Sales enablement has been a huge buzzword recently. It’s been cropping up in both marketing and sales management circles. On the marketing side, it’s easy to see why sales enablement is such an exciting concept. Marketers have long shown a strong interest in analytics, and analytics play a large role in the sales enablement process. In fact, sales enablement tools use the same type of web analytics that traditional marketers use when developing strategies for their sales teams.
Marketers also go beyond analytics, which also stands in line with sales enablement. Marketers know that marketing materials require constant improvement, and those materials must remain consistent between various channels. This is also something that upper management has discovered when adopting sales enablement initiatives.
In regards to sales managers, they are quickly realizing the importance of sales enablement. They hope to use it to facilitate and take away administrative burdens while increasing client face time. At the same time, they want to use their sales enablement initiatives to gather insights into how sales meetings are conducted and the differences between their teams and individuals. This data will help them increase their sales and client satisfaction across the board.
With marketers and sales managers onboard, it seems as if sales reps would fall in line and be ready to adopt a sales enablement initiative, but that has not always been the case. While it varies from person to person, some reps have been reluctant to get onboard with sales enablement tools. However, those who are willing to try them are often quick to embrace them.
In order to get reps excited about a sales enablement tool, you must first understand why they are reluctant to use them. Then, it will be easier for you to adopt some strategies to get your sales reps onboard with your sales enablement initiative. Not only will they be onboard, they will be excited about it.
Why Sales Reps Fight Against Sales Enablement Tools
Sales reps fight against sales enablement initiatives for various reasons. Once you understand these reasons, you can begin to work with your reps to come up with a solution.
First, some are afraid to adopt new technology. New technology is a frightening concept for most people. It makes them feel insecure, and they are afraid to fail in front of their clients. The idea of fumbling with a new piece of technology for sales enablement purposes is simply too much for some reps to bear.
On top of that, some sales reps take a their own, different approach to sales meetings. They do not use presentation materials from marketing, or developed their own structure and messaging, different from the company marketing materials. This will surface when implementing a sales enablement initiative. But they don’t want to change their strategies out of fear that that they will hurt their success rates. They think that the new approach will inhibit their ability to make sales.
Finally, they don’t know how sales enablement tools can help them. Many companies fail to introduce their reps to the process properly. They just tell them that they are going to start using these tools, so sales reps can get confused, and that confusion leads to resistance. Unless they have a clear understanding of how it works, reps will not want to jump onboard.
All of this resistance can seem overwhelming. However, implementing a new sales enablement tool is not just smart but also fun. Sales enablement aligns your marketing and sales teams, making your sales meetings more effective than ever before. On top of that, your sales reps will grow and develop their skills. In order to enjoy these benefits, though, you have to get your sales representatives excited about the initiative.
You need to take a four-step approach to getting your team behind your sales enablement initiative. You need to:
- Create an introduction campaign
- Help sales reps develop new skills
- Help sales reps adjust their behavior
- Make sure all of the content is available in the tool
If you complete all four steps, your team will be behind your sales enablement initiative.
Create an Introduction Campaign
While many companies just throw the sales enablement initiative at their sales reps, it is a much better idea to roll it out with a comprehensive introduction campaign. An impactful campaign will help your entire sales team succeed, from the managers all the way to the reps.
As with many things in life, the first impression is very important with sales enablement. It takes twice as much energy if you have to clean up after a negative experience, so take your time making sure you create a positive impact with your introduction campaign. There are several components to a successful introduction campaign. Take your time with each component so you can make a great first impression.
Component 1 – Awareness
A successful sales enablement introduction campaign begins with awareness. You need to explain how the tool will help your sales reps. Don’t just explain how this tool benefit the company. Explain how they benefit the reps. The reps need to understand that the tool will make their days easier and help them become more successful. If they think they are only helping the company, they will be less likely to get onboard. However, if they see the tool as a way to help themselves, they will get excited about using the tool during their meetings.
Component 2 – Transparency
Sales representatives can be suspicious about measurements and statistics. They think managers use the figures to judge their performance and habits. In general, sales reps are used to having their freedom, and they will be afraid that these measurements will take away from that freedom. If your introduction campaign includes transparency, you can put that fear to rest. You need to show how you will use the data to improve the sales content. If you intend to use the data to judge their work, be upfront about it. If you are clear from the beginning, your sales reps will trust you, which will make it easier to get them excited about the initiative. It will also help them understand what is expected of them during their sales meetings.
Component 3 – Provide Training
Your representatives don’t want to look foolish in front of their clients. If they are afraid of stumbling with new technology, they will be more likely to leave the sale enablement tools in their vehicles and wing it. You can avoid this issue by providing ample time for training during the introductory period. Make sure each sales rep is completely comfortable with all of the tools before sending them out in the field. They should know each component of the tool inside and out so they are completely comfortable and ready to deal with clients.
Component 4 – Avoid Procrastination
Procrastination doesn’t have a place in your introduction campaign. If you drag the training out for too long, people will get gun shy and won’t be able to use the tool in front of clients. Avoid procrastination by getting people to use the sales enablement tool as soon as training is over. Have people learn how to work with the tool and then send them out in the field with them, before they forget how to use them. The sooner you can get them out in the field, the better your success rate will be.
Component 5 – Share Positive Feedback
When your sales reps realize that others are enjoying success with the sales enablement tool, they will become excited. Use a push channel, like email or a company chat, to share these success stories. In addition, you can use these channels to share positive customer feedback. Sales reps understand that a positive customer experience is the ultimate goal, so this is a great way to get people excited about using this tool. In addition, show the connection between the tool and the results. Depending on your company culture, you can choose to compare the usage or results from one rep to the next, or just to show the connection.
Component 6 – Involve Senior Management
It’s important that senior managers rolls up their sleeves and get involved in your sales enablement initiative. The tool won’t become the new normal until senior management uses the tool themselves. They can’t just use the tool behind closed doors, either. They need to use them in front of everyone so the entire team realizes it’s a company wide project.
Component 7 – Use Internal Ambassadors
Internal ambassadors should play a critical role in your introduction campaign. Choose sales reps who have had great experiences using the tool with their clients. Let them share their experiences with the rest of the team. If they are personable and well liked, they can motivate the team more than upper management can. Your reps will be excited to use the tool once they hear from the internal ambassadors.
Component 8 – Make It “The New Normal”
You need to put your sales enablement initiative at the forefront of your company’s culture. Use quizzes and share numbers to push it to the front of everyone’s minds. Keep the conversation going until it is has become part of your company culture, the new normal around the office. Soon, everyone will understand that the sales enablement tool is used for each sales meetings, both big and small, for prospects and existing clients. They’ll also understand that the tool is a part of the company culture, so whether someone stays in the office or goes out in the field, he or she uses the tool.
Component 9 – Give Laggards Extra Attention
No matter how nicely you roll out your introduction campaign, you will have some laggards on your staff. That is normal. They need some extra time to adapt to the new policy, and you should give it to them. Pair them with a successful colleague so they can get the help they need while at sales meetings. You need to monitor them during the first month and make sure they are showing progress. If they aren’t, sit down with them and find out what is going on to prevent progress. You may need to adjust your teaching methods to help some of the laggards move forward.
Component 10 – Provide Quality Content
Sales enablement tools are supposed to make your sale reps’ jobs easier. That is only possible if you provide them with all of the right content. Take time to make sure they have all of the necessary content in place. Otherwise, some of them will find reasons to avoid using the tools.
Component 11 – Design Feedback Loops
Feedback is very important during your introduction campaign. Feedback loops let you monitor everything that happens in the marketplace. Give your sales reps a contact person they can seek out if they have any questions. In addition, send them surveys after week 2 and 4. Go over the surveys to see if any areas need improvement. Then, address those areas immediately and follow up with your reps.
Component 12 – Create a Road Map
Every good plan needs a road map, and your introduction campaign should be no different. Plan out your content preparation, kickoff, communications, return session, and feedback loops before you begin. Once everything is in place, you will be ready to get started with your sales enablement initiative.
After you get your introduction campaign rolling, you’ll be ready to help sales reps develop new skills. This is a very important step in the process of getting your reps excited about sales enablement.
Help Sales Reps Develop New Skills
Once your sales reps develop the skills they need to use a sales enablement tool, they will be much more excited about what this tool have to offer. As you know, new technology can be daunting. Some people are simply afraid to step outside of their comfort zones while others have tried to bury some bad experiences they’ve had with technology in the past.
You can eliminate some of those fears by selecting a tool that is user-friendly and intuitive. Someone shouldn’t need a degree from MIT to use your sales enablement tool. They should be able to pick them up and get started. While there will be a learning curve, it should be relatively short. You’ll help your reps overcome the learning curve during the training process.
Consider role playing with pairs of sales reps during the training process. One rep plays the role of the rep while the other plays the role of the client. The person playing the role of the rep uses the new sales enablement tool in order to learn all of the features in a stress-free setting.
Then, up the ante a bit by giving the person playing the role of the client some secret information so he or she can throw the rep some curveballs during the process. This will teach the rep how to think on his or her feet while using the new sales enablement tool.
After your sales reps get comfortable with the tool, they will be ready to go out in the field. The first time they leave the comfort of the office, they will probably feel a little bit awkward. No matter how much practice they get in the office, the field will feel different. You can help make them more comfortable by telling them to explain to the customers that this is a new initiative. Have them ask the clients for their feedback once they finish with the meeting. This accomplishes two things. First, it breaks the ice. The sales reps feel more comfortable so they are less likely to make a mistake, and if they do make one, they don’t feel as if it’s the end of the world. The client knows they’re still learning the ropes so they are more relaxed and able to focus on the meeting.
Second, it gives you insight into what the client thinks. A positive feedback will be the best motivation for a sales rep. Also, this client experience feedback helps you fine-tune your initiative to get the best results. Once you get feedback, you can tweak your system to improve the client experience across the board.
Developing skills isn’t enough. You also need to help your sales reps adjust their behavior.
Help Sales Reps Adjust Their Behavior
Over the years, your sales reps have developed their own approach to conducting meetings. You probably don’t even know how they approach them since you can’t sit in and watch. That all changes with your sales enablement initiative, though. This is especially true when it comes to the content that sales reps use during meetings.
Sales enablement makes the content that sales reps use much more centralized. While there are options to personalize the content, there are advantages that come with consistency across the board.
Consistency allows you to set up a framework of steps for all of your sales reps. This makes a positive outcome with your clients more predictable.
That means implementing your sales enablement initiative is mainly about changing behavior. And changing behavior is one of the hardest things to do. In order to change behavior, you have to get these issues right:
- Easy. You need to show the reps that your sales enablement initiative is an easy process. Accomplish that by taking them through the learning curve quickly.
- Results. In addition, make sure they see the reward immediately. Positive customer feedback is an easy way to show them that this is a rewarding experience. They will also feel rewarded if they reach their goals. Set up your KPIs so your sales enablement tool will help them reach some of their goals quickly. This will get them excited about the sales enablement initiative.
- The New Normal. Finally, showing them that this is the new normal is a good way to change the behavior. This is something that you will do during the introduction process. Continue to drive this home every day so you can effectively change your reps’ behavior. As they see that it is a part of the company’s framework, they will begin to adapt to it. It will become as normal as the air inside of the building.
Make Sure All of the Content Is Available in the Tool
Finally, you need to make sure all of the content is available in the sales enablement tool before the implement it in your sales teams. All the content your reps need to have the best outcome with every meeting they hold. They should be able to use the tool without any problems as soon as you launch. They won’t be able to do that if all of the content isn’t available.
On top of that, some of your reps will drag their feet and won’t want to use the tool if the content isn’t available. Remember, you want to make the process as simple as possible, so the content needs to be available.
Don’t assume that you already have all the content available that your sales reps need. Remember, we discussed before how the now probably make their own content as well, or have meeting situations in which they do not use any content at all. Talk to them to make sure they have enough content. If they don’t, find out what they need so you can create it and add it to the your sales enablement tool. That way, you can maintain consistency across the board. Then, your reps will be prepared every time they walk into a sales meeting. They will have confidence knowing they have consistent content across all channels.
If you want your sales reps to love your sales enablement initiative, Shaman can help. With experienced consultants, a great tool and sample materials, we have just what you need to get your sales enablement initiative up and running. We will help you get your entire sales team onboard and excited about your new initiative. They will learn how to use sales enablement to improve their numbers and increase their client satisfaction levels. If you want great outcomes for your company and your sales reps, Shaman is standing by, ready to help.