In the age of rapidly changing customer behavior and preferences, businesses are constantly searching for new ways to help sales teams garner leads and acquire customers. “Sales enablement technologies” is the current buzzword, signifying the urgency for sales effectiveness.
So much so that between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of companies that have implemented a sales enablement initiative has grown from 19% to 59%.
That’s not all. Here’s what a recent Aberdeen research report revealed regarding the impact of sales enablement:
- 99% overall team quota attainment – 62% higher than average companies
- 75% reps achieving quota – 50% higher than average companies
- 13% year-over-year revenue growth – 205% higher than average companies
So, does this mean that sales teams in the past weren’t measured? Certainly not. Then what is this modern approach to sales enablement actually helping with? How is it different from traditional approaches to sales training?
Difference between Sales Training and Sales Enablement
At the basic level, sales training could be similar to employee training, where a company helps its sales teams better understand its offering, so that they can better communicate with potential customers. This aspect covered two parts: the “what” and the “how.”
- What: This includes practical knowledge of the product, including its technical specifications, integration points and even service level agreements. In short, everything the team needs to know to drive customer decisions.
- How: This is usually a wide spectrum; from how to use CRM tools to how to talk to customers. Companies want to ensure that teams learn to interact with customers in a way that aligns with the brand’s culture and values.
But there are many pain points in this system.
When learning activities remain trapped in event-based and formal training sessions, sales teams also remain ill-equipped and, therefore, unmotivated. Most of these training modules are poorly organized and not even relevant to their daily issues, plus there is no concept of post-training reinforcement.
Sales enablement technologies rely on effective content deployment. It is a system that allows sales teams access to the right content, which is relevant to their target audience and also according to the consumer’s position in the sales funnel. One of its major roles is to fill in the gaps between sales and marketing content strategies.
Contrary to the 2-step sales training process, sales enablement is based on 5 main facets.
- Onboarding: Instilling the company culture, vision and mission in all team members within 30-90 days.
- Continuous Training: Continuing training opportunities for all sales reps. If the market is dynamic, how can sales training be a one-time exercise? This includes regular updates on product enhancements, internal compliance training by the L&D department and knowledge about changing business strategies from the top management.
- Internal Communication: It is not just about training, automation or CRM. Also, sales enablement isn’t the responsibility of just one person. It is a collaborative effort between different departments and processes. There has to be constant communication and synchronization between the product, marketing and sales teams. Only then, can organizations hit their sales goals.
- Presales Engagement: Ongoing communications between prospective customers and sales reps is essential. Sales teams need the right communication tools to convert leads into customers.
- Post Sales Communication: Customer retention is as important as customer acquisition. Sales teams, therefore, need to also offer after-sales support to gain loyal customers. This includes providing customer tips to get the best out of their products, intimation about upcoming events and deals, resolving queries and identifying potential pain points.
Through these strategies, sales enablement helps identify the critical moments in the buyer’s journey, so that they can be given the right content at the right time. The role of content management is, therefore, critical to ensuring the success of sales enablement.
Why Do Sales Enablement Technologies Fail?
While the number of companies that have deployed sales enablement strategies over the years have doubled, the numbers of companies that have been able to attain success with their strategies have only increased from 31% to 34%. There are many factors that could be responsible for this low success rate.
Sales Reps are Doing Unproductive Tasks
Those who are hired to sell, rarely have the time to actually sell products. An estimated 66% of a sales rep’s time is spent on sourcing content, making presentations, designing marketing materials from static templates and recording customer details.
Content is Irrelevant for Buyers
The content being provided to buyers might be accurate and up-to-date, but not interesting enough to engage them. Generic content feels impersonal to them. Static content, like brochures and product slides, doesn’t motivate them to make a purchase. Content needs to be personalized to be able to strike a chord with each buyer.
Lack of Interactive and Compelling Sales Content
Traditional PowerPoint presentations cannot give a competitive edge to the sales team. Sales teams get a bad reputation in the market when they fail to engage customers and are seen as wasting their time.
How to Create Compelling Content for Effective Sales Enablement?
The answer lies in your learning platforms, which could act as powerful tools to empower your sales team. Organizations have a high percentage of millennials and Generation Z working for them today. By 2025, three-quarters of the global workforce will be driven by millennials. In addition, 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028.
There is a significant difference in the way these generations like to access and absorb content. With increase in smartphone ownership, they are used to knowledge access on their fingertips, and expect their employers to provide them training on demand, which can be accessed anywhere and at any time. Also, with the abundance of information available online, they rely on coaches and mentors to discover the right information and guide them through the learning process.
All of this can be achieved with the right digital learning platform that helps with:
Easy Content Discoverability
Sales reps shouldn’t be looking for valuable content or waste time in creating content to share with prospects. From pitch decks to price sheets, blog articles to ebooks, content needs to be easily discoverable. Over 58% of sales pipelines are stalled, as sales reps fail to deliver value to customers. This is why it is so important for relevant content to be easily discoverable. An effective way to make content discoverable is through an AI-driven learning experience platform. The AI-powered personal learning facilitator can work wonders in making relevant content suggestions, reminding individual employees to complete their training modules and even answering questions.
Enabling Multi Device Access
When learning platforms have multi-device operability, teams can learn new concepts wherever they are, on whichever device they choose to. In fact, 83% of sales people cite that when they have access to mobile sales tools, their companies appear more attractive to customers. They are able to access product information anywhere, from a parking lot before a meeting or on a train journey, which makes them better equipped for presentations.
Tapping into the Need for Recognition
Consider gamifying your sales training initiatives, with leader boards, badges and rewards to motivate the sales teams to perform better. Recognition is a major driver of the millennial workforce.
Training should not be limited by tools and tech. Offer sales teams valuable resources, such as case studies, online videos and multimedia presentations. With a digital learning platform, updating, modifying, creating and distributing content becomes quick, convenient and smooth.
Robust Analytics to Enhance Employee and Customer Experiences
Key analytics can help organizations identify which employees are making great learning progress, which content types and formats are most preferred and even what knowledge gaps exist among employees. This can help L&D departments streamline their training modules to offer effective learning opportunities, while also ensuring smoother customer onboarding.
When a customer is seriously looking to buy a product, chances are that your brand is not the only one vying for their attention. In such cases, whether they are talking directly to sales teams or simply looking for solutions on social media, they will be delivered the right content, which can put your brand in an advantageous position.
Allowing Mentoring or Coaching
To optimize sales training initiatives, consider sales coaching by top managers. Provide sales teams bite-sized content, such as short format videos and playbooks, from subject-matter experts in the company. With just-in-time coaching strategies, sales reps can have all the instructions needed to close the deal.
What Should L&D Departments Look for?
It is clear that simply investing in sales enablement technologies cannot deliver the desired ROI. The solution has to cater to the organization’s needs and be suitable for all sales reps and teams. Some important questions to consider while choosing the right learning platform include:
- Can the technology seamlessly integrate the existing CRM and other platforms to track content-based activities?
- Can it enable easy onboarding for new hires and customers?
- Does it provide robust analytics to look into engagement metrics and dashboards to tie content to revenue generation?
- Does it have AI-powered capabilities to ensure greater personalization, engagement and content discoverability?
- Can it help in creating consistent messaging across all channels?
- Can it help sales teams to identify, edit and share different types of content on any device?
- Can it provide interactive tools to enable value-based conversions?
Sales enablement technologies have transformational powers for the entire organization. The key is to create optimized content strategies that can remove friction in consumer experiences and sales team communications.
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