Sales enablement planning is a critical first step to laying the groundwork for growing manufacturing sales. A strategically planned and executed B2B sales enablement program can make a serious difference when it comes to improving your sales: Companies that execute the best-in-class practices for sales enablement experience a 15% higher win rate for recast deals.
However, without creating a solid foundation first, any manufacturing sales enablement program will soon begin to crack and crumble. This is why manufacturers need a systematic approach to the four foundational elements of a sales enablement program:
The first step in creating a successful industrial sales enablement strategy is to assemble your team. Since sales enablement is all about aligning sales and marketing, this team should include key stakeholders from both departments.
However, building a successful sales enablement team also requires commitment across your organization. Cross-functional collaboration ensures that meetings are well-attended and occur on a regular, predictable schedule. It also is essential that managers work with their teams to provide the bandwidth necessary to support sales.
This is why you’ll likely need to involve team members from other departments — including IT, operations, and HR — early in the process. While these teams don’t typically interact with customers directly, they have key insights to offer into potential manufacturing sales growth. In fact, chances are good that many of these departments have already created resources that can support sales, such as your manufacturing CRM. A sales enablement program will bring all these resources together through cross-functional collaboration.
Once you’ve assembled your team, it’s time to set the overarching goals for your new sales enablement program. Start by thinking big and discussing your long-term goals for the program. Perhaps you’d like to increase your lead conversion rates, and reduce the time spent actively selling. Or goals might be to meet higher sales quotes for the number of sales or the size of the work orders (or both).
After you establish these broader goals, it’s time to determine your objectives, or steps that can help you reach those goals. For instance, to support your goal of increasing lead conversion rates, you coulf reduce friction between the sales and marketing department through your sales CRM to improve the customer handoff process as potential clients move through the sales funnel. To increase the number of sales, you could institute a training program to prepare your salespeople to promote a new manufacturing capability.
Brainstorm all your goals and objectives, then go through the master list and consolidate as many as possible. Once you’ve cut the list down to the essentials, go back through and identify your top 2–3 priorities for the first month, the first six months, and the first year. This will help keep you on track as you implement your manufacturing sales enablement program.
Your manufacturing sales enablement team should also identify existing pain points to address in your sales process. One challenge that will likely come up is the sales team’s inability to locate meaningful content to send to prospective customers: 65% of sales representatives report that they’ve had this problem, making it the most common issues for sales teams in the U.S. according to the annual State of Sales Enablement report from CSO Insights. Data entry is another pain point for sales teams, as the tedious process takes away from the time they could be spending on interacting with buyers.
Be sure to ask the marketing department what they need from the sales team as well. For instance, the marketing team might be able to create more effective customer personas if they had access to the sales team’s data on existing customers. Your other stakeholders might also have needs that a sales enablement program can help address. For example, IT might need to know the current and future scope of sales collateral in order to design an effective portal to house it all.
The last foundation of a successful industrial sales enablement program is deciding how you will track your success through KPIs (key performance indicators). KPIs quantify your goals and objectives, making it simple to objectively track your progress over time through your sales CRM and allowing you to determine whether or not your company is meeting or exceeding its overall sales enablement benchmarks. Some common KPIs for sales enablement include the number of overall sales activities, the number of deals closed, and customer retention rates over time.
It’s important to choose not only what KPIs your team will track, but also what targets you want to hit and by what date. An effective sales enablement KPI might be increasing your number of deals closed by 15% in the first six months after implementing your sales enablement program. Try to connect your qualitative objectives to a quantitative KPI as much as possible. For example, you might aim to train 80% of your salespeople on new sales enablement best practices by the end of the year.
By focusing on these four foundational elements, manufacturers can launch and implement a successful sales enablement program. With proper planning, your sales enablement program will be set up for success — but without it, it will soon begin to struggle. If you’re ready to learn more about manufacturing sales enablement and how it can benefit your company, visit our comprehensive page on B2B sales enablement for more in-depth information.
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