What is sales enablement?

A quick introduction to sales enablement and supercharging your lead conversion strategies

Like most things in life, having the right tools and putting a winning plan in place is key to success. Your sales team is no different. To close deals and effectively sell to potential buyers, they need resources on hand to do the heavy lifting. Sales enablement provides sales teams with the processes, tools, strategy, people, technology and data to meet your organisation’s business goals. With these resources in place, your marketing and sales teams will be able to educate leads through lead nurturing, which is the cornerstone of successful lead conversion.

By educating leads at every stage of the sales funnel, you build trust in your organisation and its services, and its ability to solve the business issues of potential buyers.

In this article, we will cover the key points of sales enablement, and why it needs to be the foundation of your lead nurturing strategies.

Why sales enablement is vital for empowering sales

Customers expect your organisation to understand their challenges and expectations. Each customer is unique, and they know it. Nobody wants to be treated like another lead in the system.

This relies on the ability to treat leads like individuals by responding to their unique challenges, when engaging them on the phone, through email, content, social media and any other touch point.

Here are a few illuminating stats that will make you want to enhance your enablement strategy

  • 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. However, 66% say they’re treated like numbers – Microsoft

  • 55% of marketers feel they don’t have the relevant customer data to make personal connections with leads – Evergage
  • IT decision-makers are spending more time engaging with online content as 49% are increasing the time they read online and 48% are increasing the time they watch online videos. – IDG
  • Relevant content is essential – 72% of tech buyers are more likely to consider an IT vendor who educates them through each stage of the decision-process.- IDG

You need to win over smart buyers through smart selling

It’s no secret that B2B selling is hard, and it’s only getting more difficult. Potential buyers are savvy about market offerings and can find product information, pricing comparisons, and reviews in a heartbeat.

To build a unique connection, sales teams need to tailor their lead conversion strategies to the specific challenges leads face. So, when it’s time for a lead to make a purchasing decision, your company and its solutions will be firmly placed at the forefront of their mind.

What happens if you don’t implement sales enablement?

Lead nurturing will be virtually impossible to implement. The potential buyer will ultimately lose interest if they aren’t being engaged on a personal level.

Who owns sales enablement: Is it hard to implement?

Sales enablement is owned by marketing, sales development and sales. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Marketing: It starts with Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). These leads that have passed through filters that signal the lead is interested in your organisation and its solutions. These leads will be more receptive to further communication. In practice, leads become MQLs when they voluntarily submit their contact information to your organisation. For example, after downloading a gated ebook, or opting in to join a webinar.
  • Sales development: Sales development (also known as business development) takes those MQLs and it is their job to nurture them into Sales Accepted Leads (SALs). And they achieve this by engaging leads through multiple touchpoints, until they fully qualify against your ideal buyer criteria and are ready for a sales call. You can learn more about lead nurturing here.

    Depending on your internal marketing criteria of what makes an ideal buyer, they become SALs. These leads meet your organisation’s firmographic, and demographic criteria, and have engaged with your organisation. You can learn more about determining your lead qualification process here.

    SALs are then passed onto the sales team.
  • Sales: Sales teams will contact SALs and if they match the criteria agreed upon by your marketing, sales development and sales teams, and are the right fit for your business, they become Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). SQLs are potential customers that sales have been vetted by sales, and have a strong chance of turning into a buyer. Only after this phone call can a lead be considered fully qualified.

The problem: Many organisations ignore the importance of the Sales Accepted Lead juncture and miss crucial avenues to improve lead qualification processes.

SALs represent a crucial period where the goals of marketing and sales need to align. At the MQL to SAL crossroad, you should continuously assess and improve your lead qualification system to reduce the resource spent on qualifying leads that don’t fit your business goals.

Think of it this way. Leads that are disqualified at the MQL or SAL stage yield valuable data, which you should leverage to reduce the likelihood of poor leads reaching the SAL stage of the funnel. This will ensure that your sales teams are only getting the best leads.

How? Track your leads at every stage of the funnel and identify where your processes can be improved. The end goal is to ensure leads match the firmographic and demographic characteristics of your ideal buyer.

For example, if your sales teams often find that SALs don’t have the budget, are in the wrong sector, aren’t purchasing decision makers, or lack a compelling reason to purchase from your organisation, you need to identify how those leads became SALs in the first place.

Lead nurturing is critical for sales enablement, but it is at this precious stage where the journey can break down.

You might have all the lead generation capabilities, strong and varied content, and MQLs. But, without the ability to personalise and nurture leads consistently, it will be a hard task to turn them into the all important SALs.

How do you turn Marketing Qualified Leads into Sales Accepted Leads?

  • Define your lead nurturing campaigns for each segment
  • Offer value and plan out content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Set objectives for each communication that has a clear purpose
  • Send your lead nurturing emails at the right time
  • Measure the success of your lead nurturing campaigns
  • Call and converse with them. Know exactly what their pain point is before getting on the phone.

Do you have a dedicated sales development team?

If this sounds like a lot of work to handover to your marketing or sales department, it’s because it is. You might need an entire team dedicated to sales development to nurture the leads you generate through lead generation touch points.

However, in an IDG survey, we found that most tech companies struggle with multiple challenges when trying to run in house sales development (multiple choice):

  • 61% struggle to manage costs effectively
  • 57% found that requirements on the sales development team change to quickly to keep up with lead nurturing efforts
  • 47% found that they cannot hire and keep talented team members
  • 4% found that they don’t have the management time to run a sales development team effectively

The other option is to outsource sales enablement and lead nurturing. This removes the burden from sales and marketing, while benefiting from the expertise of a dedicated sales development team, to get your organisation the information it needs to better understand leads.

Signs you need to improve sales enablement to bolster sales

  • Sign 1: Your sales team treat every lead the same
    If your sales and marketing apply a one-size-fits-all approach to engaging leads, without considering data points such as demographics, buying attitudes, technology, historical behaviour, business needs and financial requirements, your sales teams will fight an uphill battle.
  • Sign 2: Your organisation isn’t meeting its lead conversion goals
    According to G2, organisations with sales enablement achieve a 49% win rate on forecasted deals, compared to 42.5% for those without.

    Is your organisation simply not meeting its business goals? One of the key ways of supercharging your sales conversion strategies is by implementing sales enablement to empower your sales team with a data driven strategy to help them better engage and understand leads.

    Learn more about lead nurturing automation and making the most of content here
  • Sign 3: You have a lot of sales and marketing tools, but they don’t work together
    A successful lead journey moves from marketing to sales seamlessly. The tools that allow information gathered on the lead to customer journey need to work as part of one machine, so the journey can feel as specific and personalised as possible.

    The results speak for themselves when marketing and sales alignment is achieved. Studies show that when B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth (SiriusDecisions).

How IDG SDS can make you pros at sales enablement and lead nurturing

Empower your sales with a modern sales enablement strategy

Sales enablement is key to empowering your sales team to convert leads.

However, it can be a mammoth task to implement because your organisation will have to overcome several challenges:

  • Difficulties in aligning sales and marketing
  • Scaling and growing your own sales development infrastructure because it is difficult to manage costs effectively
  • Hiring sales and language expertise which is time consuming
  • Overcoming management time and focus challenges when trying to optimise workflows to maintain consistent lead conversion
  • Effectively reacting to the changing demands of the business
  • Prioritising your leads and data for the best chance of conversion
  • Ensuring consistent high and consistent output from your sales development team

It is quite a lot to tackle, especially if your intention is for a highly analytical and data driven sales enablement strategy that segments leads into granular categories.

At IDG SDS, we’re experts in sales enablement and lead nurturing. We take the above challenges and costs out of your hands into a single package.

Working with IDG SDS you will benefit from:

  • Managers with experience working with other companies in the Tech market
  • A transparent service that offers a 360 view of our activities and insight into your own lead and data performance
  • A highly trained team of experienced BDR’s that we will manage, to meet your goals
  • The expertise and infrastructure to optimise activity and performance in real time
  • Our ability to execute your workflows
  • Utilising the right lead nurturing resources at the right time

When we asked companies what their biggest reason for outsourcing sales development (single choice), and the results were:

  • Gain access to better technology than we have in house (16%)
  • For transparency into activity and results (14%)
  • Scale the Sales Development team (13%)

We offer services in Lead Nurture and Qualification, Pre- & Post-webinar or Event Support, Database Optimisation and more.

As your partner, IDG SDS will continually focus on the journey of your leads, from the beginning, through to targeted and profitable sales. This will leave your teams to focus on the jobs they are specialised in.

What’s next? Learn more about key sales enablement strategies such as lead qualification, lead nurturing and lead nurturing automation. Check out the guides below:

Work with us and you’ll be in good company