It seems like every few years, there’s a new buzzword in sales.
From cold calling 2.0 to social selling, sales acceleration to account-based marketing, there’s always a term that makes a splash. And rightly so, as the organizations that adopt the principals early reap the rewards.
Right now, it’s sales enablement.
You’ve probably heard of the term but still may be wondering: What exactly is sales enablement?
There’s no standard definition or universally agreed upon explanation, as the concept is still evolving. For now, let’s go with one of my favorite definitions from David Brock in his new book, The Sales Manager’s Survival Guide: “It’s all about providing tools, systems, processes, training, coaching and development that ‘enables’ sales to be more effective and efficient.”
If you’re still on the fence, I’ll be straightforward with you. Aberdeen’s research reveals that sales enablement leads to 62% higher team quota attainment, 205% more revenue growth, 725% higher sales velocity and a 23% increase in lead conversion rates in organizations with structured sales enablement programs versus organizations without it.
Why Measuring Sales Enablement Matters
Just like anything we do to drive business, we need to measure the effectiveness of a sales enablement program. This is especially true if you’re focused on Activity Based Selling.
According to a recent poll by Vantage Point, only 40% of sales enablement programs are measured. That means 60% of the teams that are implementing a program don’t empirically know if it’s working. In today’s competitive market and with the tools available, this is totally unacceptable.
Sales is a function of actively engaging in the right activities, day in and day out. As Mike Weinberg says, “sales is a verb.” That means if you want to improve your sales enablement efforts, you need to start measuring the activities your program is helping improve and track how they lead to increasing your bottom line.
4 Key Sales KPIs & How To Improve Them
Let’s take a look at each of the 4 key sales KPIs for measuring sales enablement, and how you can drive rep activity for better results.
Quota Attainment (Expressed as a Percent).
How many of your reps are consistently hitting or exceeding their quota?
Of course, every manager wants their reps to hit quota, but the reality is that not everyone is an A Player. Recent research from CSO Insights says that less than two-thirds of B2B reps in SaaS reach their quota. That means you’re missing an opportunity with over a third of your sales team. The job of sales enablement is to help those B and C Players maximize their activities to hit quota. This has a direct line to and impact on revenue.
According to Aberdeen, organizations that have implemented sales enablement best practices across their team have doubled their quota attainment.
Implementing Sales Enablement to Improve Quota Attainment:
The best way to improve this metric is with training and playbooks. It’s a sales enablement rep’s job to ensure product knowledge with product training, assess marketing training for relevant industry expertise and establish project management for critical thinking.
Not to mention it’s their job to guarantee reinforcement, as well. The fatal flaw that most organizations suffer regarding training is when it happens only once per year. After all, what’s the good of investing time, money and energy in training if it’s not reinforced?
A playbook is a sales-facing asset that tells people how to prepare for a series of conversations, what to do in those conversations, supporting materials needed to sell and how to drive certain outcomes.
Make sure playbooks are accessible and up-to-date. How many companies have playbooks that are collecting dust and pulled out only when onboarding new reps? Chances are, those are out of date. It’s important that a rep not only has quick access to updated playbooks, but also uses them regularly. In the quickly evolving sales landscape, it’s often hard to keep the playbook up-to-date and relevant, but you must prioritize that if you want to maintain your competitive edge.
Active Selling Time (Expressed as a Percent of a Rep’s Day).
How much time are reps spending actively selling?
Every minute someone spends on administrative work, in meetings or not talking to prospects is costly to your organization. You hired your star sales reps to sell, so why slow them down by having them manually scour through your content database and hunt for a relevant case study? This time really adds up.
Why wouldn’t you invest in tools and training that make your reps more productive? If you can save your reps 10 seconds per email they write/send with an automated tool, and they send an average of 250 emails per day, the time you save for a team of 20 reps over an entire month is roughly 300 hours. That’s 300 more hours your team is on the phone selling!
Implementing Sales Enablement to Improve Active Selling Time:
Giving reps the right tools and technologies to execute their most important activities will have the largest impact on this metric. Reps are spending the majority of their time either in their CRM, inbox or hunting for new leads. There are a myriad of tools that can automate and/or integrate these processes.
Always start with strategy and the job to be accomplished, then you can begin to work backwards and figure out the technology that will help get there. Examine each part of your funnel and see where there’s the most friction. It’s highly likely that it’s a process problem, and chances are there’s a tools or technology that can help.
Here’s the caveat: Too many people and organizations get caught up chasing the newest, shiny objects and build their process around the technology. That said, there are a lot of great tools and technologies that will help sales teams utilize content, execute strategy and make sales reps more productive, like LevelEleven, PandaDoc and PersistIQ.
How long does it take for an opportunity to close?
Your sales cycle is a key predictor of the health of your pipeline and your company. The longer it takes for an account to close, the more energy, time and effort your team is exerting. This negatively impacts your booking goals and your ability to forecast accurately.
When you dig deeper into the performance and activity of individual reps, you can start to see where the most friction is within the sales process. For example, if all of your reps are spending an inordinate amount of time in the negotiation and contract phase, this could be a sign that you need to rethink strategy and process at this stage. Managers will often only uncover these friction points during deal review and pipeline reviews.
However, the danger lies in the scenario where management seeks out a new tool to fix the problem. This is wrong!
Implementing Sales Enablement to Improve Sales Cycle:
Align the sales process to your buyer’s journey. This starts with knowing your process and knowing your buyer. Since the ultimate goal is to deliver the best experience to a buyer, you must first know them inside and out. You must be able to recognize buying signals and trigger events that are related to that prospect’s problems.
Too many organizations start with what’s best for their company, then try to fit their buyer in the process. This is completely backwards. Once you realize that, you can begin to understand how to empower your team and deliver a better experience to prospects at every step in the buyer’s journey.
Conversion Rates in the Funnel
What are your conversion rates from marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads?
What are your conversion rates from opportunity to close?
Your sales enablement program influences conversion rates, so it’s time to become analytical. Hopefully, you have an established demand waterfall that you use to measure and compare conversion rates. Even a minor change in the conversion rate can significantly impact the dynamics of your funnel.
Despite being one of the most-cited metrics by sales and marketing organizations, conversion rates are rarely understood and are often misused. Having the right data can be your competitive advantage, but it’s not easy, and there are a few aspects that you have to get right.
Implementing Sales Enablement to Improve Conversion Rates:
Get access to better and more insightful data. Sales enablement must own this. Sales managers don’t have the time, and marketing is too focused on top of the funnel.
Most likely, you already have the two things you need to implement this: a defined process and a system that will capture the data. However, it’s not quite the same as how marketing tracks conversions.
Let’s briefly run through tracking conversions in the sales funnel.
1) Establish a baseline for conversions from stage to stage. You could have many conversion rates you want to track, but I firmly believe in not over-complicating things. Start with tracking some rates like MQL to SQL, SQL to stage 1 opportunity, stage 1 to 2, from 2 to 3 and from 3 to close (or however you track opportunities in your funnel).
2) Define your funnel date: Here, you need to decide the time period you want to measure. For example, you may be looking at all opportunities that entered stage 1 in the month of March.
3) Define the expected conversion time period. How long does an opportunity usually sit in that stage? If you’ve aligned the sales process to your buyer’s journey, and you know it should take 30 days to move on to stage 2 or close out, you’ll want to look at a 60-day time period.
4) Calculate the number of opportunities created within that time period and how many converted to within the time you expected. For example, look at how many opportunities entered into stage 1 in March, and how many converted to stage 2 within 60 days.
And there you have it! Use these four KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your sales enablement strategy, and adjust as needed.
If you’re really serious about taking your sales game to the next level by making your team more effective and efficient, you’re in luck.