A revolution is happening in sales enablement, breaking the logjams of the past to help organizations achieve double-digit improvement in sales conversion rates and revenue growth.
The driver? Technology designed for usability.
In form and function, modern sales enablement solutions focus on the role of the sales rep and how to reduce friction and make sales more effective by moving them closer to their customers.
v.1 To v.Now
Anyone who has struggled with content repositories built around rigid, nested-folder file systems knows the drawbacks of first-generation sales enablement: Content that’s difficult — or impossible — to find, lack of actionable reporting, poor scalability and frustrating, clunky user interfaces.
These early systems gave sales enablement a bad name. However, advances in cloud technology, broader end-to-end sales productivity features, and an emphasis on user experience have reignited interest in its ability to make sales teams more efficient.
Here are three key categories for increased productivity:
Sales Content Management
No sales rep or marketing publisher should have to settle for nested folder content management anymore.
Based on research presented at this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit, 79% of buyers say that content is “very to extremely impactful” in their buying process. And yet, 65% of the content produced for sales is never used. Such a gap between the value of content in the sales process and the supply of quality content is driving the demand for better sales content management solutions.
We commonly hear about three dysfunctional situations:
- “We have multiple sales content solutions and I never know where to look for the most up- to-date, ‘right’ content.” Multiple content solutions make it difficult, and confusing, for sales teams to know where to find the latest content.
- “We have a sales enablement solution, but it’s clunky and I can never find the content I want.” The common culprit here is rigidity of the classic nested-folder file system design. It forces sales reps to read the minds of the publishers to understand how the content is organized.
- “We, in marketing, have no insight into what content the sales teams are using, what is engaging the customers, what is driving sales conversions and what isn’t working, so we can’t improve the quality of content.” In order for a marketing team to consistently create valuable content, they need to be able to measure what is working.
Taking lessons learned from consumer technology such as Amazon, iTunes, Facebook, and Pinterest, modern sales enablement has transformed sales content management “findability,” making it intuitive and fast to find the right content for each selling situation. Like in Amazon and iTunes, content is recommended to sales reps based on content performance and sales opportunity parameters. Content organization is very flexible with playlist-like approaches — not rigid file-folder structures — and organized by sales teams, so it is intuitive to each unique field team.
Content solutions designed for sales team usability means sales teams will use it, which, of course, is everything. No solution can provide value if it isn’t used.
Connect with customers throughout their buying journey.
Sales content management systems as stand-alone solutions can only go so far in making sales reps more effective.
By seamlessly integrating email, online presentation options and customer content portals, modern solutions streamline how reps engage customers by removing the need to access multiple specialized applications to deliver content to customers. According to research from Highspot, more than 50% of companies that have committed to sales enablement see increased sales conversion rates of at least 10%, and 23% of companies have increased conversion rates by more than 20%.
Drive performance improvement based on data, not intuition.
As anyone who has studied total quality management (TQM) knows, a closed-loop process is critical to driving ongoing quality improvement in processes and content.
Modern sales enablement platforms offer businesses comprehensive and deep-dive analytics on content, sales and sales enablement performance in order to improve quality and sales productivity. Through analytics on content usage, customer engagement, pitch performance and impact of revenue, organizations now have a closed-loop process in sales enablement to continuously improve performance.
Building On The Past For A Better Future
Many industries wouldn’t be where they are today without having progressed through years of iterative improvements. Like the Rio player preceding the iPod or VHS before Netflix, each generation of an idea contributes to an eventual breakthrough. A breakthrough has emerged in sales enablement, and companies taking advantage of it have realized a remarkable increase in sales conversion rates, sales-marketing alignment and revenue growth.
For more information on modern sales enablement, including a discussion on capabilities, best practices on implementing and optimizing, and analyst recommendations, read the Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement.
Jeff Day is the VP of Marketing at Highspot and a 15-year veteran of sales enablement. As a marketing leader for companies including Apptio, HP, Sun and PolyServe and the VP of Sales for DomainTools, Jeff understands the potential of a well-trained, empowered and enabled sales force.