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B2B Sales Enablement: The Practical Guide for Modern Sales Teams

Sales Training
Chris Orlob
February 14, 2024

We’ve already discussed the differences between sales enablement and sales training– clarifying one of the biggest misperceptions about sales enablement. Yet, there is still a lot to be said about what sales enablement really is especially in regards to B2B sales.

In this guide, we’ll cover 

  • What sales enablement is
  • How it applies to B2B sales
  • How to create a winning B2B sales enablement strategy

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What is sales enablement?

Sales enablement involves providing salespeople with the tools they need to close more sales. The assets include:

  • competitor analysis
  • knowledge bases, 
  • templates, and other information that gives sales teams an edge.

Business-to-business sales enablement requires a more strategic approach and cross-functional cooperation. There are more actors and tools involved, the sales process is longer, and the overall goal extends into enabling buyers to purchase as well as helping sellers sell their products. 

Importance of sales enablement in B2B sales 

In recent studies, sales enablement has been found to have a significant impact on B2B sales success. 

  • When enablement efforts are prioritized, average win rates increase by nine percentage points compared to organizations without them.
  • Organizations are 27% less likely to struggle with achieving sales goals when enablement manages sales content effectively.
  • The sales enablement team's involvement in the onboarding process reduces representative turnover by 5%.

In addition to these statistics, a dedicated sales enablement program for B2B organizations offers these benefits:

Effective value delivery

With enablement's cross-functional capabilities, B2B companies can enhance their value proposition by gaining in-depth insight that helps sales provide better value. 

For example, an enablement team can collaborate with customer success and product engineers to highlight valuable insights from the post-purchase phases.  

The following tactics can be used to generate insights: 

  • Analyzing whether promises made during product demo match actual outcomes after purchase.
  • Analyze what features customers are using and what they are not using to determine customer priorities.
  • Discover new creative ways customers are using the product to resolve pain points.

In this way, sales enablement can create new and improved assets like sales playbooks, product stories, and support marketing efforts based on insights. 

Using these assets, sales and content marketing teams can provide a more personalized buyer experience throughout the buyer journey. 

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Increase competitive advantage

B2B organizations face increasing competitive pressure today. Executive leaders have identified competitive pressure as their top sales challenge, and 70% of B2B marketers say their competition is becoming more aggressive. 

Inviting sales enablement to the competitive analysis table can help sales enablement help B2B organizations beat competition in sales

In fact, research by Sales Enablement Pro reports that organizations involving enablement in competitive analysis experience a notable 3-percentage-point increase in win rates. 

Leveraging their broad cross-functional experience, enablement teams can 

  • Provide unique insights for developing a competitive strategy. 
  • Conduct regular competitor analyses 
  • Empower sales to gain insight into outperforming the competition. 
  • Training reps to effectively position their value and overcome objections.

The tactics above underscore the crucial role of sales enablement in helping team members navigate and excel in the competitive landscape of 2024 and beyond.

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Better talent retention

In recent years, we've witnessed a surge in employee turnover amid a fiercely competitive talent market. As a result, organizations face dual challenges: not only struggling to hire sales talents but also contending with the substantial impact of attrition on their bottom line.

The role of sales enablement becomes evident in addressing these challenges. Recent data indicates that organizations are less likely to face difficulties in hiring top sales talent when enablement effectively manages talent processes. 

Increased productivity for sales reps

Sales representatives dedicate 70% of their time to administrative tasks, often feeling overwhelmed by information overload and struggling to retain crucial training details. Consequently, over 89% of sellers report experiencing burnout, leading to decreased productivity, high rep attrition rates, and missed sales quotas.

Luckily, the implementation of sales enablement proves instrumental in enhancing productivity while preventing burnout among reps. 

In fact, organizations see a 27% reduction in the likelihood of struggling to achieve sales goals when sales enablement effectively oversees sales content efforts. 

Some of the key methods enablement apply include:

  • Filtering content from various sources, ensuring that reps have access to only the most relevant information at the present moment.
  • Taking a proactive approach to content curation so that every piece serves an immediate tactical purpose.
  • Creating naming conventions within content management systems (CMS) or learning management systems (LMS) to speed up content discovery and retrieval.
  • Turning assets such as sales playbooks into easily digestible reels for quicker comprehension by reps.

This strategic approach underscores the pivotal role of sales enablement in elevating B2B sales productivity.

More effective onboarding and training

Through structured onboarding programs, enablement can prepare reps for success in the field and expedite the time needed to start closing deals consistently.

That's when enablement leads a B2B sales training, it goes beyond learning the essential B2B skills. B2B enablement sales training covers a variety of topics, including product knowledge, sales techniques, and CRM. 

Therefore, a noteworthy outcome of effective B2B sales enablement is the confidence it instills in practitioners. According to this Seismic research:

  • 76% of reps emphasized that quick access to coaching and training content prevents self-doubt during customer engagements. 
  • 8 in 10 practitioners affirmed that access to coaching and training aids in meticulous preparation for client presentations.

Extensively, organizations that effectively leverage sales enablement tools experience a 22% increase in rep engagement– which is crucial for tackling attrition and rep turnover. 

Better sales technology integration

In addition to content overload, sales reps are drowning in tools. B2B organizations that recognize these challenges can turn to sales enablement for solutions. 

That’s because today’s advanced sales enablement platforms provide sales teams with up-to-date content, actionable insights, and analytics in real time. These data empower sales teams to empower their progress and adjust their strategies accordingly. 

For example, advanced sales enablement platforms use predictive technology to recommend the most suitable asset to train sales reps on specific buying scenarios. This approach saves valuable time and increases the relevance and impact of their communication. 

Key components of an effective B2B sales enablement program

An effective B2B (business-to-business) sales enablement program involves a combination of strategies, sales tools, and resources to empower sales teams and enhance their ability to engage and convert prospects. 

Here are the key components of an effective B2B sales enablement program:

  • Sales enablement content
  • Buyer persona
  • Training and onboarding
  • Coaching and continuous assessment
  • CRM and data analytics platforms
  • Content management platforms

How to build a winning B2B sales enablement strategy

Here are the essential things you need to consider when building your B2B sales enablement strategy.

Align your sales goals to an enablement charter

While setting SMART goals for your enablement program is common knowledge, it's crucial to align those sales goals with a formal sales enablement plan. Surprisingly, most sales teams overlook this step. In fact, only about 28% of companies have a formal sales enablement charter and methodology, contributing to the ineffectiveness of sales enablement initiatives.

A formal sales enablement charter serves as a guiding document for your enablement team, offering direction and focus. It also acts as a reference point for other departments seeking clarity on your role.

As you establish your enablement department in 2024, one of the challenges you'll encounter is the lack of understanding about sales enablement across the organization. Departments like marketing and product may struggle to collaborate effectively with your sales enablement team.

Implementing a formal enablement methodology is essential for overcoming such challenges as it defines several key aspects:

  • Your overall objectives and all stakeholders involved in achieving them.
  • Approach to onboarding and training, including sales methodologies, tools, and required resources.
  • A plan for collecting, delivering, and updating internal and external sales content.
  • Documentation of known issues and potential risks.
  • Clear definitions of success, including important KPIs to track and demonstrate the value of sales initiatives.

An effective B2B sales enablement program goes beyond just setting SMART goals; it requires strategic planning and ongoing iteration for success. 

Map enablement content to the buyer’s journey

The content you create for your sales enablement efforts plays a crucial role in the success of your campaigns. Ideally, it should guide prospects through the entire B2B buyer’s journey.

For instance, pitch scripts are effective at the top of the funnel, while case studies are more suitable for the consideration stage. This ensures that sales reps have access to the appropriate content for each stage, enhancing their adaptability.

Here are some tactics to consider:

  • Categorize assets based on B2B buyer personas and stages to create a comprehensive catalog for salespeople.
  • Collaborate with the marketing team to fill any content gaps, including whitepapers, ebooks, blog posts, articles, and webinars.
  • Utilize consumer engagement metrics to evaluate performance at various touchpoints.

Mapping sales enablement content to the buying process and stages enables your reps to be more adaptable, efficient, and effective in improving sales performance.

Develop alignment with stakeholders

To gain buy-in for growing and scaling the enablement function, practitioners must demonstrate the potential and actual return on investment. This starts by ensuring everyone on the team understands the purpose of enablement and shares a similar outlook on success.

Here's what you should aim for:

  • Sales leaders should attribute business metrics like increased win rates and average contract value to enablement initiatives.
  • Top sellers and lone wolves should be open to training and sharing successful strategies.
  • Reps should view ongoing training as a tool for improvement rather than an indication of inadequacy.
  • Stakeholders should be receptive to regular priority checks to stay focused on goals.

Implementing these tactics fosters a smoother and more productive cross-functional approach to sales.

Optimize the process with sales enablement automation tools

With 60% of buyers choosing vendors based on how quickly they respond, meeting customer demands faster– without sacrificing a positive customer experience– would be a strong trait among organizations that win today. 

Luckily, B2B sales enablement practitioners and tools shine in this area. Practitioners and enablement tools help organizations automate and streamline their sales cycle. 

This makes it easier to identify and prioritize leads, create personalized messaging, and provide timely follow-up. 

Furthermore, they can help organizations collect data on their customer interactions, which can be used to identify trends and patterns, and optimize their sales strategies.

Track and measure your performance

Implementing a data-driven strategy to enablement practices is key to maximizing results and helping executives understand how enablement is providing strategic business value. 

By quantifying enablement's impact with tangible figures and metrics, leaders gain a clearer understanding of enablement's value. That way, it is easier for practitioners to convey the importance of their efforts and garner executive support.

The specific data to monitor varies based on overall sales objectives. However, the following are five important data in every sales enablement program:

  • Lead to opportunity conversion.
  • Content performance
  • Win rate & competitive win rate
  • Average selling price 
  • Time to first deal

With a better understanding of the importance of sales enablement in B2B sales today, let’s examine the types of content you need to bolster your strategy.

How to use B2B Sales enablement content 

Successful B2B sales enablement involves collaboration across various departments. Therefore, the responsibility for creating and providing content often lies in cross-functional teams working together to support the sales process.

This table provides a visual overview of the different types of content, their purposes, and the departments responsible for creating and providing them in a cross-functional B2B sales enablement context.

Essential tools for your B2B sales enablement plan

In this section, we delve into the essential tools that form the backbone of an effective sales enablement plan. Consider the following tools in your sales enablement.

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: CRM software enhances B2B sales enablement by providing a centralized hub for managing customer relationships, optimizing sales processes, and facilitating collaboration among sales teams. It empowers sales reps with the information and tools needed to effectively engage and negotiate with prospects, nurture leads, and close deals.
  2. Conversational intelligence tools: Conversation intelligence platforms leverage AI powered virtual sales agents to enhance the effectiveness of sales interactions. The tool can analyze conversation data, enabling quick access to highlight reels of relevant information. When they integrate into your digital sales room, conversation intelligence systems can seamlessly recommend content in response to objections. For instance, the platform can suggest relevant materials, such as case studies or objection-handling examples, for sales representatives to share instantly.
  3. Sales Content Management Systems: You need a sales content management system, such as an LMS focused on sales training, to automate the organization, storage, and accessibility of sales collaterals. That way, you minimize errors and achieve consistency in messaging by working with a streamlined content management process. 
  4. Sales Training and Onboarding Platforms: These tools ensure your sales teams are well-equipped with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to excel in their roles. From onboarding new hires to fostering continuous learning and skill development, these platforms play a pivotal role in optimizing the sales team's performance.
  5. Sales Analytics and Reporting Software: Enablement practitioners need sales intelligence in order to make data-driven decisions, optimize sales processes, and improve overall performance. Sales analytics software can analyze data in areas like generating qualified leads to pinpoint the most effective actions, content types, and engagement tactics. This enables team members to focus efforts on actions that positively influence purchasing decisions and leads to revenue growth.
  6. Lead generation tools: Lead generation tools like UserGems, HubSpot, Cognism and LinkedIn Sales Navigator empower sales teams to engage with decision-makers from key strategic accounts. These tools also provide analytics that help enablement to measure and optimize content performance in multi-channel prospecting.

B2B sales enablement tips

Here are the top 5 sales enablement tips you should keep in mind:

  1. Content should have a lifecycle
  2. Foster collaboration through co-creation
  3. Embrace modern content platforms
  4. Supplement quantitative data with the "eye test"
  5. Enable peer-to-peer learning

Content lifecycle optimization

To optimize B2B sales enablement, it's vital to view content as a dynamic asset with a lifecycle. Content should evolve continually, utilizing methods such as:

  • Deliberate Distribution: Ensure reps receive relevant resources when needed.
  • Constant Updates and Assessments: Regularly review and update content to fill knowledge gaps.
  • Tracking Effectiveness: Utilize real data to measure content effectiveness.
  • Cutting Outdated Assets: Remove or repurpose outdated content to prevent misinformation.
  • Regular Catalog Assessment: Assess the content catalog periodically to identify knowledge gaps.

Foster collaboration through co-creation

Successful B2B sales enablement thrives on building partnerships. Sellers should guide marketing or enablement on content purpose and intent before drafting. This ensures content creation aligns with both sellers' and the audience's needs, reducing revisions and inefficiencies.

Embrace modern content platforms

Transitioning to modern content platforms offers numerous advantages beyond aesthetics. These platforms enable efficient quantitative feedback gathering and address historical challenges. They provide analytics and seamless integration into CRMs, offering real-time insights into content impact on deal closure.

Supplement Quantitative Data with the "Eye Test"

While modern content platforms excel at generating quantitative data, they may not capture qualitative insights like buyer reactions during content delivery. Complement quantitative data with anecdotal feedback and diverse insights to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Enable Peer-to-Peer Learning

Foster a collaborative environment where insights flow from peer voices, facilitating effective content rollout and utilization. Encourage peer-to-peer learning to enrich the sales team's knowledge and skills.

B2B sales enablement FAQs

What are the four pillars of sales enablement?

The essential pillars of an enablement program include content, cross-functional alignment, sales training and onboarding, KPIs, and technology. 

Who owns sales enablement in B2B?

The responsibility of a sales enablement program depends on the size and structure of the organization. In large companies, a sales enablement team manages the enablement program. In other teams, the sales team can dedicate the role to a sales enablement manager or just the sales manager. Otherwise, product marketing can own the process.  

How to tell if sales enablement is working

You can determine if sales enablement is working by assessing changes in various key performance indicators (KPIs) and analyzing specific outcomes. For example, analyze conversion rates at different stages of the sales funnel to assess the efficiency of the sales process. 

You can use historical data to determine behavioral changes among reps to determine if specific training programs such as virtual sales coaching have been effective. 

What is the best way to ensure sales enablement?

The best way to ensure sales enablement works is to foster a strong collaboration across all departments and actors in your enablement plan. Sales enablement is not just about hitting your quota but being able to understand why you did it and then devising a strategic plan to ensure all reps achieve the same result continuously. Therefore, you have to 

  • Make it easy for reps to share what's working for them.
  • Ensure everyone is accountable for their role.
  • Help top sellers coach or mentor the B players & C players. 
  • Working more closely with customer success  

With these tactics, you’re developing a culture that celebrates collaboration, a strong sense of purpose, and sustainable sales performance.

Is sales enablement sales training?

Sales enablement involves providing salespeople with the assets needed to close more deals. In contrast, sales training involves educating sales teams and equipping them with the proper sales-related skills they need to succeed.

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Elevate your sales enablement program with our comprehensive account executive training courses. Empower your team with expert insights in sales process optimization, client relationship management, negotiation techniques, presentation skills, and sales strategies. 

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