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As we wrap up 2016, we’re reflecting on sales enablement’s evolution, and where it’s headed in 2017.
Who better to share insights on that than the man who’s been at the helm of the sales enablement space for the past ten years: our VP of Strategic Partnerships, Jim Ninivaggi. As the founder and leader of Sirius Decisions’ sales enablement research practice, Jim’s published hundreds of research briefs, reports and blog posts on the subject.
On Heinz Marketing’s Sales Pipeline Radio show earlier this month, Host Matt Heinz referred to Jim as “the voice of sales enablement,” and we’d have to agree.
So, what did Jim say we can expect for sales enablement in 2017? Here were three big takeaways from the show. (Listen to the full podcast above for the complete conversation.)
1. Sales Enablement Will Move Further from Marketing Ownership
Jim says sales enablement was created initially as a marketing function to address “the content problem.” (That problem being, content was created by marketing, but not accessible or utilized by sales.)
Sales content management platforms emerged as a solution – but companies now recognize that while content is still critical –it isn’t where enablement ends.
This isn’t to say content isn’t important any more – it’s still a top priority. We recommend Demand Gen Report's B2B Marketing and Sales Teams Converge with Sales Enablement Technology for a more in depth look at content’s role in sales enablement.
2. Sales Leaders Will Put More Emphasis on Continuous Learning
Better onboarding is a huge priority for sales leaders, sales hiring managers and enablement teams alike, but focusing on reps who have just completed onboarding is also critical.
“If you look at turnover rates for organizations, typically 12 to 36 months is where you are going to see the highest turnover rate, and a lot of that is voluntary. [It’s] reps saying ‘I am not going to be successful here,’” Jim explains.
This is where the focus on continuous learning, or “reboarding” should come into play.
Remember: There’s a steep price tag on replacing sales reps. DePaul University’s Sales Effectiveness Survey indicates the average cost to replace a rep can be upwards of $115,000.
3. Sales Leaders Will Focus on “Effective” over “Efficient”
As Jim explains, there are “two levers you can pull” to improve productivity: efficiency and effectiveness.
Making reps more efficient means you’re giving them more active selling time but also making sure that if they are not doing active selling, they’re still doing high-value activities like pre-call planning, researching accounts, and completing training. The goal here is to minimize or eliminate low value activities (expense reports, re-drafting proposals, etc.) The idea is that reps will sell faster.
This is good – and important – but what about selling better? That’s where Jim says leaders need to focus.
That means making salespeople more effective at those high-value activities – understanding what to research, how to research, how to prepare for calls – and then making them the best that they can be on every interaction, whether it’s email, phone calls, web conferences or in person.
The goal is to have reps have the knowledge, the skills and the key processes in place to maximize every interaction.
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