A mere 10 years ago, it was rare to find someone with “sales enablement” in their job title. But that’s all changing quickly.
Research from CSO Insights found that in 2018, 61% of organizations had a dedicated sales enablement person, program, or function, compared to 19.3% in 2013. That number will only continue to grow.
Companies investing in sales enablement are seeing impressive results. A formal sales enablement program ensures reps are well-equipped to deliver the great selling experiences B2B buyers have come to expect. As a result, ramp time decreases, close rates increase, and company growth accelerates. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Perhaps your organization has decided to mature from reactive, random acts of sales enablement to a formal sales enablement program. You’ve drafted a sales enablement charter outlining the who, what, when, where, and why of your program. You’ve developed both onboarding and continuous learning programs in collaboration with your Human Resources team. And you’ve worked with marketing to ensure content is easy for reps to find and use.
But there’s one thing that might be standing in the way of your sales enablement program’s success‒an ineffective (or non-existent) communications plan.
Why Your Sales Enablement Program Needs a Communications Plan
A communications plan essentially outlines how you plan to disseminate information. And though it’s a critical component of a sales enablement program, it’s often overlooked.
But overlooking it is a big mistake. After all, a successful communications plan ensures your sales reps are well-informed about products, campaigns, and other key information in order to be prepared, relevant, and effective with buyers.
You certainly want the team to know what’s going on, but keep in mind that if they receive too many communications from different people and different departments throughout the organization, they’ll get overwhelmed and might start to tune you out altogether.
It’s important to strike a balance and develop a communication plan that keeps your sales team well informed, without overwhelming them.
Sales Enablement as a Communications Filter
The first step of developing an effective communications plan is to designate sales enablement as “air traffic control” for communication to the field. In other words, all communication should be filtered through your team, rather than various teams sending ad hoc communications. That way, communications to the field are organized and sent from one recognizable source‒sales enablement.
Five Must-Have Components of an Effective Communications Plan
Each company’s communications plan will look different, but here are five things you’ll need to consider when developing yours:
1. Communication Inputs
Create a list of the inputs for your communications. The “inputs” are teams that frequently have information to communicate to the field. Currently, these groups may be communicating to the field on an ad hoc basis when they have something they need to share.
You’ll want to work with the leaders of each contributing team to designate a member that’ll serve as your point person.
2. Communication Audiences
You’ll also want to make a list of the audiences that’ll receive communication from your team. Essentially, this will be a list of the teams and roles your sales enablement team supports.
3. Communication Channels
Communication to the field can take a number of different formats, including:
- Text-based emails
- Email newsletters
- Alerts via your sales enablement software
Determine (and document) which channels you’ll use to communicate to your different audiences.
4. Communication Cadence
Next, you’ll need to determine how frequently you plan to communicate to the field. For example, your communication cadence might look something like this:
- Monthly: Email newsletter to the entire field compiling all the latest information from all contributing teams.
- Biweekly: Email communication tailored to sales managers.
- As needed: Announcements via your sales enablement software to alert the team when new information or content is available.
It’s important to measure the effectiveness of your communications on an ongoing basis. That way, you can see what elements of your communications plan are working — and make changes to the components that aren’t.
Email marketing software, such as Marketo, allows you to see who in the field is opening and reading your communications. You can then use this information to improve the effectiveness of future communications.
Build a Winning Sales Enablement Program
Developing a communications plan is essential to the success of your sales enablement program. But it’s just one of the steps you need to take. Download our new eBook, 7 Steps to Building a Winning Sales Enablement Program, to learn what else you need to do to ensure your sales enablement program is firing on all cylinders.