How to Redesign Your Enablement Playbook for Today’s Remote Workforce

  • 9 min read

The sales playbook is essentially the compass of the modern business rep.

Offering access to everything from essential company statistics to crucial messaging suggestions, your playbook stops your employees from pushing clients in the wrong direction.

With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the U.S., companies are left wondering which direction is up. Tried and tested strategies, like face-to-face demonstrations and event presentations, are no longer possible. Even when offices and conference halls reopen, it’s unlikely that they’ll have the same impact they once did.

Now, more than ever, companies need to re-examine their narrative and think about how they can reshape processes to drive success.

The good news? If you can transform your sales enablement strategy now, you can also make sure you’re equipped to take advantage of the essential opportunities that present themselves going forward.

Your customers are already scanning the market, looking for evidence of the businesses that are agile and flexible enough to evolve. Companies that show they can move with the times and adjust according to customer needs will thrive in the months ahead.

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out how to refresh your entire sales strategy on your own. If you’re ready to transform your sales enablement playbook for the post-COVID era, you’re in the right place.

We’re here to help you make that all-important first step toward success. We conducted extensive research on today’s sales teams and engaged in interviews with business leaders in the SaaS landscape to learn more about their current activities. Their insights into how the sales playbook needs to evolve has helped to inform this article.


Step 1: Update your technology

Technology has been at the heart of the sales enablement strategy for a while now. Customer relationship management tools help map customer journeys. Workforce optimization apps ensure that supervisors can keep track of team performance, and collaboration tools assist in working more cohesively with remote workers.

In recent months, the demand for all of this technology and more has exploded. Without the right technology, you have more than poor productivity; you don’t have the business continuity needed to thrive when the office shuts down.

With the sales enablement environment set to reach a value of $5 billion by 2021, it’s safe to say that the demand for technology won’t diminish as the COVID crisis subsides. Now is the time to audit your existing technology stack and look for places where you need to fill the gaps. For instance, a CRM tool and a sales engagement tracking service are both crucial tools in the current landscape. However, when these applications are separate, silos in data and efficiency emerge.

Going forward, it’s likely that more companies will begin to cut down on the number of extraneous apps in their tool-belts. Customer revenue optimization solutions that combine email inboxes, CRM information, ticketing tools and sales asset management into one pane of glass will become essential.

This new and improved technology will make it easier for us to access the right information for our sales teams. What’s more, with fewer “extras” to pay for, you can reduce the strain on your budget as you work to recover from this economic upheaval.


Step 2: Improve and rethink processes

Just as your tech stack needs a revamp, your processes and policies may demand some attention. For instance, before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies relied heavily on face-to-face communication for sales. In-person interactions built relationships better than any other tool available. When face-to-face conversations became impossible, we needed to learn a new way of reaching customers.

In-person meetings have been replaced with video conferences. Demonstrations in the office boardroom are now digital webinars, complete with free accounts where customers can test software and tools for themselves. Even the way we approach leads is changing.

Sales opportunities don’t just come from phone calls anymore. Sales teams are connecting with potential customers through email, social media, and even instant messaging on a business website. Going forward, these new strategies will need to remain a valuable part of the customer journey.

With access to new digital avenues that customers now feel comfortable using, sales teams can make sure they play an essential part in more points during the purchasing experience. The more touch points you have with your target audience, the easier it is to develop the relationships that are going to lead to revenue.

As you move into the era of the “new normal” with your team, consider what kind of sales processes and experiences are going to deliver the best value for your team and your customers. For instance, maintaining video conferences instead of face-to-face meetings will save time for your clients, and reduce the security and health risks of entertaining visitors. At the same time, you get the benefit of lower travel costs.

Experiment with your assumptions about what your team and customers will benefit from most. Now is the time when your clients will be expecting a transformation in your business. A landscape that’s already confusing and disrupted is the perfect platform for finding the processes that work for you.


Step 3: Refocus your efforts on customer support

Empathy will be at the heart of all sales strategies in the months and years to come.

Unfortunately, while many companies have already put the customer at the heart of their sales strategy, that activity has taken a backseat lately. The focus for most companies has become “maintaining sales” or just “staying afloat.” When you’re busy worrying about how you’re going to stay competitive in the current landscape, you can’t give all your attention to your customers.

McKinsey predicts that customers might cut back on the amount they spend by up to 50 percent going forward. The only way to make sure you earn a portion of the profit remaining, is to get to know your customers. Find out what your audience wants and what you need to deliver to gain its loyalty.

Your sales engagement tools will be extremely valuable here. This is the perfect time for you to dive into your data and update your user personas with what you’ve learned in the last few months. For instance, you might need to change your assumptions about the way your customers prefer to be contacted. The conversation may have recently switched from phone to social media, for example.

You might also need to rethink your messaging. In the past, your focus could have been on “increasing customer profits.” While this still has a lot of value to offer in the new landscape, a better message might be how you can “reduce possible losses” for your customers. Your clients are worrying about how they’re going to stay afloat going forward. Presenting yourself as the solution to their problem is a great way to earn their attention.

If you’re still uncertain about what your customers want and need from you right now, consider having some in-depth conversations with some of your most loyal clients. Some qualitative feedback could be just the guidance you need right now.


Step 4: Help your employees with timing

Timing is one of the most important things that you can master in this new landscape. If you rush in too quickly with the wrong messages, you could send your clients running in the opposite direction. For instance, there’s a good chance that companies who try to bring their teams back to the office in one go when restrictions are lifted will get a bad response from their customers.

Whether you’re continuing with your remote work strategy or putting a hybrid workforce in place, make sure your employees know how to time their messaging and strategies to suit your audience. Guided selling tools can help, by showing you how your customers are likely to respond to different efforts at different stages in the buyer journey.

Updating your sales enablement playbook with a focus on timing could also mean giving employees guidelines based on the nature of their interaction with a specific lead. A sales process might run a lot faster when you’re connecting with a client over web chat on your website versus reaching them through email outreach.

Assess the different environments you’re going to continue using in the years to come, and make sure you have a set of best practices for employees to follow in all circumstances. This might require a bit of trial and error, but you should end up with a much more comprehensive sales strategy.

On the other hand, if you fail to jump in and show your customers that you have value to offer while you still have a chance, you could miss out on an opportunity.


Step 5: Empower your team however you can

Your sales team has survived a massive shift in circumstances lately. The people you rely on for profit have gone from spending all their time in office demos and meetings, to operating almost entirely online. In recent months, you may have had some team members who took to the remote working landscape with ease. However, some of your employees may have had a more difficult transition.

Pay attention to the people in your team who need the most help going forward, as well as the people who might be able to offer that help. While supervisors can provide guidance and advice, it might also be worth setting up a mentor program in which your current champions can provide support to their colleagues, too.

As you proceed with your remote working strategy, it’s also important to make sure that your employees have all the tools they’re going to need to thrive. For instance, is everyone in your staff comfortable with the tools you’re using for instant messaging collaboration and video calling? Do you need to provide some extra training on how to use your webinar software and online pitch decks?

Be sure to gather plenty of feedback from your employees during this difficult time. More than anyone else, they are the people who can give you the best insights into the extra tools or support they might need to thrive in their changing role. You might discover that your employees can offer suggestions on how to improve efficiency that you never considered.

If you’re planning on continuing with your remote work plans in the years to come, now could be a good time to think about onboarding future talent. Does your current HR process include plenty of support to help any new team members get up to date on all of your processes and the tools that you use? As we move into a future where remote work is becoming increasingly popular, now is the time to ensure that you’re prepared.


Updating Your Sales Enablement Strategy

Sales enablement playbooks are still a part of the modern sales strategy. Even as the rest of the landscape continues to change and evolve, you’ll still need to give your teams plenty of guidance on best practices and how to serve customers. However, the playbooks you used to rely on in the past may not be relevant in this new space.

In a world where customer preferences have changed forever and working strategies are still evolving, it’s time to get ready for a massive transition. There’s a good chance you’ve already begun by developing some experience in the remote working environment. And over the last few months you will have gathered data from your sales engagement and workforce optimization tools, and you may have even learned new ways to support and empower your teams.

The critical thing to remember as we move forward into the next era of sales is that there’s no going back. While things might seem as though they’re beginning to “return to normal,” we’ve approached a turning point in human history. Going forward, you’ll need to learn from the experiences that we’ve had at the beginning of 2020 if you want to survive.

The good news is that companies capable of updating their processes now will be the ones that have a head start when the market begins to recover.

Roman Shovkun, EVP of Worldwide Sales & Marketing at Revenue Grid

Roman Shovkun is the EVP of Worldwide Sales & Marketing at Revenue Grid, the only Customer Engagement platform that equips revenue-generating teams with everything they need in one place.

  • Originally published July 30, 2020, updated July 31, 2020