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Insights

4 Steps to Turning Sales Enablement Into Revenue

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
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It’s an exciting time to be a sales enablement professional! 

Sales enablement is undergoing a revolution of sorts, as new technology and a structured, measurable, closed-loop approach to the function has made it more effective than ever. Organizations have seen improvement in revenue growth triple when they implement sales enablement compared with companies that don’t—and yours can too. 

To be sure, initial attempts to unify sales enablement were rocky. First-generation centralized content solutions were inflexible, difficult, and not really designed for ease of use by busy sales organizations.  

Those days are behind us. Modern sales enablement leverages the cloud for seamless on-the-go access, machine learning to help predict which materials will be needed at different points in the sales cycle, better analytics to inform content creation, and an improved user interface. In other words, it makes it easier for sales to sell—and therefore meet quota. 

By putting order around the process of empowering sales to better do its job—with informed customer-facing content, operational support, and training—the function has helped remove the friction that can still exist between sales and marketing.  If you want to take sales enablement to the next level, there are a few important steps to consider. 

But first, you’ll want to meet with sales finance to obtain the revenue plan. Why? Because the key to driving sales enablement value throughout the organization is to drive revenue, and to drive revenue you need to understand the revenue plan. The revenue plan is the starting point for connecting enablement deliverables to revenue. While you can argue that sales enablement inherently drives revenue, claiming it and proving it are completely different. Sales finance holds the first step in being able to prove sales enablement success, as it will help you tie plans back to revenue streams and later align enablement activities to revenue. 

Starting with revenue and ending with revenue—measuring sales enablement’s impact on increasing revenue—is the key to ensuring your efforts drive the greatest impact on business value. This step often gets missed, and that’s a shame because sales enablement loses out on its “seat at the table” as a result. These four research-backed steps from SiriusDecisions will to help you turn sales enablement into revenue. 

#1. Map the revenue plan into “Sales Plays.”

Once you have the revenue plan from sales finance, it’s your job to convert that plan into specific “Sales Plays” or go-to-market plans. A Sales Play is a specific, executable selling motion mapped to the buyer’s journey. Even within large companies, you’re best off to focus on a very reasonable number of Sales Plays that take the lion’s share of the revenue for the year (three to six buckets at the most).

#2. Map the buyer’s journey to Sales Plays.

Sales reps need playbooks based on best practices to be able to consistently and optimally execute the Sales Play. But we’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill sales playbooks. Effective playbooks present a guide based on the buyer’s journey that maps all of the available sales content, tools, training and best practices available to help sales reps execute and close deals. For example, this framework from SiriusDecisions captures the information that should be included in a modern sales playbook. 

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When complete, the playbook has available content (both customer-facing and sales tools, and training) for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Sales can quickly determine what content to use depending on the buyer’s stage—there’s no room for confusion. 

You may find that you have a lot of content for the first two stages of the buyer’s journey and not a lot for the rest of the journey. This is common. Oftentimes, when building a playbook, companies have to pause and build out the rest of the content that they need to support all of the stages in the buyer’s journey. So, in some ways, the playbook forces marketing to be more complete as well—it gets all of the requirements on paper upfront so there are no last-minute content panics. 

Important note: Rolling out a playbook is not a “set it and forget it” action. You need to make sure someone is accountable to update and maintain the playbook when things change—which they always do—so that sales always has the most current, up-to-date content information. To make playbooks more digestible, break them up by stages of the buyer’s journey and map them directly to the Sales Play and buyer’s stage, directly in your sales enablement and CRM system. 

#3. Map playbook results to revenue streams.

With your playbooks complete and in the hands of sales, you’re now armed with the ability to prove how content within the playbook helped closed deals. To do this, you need to create a dashboard that tracks the key business metrics and sales enablement metrics together, and a platform that enables you to measure the impact from Sales Enablement efforts. This example from SiriusDecisions is particularly good, and we’ll go over it in depth in an upcoming webinar.

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#4. Implement sales enablement technology, if you don’t have it.

Your metrics are only as good as the technology used to track and measure them. A good, modern sales enablement platform will provide content usage, customer engagement and revenue influence analytics, and possibly other business metrics such as velocity uplift and deal size uplift. These platforms provide the in-depth analytics needed to show content usage by sales, and importantly, content usage by clients and prospects. With this information, you can provide direct correlations to sales enablement and revenue numbers. You can know for sure which content directly impacted a sale and which content is ineffective. 

Better yet, sales enablement platforms provide content effectiveness results in real time, which means you can optimize and deliver what helps sales close deals almost instantly instead of waiting entire six-to-nine month sales cycles to know what works and what doesn’t. To learn more about sales enablement platforms, check out our Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement 

We’ve just scratched the surface on the process of turning sales enablement to revenue. If you’d like to learn more about these steps in detail, join the Highspot webinar, Connect Sales Content to Revenue, where we’ll dive deep into the steps we’ve introduced here and more, featuring research from SiriusDecisions. We hope to see you there!

 

About the Author

Jeff is the VP of Marketing at Highspot and an 18 year veteran of sales enablement activities through roles in both marketing and sales. Jeff's current mission is to elevate the role of the Sales Enablement to a critical business function charged with driving radical improvement in sales effectiveness.

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