LinkedIn's problem with links

Prodding prospects to consider your product can be an arduous and time-consuming endeavor.

So once a prospect is in the consideration phase, comparing your offerings to those of your competitors, it's time to grease the skids with sales enablement tools that can ultimately lead to a sale.

Gartner, the pooh-bah research company, defines sales enablement as "the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, sales training and tools that help salespeople close deals."

Marketing versus sales. We've all had that discussion, which sometimes degrades into an all-out food fight. In our model, though, the two are co-equal but pursue a common goal for the company. Good marketing delivers prospects to the top of the funnel. Then, sales employs enablement tactics to drive the customer to the sale.

Help customers with decision making

During the consideration phase (middle of the sales funnel), customers are often confused by the barrage of information they receive from you and your competition. Overwhelmed customers find it hard to make informed trade-offs and are 153% less likely to make a high-quality, low-regret purchase. You can help with strategic sales enablement!

The sales enablement toolkit

Blogs and articles provide customers with in-depth information as they approach decision-making. These pieces should target the needs of the consumer and answer critical questions and concerns. Make them linkable so they can be promoted in sales emails or be inserted in a personalized message to a customer's question or objection.

Case studies outline a problem a customer has experienced and details about how your product or service saved the day.

Customer testimonials build your credibility and the consumer's confidence. Don't make these up or pay for them. Otherwise, they won't pass the sniff test from your prospects.

Interactive content and microsites help target audience segments with different information needs. For example, a product that serves both the optometry and ophthalmology markets will need to be recast for each. This type of personalization drives more engagement and time spent with your site.

Email is your friend. It can be personalized to a segment or an individual. Integral to each specific phase of the sales funnel journey. Targeted email campaigns can be the clincher in securing a sale. Email pushes prospects to closing and as a post-sale message for customer retention.

Infographics can outline your process or concisely distill large amounts of information that differentiate your product or product line. Use them in your emails, presentations, website, and in-person meetings.

Brochures and one-sheets, printed or digital, should be concise and benefit-driven. A quick scan should provide the critical information the prospect needs.

Battle cards are designed to give the salesperson an elevator speech describing your company, key product features and benefits, solutions, customer pain points, and tips on engagement.

Timing is everything

To be effective, the timing of sales enablement must correlate with where the customer is in the sales funnel. Even if they're digesting top-drawer information, a massive info dump at one time can be overwhelming.

Track your success

Sale enablement is well suited to performance tracking. KPIs include:

  • Topline sales data
  • Lead-to-customer conversion
  • Average purchase price
  • Competitive win-loss ratio
  • Sales cycle length

Enablement tools can shorten the time to sale, justify a higher purchase price, bump up your win-loss ratio, and keep marketing and sales on brand.