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Three Sales Enablement Trends to Watch in 2021

Posted in:  Sales Enablement Strategy

It’s never too early to start planning for the new year.

As we prepare to exit 2020, the process of building your yearly go-to-market strategy is filled with unknowns: When will we return to our physical offices? What will the economic outlook be? How can we invest strategically?

While nobody can answer these questions with exact certainty, the broader shifts shaping our markets for the next year are already happening. Here are the three trends to watch — and how to stay ahead of the curve in 2021.

Remote Work Is Here to Stay

What to Expect

If you haven’t come to love web conferencing calls yet, you will soon because remote work is here to stay.

While reps may have initially struggled to find success with virtual sales in March, by now, most salespeople — and their customers — have hit their stride. Salespeople have regained their confidence and, armed with virtual selling best practices, they are well-positioned to perform as they would have before the pandemic.

How Enablement Teams Win

Recognizing that most of your salespeople and customers will be working remotely through some or all of 2021, it’s essential to ensure that you are prepared to support your teams virtually now and in the future. To win, enablement teams should focus on two key areas:

  • Virtual SKO: Pivoting a major event like your sales kickoff to a virtual engagement is no cakewalk — making it all the more important you start planning for it now. This is the time to double down on your sales enablement platform investment and let it do the heavy lifting for you, especially with regards to pre-work, training, and communication.
  • Virtual Training: An ad-hoc approach may have sufficed as you focused on pivoting major go-to-market initiatives to support virtual selling. But as 2021 approaches, it’s time to revisit your commitment to and investment in virtual training. Now, more than ever, reps need self-service access to just-in-time learning to ensure they can sell effectively – whenever and wherever that may be.

The Arrival of Agile Enablement

What to expect

“Agile enablement” applies the agile workflow techniques favored by software developers to enablement processes in order to tighten alignment and fulfill needs more efficiently.

This approach is useful considering enablement’s rapid expansion into customer-facing teams outside of sales, such as customer success or services. With greater responsibilities, an agile approach will allow these revenue enablement teams to respond quickly and effectively to new priorities, all while strengthening cross-functional alignment.

How Enablement Teams Win

The arrival of agile enablement requires that revenue enablement leaders rethink how they support go-to-market teams and lean into reinvention opportunities. Two areas to consider are:

  • Customer centricity: If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that customer needs are changing faster than anything. With an agile approach to enablement, your teams can quickly respond to everything from shifts in market dynamics to social trends. Think about what customers need from salespeople most now — and deliver it, fast.
  • Cross-functional alignment: With more teams collaborating with or relying on enablement functions for support, the introduction of agile enablement also presents an opportunity to rethink standard business practices. Consider how you maintain alignment with other teams — ask yourself what works. Keep the motions that allow you to move quickly and iteratively, and abandon those that have become more hindrance than help.

Putting Problems Before Platforms

What to Expect

Technology has played a critical role in allowing salespeople to respond to the challenges of 2020. But the wrong platform can wreak havoc on a sales team – especially when it comes to enablement solutions.

From low adoption to loss of trust, investing in the wrong enablement platform for your business can have a lasting impact on your reps’ success. That’s why leading companies in 2021 are putting problems before platforms — focusing on solving specific issues with solution purchases to ensure effective deployment.

How Enablement Teams Win

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or thinking about up-leveling your current solution, focusing on these two areas is sure to help you pick a platform that performs:

  • Needs: It’s essential that you map out the problems you wish to resolve with your purchase before looking at solutions. Start by listing out the needs of your various teams, and prioritize them accordingly. This way, when you starting exploring vendors, you’ll have clear guidelines to follow – and avoid being distracted by fancy features that don’t support your teams.
  • Features: Once you start engaging with vendors, take a critical eye to features presented to you. Don’t simply take a vendor’s word for whether or not features perform as expected: look to peers for success stories, or explore analyst reports to get an unbiased view of usability, adoption, and the vendor’s pace of innovation. Using your need’s map as a guide, you’ll be able to cut to the core of what matters: how your investment will empower your team to achieve more.

Planning for a Successful 2021

If this year has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. But with a little forethought, you can position your teams to respond to any challenge that comes your way — and secure your success in 2021 and beyond.

Want to dive deeper? Explore new research from Forrester | SiriusDecisions on the 2021 planning assumptions every enablement team needs to know.