As the way customers buy products has changed, so has the way companies market to them. That, in turn, has changed the entire dynamic of the sales process, opening the door for new methods of selling and transforming the way that sales teams now approach their prospects. One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the growing popularity of sales enablement, which brings together the strength of both the sales team and the marketing department to create a more targeted, strategic approach.
What Is Sales Enablement and How Does It Work?
Sales enablement is all about creating the most efficient processes for sales teams to reach customers more effectively. In the past, sales and marketing departments existed largely in silos, and even though they had the same overall end goal — to increase customers and generate more money to help the company grow or succeed — they took very different paths to accomplish that. There was little communication between the two departments, which could lead to mixed messages, incorrect messaging and a large amount of redundancy in efforts.
While the marketing department was largely responsible for creating content, research found that, on average, sales reps spent an average of 26 hours a month finding, editing and managing content. That meant that 26 hours a month that should have been dedicated to selling was spent looking for the materials they needed. And, in many cases, sales reps said their greatest challenge was finding and identifying content that was relevant to what they needed.
Sales enablement resolves that problem by bringing together both sales and marketing so they can work on developing, accessing and using content more effectively. When the two sides work together, they eliminate redundancy and can more accurately tailor content to specific stages of the buyer’s journey. When that kind of synergy happens, both sides win; companies who achieve this report seeing 36% higher customer retention rates in addition to 38% higher sales win rates.
Because of its effectiveness, sales enablement has become one of the top priorities for many companies. Whether they are just now starting to implement a program or want to improve their existing sales enablement strategy, organizations are taking a more formal approach to sales enablement. As sales enablement continues gaining traction, certain trends are emerging that will continue shaping companies’ strategies. Here’s a look at five sales enablement trends that you'll want to look for in 2019.
No. 1: Creation of Dedicated Sales Enablement Teams
As companies become more comfortable and more familiar with the art of sales enablement, they recognize the need to have dedicated teams that focus specifically on sales enablement. As many as 64% of organizations already have a dedicated team in place, with 7% of companies planning to add such a team in 2019.
While every team member plays an important role, perhaps the most important player is the sales enablement manager, who must be able to serve as the bridge between the sales and marketing teams. The manager will ensure that marketing is creating the kind of content that the sales team needs to reach customers, and they’ll also make sure the sales team is fully trained to know the different marketing pieces that are available to them.
Other key players include a manager to maintain the CRM database, a sales coach to help improve sales processes, an analytics manager who can analyze the data to provide direction for the content that is being developed and a sales knowledge manager who is well-versed in the different tools and materials that have been developed. This person also provides advice to the sales team as to which content might be best in specific situations.
No. 2: Increase in Sales Enablement Budgets
As companies have witnessed the advantages of sales enablement programs, budgets have expanded to allow for new roles and additional staff members. According to Docurated’s survey, half of all organizations anticipate that they’ll increase their sales enablement budget in 2019, while 46% will maintain their current level of spending. Only 3% of organizations expect to decrease the amount of budget allocated toward sales enablement.
No. 3: Investment in Sales Enablement Technology Platforms
According to Docurated, the top two investment priorities for teams with sales enablement departments are sales learning/coaching platforms and sales content management systems. Having the right technology in place is a key component of every successful sales enablement program. A great content management system is critical to an effective sales enablement strategy because it ensures that everyone on the team has access to the content that’s being developed. Sharing this system between sales and marketing allows each side to see where there might be gaps in content or where updates are necessary.
Sales enablement learning and coaching platforms have gained a great deal of traction as the popularity of sales enablement continues growing. They’re designed to provide the training and coaching sales people need from the moment onboarding begins, and then continue helping them with readiness tools throughout their careers.
No. 4: Greater Emphasis on Sales Enablement Onboarding and Training
A report by CSO Insights points to the growing importance of proper onboarding and sales training in sales enablement programs. Companies that have effective sales onboarding programs show measurable results over their competitors: Their sales teams improve their quota attainment by nearly 7% and have a lower turnover rate.
Training for sales enablement teams has changed, too. In the past, sales tended to focus on a single type of sales training rather than providing training in a broader range of topics, such as sales methodology or process and selling skills. Among sales enablement leaders, 68.1% see sales training as their primary area of focus for 2019.
No. 5: Focus on Improving Content Strategy
Without a strong content strategy, you’re going to be like a football team that runs on to the field without looking at the playbook first. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t have a great strategy for all that talent.
With a proper content strategy, you will define what purpose your content serves, what goals you want it to accomplish, how it will be designed, what type of content you’ll create, the process for creating each piece of content and, finally, you’ll have a plan in place for managing the strategy.
According to CSO Insights, there’s a marked difference between organizations with a strategy and ones without. Those who have a clearly defined strategy averaged a win rate of 55.5%, while those without a content strategy only showed a win rate of 43.3%.
What Sales Enablement Trends Will You Follow in 2019?
Regardless of where you’re at in your sales enablement program, this is the year to look into what it takes to succeed as sales enablement becomes an essential component of the modern business landscape. As these trends become more prominent and mature, you’ll want to know how your company can take advantage of the changing sales environment and boost your sales program.
With the right sales enablement strategy in place and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, you can set out with confidence to reach your goals, improve close rates and align your sales and marketing teams to better work together.