When purchasing any new software, sales and enablement leaders want to choose the best solution that not only improves the sales process, but also aligns with the organization’s unique requirements.
The right sales enablement tool will unite marketing, sales enablement, and sales teams to drive business outcomes. It’s more than a purchase; it is an investment in your sales team’s ability to drive revenue growth. As such, it’s crucial to carefully consider your options when researching sales enablement platforms.
WHAT IS A SALES ENABLEMENT TOOL?
A sales enablement tool should enable go-to-market (GTM) teams to support the sales team with content, training, coaching, and analytics — helping sellers provide a stellar buying experience and ultimately drive revenue growth. Providing prospects with a seamless buying experience is key since McKinsey’s 2021 Next in Personalization study found that 71 percent of buyers expect a personalized experience during the sales process.
The sales enablement tool category is expanding, the competitive landscape is fierce, and vendors are vying for buyers’ attention. When researching vendors, a trusted place to start is The Forrester Wave™: Sales Content Solutions, Q4 2022 report. In this 33-criterion evaluation of sales content solution (SCS) providers, Forrester identified the 11 most significant — including Highspot— and researched, analyzed, and scored them.
According to the Forrester Wave report, the right sales content tool should be easy to use, “backed by native integrations and strong content and data management.” It should also offer “meaningful, connected insights about content value.” Finally, “the right mix of capabilities and complexity — plus a strategic partnership.”
See a detailed comparison of the vendors in this year’s Forrester Wave report.
The success of enablement, and by extension, a sales process, is tied to reliable revenue, yet practitioners can struggle to prove their ROI. When considering a sales enablement tool, sales enablement teams should think about:
- Is content easily discoverable to optimize sellers’ time?
- Can the solution recommend content and messaging based on unique selling scenarios, equipping reps with the right content and guidance for every stage in the customer lifecycle?
- Will the solution highlight initiatives that boost bottom-line growth?
- Is onboarding and training integrated to guide desired behaviors that increase sales readiness and productivity?
- Will the platform utilize engagement analytics and insights to identify what is most important to the buyer?
- Does the platform provide you with metrics that allow you to see what’s working and what’s not, so you can make changes to your process and sales enablement strategy?
- Can the platform demonstrate the business value of enablement, measured through increased sales productivity, increased customer engagement rates, and higher success rates of strategic growth initiatives?
Let’s take a deeper look into the core functionalities an advanced sales enablement tool should have.
SALES CONTENT MANAGEMENT
The core foundation of any sales enablement tool is an all-in-one location to house, manage, and distribute content from within the platform or through a seamless customer relationship management (CRM) integration. Providing a single source of truth helps ensure reps are using only the freshest, on-brand, and compliant content. The right sales enablement tool also helps reduce the plight of stale content that lives on hard drives.
To ensure tool adoption, sellers’ access to content must live within their workflow and align with their daily activities and overall sales process – making their jobs easier and driving efficiency by spending less time finding content and more time selling. Key considerations for any sales enablement solution include the ability to recommend, store, curate, personalize, and distribute relevant content.
Governance is more than just putting a process in place to centralize and manage content. It is about making it easier to manage content by providing a standard for how it is planned, created, and distributed. Solid content governance procedures help to prioritize content, establish review and publishing guidelines, democratize content creation, and audit distribution. This reduces content chaos and barriers, leaving professionals with faster and focused content production.
A clean, organized, well-structured environment ensures sellers are able to quickly find and use the correct, most valuable content to drive impactful sales conversations at every point of contact with prospects and customers.
It isn’t enough to provide a dedicated location for your salesforce to find content. It is also important to provide strategic guidance in real-time aligned to the buyer’s journey, enabling reps to customize outreach for specific selling scenarios. Providing in-the-moment, structured guidance through a sales enablement tool can elevate content according to top go-to-market priorities, helping get reps up to speed quickly on a topic or initiative and driving faster ramp time and consistent seller execution.
By surfacing sales plays and playbooks wherever sellers are working – within a sales enablement tool or an embedded CRM integration – reps can access structured guidance for specific selling scenarios. This gives reps clarity around what they should know, say, show, and do before they ever hop on a call with a customer. For example, a play can outline a comprehensive overview with presentation options, sample calls, templates, best practices, examples of “good” outcomes, and content immediately available for sharing.
Enabling the sales team members with the right content and guidance is not sufficient by itself. Crafting an effective sales process also requires training. Sales training must be geared toward driving additional value with prospects, helping sales reps close deals faster, increase win rates, and achieve faster quota attainment. Focusing on sales readiness, in addition to ongoing development, leads to higher levels of rep engagement. A Sales Enablement Pro survey shows having highly engaged reps correlates with a 30-percentage-point improvement in quota attainment, compared to organizations where employees are the least engaged.
Seek a sales enablement partner that provides integrated training through structured courses, lessons, certifications, and reinforcement exercises. A strong sales enablement tool will empower sales reps with the knowledge and confidence they need to perform consistently, increase the adoption of new skills, and get up to speed quickly.
Sales coaching investments maximize seller performance and drive sustained revenue impact. Consider selecting a sales enablement tool that provides sales leaders with tools and insights they need to guide sellers, build competency, unlock potential, and reinforce knowledge. These skills are critical in the coming years, with Forrester reporting that 73% of sales enablement professionals say they have an upcoming initiative to improve rep selling skills.
With the right tools, enablement professionals and sales managers have enhanced visibility into rep performance at the group and individual level across the entire sales cycle. With this insight, managers discover winning behaviors and can use this knowledge to deliver effective coaching, boost confidence, and develop more top performers.
PARTNERS & INTEGRATIONS
When evaluating a sales enablement tool, it is important to consider partner integrations. Driving adoption of the platform across all GTM teams is integral to achieving consistent rep performance, ROI, and better bottom-line results. Furthermore, if an organization has an existing sales process, choosing a sales enablement tool that integrates seamlessly with the process will help increase rep adoption and adherence as well as enhance coaching opportunities.
Consider the platform’s alignment with all relevant business workflows. The vendor of choice shouldn’t just meet an organization’s needs now, but also potential needs in the future.
Types of Integrations to Consider: CRM, CMS, Email and Workflow Tools, Social Selling, Mobile Apps, Marketing Automation, Web Conferencing, Productivity, File Storage, Digital Asset Management Tools, Training and Coaching, SSO, Sales Engagement Platforms
ANALYTICS & DASHBOARDS
Adoption and usage is useless unless it is driving downstream impact with customers. To make an impact, professionals need to see if the content, guidance, training, and coaching is effective at achieving desired results across the entire sales organization.
Enablement, sales, and marketing teams must have actionable insights that reveal how sellers use content and showcase the business impact of each asset. You should also have sales analytics available enabling you to streamline the sales cycle, accurately create sales forecasts, and measure sales performance. Seek out a sales enablement tool that provides at-a-glance insights as well as more in-depth, interactive reporting.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ONGOING SUPPORT
How can the vendor ensure success during and after the implementation process? Consider how the sales enablement tool can deliver on promises, such as user adoption, user experience like ease of use, and high ROI.
Find out how the relationship with the vendor will evolve post-implementation. Choose a vendor who will partner with the organization through the entire implementation process and continue to maintain a strong, trusted relationship long after.
Data protection and privacy are hot topics and for good reason. Ensure the tool chosen can provide an enterprise-grade platform with processes and practices in place to ensure that data remains private, secure, and compliant. If an organization plans to do business abroad, ensure the new partner can provide a platform equipped to handle global regulations.
TAKING THE FIRST STEP
Finding the best sales enablement tool can seem like an overwhelming process, especially considering the plethora of solutions. But by mapping your priorities and seeing how the competition stacks up, you can rest assured that you’re making the best decision for your team, one that will continue to pay off for years to come.
Read The Forrester Wave™: Sales Content Solutions, Q4 2022 report for a deeper dive into the top vendors. This is a great first step on the path to choosing the right sales enablement tool for your organization.