How Sales Enablement Can Build a Healthy Sales Culture
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The most successful sales enablement acts as a connective tissue between sales and the rest of the company. It sews together all of the core elements needed to increase seller productivity that would otherwise be disjointed across departments or teams. While connecting reps to the tools and content they need is certainly part of this, one of the most important threads can be often overlooked: the sales culture.
It isn’t that organizations don’t think culture is important – an overwhelming 82% believe that culture is a competitive advantage. And even though only 19% think their company has the “right” culture, it is commonly dismissed as too difficult to change or ping-ponged around as someone else’s responsibility.
But the impact that the sales culture has on the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales team is too important to ignore, and sales enablement practitioners have a huge opportunity to create positive change.
Beyond being reactive in implementing sales enablement initiatives, practitioners should prioritize proactive ways that they can support reps and help them understand the value of being an enabled salesperson. Here are three strategies for building a healthy sales culture through sales enablement.
Whether the company is a 15-person start-up or has a 1,000-person salesforce, a key component of a healthy sales culture is making everyone feel like they are a stakeholder, that they are contributing and making an impact. Sales reps are naturally competitive. But rather than promoting a culture focused on individual success, instill a mentality of group success as a common goal.
With team selling initiatives, sales reps not only have an opportunity to learn from each other’s expertise but also to think collaboratively and strategically around how the company works with its customers. In this format, rather than shaming the low performers that are not at the top of the board, high performers work with the low performers to help them improve for the betterment of the team.
Bring together teams that might not work together in an everyday capacity. For example, connect sales teams in different regions, perhaps one where sales are flourishing and another where they are struggling. Give them exercises to do with each other, even something small like shadowing each other’s calls and giving feedback or practicing playbooks together in an interactive way. This helps reps build their own skills while also creating relationships, opening up doors for best practice sharing and collaboration.
When sales reps are equally invested in their own success as well as helping those around them be the best they can be, productivity skyrockets. It fuses everyone together to work toward a shared objective, making it easier to communicate, learn new skills, and grow product knowledge.
Creating team chemistry will ultimately help the business, and sales enablement practitioners should think through how they can encourage that in both organic and inorganic ways.
Catering to Different Learning Styles
Whether a sales team consists of net-new college grads, seasoned traditional sellers, or a mix, there will always be a variance in learning styles and knowledge levels. To address this, sales enablement must be proactive in making sure that its initiatives are accessible and digestible by all different types of individuals.
Especially with different generations in the workforce, people want to digest materials in different ways. For instance, some veteran salespeople appreciate the ability to catch up on email communications at the end of the day after they’ve done all of their work with their customers. Meanwhile, millennials tend to want information delivered in real-time over instant messaging.
With visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic learners spanning all generations and experience levels, sales enablement needs to be cognizant of how information is rolled out to the field to make it more digestible.
Try to diversify the mediums used or, when possible, give people a choice of how to consume the content. Take advantage of video tools, establish a protocol for using email and instant messaging, and leverage both written and visual content in training sessions.
Not everyone wants things in the same forum. The more desire in terms of how the content is delivered, the better off sales enablement is going to be because that means more people will actually be able to make good use of it. In turn, this will help encourage a culture in which sales reps value learning through a variety of means and are proactive about enabling themselves.
One of the biggest things that sales enablement is well positioned to drive is helping reps feel confident in their ability to handle any customer scenario.
Confidence is an ambiguous metric that cannot necessarily be monitored from a data perspective, which makes it challenging. But frankly, sales enablement is in the business of people, so how sales reps feel is an important indicator of whether or not sales enablement is doing its job, especially when it comes to improving sales culture. If the reps do not feel like they are getting what they need to feel confident, then sales enablement is missing something.
Digging into how confident sales reps feel will give sales enablement an indication of where holes might exist in the sales culture. For example, consider the following questions:
- Do the sales reps feel like they are prepared to handle objections that might be thrown at them from a customer?
- When objections arise, do they feel like they knew that objection existed?
- Have they heard someone handle that objection in a positive way?
- Do they know how they are at handling objections, or are they figuring this all out on their own?
- Have they had the opportunity to practice in a low-risk environment?
Understand what sales reps think they need but are not quite getting. Are there any outliers, or are there commonalities between what reps are saying? By minimizing these gaps, sales enablement professionals contribute to a culture in which sales reps feel supported and valued. As this camaraderie develops and sales reps feel more prepared, confidence follows.
Confidence is infectious in a sales team. If reps understand how others on their team succeed, it is easier for them to know how to succeed themselves. Sales enablement practitioners need to consistently check in with sales reps and build relationships with them to start to open up lines of communication that will reveal where those gaps in the culture might exist.
Culture change is a gradual process; it will not happen after just one initiative. By understanding where the sales culture might be lacking and how that impacts performance, sales enablement professionals can work in ways to improve culture incrementally, on scales both large and small.