By Juli Durante

Our friends at HubSpot define sales enablement as “the technology, processes, and content that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity.” If you’re using the inbound marketing methodology, sales enablement is a natural extension: It’s all about giving sales teams the coaching and content that they need to sell smarter. Of course, like anything else, sales enablement strategy isn’t just a matter of handing out some sales content and calling it a day—real strategy is involved. The big question is: Who should be part of that strategy and process? As it turns out, there can be a lot of players … with a lot of different ideas and opinions. Here are the top considerations:

The Big Question to Ask: What Are the Inefficiencies in Our Sales Process?

If sales enablement is about making sales work smarter, then the gap analysis should be focused on the inefficiencies and what’s not working well. A big question to start with is, “Where are leads falling out of the sales process?” The root of this question is, more measurably, “What stage or phase of the process causes the most dropoff?” If you’re using the HubSpot CRM and reporting add-on, check out this excellent funnel report: 

HubSpot deal stage funnel for sales enablement strategy

Based on this report, I would expect to hear some of the following questions:

  • Only 25 percent of deals are moving from the “Created” stage to Phase 1 of our sales process. Are we creating deals that are truly sales opportunities? What’s keeping us from getting more prospects to the first stage?
  • Just over one-third of our prospects are moving from Phase 2 to Phase 3. What’s our big ask at that point in the sales process? What information can we provide during this stage to better show value before a proposal is sent?
  • What will I find if I drill into this at a deeper level? How do these averages compare by rep? By industry? By company size? By line of business?

These questions are at the core of most conversations with sales leaders regarding sales improvement that I’ve been a part of. It makes sense—they’re important questions! Asking them is the first step to diagnosing bigger issues such as:

  • The business development team has a high quota for appointments set, so its primary focus has become quantity, not quality, and 75 percent of appointments booked aren’t progressing. The sales reps then have a small pool of qualified appointments to get to the demo phase. Though the organization needs the quantity of leads, it also needs to drive
  • Many contacts are seeing a demo but not moving to the informal proposal stage afterward. Is this solution really meeting their needs? Are we providing the right information? We need to show more value and get prospects excited about moving forward after a demo.

In both of these scenarios, there’s a real opportunity for sales enablement to make a difference. And who should be involved in putting together that strategy?

Every Key Decision Maker in the Organization Is Involved in Sales Enablement Strategy.Yes, every. Single. One. Because sales enablement is a strategy that directly affects the department that keeps much of the organization running—sales—you can bet that there will be lots of heads turning in this direction. Here’s a quick list of who is typically at the table and the role they should play: Sales Leadership

This one is a no-brainer. The head of the sales team is easily the most important person for incorporating new ideas and strategies, and analyzing existing sales data.

Marketing Leadership

Because sales enablement works best when sales and marketing can work together for the right kind of messaging and content, the head of marketing is another key leader. Furthermore, sales and marketing leadership are the key players for determining how well-aligned sales and marketing efforts are, all the way from a lead generation standpoint—which directly affects how many leads will get passed to the business development team for potential sales readiness.

Executive Leadership

These are the people who have the “big goals” and often the “big budgets” in mind, so getting their buy-in is crucial. If you can’t align a sales enablement strategy with the goals and budgets of players such as the CEO, CFO, and COO, your strategy likely won’t be around for long.

Top Sales Reps

Though sales leadership can offer the theories and data behind decisions, your top sales reps often have an excellent pulse on what’s going on right now and can be open about what needs they have in the sales process. For example, a rep might say, “I always get asked for references between Phase 2 and Phase 3, but it takes some time to get them lined up. I’d like to be able to send them something industry-specific in the meantime.” That’s a comment that marketing can run with.

Top Business Development Rep

To the same point, the top “frontline” business development rep can contribute much to the conversation internally, based on what’s being heard from prospects the team makes contact with on a regular basis. (Bonus: For marketers, this is excellent, excellent material for blog posts.)

Your Agency

I know I may be biased here, but if you’re working with an agency, bringing it into these conversations is a good idea as well. Not only will these experts know a lot about your content, sales, and marketing processes, but they’ll also have insights from other clients and similar organizations in your industry that you can seriously benefit from. In addition, they often offer some third-party objectivity that is a nice complement to internal teams.

Get Rolling with Sales Enablement Strategy With the right players in the room, moving forward with a solid strategy for sales enablement becomes much easier. Remember, there are many people who are invested in the sales team and have valid and varying opinions about what would improve performance. Taking all ideas into consideration is important, but always, always look to data and past experiences whenever possible. It’s not always about what we like, but what buyers are expecting.

The Smart Guide to Sales Enablement

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Juli Durante

About the author

Juli Durante is a team lead and marketing strategist for SmartBug Media. She has been using HubSpot and practicing inbound marketing since 2011, first as a one-woman inbound marketing team and now at SmartBug. A born and bred Jersey girl, she's a graduate of Rutgers University where she studied Anthropology, Art History, and Classics, making a very natural transition to digital marketing. Juli's education helped her learn more about research, analysis, and Jasper Johns, which she applies today when planning and measuring campaigns. She's particularly passionate about CRO and website optimization. Read more articles by Juli Durante.