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The Competitive Edge for Sales: Dedicated Sales Enablement

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Enablement Strategy

Does your organization have a sales enablement strategy?

It should!

No matter the organization size or industry, a thoughtful strategy for sales success—including a dedicated sales enablement (or sales readiness) team and a Sales Enablement platform—is a game changer.

Clients often come to us because they need help closing the divide that exists between sales and marketing, and our platform can help do just that. But, the platform is only one part of the equation, and we were curious how many companies have implemented holistic sales enablement programs across the board, what they consider as sales enablement activities, how effective they are, and how actively are organizations executing them.

So, that’s why we partnered with Heinz Marketing to conduct a study comprised of nearly 450 B2B sales and marketing professionals, aimed at answering those questions, and more. You can read the full survey report here.

In the interest of time, we’ve summarized the top five observations we gleaned from the study, which should help you plan your 2016 marketing investments.

1. If you think your sales team isn’t effective, you’re not alone.

It may seem like sales is getting thrown under the bus, but just over half of the survey respondents were from sales departments! This is a clear indicator that sales teams need more help, especially because 60-70% of the buyer’s journey happens before a prospect ever talks to sales. However, it’s the sales team’s job to engage with the customer and close the deal, and only 48% of survey respondents ranked their sales efforts as effective. Organizations with dedicated sales enablement teams scored much higher in this area. It’s worth noting, too, that a good sales enablement program can boost sales’ ability to meet quota by 50%, so the opportunity for improvement in this area is significant.

2.  Companies with sales enablement teams perform much better on meaningful business metrics.

Across the board, organizations recognize the importance of sales enablement activities and rank them high in value. Sales enablement teams produce real business results, including:

  • increased conversion rates,
  • helping increase sales productivity,
  • improving sales’ ability to sell, and
  • improving marketing’s ability to deliver the right content to support sales efforts.

Organizations without sales enablement teams report very mediocre effectiveness in sales enablement tasks.

3.  Sales enablement drives effectiveness in key areas.

The numbers reliability pointed to the effectiveness of a regimented sales enablement program: 57% of respondents with sales enablement teams reported that their sales efforts were effective or very effective versus only 35% without. Organizations with sales enablement teams were also significantly more effective (by as much as 25%) on key sales support activities versus organizations without.

4.  Unfortunately, most organizations are slow to focus on Sales Enablement.

Even though its importance appears widely recognized, only 37% of organizations have a dedicated, focused sales enablement team. It makes perfect sense, then, that 31% of all companies reported that their sales enablement efforts were ineffective. The opportunity here is wildly untapped. And considering the benefits a dedicated sales enablement team brings to sales performance, organizations should make this a priority for 2016.

5.  Content is king. But only if it’s in the right hands at the right time.

Four of the eight activities that defined sales enablement centered on content; producing, organizing, distributing, training on, delivering to prospects and measuring content. Solving the “content problem” requires a complete solution, including publishing, organizing, making accessible by sales, presenting or emailing to customer and measuring quality and performance. Without a reliable, structured way to distribute content, all of the other aspects of it become moot. The fact is, more than 70% of respondents rely on email to distribute content to their sales organization, and more than 45% rely on a shared network drive to deliver sales collateral and content—this is not efficient or effective. And without a closed-loop process to measure the performance and quality of content, marketing has no reliable way to improve content effectiveness. Only 12% have a dedicated Sales Enablement solution in place, which would help solve almost every aspect of the content problem, aside from actually creating the content in the first place.

How does your organization stack up in these areas?

If you’re falling short, don’t be discouraged. This is a relatively new area, and the study shows that most organizations have much room for improvement. Think of this as an opportunity to create a competitive advantage, not a problem.

For better sales performance, make sales enablement a priority in 2016.

It’s very clear to us that:

  • Dedicated sales enablement teams deliver results because they help reduce the friction that often exists between sales and marketing and drive towards the common goal— increasing revenue
  • The right Sales Enablement platform can fix the “my sales teams can’t find the content” problem, and focus both organizations on creating better conversations with customers

Download the full “State of Sales Enablement 2015” report.

To learn more about how sales enablement can turbocharge your business, check out the Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement as well as Sales Enablement Tools and Software for a complete list of sales enablement vendors.

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