Recently our team talked with one of the foremost researchers in the sales and sales enablement industry, Tamara Schenk Director of Research from CSO Insights. With the end of the year quickly approaching and 2020 planning kicking into high gear, we thought it would be valuable to share her insights on the sales enablement best practices and what that means for go-to-market teams.
Sales enablement is a growing business function – whether your organization has a formal or informal process. Attention must be paid. Many of the leading organizations are building out teams of people dedicated to enabling sales with valuable resources to close deals and improve the overall customer buying experience.
But to understand that our conversation started with, how do buyers want to engage with companies? Buyer preference is incredibly subjective. However, if you dig in there are patterns across industries. Buyers need to be problem solvers and want to engage sellers sooner in the buyer’s journey, but from a recent survey, they’re not the top go-to-resource.
So what does this mean?
The value of implementing best practices
Starting with the sales teams, best practices exist for a reason. Regardless of market, industry, business function, or organization, best practices drive efficiency and innovation. Putting into practice what has been tested and sees continued success is now table-stakes. These activities, actions, tactics, or ideas can be implemented to drive success and alignment with the overall strategy.
They strengthen the bonds between business functions. Without alignment across strategy, tactics, and metrics, things can quickly go awry. Allowing for sales enablement best practices to be implemented improves the go-to-market team’s bandwidth to focus and execute on value-based and solution-based activities. When set up the right way, performance impacts business results and scalability.
Sales enablement industry trends
Competitive intel is not a one-way channel. It needs to come from everyone. However, the time commitment required to collect and analyze insights manually makes the loop a tedious process. Automating the collection and allows teams to act on ideas and enables sales teams to provide direct feedback.
1. Seller engagement – drives customer engagement
Motivating your salespeople to focus on new initiatives and break bad habits takes a lot of work. Salespeople are busy and can have the “if it’s not broken, why change it” mentality. Engagement with sellers isn’t all about how many calls or meetings you can schedule but really shows business impact when done through emotions. Engaging your go-to-market teams from an emotional aspect and from the beginning has shown to influence growth in adoption and customer win rates.
As we go into the new year, and organizations build out their plans and budgets, leadership should consider how to execute continuous meaningful activities to maintain the enthusiasm from sellers. Activities such as internal training programs and regular product feedback sessions can be key in the overall success of a sales org.
2. Dynamic customer value management
Buyer expectations are continuously increasing. CSO Insights annual SE study found that 70% of buyers have defined preferences before they speak with a company, and 40% know what product they are interested in specifically. However, 90% of buyers don’t perceive sellers as problem-solving resources. Therefore, potential customers solicit information from peers, even those who are not directly connected or have weak ties.
The challenge for sellers in 2020 and beyond is providing value from the beginning and that value is only defined by the buyer. Meaning, as a salesperson you need to be prepared to answer questions and working through potential solutions directly with the buyer. Acting as a resource they can use and providing transparent communication will be key to building trust and a long-term relationship with a prospect.
Sales enablement is the bridge between marketing and sales and is able to provide content and targeted messaging by personas depending on where they are in their journey. So sellers are better equipped to tackle objections and understand where the buyer is needing more support.
3. The role of content
According to CSO Insights, only a third of organizations have a content strategy – that is strategically relevant. As the demand for content marketing continues to increase, so will the need for a connection between the content created and the salespeople’s access and understanding of how it’s used.
Many businesses are building out massive content engines, but are unaware that having a tailored, targeted content that is dynamic can result in double-digit sales performance improvements. While a buyer may already know what they want before they talk with a seller, the seller can use insights on the buyers content consumption to help guide their journey and create a better decision-making process.
Through content, you can create a repeatable process of competitive enablement. For example, an industry leader in human capital management (HCM) was able to develop a repeatable content distribution process ended up expanding and was measurable.
“By centralizing our Battle Cards in Salesforce and being able to integrate feedback from the field, our Battle Cards are far more effective. We saw an 18% increase in our win rate after 2 cycles of implementing Kompyte.” – Director of Sales Enablement.
Companies that see the gap as an opportunity can leverage the content they already have to drive an upward trend in the success of not only content consumption, but sellers actively participating in the feedback process.
4. Continuous learning
Not only is this already an established best practice, but as we approach 2020, it’s an expanding trend. Tamara mentioned when organizations add training programs into their culture, they see double-digit improvements in closed sales deals. More specifically, sales coaching and ongoing training impacts the business’s bottom line. In Tamara references that when sales coaching is implemented properly, it can lead to a 16.6% increase in win rates for forecasted deals.
Investing in the long-term performance and education of employees not only improves sales numbers but creates a culture shift leading to increased morale and commitment to the business. This trend of continuous learning isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all initiative, but investment from leadership and a top-down approach to sales enablement is critical. For sales enablement to really work, there has to be commitment at all levels.
How to get top-down investment
In doing something as simple as automating insight delivery, the ability for your sales teams to take action improves. If a salesperson can guarantee that the most relevant and recent information is either being shared or will be shared, they’re more likely to act on it. This enables them to compete intelligently.
Positioning sales enablement in your organization needs to start with aligning success with leadership objectives. Understand how you will outline and measure quantitative and qualitative data.
Start by creating a strong hypothesis for building a sales enablement program. Use outside research and reports like those from Tamara Schenk at CSO Insights to provide quantitative support. Once you’ve collected external resources, start gathering feedback internally. Build a business case based on gaps in your team, or department. Identify potential causes for why certain parts of the buyer’s journey are failing. Outline metrics, milestones as key points of success for your program, as well as a timeline for how long it will take at each phase. Ask, do any of these goals line up with leaderships goals? If there are larger business objectives you can’t directly tie your sales enablement initiatives, it’s going to be a hard sell.
Understanding where you’re at will help outline how to measure success from your competitive initiative. Once you’ve outlined the use case and built an argument for why, support the gaps previously identified by aligning them to the research.
Lastely, an often overlooked step to getting leadership buy-in is, how you present the information. We recommend getting support from key stakeholders and breaking your use case into key value props. Much like you would create messaging and positioning for your marketing and sales, you need to internally message what you’re going to do, what resources are necessary, how you’re going to measure success and reach the business objectives.
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