The lingering effects of the Great Recession have caused a lot of slowdowns in the pipeline. Deals expected to close in the current quarter are often getting clogged and pushed out later in the year. Given this reality, many marketing organizations are investing in sales enablement tools and processes to accelerate deal flow and maximize the productivity of their sales teams.
According to IDC’s 2009 Tech Marketing Benchmarks, more than 80% of enterprises with $5 billion plus in revenue now have a sales enablement role in their organization. However, that number drops steadily as you move down the food chain to just under 80% for organizations with $1 billion $5 billion in revenue, 60% for companies between $500 million to $1 billion in revenue and less than 40% for companies with under $500 million in revenue.
Joe Galvin, VP & Research Director with SiriusDecisions, a leading research consultancy in the sales and marketing space, said sales enablement and knowledge management “have now become required components” of a technology infrastructure. As more companies look to improve the efficiency and productivity of their sales and marketing efforts, Galvin added that added that a collaborative focus on sales enablement is essential to reach revenue goals in the current climate.
“Selling is an art,” Galvin said. “Productivity is a science. It’s the ability to add a new opportunity at the top of the pipeline and increase the number of active opportunities a rep can manage. The right collaboration and solutions can help drive the number of new opportunities — the number of active opportunities and lead to shorter sales cycles by improving the conversion rates from phase to phase inside the buying cycle.”
Early adopters of sales enablement tools have reported significant improvements in the flow of information to their sales teams. Jim Williams, Director of Field Marketing with Eloqua, said the company saw immediate dividends from deploying a portal based enablement solution from iCentera more than two years ago. “Our biggest return has been seen with sales efficiency and productivity. Our reps have 50% more time to spend on understanding the needs of their customers. That translates into better relationships and driving more revenue,” he said.
In addition to the improved productivity for its sales team, Williams said the company’s marketing department is also running more efficiently through the use of the portals. “Both our users and content have sharply increased,” he said. “To date we have over 50,000 downloads of 750 documents that are stored and accessed through iCentera. We spend only 25% of the time we did before getting vital information to sales teams. That has allowed us more time to focus on creating more effective tools to better enable sales.”
The need for improved productivity is become more apparent, as reps often waste time trying to track the information they need to close deals. According to IDC data, the average rep spends 2 hours per week looking for marketing collateral and another 5 hours per week creating presentations/documents for customers and prospects. The IDC 2009 data also found 50% of companies still distributing information to their sales team via email. The report found only 30% of the IDC respondents were distributing information via a sales portal environment, and of those less than 20% indicated they were able to measure usage.