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5 Must-Have Elements of A Winning Sales Enablement Strategy

Jonathan Costet June 11, 2021

Rapidly evolved into a strategic, go-to-market function

That’s how Gartner describes the importance of sales enablement.  

They continue, “What was once the responsibility of product marketing, sales operations, or of a single sales trainer, sales enablement is now supported by dedicated teams founded within the sales organization” (bold is mine).

In short, sales enablement is critical to the success of a revenue organization.

Here at Gong, we define sales enablement as a function that helps the sales team sell better from the time each sales rep is brought on board, to the time they decide to leave the company.

A winning sales enablement strategy must include the following 5 components: 

  1. A best-in-class onboarding program
  2. Mechanisms in place to boost sales effectiveness
  3. The ability to accelerate strategic initiatives
  4. Levers to grow a peer-to-peer learning culture
  5. Data to uncover pockets of growth

According to Gartner, the following attributes are found in world-class sales enablement functions:

  • Aligned to revenue objectives
  • Design-driven
  • Value-centric
  • Technology-powered: “the modern sales enablement organization runs on technology. The expansion of the function and its importance to sellers has been supported by a variety of technology sub-categories: revenue intelligence, sales content management, sales readiness, real-time knowledge, and sales enablement software.”

These are the 5 elements of a (your?) successful sales enablement strategy.

Psssst: Need a template to get started? Download the High-Growth Sales Strategy Template to build an unstoppable revenue engine.

#1: A best-in-class onboarding program

The goal of any solid onboarding program is simple: reduce new rep ramp time. Cut the time it takes for newbies to land their first (and second and third and 100th) deal.

The sooner a salesperson can start selling (and closing deals) the happier they will be, the better off your team will be, and the closer you will get to blowing out your sales goals.

So yeah, ensuring your onboarding program is running smoothly is mission-critical.

But what does an onboarding program need to include to support sales enablement strategy?

A dedicated onboarding track for sales roles that reviews the key elements of your go-to-market strategy:

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Your sales ICP must take into account firmographic and persona attributes.

You must learn who your ideal customers are, what they care about, how to position your product/service to them, which features they care about, which problems do they solve, which outcomes do they enable, and so on.

We shared our 7-step sales strategy framework here. It’s certainly worth the full read, but the TL;DR when it comes to ICP is this:

To move from good enough targeting to great targeting, be sure to get all of the above information AND ALSO ask (and answer) “who should we NOT target?”

Don’t assume your sales team are professional ICP builders. Train continuously (we recommend quarterly). Understand who to (and NOT to) target.

Scripts: Email + Call + Demo

First off, a script is a starting point. It’s a guide, a template. Scripts should not be copy/pasted, nor should they be read verbatim.

Scripts help ensure messaging is consistent and on-point. Scripts are guideposts to help sellers to know what works (and what doesn’t work).

Reading from a script is NOT your answer to selling more. 

Instead consider including best-in-class examples of calls (recorded calls, that is) AND customers’ stories (on sales sheets, live on your site, and shared in recorded calls). Scripts can be bucketed into 3 categories: 

Email scripts can (and should) be customized and personalized to fit various stages in the sales cycle as well as buyer personas and industries. See the ICP section above.

Call scripts are “templates” for how to run an effective meeting. “Say this” and “don’t say that.” Use these words (but not those). Start with this. End with that. If you are a Gong customer* you know that your best-in-class calls all live in Gong’s Call Libraries, ideally sorted and organized into easy-to-find folders and subfolders.

*If you aren’t a Gong customer yet, what are you waiting for?

Demo scripts are the starting points for how to run an effective demo of your product or service. They can live in PowerPoint/Google slides or in various one-pagers internal to your company. No matter where they exist and in what format, having demo scripts ensures your sales reps are on top of their game as your product evolves with new and enhanced features.

Note: Email, call, and demo scripts are important for new sales reps, but since no product or service is static, all scripts should be updated regularly (and reps should be trained regularly) to ensure the most recent information is being shared).

Sales process documentation

As you are onboarding new reps, it’s essential they understand your sales process.

Your sales process documentation should include detailed answers (charts, one-pagers, call recordings, scripts!, and so on) to the following: 

  • What does a good cycle look like?
  • What to be on the lookout for during the sales process?
  • How (and when) to bring in the right personas at the right moment in the cycle

Unless your sales team is brand new, you already have answers to all of the above. And if you are using Gong, you have libraries chock full of examples of how your A-Team reps have messaged this to buyers. That’s a whole part of your sales enablement strategy that literally takes care of itself.

#2: Mechanisms to boost sales effectiveness

The goal of boosting sales effectiveness is… wait for it… to increase win rates!

Your sales enablement strategy to turbo-charge win rates must include:

Objection handling training

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over (and over) again and expecting different results. Stop. Losing. Deals. To. The. Same. Objections. STOP. 

After reviewing nearly 70,000 sales meetings from the Gong database of 5,000,000+ recorded calls AND having our team analyze them with AI, we identified which tactics best correlate with success. They’re all here:

Battle cards

AKA vital information your sellers need to know about your product, your market, and your competition to win against “the other guys.”

You’ll want to include the following information for each competitor:

  • Name
  • Pricing
  • Unique differentiators
  • Use cases you support (and which ones they don’t)
  • PROOF: what customer stories, reviews, or other information can you present that can be used internally by your champion to defend going with your product vs the competition.
  • BONUS: landmine questions, i.e. questions that will put competitors in a tough spot if asked, to plant in conversation with buyers.

Need a template to get started? Grab the Sales Battle Card Template for Ultra-Competitive Deals.

Speaking of competitive deals: Gong customer, Workato, used the Gong-Slack integration to set up a #competitive channel, one that alerted reps when a competitor was mentioned. Workato took things a few steps further to make the alert truly actionable: they intelligently added a link to the specific battle card so the rep could be armed with how best to respond. 

Sales documentation

You can’t boost sales effectiveness without having sales documentation at the ready. 

These documents include:

  1. Your price sheet: Pricing is different in every organization. Some companies are very open about their pricing (listed on their website) while others are a bit more… coy. No matter what your pricing looks like, it’s important that sales reps have an updated copy of your list prices (note: maybe don’t use the word “list” when discussing pricing). Note: If your pricing changes, make sure your price sheet changes to reflect the updates. Also, if reps have leeway into what discounts they can offer (before involving a manager) be sure that information is part of your price sheet.
  2. Product and feature listing: There is not much more awkward during a sales call than having to say “I don’t know” when asked about a specific product or feature. Worse yet, saying, “Yeah, we can do that” only to have to backtrack on the next call. Make sure sales reps know the products and features you offer like the back of their hand. If you need training sessions (and mini-test) to ensure they’ve got it down pat, do it!
  3. Security:  Also true for all technical questions. Answers need to be clear (and accurate) – provide documents to support your reps in the “tough part” of their calls. Plus they can use these to follow up with more technical buyers.

 Specific talk tracks

If you are hoping to increase win rates, you must have specific talk tracks nailed.

As a star sales rep, you must be an expert in: 

  • Your product or service
  • Your industry
  • Your competitors (maybe not an expert, but you must know why you are the better solution)

At a minimum. 

And it’s important to rely on data to determine what “winning” talk tracks look (and sound) like. A winning strategy starts with winning data. Gong understands what talk tracks work, so you can track initiatives, and pick real winners vetted by the market.

#3: Accelerate strategic initiatives

A stellar sales enablement strategy must help to accelerate strategic initiatives, specifically GTM (go-to-market) ones.

Sales teams are on the front lines and must be well-versed in all things related to GTM strategic initiatives. 

Generally, this means new and updated talk tracks…

For specific verticals or products: Your product will change and evolve over time. Your team will enter new verticals (and exit old ones that are not performing). It’s imperative that your talk tracks are consistent with current verticals and offerings.

When sales methodology changes: Depending on the sales methodology you pick or switch to (at Gong, we’re a Sandler shop), you’ll set behavioral norms that you want reps to adhere to. For example, when setting an upfront contract (“My main concern is…”) to when to approach certain topics (i.e. pricing should be in the first stage or presentation.

For new/updated territories: Sales territories will be added (and will be taken away … and updated/changed) over time. That’s just the nature of sales — and organization growth. Talk tracks need to reflect these changes as well as the changing competitive landscape. Talk tracks need to be mindful of local regulations (cough — GDPR — cough) and cultural norms. Determine if talking about price over email is just fine… or taboo (Gong’s take).

For all of the above, using the best examples of already winning behavior is the edge that winning sales enablement teams leverage. Skip the “test and learn” phase and start showing big results from the get-go.

#4: Grow a peer-to-peer learning culture

If you are doing sales enablement “right,” it will take care of itself. 

Said another way, if you put the right levers in place, you will begin to build/grow/cultivate a true peer-to-peer learning culture at your organization.

Here’s an example of what that could look like in the real world:

Your sales team is a mix of entry-level reps, junior sales folks, and veterans. Some have years of experience in your industry, while others are brand new to your space. 

In other words, you have lots of different reps with various levels of experience. 

The good news: Everyone has something valuable to share and everyone has something valuable to learn.

But how do you ensure that knowledge is shared amongst the entire team and not locked into one rep’s brain, never to be released into the world?

Call libraries.

The Gong platform empowers reps to listen, learn, and replicate behavior from top reps in your organization. It gives them the opportunity to shadow every call from your A-players, then replicates the winning behaviors.

And these call libraries help keep everything organized and easily accessible.

We recommend sorting calls into various folders (and subfolders) — by vertical, by company size, by who you are speaking with (think persona), by pipeline stage, and so on.

Once you pull that off, you’ll be running a well-oiled, peer-to-peer learning culture… and on your way to sales enablement heaven.

#5: Use data to uncover pockets of growth

Data is your sales enablement strategy’s best friend.

It can show you where your team is struggling – so you know where to focus training.

It can measure how effective your training is – so you can spot which members on the team need a refresher.

It can tell you what ROI your sales enablement strategy is driving for your organization –  so you can get even better.

Here’s how data makes that all of that possible: 

Data helps understand rep ramp time: Use data to measure the time it takes each rep to land their first deal. Get more granular by sorting ramp time by class/cohort, experience level, time at the company, and so on. You can even use data to show incremental gains (hopefully!) with each new onboarding class.

Data helps understand deal cycle speed: Use data to measure how quickly it takes to close a deal — on average — based on when each class/cohort received training. How does this deal cycle speed compare to the rest of the organization? Are deals closing faster with each new onboarding class?

Data helps monitor new talk track adoption: Use data to see if teams are actually using new talk tracks. Create alerts based on keywords. Track these alerts across class/cohorts and compare to the organization as a whole. Learn which reps are (or are not) weaving new talk tracks into their conversations (and use data to understand how this is impacting close rate and deal size). Give a refresher where/when it’s needed most.

Data helps improve peer-to-peer learning: Use data to see who is listening to calls. Which reps are giving feedback. See who isn’t helping raise all boats and get them bought… so they can share their best examples and contribute to their peers’ success. This is the behavior you’ll want to celebrate and encourage.

These sales enablement tools can help your team level up and drive incremental revenue.

Need inspiration for your next sales enablement training session?

Pricing conversations make or break your deals.

We analyzed over 519,000 call recordings with AI to understand how the best salespeople in the world handle pricing discussions.

This is what they do to defend their pricing and seal the deal.

Share it with your team (or use it for your next training, we won’t tell if you don’t).

Jonathan Costet

Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Gong | Au revoir opinions, bonjour reality