Every minute your sales professionals are not in conversation with qualified prospects, is a wasted minute. Imagine if your salespeople spent their days doing nothing but speaking with qualified prospects.
(Pause to think about that!)
While you may never achieve this ideal state (there’s always coaching sessions, sales training, data entry, drive time, etc.), you can dramatically increase your team’s productive minutes by leveraging sales enablement and sales readiness. They are must have functions if you want to build a top flight sales organization.
Sales Enablement is defined as:
Putting the right information into the hands of the right sales professional at the right time and in the right place to move a specific sales opportunity forward.
- The right information is what’s relevant to the needs of the customer — the goal of having information delivery be customer-aware is why the definition ends in “to move a specific opportunity forward”.
- The right sales professional means that different sales roles (e.g., call center vs. field based) may need different types of information.
- The right time means that the information must be current and delivered in a timely manner — for complex sales cycles, it also means that different stages in the sales cycle may require different information (e.g., the discovery stage versus the proposal stage).
- The right place refers to where the information needs to go (e.g. a web page for a call center sales professional vs. a smart phone app for a field sales professional) and what format it needs to be in (e.g. hard copy collateral, soft copy PDF, interactive web page, etc.).
It’s important to understand that sales enablement is not about delivering more information to a given sales professional; it’s about delivering the most relevant information. When executed properly, sales enablement allows sales professionals to quickly find the exact information they need to advance sales opportunities.
Sales readiness is defined as:
Providing product sales training, that serves the broad requirements of an entire field organization, to address the specific information needs of sales professionals and managers.
Sales readiness is supplemental training you give a sales force to help them understand how to position a product or service against the competition, and as a specific solution to a customer need.
Sales readiness is timed to product launch schedules so sales can take advantage of marketing initiatives that support a product launch. This contrasts with sales training that is more generic in nature and includes sales skills and general company positioning. Also, after a product launch, a sales readiness function should provide just-in-time supplemental training in response to marketplace reactions.
Another important difference between sales readiness and traditional training is that sales readiness training is often best administered by a product marketing manager. Product marketing managers know the market dynamics, competitive landscape, and technical information that can have an impact on a sale. They are always thinking about how to position a product. Trainers typically have a broader, but less deep competency profile.
Because of its proximity to front-line personnel, sales readiness should provide feedback to product development and training on the needs of the sales organization. This collaboration maximizes the alignment between training materials (e.g. courseware, participant and facilitator guides, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) and the needs of customer-facing sales professionals. For example, strategies for effective instruction may need to incorporate training reinforcement tools that can be used by first line sales managers in the field.
Similarly, a sales readiness function can also address any unmet needs that are the result of a sales channel nuance. To meet the needs of a channel partner, for example, new product training materials may need to be supplemented with special instruction for how the product integrates with the channel’s product or sales cycle.
I hope this post gave you an even better understanding of the value of sales enablement and sales readiness. These two functions can dramatically increase sales! Please share your sales enablement and sales readiness success stories.