CSO Insights https://www.csoinsights.com The Research Division of Miller Heiman Group Mon, 24 Jun 2019 22:06:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.csoinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2016/08/cropped-favicon-32x32.png CSO Insights https://www.csoinsights.com 32 32 What Is Sales Enablement Success? https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/what-is-sales-enablement-success/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/what-is-sales-enablement-success/#respond Thu, 20 Jun 2019 15:57:34 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20899 After discussing lots of sales enablement challenges here and here, let’s move on and look at the biggest sales enablement successes our study participants shared with us, based on our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study. Sales enablement success comes in different forms and shapes —...

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After discussing lots of sales enablement challenges here and here, let’s move on and look at the biggest sales enablement successes our study participants shared with us, based on our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study.

Sales enablement success comes in different forms and shapes — and it lacks clarity. (click to tweet)

After analyzing all of your text answers regarding your biggest success and why, three central themes emerged. One is that sales enablement success comes in different forms and shapes. Two is that there is no clarity at all around what sales enablement success actually means and, even more important, how it is measured. And three is that just the accomplishment of activities is very often considered a success.

The latter applies to young enablement teams just getting started. Having established a function, a person or the first initiative is a big milestone and, at that stage, a success. The creation of a charter also is, at that stage, a great success in itself. At the same time, these successes also are prerequisites for getting started.

Sales enablement success often is expressed in terms of process and technology implementation. (click to tweet)

Many of the text success comments had to do with the implementation of technologies — the range of which is broad. We heard successes regarding sales enablement content solutions, onboarding solutions, various productivity tool implementations that make working with a CRM easier, social selling tools and the actual implementation of CRM systems.

The latter shows us that the lines between sales enablement and sales operations are blurring. The fact that sales enablement happened to report into sales operations, especially in larger organizations, a couple of years ago but is now more and more considered an equally important parallel discipline might explain that. To learn more about the relationship between sales operations and sales enablement, please see here and here.

Another group of success examples had to do with the implementation of consistent selling processes and methodologies and the related training services. Check out our various posts and studies to learn about the positive business impact of these enablement services.

Alignment is considered a success in itself. (click to tweet)

Interestingly, alignment was pointed out in many different ways as a sales enablement success. Alignment with the leadership team/company owner was mentioned a few times. This alignment allows sales enablement to be set up in a strategic and formal way and ensures sponsorship and engagement. So it’s a great starting point.

Alignment in the context of business strategies and investments, especially in centralized enablement functions, also was mentioned a few times. This alignment is based on a formal and strategic approach to sales enablement. As we know from our research year after year, organizations that follow a strategic, formal and (ideally) charter-based approach to sales enablement derived from the business, the sales strategy and current selling challenges can achieve two-digit improvements in sales performance.

And, of course, better alignment with marketing also was mentioned a few times. What made it a success was the aligned creation of content that’s tailored to things such as buyer roles or customer path phases, based on an overall strategy. Also relevant was that sellers were enabled on how to apply these assets effectively, with talking points and video examples.

Reading through all of the sales enablement successes that were mentioned, two questions came to mind:

Question #1: Where is the customer focus in your sales enablement success? (click to tweet)

I had a hard time finding any sales enablement success examples that specifically had to do with a customer-focused approach. To be precise, there was only one. Even all of the alignment successes were focused on internal alignment topics such as sales and marketing, sales enablement and leadership teams, and senior executives.

There was only one (!) success centered around customer-centric lead and opportunity qualification. The example showed how a customer-centric questioning technique was able to uncover the real problems and their business impact in a quantifiable way. The example also showed that establishing a future vision of success was much easier, as the sellers focused on the customer-focused problem diagnosis. And of additional value, price objections could be reduced tremendously.

Doing this correctly and in a scalable way requires dynamic alignment of the selling processes to the customer’s path. And that creates a platform for more sales productivity — up to 8.9% improved quota attainment rates.

Question #2: How do you measure sales enablement success? (click to tweet)

Now the real question is this: How do you measure the success of any implementation or achievement of any tasks? Which KPI improved? Was it an efficiency or an effectiveness KPI? How much improvement could you achieve?

One response stated that the organizations achieved their set benchmarks; another connected the dots between a relationship-building program and improved win rates. Those examples are extremely rare, given more than a few hundred participants.

These responses are not surprising. We saw in the data of the same study that less than 20% of our study participants were able to measure sales enablement success with a set of predefined KPIs connected to their initiatives. If you want to learn more about how to measure sales enablement success, please check out the blogs here and here.

Measuring sales enablement success correctly requires a strategic and formal charter-based approach to sales enablement. (click to tweet)

When it comes to measuring sales enablement success, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the idea of a strategic and formal sales enablement approach with a charter (business plan). Following that process to create your charter forces you to think through the process of how to measure success at each stage of the implementation.

 

On another note, because research also needs study participants, we just launched the survey of our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. We’d appreciate you taking 15 minutes to participate in this survey so that we can continue to help you! Click here to get started!

What’s in it for you? You will be among the first to receive the full report, before it is open market; you can download a members-only research asset right after completing the survey; and you also are invited to become a member of our research community.

Thank YOU!

 
Questions for you:

  • What does sales enablement success mean to you?
  • How do you define sales enablement success?
  • How do you measure sales enablement success?

 
 
Related blog posts:

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To Increase Forecast Win Rates, Focus on Customer Relationships https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/to-increase-forecast-win-rates-focus-on-customer-relationships/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/to-increase-forecast-win-rates-focus-on-customer-relationships/#respond Tue, 18 Jun 2019 15:49:20 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20882 Forecasting sales is hard. Sales leaders spend countless hours discussing the criteria by which opportunities should be evaluated before they’re allowed to hit the forecast. Sales managers spend even more hours reviewing forecasts with salespeople to ensure the deals that get added meet those criteria....

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Forecasting sales is hard. Sales leaders spend countless hours discussing the criteria by which opportunities should be evaluated before they’re allowed to hit the forecast. Sales managers spend even more hours reviewing forecasts with salespeople to ensure the deals that get added meet those criteria.

Unfortunately, sales organizations don’t seem to be getting any better at this vital task. In our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study, win rates of forecasted opportunities remained consistent with 2017 levels at 47.3%. No-decisions decreased a bit, from 21.8% to 20.7%, but only because those opportunities fell into the loss column, which increased from 30.9% to 32.0%.

Why do sales forecasts continue to be wrong more than half the time? (click to tweet)

To answer this question, we first have to understand that when we say the average win rate was 47.3%, that doesn’t mean that every organization in our study closed slightly less than half of their forecasted opportunities. Some had a higher success rate while others fell short. To better understand how to improve sales forecasts, the CSO Insights 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study looked at what the successful companies did differently than their less-successful peers. (click to tweet)

Why the Winners Win

Year after year, sales process and customer relationships are shown to be two primary contributors to sales success. This year, we decided to help our clients prioritize by looking at which of these elements contributed more to sales performance improvements.

When we compared win rates to sales process win rates, we saw a subtle relationship between process rigor and winning more deals, but we found a much more profound impact on sales performance when we looked at the level of relationship a company has with its customers.

Let’s dig into the details for a better understanding.

In the SRP Matrix, we break customer relationships into five levels: Approved Vendor, Preferred Supplier, Solutions Consultant, Strategic Contributor, and Trusted Partner. A plurality of respondents (35.7%) said they were considered Solutions Consultants by their customers. The next highest level was Preferred Supplier (22.6%), followed by Strategic Contributor (16.8%) and Approved Vendor (16.1%). Only 8.8% of our respondents felt they were considered to be Trusted Partners.

When we mapped win rates against relationship levels, the results were startling. There was a spread of more than 20 percentage points as we moved up the hierarchy. When we compared sales process to win rates, the spread was only eight points. So, when it comes to improving sales performance, sales process matters, but relationships matter more. (click to tweet)

Why Relationships Matter

Sales is about trust. The better salespeople are at building trust with their customers, the more likely buyers are to listen to and believe the proposed solutions will address their problem or challenge. It makes sense, then, that improving relationships would help salespeople close more deals. Intuitively, most sales professionals understand this.

But, our study also uncovered another way improving relationships helps drive performance: referral selling. Starting the sales process with a recommendation from another customer gives salespeople an edge. Evidently, that edge follows the lead throughout the sales process. Win rates were dramatically higher in organizations that were skilled at referral selling. (click to tweet)

Being good at referral selling is critical, especially since, according to this year’s study, the percentage of leads generated by salespeople has risen to 52.6%. Skilled referral sellers don’t need to worry as much about filling the top of the funnel and, as attested to by this year’s study data, their conversion rates are higher at every stage.

But, improving customer relationships is more than just being professional and returning calls promptly. (click to tweet)

To Improve Relationships Salespeople Need to Get Better at Providing Perspectives

Only 23% of respondents in our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study told us they would turn to salespeople when they have to solve a business problem simply because they perceive sellers as product-pushing rather than as problem-solving. To be seen as problem solvers, salespeople need to get better at providing buyers with insights and perspectives that will help them see their problems and potential solutions differently so they can make better decisions.

In our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study, less than half (44.6%) of respondents felt their salespeople met or exceeded expectations when it came to providing customers with insights and perspective. Those that did saw higher than average win rates.

Improving customer relationships can have a significant impact on sales performance, but it is not a task for your salespeople alone. It takes an orchestrated, cross-organizational effort that includes enablement, sales ops, marketing, and more. It also takes top-down leadership to ensure customer relationships remain the focal point of your sales transformation strategy.

 

Questions to Consider

  • What level of relationships do our salespeople have with customers, and what can we do to move up a level?
  • How can we better support our salespeople’s ability to provide perspectives?
  • How effective are we at referral selling, and what can we do to improve our skills and support our salespeople’s efforts?

Related blogs

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How to Overcome Sales Enablement Challenges | Part 2: Engaging and Involving Sales Managers https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-overcome-sales-enablement-challenges-part-2-engaging-and-involving-sales-managers/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-overcome-sales-enablement-challenges-part-2-engaging-and-involving-sales-managers/#respond Thu, 13 Jun 2019 14:46:32 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20844 After having discussed the “lack” element of sales enablement challenges last week, this week we are going to talk about challenges around sales managers. Yes, sales managers seem to be involved in various sales enablement challenges in many different ways. Let’s take a look at...

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After having discussed the “lack” element of sales enablement challenges last week, this week we are going to talk about challenges around sales managers. Yes, sales managers seem to be involved in various sales enablement challenges in many different ways. Let’s take a look at what you told us.

In the open text responses from our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study, you shared some sales manager-related challenges that can be summarized in three buckets: a) misalignment with sales managers, b) missing sales manager development and c) a lack of driving adoption and reinforcement of the initial sales enablement initiatives for salespeople. Misalignment typically is the most important issue to be resolved first as, for instance, the adoption and misalignment challenges are just a consequence of enablement and sales managers not being on the same page.

Key challenge: Sales enablement is often disconnected from sales managers. (click to tweet)

This is a situation I encounter more often than not. Amazing sales enablement strategies have been developed, mapped out and even funded. In theory, they usually make a lot of sense and address the root causes of the challenges to be solved. However, there is an enormous gap in many shiny enablement strategies: lack of implementation.

Any lack of implementation strength and focus is a serious danger for sales enablement and for you as a sales enablement leader. (click to tweet)

Implementation success in sales is only possible with your sales managers. It won’t work without them, and it certainly won’t work against them. And that ultimately brings us to the role of sales managers, especially frontline sales managers.

Sales managers are the linchpins in every sales organization who have to drive the implementation of any sales strategy. (click to tweet)

That requires sales managers to lead their teams in a way that they can achieve their goals and focus on the implementation of new strategies at the same time. Frontline sales managers are especially where the rubber meets the road: in the field. They are the only role that directly leads six or more quota-carrying salespeople.

Who is the most important influence for any sales professional? It’s their direct sales manager. It’s not sales enablement, it’s not sales operations, and it’s usually not their sales leader. It’s their direct manager, because that’s the person who heavily impacts how they sell, where they sell, what they sell and to whom, and how they are supported… or not.

Imagine that the sales managers are not on the same page regarding your sales enablement strategies. Imagine they have a different focus, or they take an entirely different approach — or they don’t coach at all. What will happen? No implementation will ever be successful. And transformation won’t happen at all.

Not having sales managers involved and engaged in your sales enablement strategy puts your investments at risk. (click to tweet)

Yes, it’s that drastic, even if you have senior executive buy-in. Let me be very clear with that. Even if you have senior executive buy-in, which is a prerequisite in itself, you have to engage and involve your sales managers directly and personally. If you don’t take the time to involve and engage your sales managers early on, you will have a very hard time landing any sales enablement success.

Let’s discuss a few steps to help you engage and involve your sales managers, even if you currently don’t provide and services for them.

  • Build relationships first, and make them personal.
    If you are new to the organization or the sales enablement role, your sales managers are an abundant source of street wisdom. Whatever challenges exist, they know about them. Building mutually beneficial relationships is the first step. Asking for their perspective, as you want to make sure that you correctly address the selling challenges, is a starting point. In most organizations, sales managers are not often asked for their perspective, as they are often the role blamed first if the numbers aren’t what they are supposed to be. As they have heard of your plans via their bosses, it’s important to build relationships first and set your approach into their context.
  • Ask them for feedback on your plans early on, and listen to their challenges.
    Before you pitch your ideas and strategies to them, listen to their daily challenges, thoughts and concerns. They will have great perspective on how any implementation will work (or not) in their teams and across the organization. Integrate their feedback into your implementation plans. Ask them what they expect and what they would prioritize now.Let’s say that a manager has issues with meeting goals as the team approaches a new industry, and most sellers struggle with confident, valuable and relevant conversations in that industry and new buyer roles. Take that as an opportunity, and create a pilot for that team.
  • Build a group of highly engaged sales managers as your early adopters.
    Even if you are in an organization that didn’t implement sales coaching development for sales managers yet, you can collaborate with them to achieve your shared sales goals. In my previous role, I gained a ton of street wisdom from working with a few excellent sales managers who were very positive regarding sales enablement and simply wanted to use everything that could make them more successful. Ask for feedback if you implement something new (e.g., a playbook). Integrate their feedback, and let them test it with their teams. Then make it perfect, and roll it out.
  • Let sales managers promote your enablement services.
    If that happens, you have taken all the right steps. As they are the key role for sellers, that’s the best scenario you could ever ask for. If sellers hear from their managers that resources and tools have to be used or certain behaviors are expected, it’s 10 times more powerful than sales enablement communicating it alone. And in an ideal world, these sales managers also coach their teams along those lines.
  • Ask them what they need to become even better coaches in their role.
    That opens the space to discuss a sales manager enablement program with sales coaching at its core. You can only have this conversation with them if you earned their trust beforehand and can prove that your stuff really works.

 

Stay tuned! Next week we will discuss the biggest successes you shared with us!

 

On another note, because research also needs study participants, we just launched the survey of our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. We’d appreciate you taking 15 minutes to participate in this survey so that we can continue to help you! Click here to get started!

What’s in it for you? You will be among the first to receive the full report, before it is open market; you can download a members-only research asset right after completing the survey; and you also are invited to become a member of our research community.

Thank YOU!

 

Questions for you:

  • How do you involve and engage your sales managers?
  • If you are already involving and engaging your sales managers, how did you get there?
  • If you are not already involving and engaging your sales managers, what stands in your way right now?

 
Related blog posts:

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Improving Lead Process by Focusing on the Customer’s Path https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/improving-lead-process-by-focusing-on-customer-path/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/improving-lead-process-by-focusing-on-customer-path/#respond Tue, 11 Jun 2019 18:56:41 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20836 According to our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study, lead generation is both a top sales objective and a top sales challenge. Sales and marketing likely each have their own perspective on why it’s a challenge and how to go about addressing it, but here’s where sales...

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According to our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study, lead generation is both a top sales objective and a top sales challenge. Sales and marketing likely each have their own perspective on why it’s a challenge and how to go about addressing it, but here’s where sales operations comes in – to help build a bridge between the two organizations by putting the customer’s path front and center when it comes to the lead process.

Differing perspectives on what a lead is, is not such a bad thing. (Click to tweet)

Have you ever been in a conversation on lead generation where there were differences of opinion on what a lead is, who generated it and whether it was a good lead? You more than likely have, especially if sales and marketing were involved in the discussion.

But that’s not such a bad thing. Having different perspectives is necessary, especially if organizations want to move forward and be creative. And with changing buyer preferences (read more here), both sales and marketing need to think outside the box and make the customer’s path the main design point for lead generation and nurturing. (Click to tweet)

Let’s first take a look at why sales and marketing have different perspectives on leads.

Sales and marketing often start from different vantage points when it comes to leads. (Click to tweet) Our research shows that 43% of organizations don’t have an agreed-upon definition of a lead. This number has been rising since 2014, when it was only 19.3%! The misalignment is not only with the definition of a lead, but it also extends into the lead nurturing process. More than one-third (35.3%) of organizations also don’t have an agreed-upon lead nurturing process between sales and marketing. (Click to tweet)

 

 

Without alignment around the foundations of lead definition and the nurturing process, it’s no wonder sales and marketing perspectives differ. Because different perspectives can drive creativity, you might wonder if it’s such a bad thing. It could be, when we consider the customer and the impacts such misalignment can have on their experience.

An opportunity to improve: Looking at lead experience from a customer perspective.

As we found in our 2018-2019 Sales Performance Study, today’s buyers don’t see salespeople as a resource to help solve their business problems. Not only are there many resources available for buyers to do their own research, but also with automated, impersonal prospecting outreaches (whether from marketing or sales), buyers often aren’t seeing value in engaging with salespeople.

At the same time, an overwhelming 90% said they would be open to engaging with salespeople earlier in the buying process. (Click to tweet) This means organizations still have an opportunity to differentiate themselves and look for ways to add value to the buyer’s experience. We can do this by looking at the lead generation and nurturing processes and putting more emphasis on the customer’s path instead of the more common internally focused approach. Our research shows that successful organizations are connecting their sales processes to the customer.

Partnering with marketing operations, sales operations can play a key role in driving alignment between sales and marketing to shift their focus to the customer’s path, thereby ensuring the buyer experience is consistent and meaningful during the lead phase of the engagement.

Here’s how sales operations can work with marketing operations to drive this alignment:

1.Understand the customer’s path. It sounds simple, but how often do organizations look closely at the customer experience when designing lead campaigns and the processes that support them? The fact that we call a prospective buyer a “lead” in this phase of the engagement shows how internally focused we are. So the first step sales operations should take is to work with marketing operations to understand what the prospective customer’s experience is like when they receive prospecting outreach from marketing and sales.

Document the internal lead generation and nurturing processes, if not already available, from both a marketing and a sales perspective. For this step, focus on the internal steps that marketing and sales go through. Then, next to these steps, list what the buyer’s experience might be like. For example, depending on where in the purchase journey the buyer is, responses to the initial reach-out will vary – disinterested and no response (identify and clarify needs), researching and request more info (identify solutions), selecting vendors and requests a demo (evaluate solutions), etc.

Ideally, marketing shares with sales the type of response they received from the initial email, so the salesperson can adjust their follow-on engagement against the buyer’s initial response. Otherwise, the buyer experience becomes discontinued.

2.Define a “customer-qualified” lead. Lead qualification is usually based on internal criteria, defined by either or both marketing and sales. This is why we commonly use the term “marketing-qualified leads” (MQL) or “sales-qualified leads” (SQL). But if we make the customer’s path the main design point, the qualification criteria may be significantly different. We might as well call it “customer-qualified leads,” as in the customer determines where they are in their purchase journey and what type of engagement benefits them most.

Taking the example from the previous section, if a customer is in education mode and researching available solutions to solve their business problems, the qualification criteria might focus less on whether they have a budget and a need and more on what business requirements they’re gathering information against and what other vendor solutions they may be researching against.

In addition, because they are most likely in the “identify solution” phase rather than the earlier “identify and clarify needs” phase, once qualified, the handoff to sales may be assigned in CRM at a later sales stage than the initial sales stages associated with “identify and clarify needs.”

3.Identify the process and system handoffs and any impacts to the customer experience. Qualified leads pass from marketing to sales. Leads that require more nurturing may involve both marketing and sales in the process. Whatever the scenario, there are process and system impacts that need to be taken into account. By partnering with marketing operations, sales operations can identify impacts to both sales and marketing processes and systems by conducting an impact assessment. Click here to read more on impact assessments.

When doing so, it’s also important to look at impacts to the customer experience, if there are any. While the majority of process and system impacts might be internal, such as marketing automation platform (MAP) to CRM data handoff and marketing to sales team engagement handoff, there may be impacts to the prospective customer during the handoff process as well.

For example, when a prospective buyer is considered “qualified” for sales engagement, the contact data in MAP may be added to CRM, and CRM triggers an email for the salesperson to follow up. If a former salesperson who left the company had previously reached out to the same contact but, due to lack of interest from the buyer, had not entered their information in CRM, the new salesperson reaching out may not be aware of the previous reach out. This, in turn, could make the buyer experience not so positive, in that the new salesperson is not aware of the previous conversation the prospective buyer had with another person from the same company.

If there was a process in place that required the salesperson to enter contact information for anyone they reached out to, whether it resulted in an opportunity or not, this type of scenario may have been avoided.

 

Shifting the focus to the customer’s path as the main design point for internal lead processes will not only help improve the prospective buyers’ experiences, but it also will help drive alignment across sales and marketing. (Click to tweet) And sales operations can partner with marketing operations to help facilitate such an alignment by adding the customer’s path to the internal way of doing things.

 

Questions for you:

  • How does your organization define a lead? Is it different for marketing and sales?
  • Do you know what the customer’s experience is when it comes to your internal lead processes?
  • What are the consequences of a misalignment between sales and marketing?

 

Related blog posts:

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How to Overcome Sales Enablement Challenges | Part 1: Transmuting Lack into Abundance https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-overcome-sales-enablement-challenges-part-1-transmuting-lack-into-abundance/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-overcome-sales-enablement-challenges-part-1-transmuting-lack-into-abundance/#respond Thu, 06 Jun 2019 14:20:16 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20816 As we are currently recruiting for our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study, I was again looking back at the open text questions we asked last year regarding your biggest sales enablement challenges. On a high level, a few issues dominated the answers — the keywords...

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As we are currently recruiting for our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study, I was again looking back at the open text questions we asked last year regarding your biggest sales enablement challenges. On a high level, a few issues dominated the answers — the keywords were lack, consistency, process, resources, priorities, accountability and yes, sales managers.

Sales enablement leaders reported to suffer from lack in many ways.

Lack was mentioned a lot and in different ways, such as a lack of leadership, a lack of senior executive buy-in and sponsorship, a lack of resources, a lack of process, a lack of tools and a lack of content. The list goes on.

The main “lack” areas are a lack of senior executive sponsorship and a lack of resources. And the latter is usually a consequence of the former. A lack of process and tools, as well as a lack of enablement services, also usually have their root cause in the lack of senior executive sponsorship.

Transmuting the issue of “lack” into “fullness” or even “abundance” requires a strategic approach to sales enablement that connects the dots to the business strategy and substantially helps to solve the selling challenges. (click to tweet)

And that’s exactly why we devoted one facet of our sales enablement clarity model to strategy, sponsorship and charter. The steps for how to develop a sales enablement charter can be precisely described, as I have done here and here. If you haven’t read those two blogs and are struggling to get your senior executives on the same page, please check them out first.

However, even if the steps are well understood, people don’t struggle because they don’t understand what needs to be done. In reality, they struggle with approaching all the steps in the right way because they run into blockages before they can even get started with the actual charter and business case work. That’s why I wrote a blog on how to approach senior executives in the first place — to even have a chance at the initial conversations that are key to success. As I hear more and more about these challenges, let me elaborate a bit more on how to approach senior executive leaders.

Sales enablement leaders should drink their own champagne and approach their senior executive leaders as any high-value — but challenging — prospect. (click to tweet)

  • Your language matters. Telling your story in business terms is mandatory, not optional. (click to tweet)
    This is, by the way, why your sellers have challenges in talking to new buyer roles such as business leaders if they were used to talking only to the IT department head or even the CIO. It’s exactly the same challenge, and you have to prepare, train and role play in exactly the same way to be able to sound like a business leader and feel confident at the same time.The truth is, if you continue to sound like sales training, onboarding or content management, your senior executives will delegate you down to those who speak precisely your language. Apply some of your own programs that address that problem, and tailor it to your own purposes. It’s absolutely worth the time and effort. Enjoy drinking your own champagne!

 

  • Sales enablement is selling internally, and modern selling is about problem-solving. (click to tweet)
    You have to be your own best salesperson in the way modern sellers should approach their buyers: by solving their business problems. As we know from our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, modern buyers wish salespeople would focus more on solving their problems by providing insights and perspective rather than pitching products. If you want to sell a strategic sales enablement approach to your senior executives, you need relevant insights (you will find a lot here in all of the recommended links and here) and perspectives (those should be tailored to your context) that solve your senior executives’ biggest challenges.As in any sales role, this work has to be well prepared to be as accurate as possible. Leading with data, such as why sales enablement can improve win rates and quota attainment in a two-digit manner, is always a key component.

 
Approaching your senior executives should be about solving their problems rather than pitching your approach. (click to tweet)

Let’s say the biggest problem in their perception is that the sales force is talking to the wrong people, or is talking too many features and functions. So the shared vision of success would be, for instance, that the win rates and the average deal sizes or total contract volumes (whatever the relevant KPIs might be for them) increase by X percent. If you have that conversation (compared to “I want to do X and would need Y resources), you have the prerequisites in place to be able to talk about the required investments to achieve their goals.

Solving your senior executives’ problems opens a space to get from “lack” into “abundance.” (click to tweet)

Now you can map out a plan to get there. Let’s say you begin with mapping the selling processes to the customer’s path (that can bring an 8.9% improvement in quota attainment), an integrated value messaging approach to drive customer engagement (that can bring up to an 11.5% improvement in win rates) that requires a lot of cross-functional orchestration and integration, related training services and the sales managers’ ability to coach their teams accordingly.

Once you have established such a shared vision of success, you will have a different conversation re: what the next steps should be, where to start and why, whether you need a pilot, what the related investments would be, etc.

I will talk about the challenges around sales managers that came up in your answers in a follow-up blog.

On another note, because research also needs study participants, we just launched the survey of our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. We’d appreciate you taking 15 minutes to participate in this survey so that we can continue to help you! Click here to get started!

What’s in it for you? You will be among the first to receive the full report, before it is open market; you can download a members-only research asset right after completing the survey; and you also are invited to become a member of our research community.

Thank YOU!

 

Questions for you:

  • Do you experience “lack” in any way in your sales enablement role?
  • If you do experience lack, in what ways do you experience it?
  • How do you approach your senior executives?

 
Related blog posts:

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Repurposing Sales Operations Data: Arming Your Sales Team with Insights https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/repurposing-sales-operations-data/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/repurposing-sales-operations-data/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2019 20:01:26 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20782 In our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, “insights and perspective” was one of the four buyer preferences when engaging with salespeople. Sales enablement plays a key role in equipping the sales team with the skills, expertise, fluency and content to do this effectively, and sales operations...

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In our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, “insights and perspective” was one of the four buyer preferences when engaging with salespeople. Sales enablement plays a key role in equipping the sales team with the skills, expertise, fluency and content to do this effectively, and sales operations can also contribute to this. How? By repurposing the data sales operations already works with and arming the sales team with valuable insights to use when engaging with customers.

Today’s buyers are changing faster and to a greater degree than sales organizations. (Click to tweet)

In a previous blog, we touched on the fact that nearly three-quarters (70.2%) of buyers make initial decisions in their buying process before engaging sellers. This is not a surprise, considering so much information is already available to the buyer even before they engage with a salesperson. In addition, most buyers (57.7%) saw little difference among sellers, and some (10.4%) found no difference at all! (Click to tweet) This means sales organizations need to rethink the way they are engaging with buyers.

When we asked what buyers wanted from their engagement with salespeople, four buyer preferences emerged: Understand my business, demonstrate excellent communication skills, focus on post-sale, and provide insights and perspective (2018 Buyer Preferences Study). The fourth item – provide insights and perspective – is the biggest opportunity for differentiation and yet the hardest to master, because you cannot do it well if you are not good at the first three. And providing perspective that is disconnected from the buyer’s context is useless. Sales operations can provide insights and perspective for sellers to sharpen their engagement with customers, and be prepared for any kind of buyer interaction. (Click to tweet)

Repurpose available data to provide key insights for sales teams. (Click to tweet)

Sales operations is usually involved when it comes to providing key decision-making data and analysis to sales executives. In fact, the majority of organizations (73.5%) are involved regularly or heavily, if not in leadership roles, in providing customer analysis and reporting (2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study). When we look further at the types of analysis and reports sales operations provides, the top three analysis for annual planning activities are customer segmentation, product segmentation and market segmentation. While these are primarily used for internal planning purposes, sales operations can repurpose the same data and compile analysis that supports sellers in several ways, including prioritizing which accounts to engage with and providing buyers with useful information.

Here are three types of existing data that sales operations can repurpose to deliver insights: (Click to tweet)

1.Customer data. Most sales organizations have customer data available for both existing clients and prospect accounts. It can usually be found in CRM as well as in marketing automation platforms (MAP), order fulfillment systems and customer support/client success platforms.

Sales operations pulls together customer data from these multiple sources to compile an analysis on client and prospect accounts, which sales executives use to determine go-to-market strategies. Such analysis might include revenue generated by client accounts, potential revenue available within target prospect accounts, products and services sold, competitor and channel partner data, renewal rates and customer retention.

Let’s say sales operations used available competitor and product data to compile an analysis around the number of customers who replaced a competitor product with your product and the reasons why. Armed with such information, salespeople can engage with prospective buyers not only with a business case, but also raise their awareness around additional reasons why they might want to consider replacing an incumbent solution from the competitor.

In another example, if we took client revenue data and grouped it by salesperson, they would have insights that could help them determine what type of engagement they might want to take with each account. If they already sold most of their products and services into an existing client account, they might focus their engagement more to manage the existing relationship and ensure the customer continues to see value. If they still have an opportunity to cross-sell other solutions, the engagement might focus on raising awareness around how others in similar industries have seen value in implementing another product or service they offer.

2.Product data. Product data can be used to compile analysis around product and services revenue sold, upsell and cross-sell opportunities, post-implementation customer satisfaction levels by product, and so on. This type of analysis can help sales executives determine which product or service to place more targeted sales and marketing focus around as well as identify which accounts they still have opportunities to cross-sell other products and services into.

An example of product data-based analysis that sales operations can pull for use by sales teams might be to look at products and services sold by industry. Salespeople can use such analysis to share insights with their customers on how others in the same industry have successfully implemented the product and are seeing relevant ROI.

Similarly, a salesperson also can use product data to help prioritize account engagements – which accounts they have already saturated, which accounts have significant opportunity for growth and which accounts have competitor products that they can build a business case for customers to replace with their products.

3.Market data. Market data is typically used to help determine which market segment (e.g., geographic, demographic, psychographic or behavioral) to focus sales and marketing efforts around. It is at a higher level than customer and product data but, combined with either or both, can produce additional insights that help sales and marketing executives make key go-to-market decisions around which new geographies to enter into, which updates need to be made to existing buyer personas or ideal customer profiles, etc.

Sales operations can utilize market data to provide salespeople with insights around which areas of their territory they may want to prioritize engagement against. Does a particular industry or postal code have compelling events such as new regulatory or region-specific requirements that your solution can address? Have new organizational roles recently emerged that have a specific need addressed by what you offer? Similarly, salespeople can utilize this type of analysis to inform their customers with similar regulatory insights that are relevant and specific to their business.

Some of you may already be doing this and seeing benefits from it. If you are one of them, continue to challenge yourself and look for new ways to repurpose existing data to compile insights that are valuable for your sales team. Others may not have started. If you are one of them, you have an opportunity to proactively compile insights for your sales team and help prepare them for varying buyer interactions. And of course, partnering with sales enablement to help train the sales teams on how they can effectively utilize the insights provided also is important – both for themselves and for their engagements with customers. (Click to tweet)

 

Questions for you:

  • Who is the primary audience for the analysis and reports sales operations provides today?
  • What kind of analysis and reports are you currently providing that are of value to your sales teams and the customers they engage with?
  • What other data points might be available for you to pull together valuable insights for your sales teams and their customers?

 

Related blog posts:

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How to Connect the Dots Between Sales Training and Sales Coaching https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-connect-the-dots-between-sales-training-and-sales-coaching/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-to-connect-the-dots-between-sales-training-and-sales-coaching/#respond Thu, 30 May 2019 19:19:55 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20754 What is the difference between sales training and sales coaching? That’s one of the questions I was asked at the Sales Enablement Soirée in London last week — a fantastic event that clearly shows sales enablement has arrived not only in the United Kingdom, but...

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What is the difference between sales training and sales coaching? That’s one of the questions I was asked at the Sales Enablement Soirée in London last week — a fantastic event that clearly shows sales enablement has arrived not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the rest of Europe. The audience was highly engaged, all at different stages of their sales enablement journeys.

Lots of different topics were discussed, such as the right approach to sales enablement, charter questions, how to set up a customer-centric approach, how to measure the impact of sales enablement and the role of technology, just to name a few.

What’s the difference between sales training and sales coaching?

Because I get the question on sales training and sales coaching quite often, I decided to write about it here so that everyone can benefit. Those of you who follow my work know that I love to define the terms I use, not only when it comes to defining sales enablement. Many of the terms we use in a sales enablement context require definition as well, as this question shows. So let’s define sales training and sales coaching.

  • The term sales training covers various training areas such as selling skills and techniques, sales methodologies, sales processes, sales technology and the whole range of product training services. Sales training can be delivered in various training formats such as eLearning, instructor-led online and classroom sessions, hybrid formats and many more. The purpose of sales training is to engage, equip and empower sales professionals to be valuable, relevant and differentiating in every buyer interaction along the entire customer’s path.
  • The term sales coaching is a process by which sales managers and others use a defined approach and specific communication skills combined with domain expertise to facilitate structured conversations with sales professionals to uncover improvement areas and opportunities for new levels of sales success. Additionally, sales coaching should drive adoption and reinforcement of the already-implemented enablement services. Sales coaching can be applied in different sales coaching areas such as lead and opportunity coaching, funnel coaching, skills and behavior coaching, and account and territory coaching.

 
Now what does that mean in practical terms if you are about to design a sales enablement approach for, let’s say, the implementation of a new value messaging approach?

In this case, let’s assume that the foundational content work has been done. That means the customer-facing content is tailored to buyer roles, their problems and the different stages of the customer’s path, with the new value messages. Let’s also assume that some kind of internal enablement content such as a digital sales playbook has been created that guides sellers through the entire customer’s path, linking to the right content assets along the way, depending on their specific selling scenarios.

  • Design and implement the initially required sales training services for salespeople
    First, you want to familiarize your sellers with the new value messaging concept, what it is, how it works and how to get started. That can be done in a digital format, to be consumed any time and anywhere. Second, you want your sellers to be comfortable with the new messaging, with new conversations and new buyer roles that are more and more relevant for your business. That requires an interactive setup, ideally instructor led, digital or classroom. Role plays are absolutely crucial to success (and, in this case, the core of the training), and taking the time for them is one of the best investments you can make to drive your sellers’ confidence. Only confident salespeople are able to create value for your buyers, and only then can they create the kind of business you want them to close.
  • Design and implement the ongoing coaching services; assuming your sales managers are already developed to be coaches.
    Design a coaching approach for your sales managers that specifically helps them drive adoption and reinforcement of the implemented and trained value messaging approach. To do that, your sales managers should have been part of the sales training. Run a specific module just for them, and tailor it to their role so that they understand the bigger picture and what they are asked to coach. Then design a coaching guideline that helps with typical questions in different selling situations (you can structure your guideline e.g., by customer’s path and buyer roles), how to set up individual or group coaching sessions, how to leverage recordings, etc. and help them get the required data from the CRM, such as first call bookings, percentage of follow-up interactions and conversion rates (value, volume, velocity).

 
Then I’d offer an initial training session for your sales managers so that they become familiar with the content of the coaching guideline and understand the purpose: to drive adoption and reinforcement of the implemented content and training services for your sellers to achieve the desired sales results. From there, it’s up to your sales managers to take action, schedule coaching sessions (for individuals or for their teams) and leverage each and every coaching moment (if they are already that fluent).

If your sales managers are not yet developed as sales coaches, an initial training program should be implemented first. It’s important that such a program is specifically designed to equip sales managers in their sales coaching role. General coaching programs won’t help here.

I hope this example helps you understand the difference between sales training and sales coaching and how the two should be closely connected to ensure an optimal outcome.

The key difference is that sales training services are often one-time events, whereas sales coaching builds on sales training as an ongoing process to continuously leverage each salesperson’s full potential in specific areas.

On another note, because research also needs study participants, we just launched the survey of our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. We’d appreciate you taking 15 minutes to participate in this survey so that we can continue to help you! Click here to get started!

What’s in it for you? You will be among the first to receive the full report, before it is open market; you can download a members-only research asset right after completing the survey; and you also are invited to become a member of our research community.

Thank YOU!

 

Questions for you:

  • How do you implement sales training and sales coaching in your organization?
  • If your organization doesn’t focus on sales coaching yet, why not?
  • How do you manage your sales coaching building on your sales enablement services for sellers?

 
Related blog posts:

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Struggling with Tech Adoption? Start with an Impact Assessment https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/struggling-with-tech-adoption-start-with-an-impact-assessment/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/struggling-with-tech-adoption-start-with-an-impact-assessment/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 20:24:49 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20734 As investment in sales technology continues to rise, organizations still struggle with adoption. In last week’s blog, we discussed how organizations can get the most out of their sales tech tools. Today we continue the focus on sales technology and look at how sales leaders...

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As investment in sales technology continues to rise, organizations still struggle with adoption. In last week’s blog, we discussed how organizations can get the most out of their sales tech tools. Today we continue the focus on sales technology and look at how sales leaders can partner with sales operations to improve adoption of their sales tech investment by conducting an impact assessment.

Sales technology adoption continues to be a challenge. (Click to tweet)

As noted last week, sales organizations continue to invest in sales technology with 10 or more already in use. But what about adoption rates? When we look specifically at CRM as an example, from 2013 to 2018, the percentage of organizations reporting CRM adoption rates greater than 90% increased by only 9 points, from 36.6% to 45.7% (2018-2019 Sales Performance Study). This means that while CRM implementation is almost universal, adoption growth has been slow over the past five years. (Click to tweet)

With sales technology roll-outs, the before and after scenario is usually clear. For example, before CRM, each salesperson managed contact and opportunity information in their own spreadsheets or notebooks, making it challenging to access this information. After CRM, you now have a central repository for this information, allowing you to pull various reports as well as retain the information even after the salesperson leaves.

It’s more challenging to think through what impacts there might be with the introduction of a new sales technology. And usually these impacts are what can slow down adoption. Continuing with the CRM example, a common complaint we hear is the fact that salespeople now have to spend more time on non-selling activity such as inputting data into the CRM, coupled with the fact that they’re not getting value from the new tool. It is often seen as a system of record for executives and sales leaders and others such as sales operations or finance to pull reports from. If we knew about how the salesperson’s day-to-day experience will change, as well as what they wanted to get out of the new tool, we would have been able to address this as part of the change management plan.

By conducting an impact assessment, organizations can better understand impacts the new sales technology might have to their sales team’s experiences, processes, and systems. (Click to tweet) As a result, they can pull together a more complete change management plan, which should help with better adoption.

Here are three key questions to ask when conducting an impact assessment:

  1. Who is the impacted audience? Clearly listing impacted audiences is an important first step in conducting an impact assessment, as you need to determine the type and level of impact by audience. Impacted audiences should include not only users of the new sales technology, but also others who may be impacted by changes in the process and system handoffs, both upstream and downstream, as well as those who may be consuming the new reports available from the technology.If your go-to-market approach includes channel partners, they also may be an impacted audience. For example, if you are planning to roll out a new prospecting tool, sales/business development teams and sales account executives will be users and, therefore, directly impacted. Marketing teams may be impacted, especially if they reference new or updated contact information. Customer success teams also may be impacted if they reference and update contact information.

 

  1. How will their experience change? Now let’s take a look at how the current experience of identified audience groups will be impacted with the introduction of the new sales technology. By looking at it from an experience perspective, you will more easily be able to identify the impacted processes and systems. Ideally, you will have the current processes documented to determine the expected change. If the process is not documented, this step will ensure you are documenting the current process as well as the future process. Similarly, if you have a tech stack view available by function (e.g., sales, marketing, customer success, etc.), you can look at where the new sales technology will fit and how it might impact other systems.For example, with a new prospecting tool, the lead handoff process may need to be adjusted. If there are multiple audiences such as marketing, sales and others in the process, make sure to look at it from all angles. If there are systems aligned to the impacted processes, like CRM and marketing automation platform (MAP), you also should identify what system adjustments need to be made.

 

  1. What is the level of impact? Ranking the impact level (e.g., high, medium, low) will help determine priority areas to focus on. You also can use impact level to ascertain whether you should plan for a short- or long-term approach. If the impact is significant enough, it may require more of a long-term plan with a phased approach. For example, if the new prospecting tool will be used as part of both sales and marketing processes, you might take a phased approach and roll it out to sales users first, then marketing. If the impact is low, you might decide on a smaller scale approach with a simple informational communication. For example, if the new prospecting tool does not impact the finance team significantly, you might plan to just keep them informed but not require any training or process updates. By looking at the impact level of the expected change, you can customize your plan by audience instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

Now that you have conducted an impact assessment, it’s time to partner with sales enablement and sales management to pull together a change management plan. Depending on the impacted audience, process and system, as well as the level of impact, you can develop audience-specific plans. And remember: Keeping secondary audiences informed is just as important as involving and training the primary impacted audience. A comprehensive change management plan may not be necessary for smaller sales technology rollouts; however, sales operations teams can still conduct a quick impact assessment by asking the questions above. This way, you may end up identifying impacts you didn’t foresee and, therefore, be more prepared.

Questions for you:

  • What is the adoption rate of the latest sales technology you implemented?
  • Did your latest sales technology rollout include an impact assessment?
  • How many impacted audiences did your latest sales technology implementation have? Was it limited to just the sales teams?

 

Related blog posts:

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How Do You Set Up Your Sales Enablement Team For Success? https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-do-you-set-up-your-sales-enablement-team-for-success/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how-do-you-set-up-your-sales-enablement-team-for-success/#respond Thu, 23 May 2019 13:36:46 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20723 If you are in a sales enablement role, you probably provide a lot of enablement services for your target audiences. Those services likely include various training services, customer-facing and internal content, some sales coaching and various sales tools. How do you make sure that the...

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If you are in a sales enablement role, you probably provide a lot of enablement services for your target audiences. Those services likely include various training services, customer-facing and internal content, some sales coaching and various sales tools.

How do you make sure that the production of your enablement services ensures quality, efficiency and scalability? (click to tweet)

How do you feel when facing a deadline for your new onboarding program or product launch? Do you have all of your ducks in a row? Does everyone involved know what to do and when? Do they know their roles and responsibilities along the process of creating, say, a new playbook or value messaging training service? Are all of the steps that have to be taken based on some sort of enablement production process everyone is following?

Or do you feel nervous, spending most of your time convincing your peers in other functions that your enablement tasks are top priority and have to be done in between to meet the deadline?

Let’s look at some data from our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study:

  • Only 25% of organizations have some sort of production process for their sales enablement services in place. (click to tweet)
  • Only 38.9% of organizations have their cross-functional collaboration efforts formalized, which means they have at least defined the responsible roles per sales enablement service type. (click to tweet)

 
Most enablement leaders possess the skills to “get things done,” and they are often admired for that. If you thrive on being the master of chaos and enjoy reinventing the wheel every time, I get that. But I have to tell you that those ad hoc approaches are not in the best interest of your role and your organization’s sales performance, because how you approach cross-functional collaboration and the production of your enablement services does matter.

Organizations that follow a formal production process for their enablement services ensure more consistency, better quality, better scalability – and better results. (click to tweet)

They set themselves up for better performance. Again, citing results from our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study:

  • The 25% of organizations that follow some sort of formal production process achieve win rates for forecast deals of 54.5%, which is 5 points better than the study’s average of 49.5%. (click to tweet)
  • The 27.2% of organizations that produce their enablement services in an ad hoc manner, without any process in place, must not be underestimated: win rates were 43.5%, which is 6 points below the study’s average. (click to tweet)

 
We saw similar results regarding a formalized collaboration approach. Organizations that define the responsible and accountable roles for each sales enablement service show slightly better productivity. Ideally, they also have defined what roles should be consulted or informed.

How do you get better with the “inner workings” of sales enablement, with a collaboration model and a production process?

Often, these inner workings are not considered at all, simply because they are not visible. And because they are not visible, people assume that they don’t matter. But as the data shows, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

It’s not enough that enablement teams are proud to get everything done, in whatever way and with lots of effort. Imagine that the leadership team acquires a new company or changes the strategic direction in a significant way, and the enablement team is forced to scale its services. Then, the ad hoc model is about to crash, and stakeholders’ expectations cannot be met. But an implemented production process connected to a formalized collaboration model can scale and ensure the expected consistency and quality.

Here are some ideas on where to start with the inner workings of sales enablement:

  • Prerequisite: Make an inventory of your enablement services. Assess what exists and where, and define enablement service types such as white paper, playbook or case study for content and skills training, value messaging training, etc. for training services.
  • Collaboration: Define roles per enablement type. Using the orchestrating role of sales enablement, invite your peers from contributing functions such as product management, marketing, sales operations, etc. to discuss who is responsible, who is accountable per enablement type, and what roles need to be consulted and informed. As an example, marketing is accountable and responsible for the content type “reference,” the account executive is probably the role to be consulted, and sales enablement and legal are the roles to be informed.
  • Process: Define the steps from definition to tracking results. Such a process does not need to be complicated. It’s about getting everyone on the same page re: phases that begin with defining and designing the enablement services, then it’s about creating and localizing it, then it’s about providing and publishing it, and then it’s about tracking and measuring the impact.
  • Connect the dots between collaboration model and process. Now it’s only a final step to connect the collaboration model to the production process, and the foundation for an efficient, consistent and scalable production of enablement services is established.

 

On another note, because research also needs study participants, we just launched the survey of our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. We’d appreciate you taking 15 minutes to participate in this survey so that we can continue to help you! Click here to get started!

What’s in it for you? You will be among the first to receive the full report, before it is open market; you can download a members-only research asset right after completing the survey; and you also are invited to become a member of our research community.

Thank YOU!

Questions for you:

  • How do you plan the production of enablement services?
  • Do you have an enablement production process in place?
  • Would you be able to scale the production of your enablement services tomorrow?
    If not, why not?

 
Related blog posts:

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How Sales Operations Can Help Organizations Get the Most Out of Sales Tools https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how_sales_operations_can_help_organizations_get_the_most_out_of_sales_tools/ https://www.csoinsights.com/blog/how_sales_operations_can_help_organizations_get_the_most_out_of_sales_tools/#respond Mon, 20 May 2019 15:37:51 +0000 https://www.csoinsights.com/?p=20706 Are you getting the most out of your investment in sales tools? On average, today’s sales organizations are using 10 different sales tools, with four or more additional tools planned in the next 12 months. (Click to tweet) (2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study) However, most...

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Are you getting the most out of your investment in sales tools? On average, today’s sales organizations are using 10 different sales tools, with four or more additional tools planned in the next 12 months. (Click to tweet) (2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study) However, most are not seeing the efficiencies they hope for with their technologies. In today’s blog, we take a look at how sales operations can help sales organizations get the most out of their investment in sales tools.

Sales operations is well positioned to help organizations leverage their sales tools to drive them forward. (Click to tweet)

One of the things we hear from our survey participants is that, with 10 or more sales tools being the norm, it can lead to more, not less, complexity. The reality is that sales professionals are spending only a third of their time selling, and sales managers are spending twice as much time on internal items as they are on coaching their teams. (Click to tweet) As a result, continuous improvement of efficiency through automation and connecting tools and technologies to the sales organization were reported to be among the top 10 areas that need most improvement in the next 24 months.

The good news is that sales operations is already in a position to help organizations get the most out of their sales tool investments! The top two areas sales operations is most involved in are already related to sales tools (including CRM).

 
Here are three questions sales operations can ask periodically to help organizations get the most out of their sales tools:

  1. Do you have a journey map? Where does it fit into your sales tech stack? (Click to tweet) It’s important to be clear on the future desired state you want to get to with the help of the sales tool or technology you are looking to invest in. Use the journey map as your “true north” compass so that you don’t get distracted by the cool features of the sales tool. If it’s been some time since your initial rollout, you can review where you are on your journey and determine whether any adjustments need to be made. Finally, it’s also a good idea to plan for a periodic review of your sales tech stack landscape. Inventory what you already have, review what each tool was intended to provide vs. what it is providing (or not), and determine whether you need to add, replace or upgrade.

 

  1. When was the last time you looked at the state of your process and data? (Click to tweet) Sales process and sales data are key inputs for any sales tool implementation. If it’s been more than a year since you last took a look, it’s probably a good idea to review the current state of your process and data to decide what should be updated before you roll out a new sales tool. Ongoing review also is important to help ensure the sales teams are getting value from the sales tools’ outputs (e.g., reports, insights, proactive coaching, etc.). You also might find opportunities to update your process or clean up your data and how it’s organized as your sales organization starts using the tool.

 

  1. What new behaviors and mindsets do you need? (Click to tweet) Whenever we introduce something new, our “way of doing things” changes. Just like embracing a new habit, it requires a plan. It also might require new behaviors and mindsets. Sales operations can partner with both sales enablement and sales managers to determine what new behaviors and mindsets might be required for sales teams to effectively use the sales tool. This also applies after a new sales tool has been rolled out. Check to see whether behaviors and mindsets have shifted, and make note of the changed state – the latter will be important to reference during your next sales tool rollout.

 

With so many new sales technologies available today, it’s tempting to consider investing in them. But before you take the leap, it’s important to think through whether you need them, how they fit into your current sales tech stack and whether your organization is ready to use them. To get the most value out of what the sales tools offer, it’s important to both plan ahead and conduct ongoing review and assessments.

 

Questions for you:

  • How many sales tools do you have in your sales tech stack?
  • How often do you review your sales tech stack landscape?
  • In your past sales tool implementations, did you take into account behavior and mindset considerations?

 
Related blog posts:

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