Sales Enablement is the product information, assets, tools, and processes used to empower the Sales organization to sell the product. A great Sales Enablement process and package will help unlock the full market potential for your product. A poorly thought-out Sales Enablement strategy will limit the product’s impact and overly involve the Product Manager in the sales process. Here’s a few key steps to keep in mind when defining and building Sales Enablement for a new product.
Understand the sales process for your product
Work with the Sales organization to understand the different stages of the sales pipeline and what is needed to successfully engage at each stage. A generic sales pipeline has prospects, leads, and customers. Consider what it takes to engage prospects and turn them into leads and likewise, what it takes to convert leads into customers and then drive repeat purchase. When doing this, have a “buyer perspective”: Think about what the buyer needs to move through the sales pipeline. Visit buyers of prior versions of the product to understand why they bought and what influenced their purchase decision. Buy your own product and your competitors’ products.
Review Sales Enablement for existing products
Review the Sales Enablement for existing products and discuss what has worked well and what could be improved with the Sales organization.
Define and deliver the Sales Enablement before product launch
Given the insight gathered on the sales pipeline process, define and deliver the optimal Sales Enablement. Typically, the Sales and Marketing organization owns Sales Enablement, but the Product Manager is a key stakeholder in the definition and delivery process. A key consideration is how Sales Enablement assets and collateral will be stored and made available to the Sales team. If the Sales team cannot easily find a piece of collateral or know whether it’s the latest version, they will inundate the Product Manager with requests. Items to consider as part of Sales Enablement include:
- Training on the product and the support process
- Qualification criteria to determine if a prospect is a good target
- Product presentations
- Technical whitepapers
- Sales scripts
- Social media messages
- Product demos and demo scripts
- Customer success case studies
- Competitor comparisons and competitor selling collateral
- Overcoming common barriers to adoption
- Pricing and information on justifying the price
Monitor usage of Sales Enablement throughout the product life cycle
It’s important to ensure that Sales Enablement is effective. Ideally, the use of each piece of collateral is measured and reviewed. If an item is underutilized, the Product Manager should work with the Sales and Marketing organization to understand why and to make any necessary changes. Likewise, the Product Manager should periodically enquire about gaps in the Sales Enablement and bridge those gaps with new enablement assets and processes. Monitoring of the Sales Enablement is particularly important immediately after launch, so issues and gaps can be identified and addressed early in the product life cycle.
It’s never too early or too late to think about Sales Enablement. If sales of your existing products are coming in below expectation, see if better Sales Enablement could help. Building Sales Enablement into the new product plan early on will give you the time needed to ensure the Sales organization is properly supported with good Sales Enablement by the time the product is launched, and the Sales team are ready to sell.
Read more about sales enablement and other key product management topics in my book, Mastering Product Management: A Step-By-Step Guide, available in paperback and eBook.