For a sales organization to be effective, it must combine onboarding, training and coaching to develop its team members’ capabilities. Sales enablement is also a key aspect and combines all of those elements to support a sales team. “Effective sales enablement means equipping reps and managers with the tools, training and technology they need to drive consistent sales process execution excellence,” says Daniel Zamudio, founder and CEO of Playboox. “This calls for enabling sales reps to rapidly master and consistently apply what they need to know, say, ask, do and use at each stage of their sales process.”
To that end, Playboox recently announced a partnership with Brainshark to optimize sales enablement for their customers. “Our strategic partnership with Brainshark allows us to … provide a complete end-to-end sales readiness solution that helps salespeople develop the competence and confidence to capitalize on each and every buyer interaction,” says Zamudio. Creating a sales enablement “stack” of technologies, the companies believe, will similarly enable an organization to successfully meet the needs of its customers.
The Elements of a Sales Tech Stack
“People, process and technology are all key ingredients in effective sales enablement,” says Zamudio. “On the technology side, our partnership with Brainshark creates an ideal ‘productivity engine,’” which helps salespeople learn, practice and retain new skills and then apply them on the job to “initiate, advance and win specific deals.”
Jim Ninivaggi, chief readiness officer of Brainshark, defines sales enablement as “ensuring that sales talent is ready to execute, managing and measuring sales content, and managing and controlling the vast amounts of communication to the field.” The tools a sales organization uses, therefore, should address each of these three components of sales enablement. A sales readiness platform onboards reps and keeps “existing reps ever-ready.” A sales content management platform helps reps find the content they need and helps the organization measure its effectiveness. Then solutions such as email and collaboration tools can help manage and measure sales communications.
Coaching, formerly an exclusively in-person technique, is increasingly using technology for greater efficiency and scale, and Brainshark recently launched Practice Field, an enhancement to its coaching platform that enables reps to practice messages and skills and share videos for peer and coach feedback. “We truly believe that practice – when conducted effectively – makes perfect,” says Ninivaggi. “Sales coaching – and coaching technologies – should support a goal of perpetual sales readiness.”
What to Look for
First, Ninivaggi says, identify the problem you’re trying to solve with the tool and how you’ll measure success. Distinguish between “need-to-haves” and “nice-to-haves,” and look for a tool with “stability, breadth and robustness of functionality,” as well as good customer support.
In your conversations with the vendor, “ask yourself: ‘Does this vendor really care only about closing this deal, or do they care about my business needs?’” Ask the vendor rep to demonstrate the tool, and make sure he or she knows how to use it: “Why would you buy sales enablement software from a rep who has clearly not been enabled?”
Implementing and Managing a Platform
Ninivaggi’s advice is to start small: “Don’t try to boil the ocean. Have a defined project to focus on – for example, improving the next onboarding session, launching a product successfully or implementing a new sales methodology.”
“Keep your tech partners up-to-date on changes within your organization,” Ninivaggi says. Meet with your account manager regularly – every six to 12 weeks – so you understand updates and enhancements and to ensure they are delivering “integrations that provide both efficiencies and value.”
If your sales team members are reluctant to use a tool, make sure they can see a clear connection between their use of the tool and revenue. “If reps can see how a technology will help them sell more, they’ll use it,” says Ninivaggi. Using a new tool is always uncomfortable, but ask them, “Do you want to be comfortable, or do you want to be ready?”
Make sure you have the buy-in of sales leadership, he adds. “The sales enablement leader can only do what a sales leader allows and supports. Sales leaders must have a commitment to getting their reps truly buyer-ready, or you will struggle with rep adoption and impact.”
The right tools can help lead to sales success, but ultimately, it’s up to the sales managers and the reps themselves to implement them well. Technology is only as good as the strategy behind it and the people using it. Identify the platform or platforms your sales team needs, but then put in the work to using it well. It will definitely pay off.