Sales Enablement, or the Art of Sales Storytelling

Sales enablement can be a very dry topic. There’s so much focus on the idea of optimizing the sales process and driving productivity that it’s easy to lose sight of what sales enablement is really all about.

It’s about sharing your company’s story with your prospects.

The story your sales team tells has to satisfy a lot of requirements. It has to be concise, entertaining, compelling, and relevant to the person it’s being told to — otherwise no one will listen.

Like any good story, your company’s message will vary depending on who tells it and who it’s being told to, but the core pieces of the story have to stay consistent no matter who tells it.

Every sales rep will flavor it with his or her own personality and experience, but it’s up to the Sales Operations team (or whoever owns sales enablement) to determine the how the story should go.

Sales enablement is simply a method for getting the story straight — for ensuring that the key plot points (the problems your product solves) and the narrative arc (the way prospects are sold on your solution) remain consistent.

So, to enable your sales team effectively (or, if you prefer, uncover the story your sales team should be telling), you should:

Start with your customer profile

The trick to making your sales story compelling is that you have to know your audience.

No one likes listening to the guy at a party who dominates the conversation to tell stories about his pet boa constrictor. Why? Because most people don’t own boa constrictors, and nobody wants to talk about something she can’t relate to.

This is especially true in sales conversations. No one has the time (or the patience) at work to hear out a sales pitch if it doesn’t relate directly to their needs.

That’s why effective Sales Enablement has to start with customer profiles — you need to relate to the needs of your prospects if you want them to listen.

For a B2B sales team, understanding your audience is a matter of developing accurate customer profiles. When you know what your prospects’ goals and daily challenges are, your sales message will hit home. If your sales reps act like walking catalogues by spewing features without really understanding how they benefit your prospects, your story falls on deaf ears, and your sales fall flat as a result.

Efficient, high-performing sales teams don’t leave reps to figure out their ideal customer profiles on their own — they equip them with the profiles they need from day one. This practice enables reps to ramp more quickly and ensures that they spend all their time on quality prospects.

Find Your Story

Knowing your audience is an important first step. The next is to figure out exactly what you want to say to them, beyond “you buy now?”

To determine what story you should be telling, you trace the path that your most successful customers took on the road to buying your product, and talk to them to figure out what swayed their decision-making at each step.

  • What challenges did their business face that initially piqued interest in your company?
  • What set you apart from your competitors?
  • What was the tipping point that led them further down each stage of the sales funnel?

These questions are all important factors in sales enablement, because they reveal the triggers that lead to a more efficient sales process.

Once you understand who your ideal customers are and the journey they take to buy your product, the story your reps should tell to guide similar prospects becomes clear. This knowledge enables Sales Operations to optimize the activities the sales team uses to tell the story and guide prospects down the funnel.

Provide Tools

Stories are easier to tell with props. Those props could be a couple of hand-puppets, or, if you happen to be Michael Bay, they could be computer generated robots and giant explosions.

The mistake a lot of companies make is that they try to equip reps with tools before they’ve figured out what their story is, or even who they should be selling to. This sets them up for failure, because sales reps don’t adopt tools unless they help them to close deals.

Put another way, sales tools are useless unless they empower sales reps tell your company’s story more effectively. That’s why it’s essential to define your ideal customer profile and establish your sales story before you begin investing in tools and training for your reps.

You shouldn’t invest in a tool until you have a clear understanding of how it will help your sales reps to tell your story more effectively. Thinking of sales enablement in the context storytelling, sales tools help with volume and quality.

  • Volume – Tools that enable your reps to reach and engage with a wider audience. Examples of these include autodialers and email automation.
  • Quality – Tools that make your story more impactful, and add weight to the message your reps send. Examples of these tools are content management systems and email drips.

Once you’ve identified the areas where your sales team has the most room for improvement, arming them with the right tools is the surest way to improve their performance.

It’s the sales equivalent of upgrading their resources from sock puppet to high-end camera equipment — they can make a much greater impact with the right tools in their belt.

So now you know what really goes into effective sales enablement, how will you help your reps tell your company’s story?

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