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4 Questions You Should Be Asking to Improve Sales Enablement

It’s an age-old battle:  Sales vs. Marketing.  So, lets take a fresh look so we can break the cycle and stop the miscommunication between two necessary and important departments in your organization.

Whether its that your sales team doesn’t think the content being provided by the marketing department is up-to-date or easily accessible, or if it’s that the marketing team isn’t getting feedback from the sales team, there often seems to be a disconnect.

 

The truth is, marketing and sales must be able to work efficiently to achieve success: growing revenue by selling more.  Ideally, marketing is creating content that the sales team loves, and the sales team provides frequent, constructive feedback on what is working and what isn’t. Its a two-way street.

So how can you get the conversation started to help your organization improve sales enablement?  Here are 4 questions you should be asking to make sure they have the tools they need to reach and exceed your organization’s goals:

  1.     Can our sales team(s) easily find the most up-to-date marketing collateral and resources they need?

Showing up to a sales meeting with out-of-date collateral isn’t a great way to start the relationship, or continue an existing one.  Sometimes salespeople are going to back-to-back meetings and time is limited.  There’s not always time to scour the website, intranet and other outlets before sitting down with a potential buyer to make sure you’re showing up with the most recent content.  It has to be at the sales teams’ fingertips, and they need to be able to move quickly and with the confidence that they’re message is accurate and on-target.

  1.     Are all of your resources available and organized in one location?

Organizations should avoid disorganization and eliminate confusion about which resources are current or appropriate by giving their sales teams a one-stop-shop for resources and collateral.  Not only will this save your salespeople in the field time searching for what they need, but it will make their process more efficient and allow them to reach more potential buyers in a shorter period of time.

  1.     Is our content available via their mobile devices?

Many salespeople rarely or never make it into an office.  They work from home, their cars, the road, coffee shops and everywhere in between.  Is your organization taking advantage of the investment they’ve made in mobile technology?  Sales teams should have resources at their fingertips on their smartphones and tablets.  Not only will this help with the day-to-day scheduled meetings, but also for the impromptu sales opportunities that can arise in passing or at networking events.

  1.     Is there a channel in place to get feedback from top sellers about which resources are helping them close deals?

Sure, there’s a strategy that drives content. But are you measuring whether or not that content is performing how you intended?  Getting feedback in real-time from the folks in the field can be invaluable.  Content should surely help drive sales, but that doesn’t mean that sales can’t help direct content and supplement the plan in place.  Its important to be in communication with your sales team to understand what resources are being used by top sellers in your organization to see what’s working and what’s not.

Solving the battle of marketing and sales doesn’t have to be difficult. All it takes is some simple and automated communication, which can be made easier with the help of mobile sales enablement tools.  Stopping the tension between sales and marketing can make all the difference to better performance and increased revenue.  Make sure you’re answering these questions to evaluate how your organization is bridging the gap between sales and marketing and how you can improve sales enablement.  It doesn’t have to be a battle to sell more!

Transparency between marketing and sales drives trust. Which creates alignment.

There’s an important line in a blog post by Christopher Penn, a noted digital marketing expert who writes regularly at www.christopherspenn.com:

Trust is the foundation of a relationship, and transparency is the currency of trust. Transparency is the open sharing of information among parties involved.

This sentiment applies to the age-old misalignment between marketing and sales.  You’ve probably seen a dozen or even a hundred blog posts on “how to align marketing and sales,” but most of the ones we’ve seen cover tactical ideas like shared incentives or job-swapping. They just don’t seem to get to the root of the problem

 

To get to the bottom of “misalignment,” we have to go beyond the rational (marketing and sales have different incentives that pull them in opposing directions) and philosophical (marketing and sales take have divergent approaches because they have fundamentally different personality types).

We have to get to the emotional driver of misalignment which is often lack of trust.  While sales and marketing may share the same intent (grow revenue), they don’t trust the others’ decisions or methods.  “Sales is too tactical, chasing every deal,” says the marketer.  For its part, sales says, “Marketing doesn’t understand the customers’ realities.”

 

When there is mistrust, Transparency is the Great Mediator.  The Ultimate Problem Solver.  Here’s how transparency works in sales enablement.  (Hint, it’s works the same as Amazon.com’s product ratings):

  • Create a simple 1-to-5 rating system for products (marketing content and sales support tools).
  • Give users (sales) a simple and fast way to rate every product (product sheet, case study, blog post, video, etc.).
  • Enable marketing to see usage statistics (i.e. downloads, page views, time spent per page) for every product (marketing content and sales support tools).
  • Create a mobile app to make it even easier for sales to rate content and marketing to see the results.
  • Aggregate the ratings and display them where everyone–sales, marketing and executive management–can see, in real-time.

After 90 or 120 days of transparency, depending on how many salespeople and how much content you have, there will be actionable data.  Either marketing or sales–or both–may not like what they see, but the results will certainly trump the long standing, silo-driven battles between marketing and sales about what works and what doesn’t.

But it’s about more than data. Just having such a transparent system shows that marketing is willing to take candid feedback–and have it displayed where other teams and management can see it.  Sales will appreciate this open kimono approach as a gesture of good faith.  Likewise, ratings help marketing understand that sales’ feedback isn’t personal–it’s business. Ratings are tangible; anecdotes can be misconstrued in both substance and tone.

Just as importantly, the data will yield important insights on how content is delivered, shared and used.  On what devices do salespeople access content?  Their office desktop PC?  Their laptop from home?  Their mobile tablet on the road?  Their smartphone?  This information will help you format the content so that it is accessible and useful in real-world settings.

The bottom line is this: Using the right approach and sales enablement tools (and of course a dose of effective leadership) can increase transparency.  When both parties see the same quantifiable data (not just anecdotal information), trust is gained and the problems can really get solved.

Remember those case studies you thought were so great?

One of the longstanding dynamics between marketing and sales goes something like this:
Sales: “Marketing keeps giving us content we can’t use. It’s not relevant and customer-focused.”

Marketing: “Sales asks for all of these sales tools, we deliver them–and then they just sit there.”

 

This kind of dialogue would be OK if it was actionable: if it occurred between marketing and sales in a constructive manner that was based on data, not anecdotes.  However the fact is that:

  • These complaints tend to be made within the respective departments–or to senior management–not between marketing and sales, so they can get resolved.
  • These are anecdotes, not data, so they are easy to argue over and hard to act on.

 

What solves problems like this?  Facts. That are visible to everyone.

 

This is why one of the most important aspects of sales enablement is for sales teams to have the ability to systemically rate each piece of content in a quantifiable and actionable way.

  • It has to be easy and quick for sales: give them a one-click way to assess content on a simple 1-to-5 scale.
  • Ideally they can use a simple mobile app to rate content and don’t have to go to a special sales portal to log in.
  • The results have to displayed in aggregate to everyone–sales and marketing–so decisions can be made.
  • And in looking at the results, both teams have to put aside their egos and focus on what’s best for the company.

 

You’ll find that there’s nothing like open data to brings problems to the forefront so they can be prioritized and addressed.

6 Must Read Articles on Sales Rep Onboarding Pitfalls and Solutions

By Bob London
Contributing Author

 

You know the “set it and forget it” method that seems to work so well on infomercial products?  Well, that doesn’t cut it when you are trying to bring a new salesperson up to speed. You can’t just say, “Welcome–here are some leads, go for it!” You need a well-designed onboarding process to help new salespeople hit their quota faster.  Yet onboarding new sales reps is one of the most critical aspects of sales enablement that often gets overlooked.

 

To help you understand the risks of improper sales rep onboarding and provide some solutions, we’ve curated what we believe is some very useful content from a variety of well-respected sources.

 

1. Sales Person Onboarding Best Practices E-Book (PDF)

The business case for onboarding and how to implement it as a strategy to drive sales performance

Lee B. Salz, Sales Management Strategist, TheRevenueAccelerator.com

https://www.therevenueaccelerator.com/whitepaper/Sales_Person_Onboarding_Best_Practices_eBook_-_FINAL_-_100411.pdf

 

Page one of this very readable e-book was a real grabber–something many of us can relate to:

 

The Unexpected Employee. It’s 8:28am when Brett arrives at ABC Industries ready for his first day. He’s excited, but also a bit apprehensive. Brett walks into the office, puts on a big smile  and introduces himself to the receptionist. “Hi, I’m Brett Wilson, your new sales person.”  Looking puzzled, the receptionist responds, “New sales person? I didn’t know we hired a new salesperson.” She calls several  managers, but no one knows what to do with Brett. He sits in the lobby as person after person walks by without saying a word to him

 

This e-book goes on to helps you understand the risks of improper sales onboarding, including the financial implications; there’s even a link (no registration required!) to a Sales Person Profitability Calculator (https://www.therevenueaccelerator.com/calculator.php).

 

2. Is Your Customer at the Center of Sales Onboarding?

John Kenney, Sales Benchmark Index

 

http://www.salesbenchmarkindex.com/bid/98486/Is-Your-Customer-at-the-Center-of-Sales-Onboarding

 

The theme of this article is taking a customer-centric approach to sales onboarding.  Here’s an excerpt that gives you the idea:

 

Building a customer-focused program can be easy – if you have the content. This means that the research into personas and their buying processes is complete. Sequence this content first in the onboarding program. New hires will naturally want to dive into the details of solution features and benefits. Focusing on the customer early in onboarding sends a strong message.

 

There’s also a useful Customer-Focused Onboarding Scorecard to help you assess your own program.

 

By the way, Sales Benchmark Index deserves high marks for transparency and utility: This page http://www.salesbenchmarkindex.com/competitors actually points to their competitors  because, in their words,

Finding firms to compare SBI against can be time consuming and confusing. To save you time, here is a list of high quality firms that we are most often compared to.

 

3. 4 Easy Ways to Make Your Sales Onboarding Process More Efficient

Lindsay Kolowich, InsightSquared

 

http://www.insightsquared.com/2014/02/4-easy-ways-to-make-your-sales-onboarding-process-more-efficient/

 

This article provides a good, basic overview of important aspects of sales onboarding.  For example:

 

Outline learning expectations. Providing a framework for the learning requirements of your new hires will not only make the process more efficient, but will help your reps measure expectations and internalize new information and skills more easily. Some learning categories include internal systems, product knowledge, marketing and lead generation, buyer personas and process maps, prospecting and opportunity management, competition and differentiation, and technology and other tools.

 

4. Stop Making these 5 Mistakes when Onboarding your Reps!

Gareth Goh, InsightSquared

http://www.insightsquared.com/2013/12/stop-making-these-5-mistakes-when-onboarding-your-reps/

InsightSquared earned a second spot on our list with this article on sales onboarding mistakes.  Here’s one common misstep–and a solution to address it:

 

New hires are tasked with learning independently

New sales reps will learn better if they are paired with a “learning buddy” to share experiences with or turn to with questions. This “learning buddy” can either be a fellow new rep or a more experienced rep; there are advantages to each. When paired with a new rep, they will both be empathetic to what they are going through together and, being down in the trenches, can find unique ways of supporting each other. Meanwhile, the veteran rep will likely be a better source of answers to specific questions about the selling process. Whichever you choose, make sure that no rep goes through the onboarding process on their own.

 

5. TRAINING AND ON-BOARDING YOUR NEW SALES REP (PDF)

SalesForce Search

www.salesforcesearch.com

 

http://www.salesforcesearch.com/download/Training-and-On-boarding-Your-New-Sales-Rep.pdf

 

Sales search firms have probably seen it all with sales onboarding. This e-book takes an engaging and sensible approach, for example they have a bit of fun with anyone who still uses a Rolodex:

 

A common mistake is to hire a salesperson and hope they have contacts that can bring in sales. Often companies will ask the salesperson how big their “Rolodex” is as an interview question. There are a few problems with this as a question to screen for a great salesperson. Firstly, any sales person who has a Rolodex, might be a bit behind the times. Secondly, the reality is that even experienced, well connected salespeople need help from their company to be successful.

 

There’s also a quarterly plan showing milestones and progress you should expect during the sales onboarding process.

 

6. Meet Your Employee Onboarding Robot! (Why the Solution to Proper Onboarding Isn’t Just Buying Software)

Dana Papke, TPO, Inc.

 

http://www.tpo-inc.com/blog/meet-your-employee-onboarding-robot-why-the-solution-to-proper-onboarding-isnt-just-buying-software/

 

Our final article isn’t specifically about sales onboarding, but the point is just as relevant: companies can be over-reliant on software to automate the onboarding process.  Software is great for compliance (checking the boxes), but not for educating a new salesperson.  The lead paragraph is priceless (as is the accompanying picture of the Jetsons’ maid Rosie):

 

I met someone recently who told me his company has “an HR system that onboards employees.” I immediately envisioned a cheerful robot (like The Jetsons’ ultra-efficient maid, Rosie, or the lovable R2D2 from Star Wars) that greets new employees and guides them through the halls making robotic introductions to their new co-workers.

 

Hopefully this list has provided you with some insights into why proper sales onboarding is so critical–and how to do it effectively.  Feel free to contribute your experiences in the comments section below.

 

Welcome to the Appnetic Blog!

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Appnetic Blog!  Here you will find up-to-date on all Appnetic has to offer, as well as posts about industry news, trends in mobile sales and thought-provoking fodder from our enablement team.

Don’t know who we are yet? Appnetic has one simple mission: to make it easier for sales teams to Sell more.  If you aren’t familiar with the term mobile sales enablement, you will be soon.  Mobile is propelling sales to new heights and sales enablement tools like Appnetic are what’s making it all happen.

With Appnetic, marketing and sales come full circle in one powerful solution.  Using Appnetic you’ll be able to tap the full potential of the mobile devices your sales team is carrying around everyday.  Your sales and marketing content will be available whenever and wherever your sales team needs it, with just a couple clicks. It’s mind-bending.

Enough about us – for now. Let’s get to work – Happy Selling.

Appnetic’s Mission: Let’s make it easier for sales to sell more.

By Tien Wong
CEO, Appnetic

 

Appnetic’s mission: To help companies sell more by enabling salespeople to spend less time hunting for the right marketing and sales tools and more time selling.

I believe just about every great company has a clear mission that focuses and drives their efforts to address a need or solve a big problem.  I’m not talking about a mission statement that is created “because we need one” and just sits on a PowerPoint slide–but a genuine raison d’etre or reason for being that is part of the company’s DNA and guides their most important decisions.

Let’s start with the problem to be solved: Salespeople still spend too much of their precious time on non-sales activities and not enough time actually selling.   A recent study found that up to 71% of sales representative’s time is spent not selling. There are several reasons for this, but one of the primary ones is how much time and energy it takes for salespeople to find and use the right versions of their right content and tools–at the right time.

 

Sales enablement: It’s so important, yet still too complex

One major challenge according to CEOs, CMOs and senior sales executive we’ve talked to is that sales enablement–arming salespeople with the right content and tools at the right time–still isn’t user-friendly and often is just not effective in driving sales. Extranets and portals are outdated and usually too time consuming to navigate.  And marketing doesn’t really know what content works–and what doesn’t.

 

Sales Is Demanding Mobility–And Companies Are Listening

We know from our research that salespeople are demanding mobile access to their sales content and tools because their tablets and smartphones are the always-on devices they use every minute of every day.  And their employers are starting to listen: In a recent poll of its members the Corporate Executive Board found that 75% said they are already using tablet technology to support sales or plan to begin using tablets within the next 12 months.

 

My company gave me an iPad. Now what do I put on it?

Distributing tablets to your sales team is a great start, but it’s just part of the solution.  How can they get the right marketing content and sales tools–optimized for mobile–at the “point of persuasion?”  The answer is a custom mobile app that simple to use, fast and easy to update.

 

Which brings us to Appnetic’s mission:

To help companies sell more by helping salespeople spend more time selling and less time hunting for the right marketing and sales tools.

 

Appnetic: Mobile Sales Apps in 15 Minutes (No coding)

Our belief that sales should spend their time hunting for deals and not product sheets is why we built Appnetic, a platform that lets anyone create and distribute mobile sales enablement apps in a matter of minutes–with no technical ability whatsoever. Appnetic apps deliver everything sales needs–content, tools, templates, training, alerts–right on their tablet or smartphone. Literally right at their fingertips.

 

CEOs Hate Silos

Sales and marketing teams need help getting on the same page.  Appnetic believes this requires trust which comes from better transparency.   That’s why Appnetic enables real-time ratings and usage stats on marketing and sales tools and content, so sales and marketing can understand together what content works–and what doesn’t.

 

On behalf of the entire Appnetic team, we are excited about our mission to make it easier for sales teams to spend more time selling, and to foster more transparency–and trust–between marketing and sales.

 

We welcome your feedback and ideas–and we thank you for your continued support!