Imagine being in the sales process with a prospect who has a question that’s critical to closing the sale. Rather than simply answering by telling them, wouldn’t it be even better if you could show them?
This is where sales enablement comes in. More than a flashy buzzword being tossed around these days, it’s comprised of three things: the technology, the process and the content.
A sales enablement platform (the technology) helps sales reps follow an important process designed to give the sales team the tools (or content) they need to sell more effectively. It becomes highly valuable in the stages when a customer is evaluating your products and services and considering a purchase, but sales enablement tools include content that can be given to the prospect at each stage of the buying process.
As sales enablement becomes more widely adopted, the tools will continue to become more sophisticated. Currently, there are various ways to present the content, ways to customize it, ways to follow up with customers about the content, and ways to determine the effectiveness of your sales enablement process.
So what’s in store for sales enablement efforts in the future as it continues to become more sophisticated? Let’s take a look at what it looks like in 2019—and beyond.
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2018 report, 37 percent of companies say sales enablement is a top priority in the next year. In making it a priority, companies will need to invest in the strategy and amp up their sales enablement training, particularly when it comes to the technology aspect. With sales enablement having so many advanced capabilities, it’s no question that technology is at its core. Technology powers the sales enablement tools of today and helps make processes more efficient and organized.
With a sales enablement platform, sales reps can easily store the content they want to send to prospects and customers and organize it by where it falls in the sales funnel. Then they can easily retrieve it when it makes sense to present it to a prospect.
Using technology also helps keep everyone on the same page. Whether you’re in sales or marketing, you’re able to access documents jointly and make it a more collaborative effort. Notes about a prospect, email correspondence and recorded calls can all be stored that may be useful at another point in the process. If you want to send a prospect a virtual demo they can explore ahead of the live demo, you’re able to store and find this in the sales enablement platform.
According to research conducted by the Sales Management Association, firms that were slower to adopt sales enablement technology saw their sales goal achievement drop 12 percent from the previous year. This shows it’s imperative to incorporate technology into your sales enablement strategy if you want to achieve strong results year over year.
With all this in mind, what’s next for the future of sales enablement? Here are three key trends all sales professionals should have on their radar.
When it comes to technology, limiting the number of platforms used for sales will cut down on time spent recording or analyzing different sets of data. According to Forrester Senior Analyst Steven Wright, the fewer technologies a sales rep has to use, the more time they can spend on selling rather than data entry. While technology typically tends to improve productivity, sometimes it can actually slow it down.
So what’s the solution? Going forward, sales technology platforms are becoming more robust, all-encompassing CRMs, including features like the Knowledge Center in HubSpot, email templates and sequences, deal pipelines and chat features. This streamlines efforts rather than having to juggle multiple programs in various formats.
This also means training will become essential for those working with sales enablement. Once sales reps are adept with the technology, process and content they’re using, they will be much more effective at closing deals.
Training in general is trending toward formats easier for employees to access anytime, anywhere, despite busy schedules. Sales training is no different, trending toward self-guided learning methods, such as webinars and recorded videos employees can watch on their own time. In Training Industry Magazine’s Trends 2018: Adapting the Training Function to the Complexity of Today’s Business Environment, corporate training budgets are expected to increase 2 to 5 percent globally, which means there is more budget available for initiatives that support sales enablement training.
As the approach to sales becomes more personalized and account-based, sales collateral will need to become more strategic and targeted. There will be a need to produce case studies, demonstrations, sales presentations and videos that highlight your company’s specializations in various industries and markets. Companies will produce these pieces of content with specific audiences in mind, and the topics will be thoroughly researched to address industry pain points and solutions.
It’s important for companies to keep their sales reps current on their sales strategy, and make them aware when goals are refocused. Companies should strive to look at sales enablement as a means of opening a relationship, rather than just closing deals.
Make better use of your sales enablement technology by setting up integrations and workflows to support your sales reps. Develop collateral for every level of the sales funnel. Train your team.
We realize this is a lot to do on your own, and it can help to have someone who can guide your team through these steps. At Kuno, we often assist with sales enablement efforts using solid inbound strategies.
Our guide, The CMO’s Guide to Sales Enablement and CRM, takes our experiences and turns it into guidance so you can succeed in sales enablement in 2019 and beyond.