“It’s not the territory; it’s the bum in the territory.”
Our sales managers would mention this mantra every time our sales team failed to meet our monthly quota. He would tell us that it was our responsibility to close leads.
We were expected to perform but set up to fail.
Every day, salespeople are expected to generate and close leads on their own. They’re expected to be rainmakers – poor performers who fail to meet quota are named and shamed. Top performers receive huge rewards. It’s a problem for sales teams all over the country.
What if it wasn’t?
What if your organization knew how to create rainmakers on demand?
Why your organization needs rainmakers
I’m going to point out the obvious.
Most salespeople aren’t rainmakers; in fact, the vast majority of sales professionals struggle to generate leads and close their deals.
They struggle to meet their quota.
Rainmakers change that for your business. With a team of rainmakers in place, your sales team can win customers, deliver increased revenue for your organization, and large commissions for your salespeople.
The question is how. How do you create a team of rainmakers who can achieve these kinds of results?
By using sales enablement. But before we can use sales enablement to build a strong team of rainmakers, we need an understanding of what it is.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is empowerment.
It’s providing your sales team with the support, process, tools, and training they need to perform. At first glance, this seems obvious.
Isn’t everyone doing this?
In fact, it’s common for sales teams to be ignored. The marketing team passes marketing qualified leads (MQL) to the sales team. Sales managers give these leads to salespeople with the expectation that they will close.
That’s if they’re lucky.
Here’s the typical experience — salespeople receive a minor amount of leads from their company. But they’re required to generate leads on their own.
This usually fails.
Salespeople tend to be imbalanced in a specific direction – they’re typically rockstars who excel at closing or connectors who are constantly prospecting.
They’re rarely good at both.
Good sales enablement means your organization understands this; management is willing and able to help the sales team meet the lofty expectations everyone has.
How sales enablement is different from marketing
There’s a significant amount of overlap.
Marketing teams create content that’s designed to accommodate customers throughout the buyer’s journey.
Their job is persuasion.
With sales enablement, you’ll need to create content as well. You may find yourself making or working with the same content that marketing does, with one significant difference.
Your content is optimized for sales.
With sales enablement, your content will be focused on how your sales team will work with and interact with this content.
What does this mean?
If you’re creating content for sales, this could mean you’re:
- Identifying and curating the specific pieces of content that defuse customer objections
- Determining the content that generates more conversions, callbacks, trials, etc.
- You’re providing your sales teams with the content they need to follow up
- Listing the features that customers want
- Flushing out your customer’s fuzzy, implicit and unrealistic expectations
- Addressing the obvious and hidden risk factors that function as deal breakers
- Creating an outline of the product gaps and failure points in your offering and your competitor’s offerings
- Creating content that addresses internal details (e.g., how to find decision-makers, getting past gatekeepers, etc.)
See the problem?
If you’re like many sales organizations, these are the things salespeople are simply expected to find on their own.
Here’s why this is a big problem.
Your sales team focuses their attention on finding sales content, tools, and processes when they should be focused on selling and closing deals.
This is why sales enablement is so important. It ensures that your sales team focuses on closing deals, not on wrangling content, finding tools, or figuring out processes.
Why bother, though?
Why should you, as their employer, go out of your way to make your sales team’s jobs easier? I mean, what exactly are you paying them for? Who’s going to take the time? Is it the sales team, customer service, or marketing?
Who's responsible for sales enablement?
The answer is, it depends.
Many pundits and experts say sales enablement is a sales and marketing thing. The reality is that it’s not just up to your sales and marketing departments. There are a variety of teams that need to be successful.
- Customer service: Support teams communicate with customers on the backend; they know (a.) why customers leave, (b.) what their biggest complaints are, and (c.) where to find the failure points in your products and services.
- Marketing: They’re responsible for attracting attention, creating visibility, and generating conversions. Your marketing team can create a list of your best-performing content and campaigns (via analytics). They have detailed information on your customers, including demographics, psychographics, ethnographics, etc.
- Sales: Your sales team sees customers on the front-end. This means you have in-depth knowledge of your customer’s desires, goals, fears, and frustrations. You also have an in-depth understanding of customer objections, risks, and expectations.
- Product management: Are your products and services demonstrably better or worse than your competitor’s offerings? It’s a difficult thing for many organizations to be honest about. It’s easier for sales teams to face facts; it’s not so easy for product managers or service professionals. One perspective matters above all – your customers.
- Accounting: Yes, accounting, you’ll want to reach out to the accounting team for specific financial data. Which products generate the greatest profit margins? The largest sales commissions? The most revenue? Which products or services are viewed as important vanity purchases that management wants to push? It’s important that you make a list of the metrics and KPIs that are relevant to sales.
Inter-departmental relationships play a crucial role here. You’ll need to sell this internally to colleagues. This means you’ll need to give them a chance to weigh in before you can earn their buy-in. Famed management consultant Patrick Lencioni explains why this is essential.
Buy-in doesn’t require agreement.
It just means you’re willing to hear them out and negotiate your way towards a favorable outcome. What exactly is that good outcome?
Bottom line: Rely on marketing to create content, but make sure your sales team applies it.
Sales enablement 101: How to close more deals
You need a system.
This system should include resources across a variety of areas, including:
- Sales training: Your sales training should include both internal and external data. Do your training should provide your sales team with the A to Z information they need to produce the results you expect. This includes data on customers, prospecting, selling, and general information.
- Sales tools: These are the tools and resources your sales team will need to keep up with the demands and expectations you’ve placed on them. Your CRM system to communicate with customers, lead scoring, and prospecting tools to find, qualify and disqualify customers. Analytics tools to analyze lead/prospect performance. Training and administrative tools to create and optimize sales workflows. Automations and integrations to bring your tools together.
- Sales process: What should a top performer’s day look like? How many customers do top performers talk to each day? How often do top performers follow up? Which customers are qualified candidates? How many deals do top performers close per day? Asking these questions is the first step to creating a systematic and repeatable workflow you can use to optimize performance.
- Hiring salespeople: What are the attributes of the top 10% of sales professionals in your industry? Where do you find these professionals? What can you do to attract their attention? What’s your company’s compensation philosophy (e.g., salaries at your company lead, match, or lag the market). You attract what you are; A-players attract more A-players and vice versa.
- Product development: Does your sales team collect customer feedback regularly? It’s a good idea, and it’s important because it gives you the leverage you need to improve your organization’s offers. Why can’t you just tell product and marketing managers that your product has a problem? Because they won’t listen to you! They will listen to your customers, especially if you have video, audio, or review feedback to back you up. Customer feedback is powerful because it gives you the leverage to convince managers and executives. The more feedback you have, the more persuasive your case.
If sales enablement is a part of your organization, you’ll find it’s easier for your sales team to attract, sell, and close new customers. The more support your sales team receives, the easier it is for your sales team to perform.
Sales enablement decreases blame and improves performance
“It’s not the territory; it’s the bum in the territory.”
If your sales team struggles to meet their quota, it may not be their fault. As we’ve seen, sales teams are expected to perform but set up to fail.
Salespeople are expected to close leads; they’re expected to be rainmakers – poor performers who fail to meet quota are named and shamed. Top performers receive huge rewards.
It doesn’t have to be.
Sales enablement gives your organization the people, process, training, and tools you need to create rainmakers on demand. It’s a straightforward process, but it requires investment. With the right approach and a clear focus, you’ll discover rainmakers are easy to find.