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Moving from Sales Documents to a Database of Selling Knowledge

Part 2 of Driving Success from Sales Enablement Investments Blog Series 

Every sales journey starts with a great conversation

In solution selling and value-based selling programs, we all know the challenges our sales teams face:

  • Lack of knowledge on customers
  • Inadequate preparation before calls and meetings
  • Selling features instead of value
  • Not aligning the right message to the industry and persona

Fundamentally, sales enablement is about equipping sales people with the guidance, ideas, insights, messages and materials to have more compelling conversations through the sales process.

But up to now, sales enablement solutions have been pretty much focused on the materials part – making it easier for sales people to put their hands on the right deck, sell sheet, brochure or case study for the current step in the sales process. And then tracking usage and customer engagement with these items.

We can call this ‘Sales Enablement 1.0’.

What we’re seeing in the next stage in the evolution of sales enablement, is the focus shifting to equipping sales people with the intelligence and tools to help them prepare more effectively for calls and meetings, and deliver better outcomes.

Programs like ‘The Challenger™ Sales Model’ from Gartner have heightened awareness of the need for sales people to arm themselves with deep insights into a prospect’s business, what they do and the challenges and opportunities they face. Sales professionals also need to be able to discuss possible solutions and explain how their company’s offering delivers value and is differentiated.

Building a database of selling knowledge

The traditional approach to capturing the insights, guidance, value propositions and messages sales people need for solution selling, is to gather a few people in a room, capture their thoughts using flip charts and sticky notes and then write it all up in a document.

The output is typically issued to sales people in the form of a multi-page, ‘sales playbook PDF’ often without any accompanying training intervention. The results are often disappointing, with low take up by sales people, who can easily get overwhelmed by too much information.

Digital sales playbooks

The latest digital technologies provide a new and far more engaging option.

If you capture your insights, guidance, etc. in a database and organise them by industry segment, business activity and persona (for example) you can then make this information accessible by sales people via a digital sales tool which allows them to filter and interact with the content.

With this type of ‘digital playbook’ on your smart phone, iPad and laptop, you can ‘dial-in’ the industry and persona for your next call, click on the relevant step in the sales process and instantly see market insights, topics to discuss, probing questions to ask, etc. – recommended for the exact sales situation in question.

Digital playbooks can also allow the user to actually select relevant ideas on what to ask and say and send them to a digital notepad where they can make edits and add their own notes as they prepare their thinking for the next customer interaction.

Moving from sales documents to a database of selling knowledge and giving sales people access to this via some sort of digital, guided selling tool looks set to take sales enablement to the next level.

You could call this ‘Sales Enablement 2.0’.


More from this blog series:

Part 1 – Making Content Discoverable

Part 3 – Is Learning the Key to Effective Guided Selling

Part 4 – Digital Tools for Effective Call and Meeting Preparation

Part 5 – A New Dawn for Sales Coaching

Part 6 – Sales Presentations: How Much Control Should Marketing Give?

Part 7 – How to Structure a Sales Playbook