Sales Enablement Best Practices: Leveraging Examples from Top-Performing Reps
In a previous post, Sales Enablement Best Practices: Sales Process is the Foundation, we laid out the TOPO Framework for sales enablement. One of the pillars of sales enablement is skills development. The ideal skills development program has 5 key elements tied to each play in the sales process:
- Best practices – Methods for effective execution
- Tools – Resources sales reps can use to execute a specific sales play (e.g. scripts)
- Examples – Opportunities to observe best in-class execution
- Exercises – Activities to apply learning and receive coaching
- Certifications – Activities that grade a rep’s ability to perform
The purpose of this post is to focus on gathering examples of effective execution. To help model best practice, effective sales enablement programs provide 2-3 specific examples that demonstrate best-in-class behaviors. The sales team observes, studies and practices these behaviors during sales training or in a self-serve learning environment. Specific examples help turn abstract concepts into tangible actions, which organizations can coach, reinforce and perfect. Ultimately, sales reps are more likely to learn and adopt best practices and plays when they observe top-performing peers executing them.
There are three key steps to creating and providing best-in-class examples in your sales enablement program:
- Identify the best practice behaviors that sales reps should model – behaviors such as how to effectively conduct discovery, deliver a presentation, and present a proposal.
- Identify best-in-class examples of these behaviors for every play and sales stage. Find reps that excel at these behaviors and record them executing key activities – leading organizations are careful to ensure that best-practice examples are replicable and scalable.
- Create an interactive curriculum for sales reps to learn from best-in-class examples – provide structure for sales reps to engage with best-in-class examples and to ensure key takeaways are absorbed and applied. A tech stack focused on sales enablement is emerging with many of the applications allowing organization to identify, leverage, and rank the most effective content to support their curriculum.
Self-serve resources frequently become long and tedious laundry lists of web page links, recordings and collateral that promote busyness rather than effectiveness. Effective sales enablement programs take a more purposeful approach, exposing sales reps to a wide variety of best-practice examples to model best-in-class sales execution. This framing enables reps to learn more within the context of the sales process and focuses their time and energy.
Six Common Formats
Below are six common formats for reference. The recommendation is not to provide all of these formats, but to identify 1-2 that work for your organization.
Recordings: Links to effective sales calls related to specific plays and sales stages. Listening to recorded calls is particularly effective for sales development and inside sales teams. Just posting recordings is not enough, recordings should be analyzed in one-on-one meetings and with the entire team in weekly team meetings.
Shadowing: Having a sales rep observe multiple sales calls linked to specific plays and sales stages. Shadowing exercises have a bigger impact when supported by shadowing guides that provide structured assignments, including clear shadowing objectives, specific actions to observe, and suggested debrief conversations to ensure productive takeaways and learning transfer.
Content: Collateral that provide best practice examples. Collateral can include frameworks, templates or checklists. For proposal meetings, reps would receive a template to build their proposal from, as well as guidelines for how to present the proposal.
Videos: Recordings of actual or simulated sales calls. Increasingly, sales enablement programs leverage video of best practices, pinpointing exactly where they are demonstrated in the video to save reps time. Videos are important for best practices, such as whiteboarding, that contain a visual component.
Role Plays: Practice scenarios typically with someone playing the role of a customer. Good in theory, role plays typically provide better opportunities for general practice than actual examples of best practices. Because many role plays are too contrived, debriefing actual live or recorded sales calls provides greater impact and engagement.
Transcripts: Practice scenarios typically with someone playing the role of a customer. Rarely used, summary transcripts of recorded calls or ‘win-loss’ interviews with past prospects and buyers can help develop deep understanding of the buyer.
Whatever formats you choose for your organization, the most important takeaway is to always include examples to ensure learning, and most importantly, adoption.
If you would like access to TOPO research or specifically, the Best Practices in Sales Enablement Report, contact TOPO for more information on becoming a member of the Sales Practice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Robert Koehler is the Senior Analyst for the TOPO Sales Practice. He develops best practice sales frameworks and actionable research that helps clients cultivate world-class sales organizations. He has over 25 years of sales, marketing and sales effectiveness experience. Prior to TOPO, Robert held sales consulting and sales effectiveness roles at LinkedIn, IBM, and HP.