In a recent Wall Street Journal article a data point stood out: “Economists have dramatically raised the probability of recession, now putting it at 44% in the next 12 months.”
I’ve experienced three recessions in my 30-year career. And through them all, I observed a common denominator: Businesses that focus on what they can control, and specifically sales consistency, can survive and even thrive in any economy.
There’s little question we are entering an economic downturn and potential recession, where the goal for B2B companies is no longer growth at all costs, but rather efficient, strategic growth.
Many teams have already taken action, slicing line items left and right. Containing costs and making cuts is often required, but it must be done carefully. Now is when we channel our adrenaline to focus on the core parts of our business that drive consistent performance. I believe the only way to do this is to put people at the center of the business equation.
Pain on the Frontline
Revenue preservation and growth is the lifeblood of every business. And revenue comes from closing deals. But deals don’t close themselves. People do.
Recent events have put salespeople through a gauntlet of virtual selling, buyers who don’t want to talk to them, and the death of traditional wine-and-dine tactics. The impact has been real, and the consequences dire. According to Salesforce, 57% of reps missed quota last year.
Code Red Business Mistakes
When faced with a sales problem, leaders often make these common mistakes:
- Fail to turn strategy into action: In today’s rapidly evolving world, companies have no choice but to either adapt or to go extinct. Your new strategies may be perfectly designed to help your business combat uncertainty by selling new products, entering adjacent markets, or taking down competition – but unless your people understand, adopt, and implement those strategies, they’re nothing more than glorified ideas.
- Hope that more means more: When you see your sellers struggling, the first instinct is to try to help them by giving them more – more training, more content, more plays – throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks with no clear picture of what works, what doesn’t, and what your people really need.
- Miss the people in the data: Do you know what lurks below your aggregate sales performance data? Broad data can hide the reality of how people are operating, including the good, bad, and ugly. Consider this example: Your average win rate for a segment is low, so you adjust your strategy. But looking at a histogram of win rates by person, including the shape, median, and participation rate, would have revealed a more nuanced, personnel-related problem in need of a different solution. Another truth often hidden by aggregate data is that a few all-star reps are carrying the team, pointing to an enablement problem at large.
Ten years ago, addressing these pitfalls would have required a level of investment that many companies can’t afford. But today, the answer lies in creating a people-first sales enablement strategy.
The Enablement Imperative: Unlock Sales Success
Sales enablement technology unlocks leaders’ ability to:
- Drive business evolution: Business longevity requires adaptation. Ensure your latest strategies are not only being brought to life by your people, but are driving desired business results, with insight into the questions: Do reps understand the strategy? Are reps executing the strategy? Is the strategy resonating with customers? Is the strategy driving business results?
- Do what matters: Consistent winning requires teamwork, where every teammate meaningfully contributes to outcomes. By analysing and understanding the unique needs of your sellers, you can equip, train and coach them to improve performance, and, in turn, realise the full potential of your team.
- Live in the details of your data: Let your best people lead your best practices. Sales enablement tells you what works with detailed data and at-a-glance analytics on everything from content to plays to reps, so you can identify and scale winning behaviours across the team, and invest where limited resources will make the most impact.
The lightbulb has switched on – the business world at large is recognising that navigating uncertainty requires investing in employees to lead the way. Now is enablement’s time to shine.
Analysts are validating this belief – Gartner found that 84% of Chief Sales Officers are increasing their sales enablement budget this year, and IDC estimates the category is growing at a 23.9% CAGR worldwide. Investors have backed the category with millions in capital. And companies across industries and geographies, including Highspot customers Aetna, DocuSign, Staples, and Siemens, to name a few, are using sales enablement to drive outcomes (TechValidate Survey 2021):
- 20% increase in pipeline generated
- 14% increase in marketing-generated pipeline
- 10% increase in closed-won deals
- For every $50,000 spent on sales enablement, win rates improved by 1 point
Why are all eyes turning to sales enablement? Because we are entering an era where enablement is a business necessity. In the face of uncertainty, how well you prepare your people to perform in any environment may mean the difference between success or failure in the months and years to come.
Our Commitment: Transform the Way Millions Work
When my co-founders and I drew the first Highspot prototype back in 2010, we believed that one day sales enablement would become the next must-have category. Now, I’m both excited and humbled to be standing at the beginning of an incredible opportunity. Our commitment is to help companies everywhere thrive through anything, by investing in their people. To capture this opportunity, we have:
- Opened roles for more than 200 positions across our business – especially in Product engineering, to focus on innovation and engineering scale, and Services, to help each customer every step of the way
- Expanded into markets around the world, opening offices in Australia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK to help support millions of global users
- Launched the Strategic Enablement Framework, the industry’s first definitive model to drive rep behaviour change at scale
- Created Sales Enablement PRO, the largest sales enablement community with 23,000 members
- Raised $450M in the last 18 months to be able to invest in our business and into the category
Together with our employees, customers, partners, investors, and community, we’re inventing the future of how businesses endure. Hard times will come and go. By enabling our people to succeed, we can drive growth through it all, building the strength and resiliency of companies that last.