Plug the Leaks in Your Sales Funnel: A How-To Guide to Sales Enablement

Robert Wahbe by

In nearly every function of a modern business, teams are using data to improve both their effectiveness and their efficiency. The evolution of the sales cycle is another way that businesses are becoming data-driven. Historically, the process relied heavily on intuition and anecdote — the correlation between activity and business impact was very difficult to measure. But now, thanks to software, systems are better able to track the movement of customers from initial impression to lead, lead to opportunity, and opportunity to revenue.

A common mistake made by emerging companies is to have marketing focus almost exclusively on top of the funnel activities, so-called demand generation. While everyone can agree that demand generation is absolutely crucial, it is only the first stage of the funnel and the first step on the buyer’s journey. Marketing must pay attention to every step of the buyer’s journey and work effectively with sales to enable the right conversations and close deals. Otherwise, companies are just pouring money into a leaky funnel.

Apply Closed-Loop Marketing to Sales Enablement

At the top of the funnel, with marketing automation analytics, marketers can answer the key business questions about the Awareness and Consideration stages. Which programs are most effective? Which channels yield leads that convert to revenue? The reporting system provides complete transparency into the business impact of marketing investments. At the top of the funnel, marketers connect directly with prospects. They are able to apply closed-loop marketing to analyze the true results of every program in real time.

marketing automation and sales enablement

But, in most organizations, the bottom of the funnel remains a content black hole, where the business impact of marketing content is as difficult to measure as it has always been. Marketing creates a seemingly endless stream of documents and presentations, trying to tell a compelling story and convince customers to buy, but have no insight into what is working. What content are the sellers using? What content is most effective at engaging prospects and driving conversions? Businesses need to be able to answer these questions in order to optimize sales effectiveness.

The same goes for training programs — every sales organization knows it must teach sellers the skills and knowledge they need to be effective — “get them smart and keep them smart.” But, do companies have the right training programs and do they actually work?

Modern sales enablement tools enable a closed-loop sales cycle for the bottom of the sales funnel. They make sellers much more effective as they engage with customers by:

  • Connecting the sales team to the most relevant content for each situation
  • Providing flexible ways to present content to customers
  • Delivering real-time visibility into customer engagement
  • Applying advanced analytics to optimize content and pitches
  • Enabling sellers to get the training they need and measuring how effectively that training delivers bottom line results

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the goal of sales enablement is to make reps more effective at closing deals and driving revenue. The opportunity is large — companies that are the best in class in their industry have 50% higher quota attainment than average companies.

sales enablement increases quota attainment

And those best-in-class companies are twice as likely to be using a sales enablement solution that addresses major obstacles to driving sales:

  • The time needed by a new seller to become effective (on average, 7 months)
  • Seller turnover (typically 30%)
  • Time wasted searching for and creating selling materials (3-4 hours per week, per rep)

The result is that sellers engage more effectively with customers, and engagement is the lifeblood of a successful sales process.

To learn more about how sales enablement can turbocharge your business, check out the Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement as well as Sales Enablement Tools and Software for a complete list of sales enablement vendors.

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