Sales reps often walk into sales meeting unequipped. And we’re not talking about a mistake on their end — no, they’ve researched the company, got to know the management, and sharpened up their soft skills. So, what’s the problem?

A lack of effective sales and marketing material.

In fact, even if that material exists, often it’s difficult (or nearly impossible) for the reps to access. The material is either poorly written, badly presented, or so unorganized that finding the right information takes longer than the rest of the prep combined. And that’s just the tip of the sales content iceberg.

Your key to sales success: enabling your reps to do great work

Sales reps spend inordinate amounts of time searching for or even creating material they can use to do their jobs successfully. The alarming part? According to research from the CMO Council, sales reps spend up to 40 percent of their time searching for or creating content of their own.

That’s 40 percent. If you want a downright scary number, try putting a price tag on that.

How to find a practical enablement solution

OK, while none of this is very encouraging, there’s a solution. This is where businesses can join forces with reps to totally transform the way reps operate, increasing efficiency, improving sales, and just generally making life easier and less frustrating on both ends.

To do this, businesses need to take a look at the content being sent out to reps. Is it meeting their needs? Why or why not?

Check assumptions at the door

Often sales managers have field experience of their own, so they probably have a pretty good idea of what current field reps think and feel on a daily basis. Because of this, sales managers understand that reps need content that will make them successful. But what they might not understand is that it’s not just the content that needs optimizing.

The solution? Talk with reps directly. Listen to their struggles and thoughts. Leave assumptions behind and work to establish an empathetic connection.

Ease of use is your best friend

Reps need content that’s easy to access and use. They already consume, understand, and implement a lot of knowledge in an extraordinarily short time frame. They don’t need to add the hunt for relevance to that time commitment.

The best solution is to deploy content in a way that makes it easy for reps to find, prioritize, and consume efficiently. It’s important to never underestimate the time-saving power of data organization. This means finding an online or cloud-based sales training and enablement platform that’s simple and intuitive to use from all devices.

Pro-tip: get an enablement platform that makes it easy for your reps to quickly personalize data filtering and organization.

Selling means making the most of every second

To get ahead, reps need to maximize their time in the field, using tools and content that will help them do their job (and do it quickly). That’s why they value opportunities to provide feedback about those same tools so they can modify and improve their approach to buyers.

This leads back to the empathy solution. Listen to the reps. When trying new enablement platforms, always look for feedback on how it works in the field.

Information = selling power

It’s tough out in the field and getting tougher. Reps see more competition, larger territories, and longer sales cycles. This means that they have less time with their call points, and they face buyers who are more knowledgeable than ever before.

Those buyers talk to reps about limited budgets, changing needs, acquisitions, and shifting responsibilities. Some buying decisions are being moved to procurement departments. In some cases, such as healthcare, these reforms mean less spending and more scrutiny of every dollar.

Every sales rep’s success depends on quickly applying information to gain an advantage. In fact, most of the customer experience can be narrowed down to three things:

  1. Usefulness of information
  2. Speed of information
  3. Attitude of presentation

When reps know the answers, they can easily give the customer the information needed. And they can do so quickly and with confidence. The need for speed, agility, and confidence is exactly why reps desperately need a training and an enablement platform that’s consumer-grade quality. In other words — simple, intuitive, and attractive.

A good baseline: if your enable platform isn’t good enough to put in front of your customers, don’t put it in front of your reps.

Communication and teamwork tie everything together

When finding an enablement system that works, remember to communicate. “This is how we do it here,” is one of the top ways to kill innovation and creative perspectives. Reach out to multiple influencers and hear from:

  • Sales reps
  • Sales managers
  • Marketing directors
  • Training managers
  • All the above, at the same time

While it might sound like a scheduling nightmare to pull in all these people into the same meeting, by doing so, you’re accomplishing more than gaining multiple perspectives. You’re pulling the goals, expectations, and techniques of the various departments into sync. No more duplicated efforts, wasted time, or playing catch up.

And working in aligned departments is a huge improvement over individual silos. It creates new energy, a renewed sense of purpose, and gains that are simply impossible from individual efforts.

How to build success with agile communication

Working together doesn’t mean slowing down the process. In fact, working agile often speeds up and streamlines projects for a more efficient process — from the first designs to the sales process. The more agile departments become, the more agile reps can be.

So what does it all mean?

1. Stay in touch

Use whatever means seem logical and efficient to stay connected. Ask how reps are doing, what they need, and how you can help. Don’t let feedback be random or accidental. Take it seriously because reps certainly do.

2. Get your departments aligned

Working separately is often rooted in history and tradition, but try to make sales, marketing, and training into one collaborative effort. Cooperation and collaboration will open up possibilities you never thought possible.

3. Be quick to fail and quick to succeed

In the words of the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” Be quick to fail if something doesn’t work. Let it fall and don’t waste time trying to salvage a lost cause. But also be just as quick to build on successes.

4. Personalize content according to each sales rep

Consider which rep is going to apply content and how. When it comes to content delivery, let form follow function. Remember, use an enablement platform that’s simple, easy to use, and looks good. Give your reps options that allow them to customize the enablement platform specifically to their own needs.

Enable success for everyone

Remember that everyone shares the same core goal: we all want to succeed. So, when it comes to efficiencies, creating opportunities, and driving results, we all love that feeling we get when things exceed expectations.

To get this success, we need to make communication more than a two-way street — we need to make it a busy four-lane highway. Use tools that keep life simple. Keep people talking. Enable success.

Let’s create a win-win solution for everyone.