Sales Enablement @CSO Insights: Highlights 2018
Dec 20 2018
What a year! 2018 was a very intensive year here at CSO Insights, with lots of highly interesting and comprehensive research projects. Seleste Lunsford covered our overall CSO Insights highlights here.
Today, let me share our 2018 sales enablement highlights. In numbers: I wrote 48 blog posts (including this one) just here on our CSO Insights blog, more than 10 others for clients and industry magazines, plus several webinars, podcasts and life events. All of them were based on our studies, primarily the 2017 Sales Enablement Study and the 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study, and our new 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, our 2018 Sales Talent Study and our 2018 Sales Operations Study.
Let’s have a look at the 2018 sales enablement highlights, beginning with the customers, the top facet of our sales enablement clarity model:
- Understanding buyer preferences and adjusting the sales enablement strategy:
Based on our first ever Buyer Preferences Study, I extracted the core findings that are most relevant for sales enablement leaders and shared them in a series of blog posts. First, based on the fact that only 23% of buyers named salespeople one of their top three resources when it comes to solving a business problem, I discussed whether sellers are still relevant to the modern buyer or not. Second, I wrote about the surprising fact that there are plenty of opportunities to engage buyers earlier, depending on the buying situation and the buying context. Buyers just don’t do it more often because they don’t perceive salespeople as problem solvers. Third, I shared the four key buyer preferences buyers have when it comes to interacting with salespeople: be prepared, demonstrate excellent communication skills, provide me with insights and expertise and focus on post-sale. And the last blog post of this series focused specifically on what “focus on post sale” actually means.
- Effective customer engagement was the 2018 spotlight in the industry:
Customer engagement was the core theme of the 2018 Sales Enablement Society conference and the spotlight of our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study. And we integrated new questions around customer engagement in our 2018 study. Customer engagement’s main goal is for customers and buyers to perceive every interaction, whether with or without human interaction, as relevant, valuable and differentiating. Customer engagement’s role within sales enablement is a means to an end. Doing great at customer engagement is a prerequisite to be effective with sales enablement. In a follow-post, I discussed the role of tailored buyer-centric content in customer engagement and why irrelevant content damages your win rates.
- Customers, their customer’s path and their preferences are sales enablement’s primary design point:
Making your seller successful along the customer’s path requires that you align your internal selling processes and your enablement services to the customer’s path. Why that matters, and what it actually means, is explained here: Why The Customer’s Path Should Be At The Core Of Your Enablement Approach. Only one-fifth of organizations have their selling processes purposefully aligned to the customer’s path, but this one-fifth increases their quota attainment rate by 8.9%.
In addition to focusing on the customer and the focus theme customer engagement, we shared a lot of insights and latest research in these key sales enablement areas:
- How you set up your sales enablement function matters a lot:
How sales enablement is set up and managed makes all the difference regarding sales enablement’s business impact. Thinking in business terms rather than in programs, talking as business leaders rather than as program managers is key to successfully engage senior executive sponsors. Capturing such a business-driven approach in a formal sales enablement charter is the prerequisite that sets sales enablement up for success. In 2018, only 9.3% of organizations followed a strategic, charter-based approach, but this group improved their win rates by 19.2%. Check out these blog posts: Why you need a charter and how to create a charter. Establishing a sales enablement governance model is equally important to keep the momentum with the senior executive sponsors going. An advisory board helps to keep your sales enablement team aligned to changing business needs, to make strategic decisions and to solve overarching conflicts.
- Effective sales enablement services drive sales results and determine how sales enablement is perceived in your organization:
This is, of course, the core area of sales enablement. Enablement services cover all kinds of training, also onboarding, customer-facing and internal enablement content services, sales coaching and sales tools, and, of course, value messaging, the glue that should hold content and training together along the customer’s path. Have a look here and here.
Check out how onboarding drives sales results, and how to drive effective onboarding programs. Why you need a content strategy (only 32.7% have one), and how having a content strategy can increase your win rate by 12.2 points. Additionally, a content strategy also impacts relationship levels with your buyers.
- Sales coaching is heading in the right direction, but not fast enough:
Coaching is always a “must have” enablement service that can lead to two-digit improvements of win rates and other metrics. Check out the state of sales coaching in 2018. And learn about five ways to improve your sales coaching efforts and how to measure sales coaching impact and how to assess your sales coaching maturity.
- Too often overlooked: the inner workings of sales enablement or why you must set up your sales enablement function like a high-tech production:
This year, we also looked at how sales enablement should be managed internally to ensure consistency, efficiency, effectiveness and scalability. More and more business leaders expect their sales enablement team to be the engine that drives change and can onboard newly acquired sales teams in just a few weeks. Check out why you should invest in an efficient enablement operations backbone, and why enablement metrics are not all about revenue and how to measure enablement impact with the metrics you need. Additionally, closely connected to the metrics question: how to get from deployment success to enablement success.
In addition to all of that, for more details and “how to” information, you might want to check out our sales enablement book, Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip, and Empower a World-class Sales Force, I had the pleasure to co-author with our CEO, Byron Matthews. It was published in May 2018. You might want to put it on your reading list for the holidays. It will be worth your time, I promise.
I hope you enjoyed this recap of our year in sales enablement research! Today, there are no further questions for you to think about and the related links are already in embedded in great abundance throughout this blog post.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or just a happy, grateful, and thoughtful time to reflect the year that goes and to welcome the year that comes: 2018!