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9 Best Practices to Live (and Sell) by for Sales Enablement

Trying to provide salespeople with the tools, data, expertise, and support they require to navigate complex deals has made selling more difficult, not less. Our research at CEB, now Gartner, shows sellers working in “high burden” organizations have a 12% lower conversion rate than those who don’t.

Fair or not, from a rep’s perspective the main burden isn’t customer difficulty or product complexity. It’s their own organization — the internal processes, unintegrated and hard-to-use systems, layers of approvals, difficult-to-find and time-strapped support professionals, and tools, platforms, and data spread across multiple systems. According to more than 2,000 B2B sales reps, internal complexity causes 20% of stalled and lost deals. And as a company moves from low to high internal complexity, Seller Burden increases by as much as 62%.

This massive productivity loss is why suppliers must think far more carefully about the “Seller Experience,” or how reps experience the job. It’s the way work makes them feel, how engaged they are as a result, and the real cost of bad experiences.

Seller Experience shouldn’t seem that foreign — virtually every B2B organization now has some sort of Customer Experience initiative underway. But here’s an interesting (and troubling) question: How many of us could honestly say we manage our sellers’ experience with anywhere near as much care and precision? That would be a rare organization indeed.

We typically see the opposite: “I don’t care how our sellers feel. I care whether they actually sell.” And yet our customer experience research — as well as a wide range of secondary work — finds a crucial link between employee experience and customer experience. And there’s arguably no function more important to creating that crucial customer connection than sales teams, who interact with customers every day. They are literally the face of your organization.

So how might we reduce internal complexity currently undermining Seller Experience?

1. Reduce Distractions

Reducing distraction involves the non-sales requests for time and attention that hit front-line salespeople nearly every day — employee surveys, one-off projects, financial reporting, HR requirements, compliance training, general administrative requests, and so on.

Some are important, some are not. The best organizations not only minimize these requests, but align the rest — the “non-negotiables” — to what reps can realistically handle. That way, reps are less likely to get distracted or bogged down by artificial organizational deadlines that have nothing to do with their primary job. It seems straightforward.

And it is. But it also requires operational rigor and systematic precision specifically denominated in both Seller Experience and the actual opportunity cost of an hour’s worth of seller time.

2. Streamline Workflow

Streamlining workflow means reducing the time and effort necessary to gather information across people and systems, win approvals across functions and silos, and figure out how to use sales tools.

This is where many enablement teams can easily lose the forest for the trees, providing reps with a host of individual tools that might be relatively easy to use on their own, but overlooking the time, pain, and effort required to move from one to the next and combine the results.

3. Ease Resource Navigation

To ease resource navigation, alleviate the huge amount of time and effort reps spend tracking down resources. Who do I talk to? How do I get their time? Where do I find that information? Which system has that data? Who has authority to sign off on this? What other people do I need to involve?

How much time do reps spend searching for answers to these questions? From a leader’s perspective, it feels a little exasperating. You’ve probably been over these topics a hundred times, providing guidance and training.

But from a seller’s perspective, this is deeply frustrating: “Just one more distraction I don’t need! Clearly, if my company cared at all, they wouldn’t make it so hard to get the help I badly need!”

4. Focus Selling Support

Focusing selling support may be the most important. It means enabling reps to make better decisions by telling them which tools and activities matter most and helping them at high-priority moments.

In other words, you lock reps’ attention on a small number of individual moments across a sale so they don’t have to prioritize for themselves. Instead, they can focus on selling.

Rather than spreading support thickly and evenly across the entire sales process, like peanut butter, the best organizations determine in advance where and when support is most critical and concentrate support almost exclusively to those key areas.

5. Align the Team Around Your CRM

As a sales manager, you should have clear insight into the activities your sales reps are running, where deals are in the pipeline, and how your team is tracking towards goal. 

As a rep, you should be able to easily manage, update, and share the status of all of your current deals — without ever leaving your inbox or CRM

Make sure your team is working and communicating efficiently by making your CRM the single source of truth for your organization.

Customize your settings to reflect your sales process. Import contacts, companies, and deals. And make sure your CRM integrates with your other tools. It’s also important to set up relevant dashboards and enable reports.

6. Use Chatbots

There are tons of chatbots on the market. HubSpot’s free chatbot builder, Conversations is a great option. With the right chatbot, you can personalize conversations with prospects and customers at the scale your business requires. 

sales enablement from chatbots

Give your reps more time to spend with qualified leads, and let your chatbot field questions at the important stage when prospects are browsing your website to learn more. 

Optimize chatbot performance by placing it on pages where the most people have the most questions — such as a pricing page — and reduce friction in your flywheel.

7. Work with Marketing

Make sure prospects are getting the right content at the right time. To do that, it’s important your sales team is closely aligned with marketing so you can create the blog posts, case studies, or one-pagers necessary to answer prospect questions and close business quickly.

8. Invest in Ongoing Training

Training is not the same as onboarding. All of your salespeople should be onboarded, but you should provide and encourage training opportunities throughout the year and the lifetime of reps at your company. 

Whether you have a rep who’s great at phone calls give an hour-long lunch-and-learn on her best practices, bring an outside sales coach in for intensive training, or send a few of your reps to an industry event — it’s important to offer these opportunities to your reps to reduce churn and increase salesperson happiness. 

After all, the biggest threat to sales teams isn’t losing clients. With average rep tenure sitting at around 1.5 years, your biggest threat is employee discontent. 

9. Replicate High-Performer Best Practices

If you have reps who excel in certain areas or practices, find out how and why and replicate those practices across your organization. 

Say a rep has a specific call cadence they’ve experimented with to get just right. If that call cadence consistently lands big target accounts, it might be time to implement that call cadence as the standard for all your reps.

Notice how different these approaches are from what most leaders do to support reps struggling with sales complexity. These drivers don’t add, they take away. This isn’t a provision solution, it’s an elimination solution. When the core problem sellers are facing is “too much,” the solution must be “provide less.”

We call this approach “Ruthless Simplicity.” Ruthless Simplicity isn’t an answer to a sales capability problem (“Give them more help!”), it’s an answer to a sales complexity problem (“Reduce Seller Burden!”). Yes, we must support the sale, but never at the expense of supporting the seller.

HubSpot CRM

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