The Psychology of Sales Enablement (INBOUND 18 Session)

Amber Kemmis from SmartBug Media shared the lessons she has learned after rolling out sales enablement services to clients.

John Bonini on September 13, 2018 • 4 minute read

You might expect that “sales enablement” begins during the sales process. You know, due to the name.

But, Amber Kemmis from SmartBug Media, a HubSpot Diamond Agency, has found that the concept of sales enablement extends way earlier in the buyer’s journey.

You know the first time that a potential customer visits your website? Well, that impact can extend all the way into the sales process. A potential customer will remember that interaction all the way through their decision-making process, and it may come back to haunt you (or help you!)

But that’s just the beginning of the buyer’s journey. Here are a few of the ways that human psychology can impact your sales enablement efforts.

The Human Brain In Today’s World

Amber made a quick comparison between hunter-gatherer societies and today’s tech-enabled world. In the tribal days of our ancestors, impatience could give an evolutionary advantage. If food was running low, an impatient person had a better chance at surviving than a patient one.

Unfortunately, that same instinct has continued to this day, and affects the ways that we use technology. We still have an instinct for impatience, and when we have an opportunity to get a quick dopamine hit from our phones, for example, it is really hard for us to override our evolutionary impulses.

How Marketing Should Handle This Reality

Since there are so many tools that offer instant gratification, customers now expect the same level of gratification in their sales and buying process. Amber offered a couple examples of how she has approached this challenge.

She used to be a skeptic of chatbots. In her mind, chatbots ruined a carefully crafted website experience and made the customer feel like they were being sold something, rather than carefully browsing a website. But, as AI has helped chatbots become more responsive, she now sees them completely differently. Since they can be more responsive than a human to customer questions, she has seen even higher conversion rates than on-page forms!

In another example, the sales team at one of their clients was having a hard time using content during the sales process. They knew they COULD be using marketing content to help their prospects… but it was hard to dig through the blog and find the right post. And a big spreadsheet? That would be completely overwhelming. So, she helped set up a system where the marketing team would inform the sales team about new content that could be used in the buyer’s journey.

She even uses this concept in the onboarding process for new clients. One client was resistant to adopting HubSpot CRM, even though she knew that the tool would make their lives much easier. She asked the sales team about the biggest pain points in their daily life, and found that manually setting follow-ups for individual prospects was the most annoying task. She introduced the team to Sequences in HubSpot, and found that they were much more willing to adopt the whole product.


Utilizing Channels That Match Evolutionary Habits

Can you think of an evolutionary precedent for email? It certainly doesn’t seem to match any ancestral communication channels.

Amber cited a study from MIT that looked at brain activity during socialization. The brain actually diverts all activity from the analytical regions to the conversational regions! So, the brain can’t do both at once.

If your team practices social selling, you should practice a more conversational tone. In the real world, people don’t introduce themselves and immediately ask for a demo booking or phone call! Instead, they build a relationship first. Your social selling should utilize the same tactics.

Smartbug has also used Vidyard for both internal communication and sales communications. Since they have a 100% remote workforce, their internal conversations can feel a little… impersonal… when they happen via email, chat and Slack. So, they started using Vidyard to do their internal meetings, and when that worked well, they started using it in sales emails as well. This human touch helps their potential clients understand that they are buying from people with the same values.


Sales Enablement Content For the Logical Brain

In the famous book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky investigated the brain’s preferences between emotional and logical processing. They found that your brain will always use emotion first, and then logic to justify the emotional decisions.

So, your sales enablement tactics should reflect that reality. There are 4 ways that you can support that decision-making process:

  • Personas– customizing content based on the buyer persona.
  • Social Proof– using testimonials and case studies to provide real-world examples of your successful customers
  • Tools- Your internal toolset that allows you to serve potential customers in the buying process.
  • Numbers– After you have solidified the problem that you solve in the customer’s mind, it is time to bring in some hard numbers to show the magnitude of your impact

Did you attend and enjoy this session? Let us know in the comments.

About the author
John Bonini is Director of Marketing at Databox. He's passionate about building brands that tell great stories. Connect with him on Twitter @bonini84.

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