The modern consumer provides a number of challenges to your business, because they are, on average, smarter, more aware of marketing, more cynical and have more choice than ever before. For this reason, the art of selling has become more complicated, which is why companies are now more willing to invest in things like sales consulting and sales training than they were in the past, and why concepts like personalisation are now so crucial.
However, our own research, in addition to research from third parties, has shown that investment in a sales enablement strategy is one of the most effective ways to improve overall sales performance. So what is sales enablement, and why does your business need to prioritise it in the year ahead?
Defining Sales Enablement
Sales enablement, as a concept, is still evolving, which means that until recently, defining what it is has been problematic. Indeed, this lack of an established definition has meant that some companies have managed to confuse sales enablement with ideas like sales operations. Ultimately, however, sales enablement is about implementing strategies that increase efficiency and effectiveness of the sales funnel.
In our white paper, Elevate Your Game and Win More: The Four Critical Insights of Selling Today, we define sales enablement as “a strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and frontline managers along the entire customer lifecycle.”
Another way to think of sales enablement is with the following formula:
((Sales activity x Quality of activity) / Time taken) / Distractions = Revenue
Maximising the Equation
Essentially, sales enablement involves trying to maximise the result of the equation above. This means striking the right balance between the amount of sales activity and the quality of that activity. It also means trying to improve efficiency and attempting to minimise the number of workplace distractions.
Due to the fact that it is cross-functional, sales enablement incorporates everything from sales development and sales consulting, to closing deals and even marketing. Clearly, training and coaching both have a role to play, but sales enablement is also about strategy, using the right technology and even formatting things correctly.
For this reason, IDC state that sales enablement is about: “Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.”
Successful sales enablement should, therefore, provide the following:
- High-quality sales training, delivered with knowledge retention in mind;
- Coaching of sales reps, allowing information to be reinforced;
- The resources for sales development staff to identify high-quality leads;
- Excellent communication across the sales team, ensuring reps have access to the latest information;
- Measures to eliminate or reduce distractions in the workplace;
- The technology needed to make sales as efficient and effective as possible.
Benefits of Sales Enablement
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that committing to a sales enablement strategy can produce significant and measurable improvements in sales results. In fact, our research division, CSO Insights, found that companies that design, develop and put a sales enablement function into action can expect an 8.2 percent average boost in terms of revenue plan attainment, when compared to companies with no such enablement function.
The results associated with sales enablement also improve the more a company commits to having a formalised, defined sales enablement strategy in place. This can be demonstrated by CSO Insights research, which shows that 56 percent of sales professionals using informal sales enablement meet quota, compared to the 63 percent who make quota in organisations with a formal sales enablement strategy.
Moreover, a separate study from Aberdeen found that 84 percent of sales reps at companies with top class sales enablement strategies achieve their quotas, compared to 55 percent at companies with average sales enablement. Such statistics show that sales enablement is actually one of the single most beneficial investments you could make this year.