sales people in the form of a multi-page, ‘sales playbook PDF’ often without any accompanying training intervention. The results are often disappointing, with low take up by sales people, who can easily get overwhelmed by too much information.

Digital sales playbooks

The latest digital technologies provide a new and far more engaging option.

If you capture your insights, guidance, etc. in a database and organise this by industry segment, business activity and persona (for example) you can then make this information accessible by sales people via a digital sales tool which allows them to filter and interact with the content.

With this type of ‘digital playbook’ on your smart phone, iPad and laptop, you can ‘dial-in’ the industry and persona for your next call, click on the relevant step in the sales process and instantly see market insights, topics to discuss, probing questions to ask, etc. – recommended for the exact sales situation in question.

Digital playbooks can also allow the user to actually select relevant ideas on what to ask and say and send them to a digital notepad where they can make edits and add their own notes as they prepare their thinking for the next customer interaction.

Moving from sales documents to a database of selling knowledge and giving sales people access to this via some sort of digital, guided selling tool looks set to take sales enablement to the next level.

You could call this ‘Sales Enablement 2.0’.

Next time I’m going to talk about ‘Where learning meets guided selling’

Robin Griffiths

Robin’s background includes Director of Projects at industrial group Birmid Qualcast and Founder and Director of Cambridge Consulting Engineers. Robin went on to start Force12 Software and led the company for 6 years; securing $5m in venture capital funding and establishing operations in the USA and Europe. Robin left Force12 in early 2004 to found BPM Works.

Robin is an expert in insight-based selling and messaging development. He has developed programs for some of the world’s leading companies to equip sales people with the knowledge they need on customers and propositions to be more successful.

Robin has a First Class Honors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from King’s College London and a Masters Degree from Glasgow University.

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