Five Best Practices for Sales Enablement

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IDC recently reported that salespeople spend about a third of their time on direct customer interactions, 16 percent on prospect interactions, 18 percent on preparing for sales calls, and 9 percent on territory and lead development, but more than 25 percent of their time on administrative tasks. Both inside and field salespeople spend about three hours per week acting as “pioneers” by mining for customer and industry data when preparing for sales calls. Once they get the information they need, they spend more than six hours per week creating presentations. They also spend more than two hours per week looking for marketing collateral. Unfortunately, about 50 to 90 percent of what marketing creates is never even seen by salespeople. IDC calculated that if a company can save one sales rep about 10 minutes per week on administrative or sales prep work and reapply that time to selling activities, it could potentially gain about $57,000 per rep per year as a result. This is the idea behind sales enablement, that is what can companies do to minimize the time salespeople spend on administrative tasks, optimize preparation time, and prioritize selling time? Below are five best practices every company can adopt.

1. Aligned Marketing and Sales Performance Targets: Study after study reveals the downside of poor marketing and sales alignment: longer sales cycles, eroding margins, failed launches of new product, fewer qualified opportunities, missed quotas, redundant  and ineffective marketing and sales materials, inconsistent messaging to the market, and ultimately diminished shareholder value. While it takes some efforts and lots of communication, the performance targets for these two organizations needs to be in sync, this start with common planning against common business outcomes.

2. Map sales and marketing assets to their use cases. This is the domain of Marketing Asset Management and Digital Asset Management solutions. Organizations typically invest a lot of money in creating the right tools needed by the sales force to move prospects forward in a sales cycle and close them. Even so, research suggests that salespeople still spend an average of 40% of their time preparing client-facing deliverables, while leveraging less than 50% of the materials (assets) created by marketing. As a result, many companies have created home grown approaches (intranets, file servers, etc) where the marketing organization can upload an asset for the sales person to access. Often a sales person spends too much time trying to find the right materials for their particular instance. And over time, the intranet or shared file directory begins to contain hundreds of marketing documents such as brochures, data sheets, sales tools, email templates, customer success stories etc. The names of the files may not be descriptive enough – as a result one cannot clearly discern the content from its file name. As a result of these issues and more, the ROI on sales and marketing tools tends to be lower than expected and the two organizations are disappointed in each other. By mapping assets to use case many of the issues of which assets to use can be overcome. By using an MAM platform both teams will be able to improve and control access to assets.

3. Define and document the marketing and sales process before adding any supporting technologies – such as CRM or Marketing or Sales Automation solutions. If the process isn’t defined prior to the implementation, configurations may end having to be reworked causing deployment delays, lack of usage, and cost overruns. Before implementing any technology conducting a marketing and sales process working session and then take 60- 90 days to validate the process to make sure what the team believes is the process is truly the way the process works. Make changes as necessary and update the process map. The process map can then be used to create the business rules for the technology.

4. Identify key improvement drivers. This seems rather obvious but if you don’t know what it will take to improve performance then people will do whatever they think will work. By identifying the improvement drivers, an organization can take a systematic approach to improving sales performance and create repeatable processes that can be applied to new sales people in order to accelerate ramp up time and productivity.

5. Establish shared performance metrics in advance. When Marketing and Sales are working from different performance metrics they can potentially be working at cross purposes. Or even more importantly one team may be achieving their metric at the expense of the other. It’s easy to see how sales and marketing can get sideways when you examine the lack of alignment between commonly used metrics. For example sales metrics often include, revenue per salesperson, Average sale cycle, Average deal size, Sales representative turnover rate, New rep ramp-up time, Average administrative time per rep, Percent of representatives that achieve quota , Average time to close, Average price discount, Percent of accurate forecasted opportunities, Average number of calls to close the deal, Average number of presentations necessary to close the deal, Average number of proposals needed to close the deal, and Average win rate. We’ve seen marketing performance metrics such as these Marketing dollars as a percent of revenue, Average return on marketing, Total leads generated, Average response rate, Lead qualification rate, Lead close rate, Percent of marketing collateral used by sales representatives , Change in market penetration, Improvement in time-to-market , Number of feedback points, Marketing execution time, Message close rate execution time, and Message close rate. All of the metrics are very internally focused. One of the best ways to create shared metrics for sales and marketing is to take a customer-centric approach and create customer related metrics. We’d recommend agreeing on the joint metrics at the start of each year and reviewing performance against these metrics together.

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