Spencer Wixom

A version of this post was originally published on Sales Enablement Pro and can be found here. 

In the first part of this blog,  we covered how sellers need to be well-versed in breaking down the customer’s status quo and helping to deliver unique insights that can convince them that change is necessary to growing their business. In this second half of the blog, we’ll cover how the Sales Enablement function can assist and support sellers in maximizing their capabilities.

How Can Sales Enablement Help?

1. Resist the status quo

When salespeople are not producing expected results, there are three common approaches sales enablement practitioners take to implement solutions: push sales process adherence, increase lead activity, or pivot around the solution they are selling.

However, these default options don’t yield better performance. Adherence might perpetuate a flawed system; increasing lead activity ignores the holes in the pipeline that contribute to low conversion rates; and pivoting the product is too time-intensive and costly.

Instead, sales enablement professionals should focus first on sellers bringing the right message that properly and effectively engages the customer with disruptive commercial insight – and ensure sellers are capable of delivering this message in a powerful and convincing way. Only after securing these foundations can the message be scaled through adherence to an effective process. In doing so, sellers are more than twice as likely to be high performers.

2. Assess and refine the message

An effective message contains elements that will drive or change a buyer’s direction. What can break down their status quo and challenge them to act differently?

First, there are many common messaging trends that are insignificant drivers of customer behavior and provide little-to-no differentiation from industry competitors. For example, such elements include expert perspectives, simplistic content, interesting facts or anecdotes, and easily accessible messaging.

While these are still useful techniques, most companies already do this with their messaging, and they won’t necessarily compel someone to buy on their own. To stand out from the crowd, organizations need to focus on providing tangible value to buyers through messaging. Consider whether the message does the following:

  • Teaches the customer something new by presenting information they might not have considered about their businesses
  • Brings a compelling reason toward action
  • Breaks down what is missing or wrong in their status quo to guide them in a different direction, toward the solution

Impactful content challenges assumptions, catalyzes action, and leads to – not with – an organization’s unique strengths.

3. Deliver the message to customers in an effective way

Simply refining the message is not enough to drive meaningful change – it also requires effective delivery. In the same way that a good movie will take the audience on an emotional journey, an effective sales pitch should be thought of as a performance that appeals to buyers’ emotions and motivates them to make a change. This choreography can be simply explained in three steps:

  • The warm-up: Early in the conversation, establish credibility by providing the top-level reasons for the customer to listen and fundamentally think differently about their situation.
  • The show: Demonstrate why the pain of same is greater than the pain of change through rational explanation: facts, statistics, and calculations.
  • The finale: Pinpoint the anecdotes that appeal to their emotions to make it real for them, make it personal, and ultimately lead them forward in a consultative new direction.

4. Scale it through processes and embed it in the culture

Behind this delivery are four categories of characteristics at the core of all salespeople: gifts, graces, chores, and skills.

  • Gifts are beneficial things that high performers do naturally, such as discretionary effort, incentive motivation, or maintaining enduring customer relationships. These tendencies are organic and can be hired for.
  • Graces are common-sense behaviors that everyone should be doing, such as being kind and accommodating. While these don’t play a direct role in high performance, they should be central to a positive sales culture.
  • Chores are necessary, yet unpleasant things that don’t make significant performance difference, like time spent prospecting. Such habits can’t truly be improved in quality but can be made more efficient and less burdensome for salespeople.
  • Skills are hard, yet crucial things that come less naturally to salespeople, like pressuring customers in appropriate moments or offering unique perspectives. These skills make high performers.

All salespeople will tend to lean on different combinations of these characteristics. Commonly, sales teams have a mix of the following types of combinations:

  • The Relationship Builder:who relies on social graces to build and maintain customer relationships.
  • The Hard Worker:who does all the chores by focusing on the administrative work, planning, and doing what they can.
  • The Problem Solver: who executes on any of the four categories to solve any immediate customer problems.
  • The Lone Wolf:who balances gifts and skills by following their instincts and doing their own thing.
  • The Challenger:who develops capability in the skills many run away from, like successfully bringing a unique perspective, creating constructive tension, teaching for differentiation, tailoring for resonance, and taking control.

To truly scale the delivery of a message throughout the sales process, sales enablement needs to plant a healthy balance of these characteristics within the sales culture. This means paying more attention to the gifts and graces a company wants to hire for, spending less time training around chores and instead building efficient processes, and increasing efforts to up-skill sellers to effectively deliver the right messages.

By ingraining these skills in the culture and sales process, salespeople will be equipped to effectively engage modern buyers.

Want to learn more about the skills that make sellers high performers? Download our interactive eBook, Prioritizing High Performance, today!

Spencer Wixom

Spencer Wixom

Spencer is Senior Vice President of Marketing at Challenger, and has helped transform sales and marketing teams in some of the biggest and best companies in the world.