“Take-up of a new platform can often be a challenge, even if it ticks every box. It’s so important to get the sales team involved in the development of the sales tool from the very beginning in order to get 100% adoption. POP ran an initial workshop for some of the sales team to offer their insights and requirements.”Thomas Seymour, Head of UK & Ireland Commercial Capability, Bacardi
B2B sales presentations are changing. And digital sales enablement tools are at the forefront of this, providing compelling, tailored information and an immersive visual experience to support your sales pitch and your sales team’s customer conversations.
In this blog, I’ll introduce you to:
- What a sales enablement tool – otherwise known as a sales platform, sales software or digital sales app – is and the benefits they can deliver for B2B sales,
- How sales enablement tools can be used to support an omnichannel experience as a digital sales tool in face-to-face meetings, a touchscreen for events, exhibitions or tradeshows, or a virtual sales experience that can be shared online
- What the Discovery Phase is and why it’s so important to the success of the digital sales tool,
- The importance of input from the sales and marketing teams to create a tool that is both useful and used in the field.
What is a sales enablement tool?
Rather than a linear sales presentation, sales enablement tools – or revenue enablement tools, as they are also known – allow your sales team to easily tailor the content they are sharing according to who they are speaking with. Enabling collaborative conversations, which easily demonstrate the benefits of your products, your capabilities and the value you deliver.
The interactive sales app allow sales reps to instantly access, demonstrate and share the most up-to-date, relevant and on-brand information, tailored to their customer’s needs. Harnessing creative content including 3D models, video, configurators, AR, PDFs or live data, that WOW and leaves customers wanting to discover more.
Digital B2B sales tools’ analytics can also generate powerful data. These insights can enable you to track and monitor the engagement between your customers and sales teams, as well as support training programmes to drive and improve sales initiatives.
Read our recent blog, which delves deeper into the benefit of this knowledge and insight.
What are the first steps to developing a successful sales enablement tool?
Make no mistake, these can be complex sales tools to develop. Without clear objectives, a defined process agreed up-front and the right people involved at the very start, it is easy for the tool to go off track and not deliver.
It is partly for this reason that we use an Agile methodology at POP to ensure projects are well defined, run smoothly and can be delivered in incremental phases ensuring fast and regular releases and updates to be tested in the field. This will save time, money and effort. You can read more about Agile development in our recent blog.
Here at POP, we’ve refined our development process over many years from working with businesses across many sectors. This is the most crucial part of the entire exercise. So much so, we’ve even registered our own methodology for conducting this phase, it’s that important to get it right. We call it the Customer-First Blueprint®.
For any sales enablement project to be successful you have to lay down crystal clear parameters. You must clearly define:
- What success looks like – a vision for your ultimate digital sales tool,
- What the end sales tool looks like and what it enables you, your sales team and customer to do,
- The steps that need to be taken to get to your end vision,
- Who is involved and the effort and input required from everybody involved.
Here are the five steps towards the delivery of the Customer-First Blueprint®:
1. The survey
Within your organisation is an incredible amount of insight, experience and knowledge of what works, and importantly doesn’t work, when meeting with customers.
The survey will unlock this knowledge, consolidate it so that it is easy to interpret and then, in the subsequent workshop, we’ll delve into the valuable information it offers with your teams.
The Customer-First Blueprint® survey will give us information on:
- How you currently communicate with your customers,
- What sales and marketing materials and assets are shared with them in meetings,
- The methods that the sales team use to present to their customers,
- What information your customers need from your sales teams and in what format,
- Potential sales tool functionality wish lists from the people who will be using the tool in the field – their insight on what works and doesn’t work with customers.
The survey is anonymous and sent digitally to key stakeholders, sales teams, product teams and anyone else who is involved in customer success. Capturing information from a wide variety of roles is important as it gives, sometimes for the first time, an understanding of how teams are really communicating with customers, what assets they are using and how easily they can access all they need.
It results in powerful, honest, insights into the positive aspects of the current sales process and the pain points encountered when establishing and maintaining successful customer relationships.
It’s also a useful first step in establishing what is needed to align the objectives of the sales and marketing teams more successfully.
2. The Workshop
Within the workshop, we play the ‘customer in the room’ whilst facilitating an open and candid discussion with key people in your organisation who will be using the tool – marketing, sales, customer success teams. It’s important to get all these groups together at the very beginning of the project so that the sales tool meets everyone’s needs – internally, as well as in regard to the customer.
During their dealings with customers, your teams have amassed stories, anecdotes and preferences about your customer’s unique needs over the years. We use the quantitative data and qualitative insights from the survey to delve more deeply into their personal experience.
This discussion establishes the foundations of your Blueprint for an excellent sales tool, balancing customer experience, sales team requirements and organisational value.
The insights from the survey and the knowledge in the room will enable us to:
- Build an understanding of who your customers really are and what challenges they’re facing,
- See how your organisation is currently working to resolve these challenges,
- Understand what your sales team need from a dream sales tool and what is vital to support their customer engagements,
- Find out what metrics the marketing team needs to capture from the analytics built within the tool,
- Discuss what success looks like for the organisation and what else is needed to create more immersive, valuable and customer-centric conversations.
“We didn’t do anything digital in sales before Coronavirus. POP explained what the terminology meant and held our hand through the process, which is what we needed, especially with such a tight timeframe as well.”Nick Elliot, Marketing Manager, Coloplast
Following our workshop, the Customer-First Blueprint® starts to take shape immediately. Within a single document, we’ll start to identify:
- Your business’ customer types
- Where the sales tool would be used – i.e. showroom, customer meeting, trade shows
- What the key tasks are that your sales tool will need to perform – both by customers and the sales team to add value and enhance that relationship
- What content would reside within it.
- What type of customer conversations need to be supported and how can the information required be easily accessed
We’ll map out all of the content requirements and look at how this would need to be structured in the final sales tool. This ensures that everything that goes into the future sales tool is focused solely on the need to educate, inform and convert customers.
Within this content map, you can verify that we have captured all of the requirements and highlight if there are any additional elements that need to be included.
You now have the start of a Blueprint which maps out your future sales tool.
At this stage, your Blueprint will contain your ultimate wish list of everything that has been discussed; all of the customer and sales team tasks that need to be performed and all of the possible content that could feature in your dream sales tool.
The next stage is to prioritise what is considered ‘core’ within your future sales tool.
We will work with you to evaluate all of the tasks, content and objectives and will prioritise them in order of importance. These will be added to your Blueprint so that they can be discussed in detail.
By focusing on an initial ‘core’ experience, it means that future development is first geared towards getting a sales tool in the hands of the sales team as soon as possible. They can start using it in the field and can feedback on successes and areas for improvement and further development. Over time more and more functionality can be added from your Blueprint. This Agile approach will save you time and money, in addition to ensuring an integrated cross-departmental approach to development.
A great sales tool is a dynamic, growing and changing experience which flexes, amends and improves over time. Your Blueprint will now be a complete roadmap of how this looks.
Before your Blueprint is complete and you look forward to the development of the first phase of your exciting new sales tool, it’s important to make sure you reflect on what is being proposed.
We will therefore again facilitate discussions with all key stakeholders and individuals who have been involved in the creation and ideation of the Blueprint to date.
It’s important that something as critical as a customer-facing sales tool is reviewed, verified and reiterated until it represents the best possible roadmap for success for all involved.
At the end of the Customer-First Blueprint® process, you’ll have the framework for a highly effective, highly focused customer-centric sales tool.
This single document details everything that your sales tool will encompass in the immediate future but also looking further down the road as to potential functionality and purpose.
It will list:
- Who your customers are
- What challenges they are facing
- What’s important to them
- Where and how you meet with them
It will show:
- Content structure, demonstrating the main sections of the experience and where key content will reside
- How customers can filter and refine the information presented to them, so they get a unique and personalised experience, perfect for understanding how your organisation can solve their needs
- The visual narrative that your sales team can use to support conversations with their customer. As one size doesn’t fit all, it will show the different ways that the sales team can use the sales tool to really help with customer engagement in a way that suits their way of presenting.
Your Blueprint is the map to your future sales tool success, built around your customer, your sales team and your organisation.
What are the advantages of cross-departmental involvement in development?
Collaboration from the very start is incredibly important. It means the difference between creating a tool that meets the needs of all that will be using it or not – it’s as simple as that.
The Customer First Blueprint® Survey and Workshop can often be the first time that sales and marketing have the opportunity or time to really discuss their objectives together and gain consensus.
This collaborative stage is not only crucial to establish the business objectives for the sales enablement tool. It also strengthens the cross-departmental relationships and ensures buy-in from all stakeholders and adoption amongst the teams that will be using the experience with customers.
The Agile approach to development means that the sales tool evolves overtime to meet the needs of the business as a whole.
Analytics embedded within the sales tool track usage and also help departments to work together more closely using current data to have informed discussions on topics including the development of sales and marketing assets and sales team training support.
Not only is a sales enablement tool a powerful platform to communicate more effectively and meaningfully with your customers. It’s also a demonstration of a truly collaborative project within a business, which can help to align sales and marketing towards common goals. As clearly articulated by one of our clients:
“We could have built an awesome looking sales tool, but if it doesn’t solve an immediate need that the sales team are facing then it isn’t going to be of use or useful.”Dan Cheung, Marketing Manager, Wienerberger
At POP we work with our clients to develop interactive sales experiences that deliver on business objectives and create more opportunities for their sales teams to differentiate themselves from the competition and sell effectively.
If you have any questions or have a project in mind we’re always happy to have a chat to discuss the possibilities. Alternatively, follow us on LinkedIn for our latest updates.