When it comes to sales enablement, where exactly should you direct your attention and investment? From leveraging data to driving cross-functional collaboration, the Annual Sales Enablement Benchmark Report 2021 surfaced five principles for sales enablement success in your B2B organization, says Michael Londgren, CMO, Seismic.
It has never been more important to crack the code for effective sales enablement. Over the past year, B2B businesses had to adapt quickly to virtual selling and changing buyer preferences and behaviors. Sales enablement platforms have become essential tools, which enable many organizations to successfully navigate today’s shifting landscape and remain one step ahead of their competition.
To shed more light on the market, Seismic surveyed more than 1,000 B2B decision-makers to decode the sales enablement practices of high-performing companies. The resulting research demonstrates that sales enablement maturity correlates with positive business outcomes, including exceeding sales targets and achieving higher levels of customer satisfaction. Here are the key findings, condensed into five easy-to-follow principles.
1. Make Sales Enablement Part of Your Long-Term Strategy
Rapid change, like the global upheaval of the last 16 months, can be difficult for businesses to navigate. However, it also gives forward-thinking organizations the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate their priorities and streamline their processes. With tradeshows, conferences and in-person meetings canceled, the new virtual selling environment has pushed many businesses to prioritize digital transformation, including the area of sales enablement. In fact, almost 80% of survey respondents reported that sales enablement is now of strategic importance to their business.
To drive success in sales enablement transformation, it’s crucial that it is seen as a business enabler across an organization, especially by senior leaders responsible for revenue. With a champion in the C-suite, it’s easier to establish an organizational environment that reinforces good practices. Visionaries are also the most likely to have sales enablement teams that report to executive leadership and revenue leaders.
2. Apply Sales Enablement Throughout the Customer Lifecycle
Telling your brand’s story imaginatively, persuasively, and consistently throughout the buyer journey is becoming increasingly important for B2B sellers. Having grown accustomed to the high-quality customer experiences delivered by digital natives like Apple and Netflix, B2B buyers increasingly expect a B2C-style experience that is engaging, timely, and personalized. To achieve this, all customer-facing teams should be equipped with consistent messaging to use throughout the buyer journey. Top-performing businesses enable their sellers, BDRs, and customer service teams with the right content to have effective conversations with prospects.
To support these goals, visionary organizations are most likely to ensure all their customer-facing teams are supported by sales enablement. Of the top-performing survey respondents, 97% use sales enablement to support prospecting, 80% use it to target customers at the point of renewal, and 75% use it to win back business post-loss. This attention to pre-sales initiatives and targeting up front, along with appropriate nurture and relevant content throughout the rest of the customer lifecycle, will help you achieve greater quota attainment.
3. Enable Collaboration by Intelligently Integrating Your Tech Stacks
Many organizations are burdened with legacy systems that prevent them from collaborating effectively across functions. A well-integrated tech stack both broadens and deepens the capabilities of sales enablement technology while extending its functionality into other environments. Most businesses we surveyed have room to improve in this area; only 35% of respondents told us that their sales enablement tech stack is very well integrated.
To achieve success, it’s important to prioritize integrating tools that improve day-to-day effectiveness. For example, integrating sales intelligence data into the CRM can uncover actionable insights and rationalize workflows, thereby boosting the productivity of sales teams. Similarly, integrating sales enablement tools with office productivity suites such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace means all documents and collateral are kept in one location, enabling you to easily keep track of changes.
4. Encourage Teams To Use All of Your Sales Enablement Platform’s Capabilities
Businesses must educate teams to use existing sales enablement technologies to their full capacity. Too often, many features are overlooked and underutilized. It’s also crucial to encourage adoption by demonstrating real-world examples of how sales enablement can drive revenue. Interestingly, the use of formal learning programs for sales messaging and conversation varies across industries. Probably due to the complex nature of their products and solutions, 57% of tech companies have implemented these, compared to an overall average of just 48%.
Overall, 64% of visionaries we surveyed said their sales teams have fully adopted the sales enablement tools in their tech stack. Those with the greatest levels of adoption were most likely to give their technologies high ratings for content access and findability for sellers, as well as the use of data for predicting the next best action.
When it comes to rolling out sales enablement tools, it’s not a case of one and done. About 77% of survey respondents see their sales enablement journey as constantly evolving and believe that their organization should continually adapt its processes and add new technologies.
5. Use Insights To Scale Best Practices
We all know that content can be a revenue driver. However, without the data to prove it, businesses can’t know if they are making smart decisions about their content strategies. Top performing organizations track the effectiveness of the content provided by their sales enablement tech stack through a range of metrics and use continuous, formalized feedback to ensure improvements are identified and implemented. Valuable metrics include tracking what content is accessed by buyers and sellers, as well as content-influenced revenue and opportunities.
Almost all visionaries (94%) reported that they routinely analyze insights from their top sellers and incorporate them into ongoing sales enablement efforts. Interestingly, 81% of French businesses have organized processes to replicate and scale success, compared to an average of 71%. Australian respondents lag behind at just 59%.
The research results are clear â€” high sales enablement maturity allows businesses to close more deals and keep customers happier for longer. This undoubtedly increases profitability in the medium and long term.
Looking forward, businesses can expect the strategic importance of sales enablement to continue growing steadily. Almost all visionaries plan to increase their sales enablement budget in the next year. These organizations are likely to add capabilities including artificial intelligence, budget and quota management, RFI and RFP management, and automation to their sales enablement tools.