As heads of a growing function, sales enablement leaders are learning more about how to succeed in their roles with each passing year. But new data shows that many organizations still have room for improvement.
In CSO Insights’ latest research report, “Sales Enablement Grows Up: The 2018 Sales Enablement Report,” it’s clear just how many moving parts affect sales enablement’s efforts. But a handful of key areas really move the needle when it comes to making the sales force more successful – from internal collaboration and executive sponsorship to sales and buyer path alignment.
With that in mind, here are 3 important takeaways from this sales enablement report, which surveyed sales professionals from more than 500 companies.
1. Sales Enablement is Becoming More Formalized
After experiencing its largest period of growth ever – the number of companies with a dedicated function increased 79% between 2016 and 2017 – sales enablement’s overall growth slowed a bit more than expected in 2018.
However, half of organizations that do have a sales enablement function (50.5%) say they are taking a “formal” approach to the practice, which is an increase of about 10% from 2017. That’s promising, because almost 3/4 of enablement teams that met or exceeded expectations also took a formal approach.
Key Point: Organizations that paired a formal approach with a charter – through which sales enablement teams establish business goals, document a strategy for achieving them and submit it for executive approval – saw the best results of the bunch. However, only 9.2% of companies fell into this category. CSO Insights found that, without a charter, sales enablement “often lacks executive sponsorship” and isn’t seen as being truly transformational.
Learn More: Our on-demand webinar, “The First Year as a Sales Enablement Leader,” covers how to create a sales enablement charter.
2. Sales Enablement Still Has Tremendous Value – When Executed Well
Compared to organizations without enablement, companies that have a sales enablement function enjoy double-digit improvements in quota attainment (22%) and win rates for forecast deals (14%). That's the good news.
Companies with a sales enablement function that only meets few expectations, however, achieved worse results than companies without any sort of enablement role. Those without enablement outperformed the underachievers across three different KPIs: percentage of salespeople meeting quota, win rate of forecast deals, and overall revenue plan attainment.
Key Point: Sales enablement produces game-changing results, but only when done effectively. For organizations that have only dipped their toes into the sales enablement waters, the upshot is that it’s more beneficial to go all-in with a formal sales enablement strategy.
3. Training and Content Strategy Improvement are Big Enablement Opportunities
Whether sales content is internal or customer-facing, marketing, product management, sales ops, legal, sales enablement and salespeople all have a hand in content creation, the report finds. Clearly, there’s no shortage of content (or content authors).
But what many organizations do need is a strategy to ensure that content is consistent and effective. Organizations confident in their enablement content strategy had significantly higher win rates and better customer relationships than those who felt content strategy was lacking.
As for sales training, CSO Insights found that sales enablement will too often “focus more heavily on one type of training” over training that has a better likelihood of improving quota attainment. These highly-effective areas include sales methodology (or sales process) training and selling skills training. The report also highlighted the power of effective sales onboarding, which was shown to improve quota attainment by 6.7% and (perhaps most importantly) reduce voluntary turnover rate.
Key Point: This data underscores shifting priorities for sales enablement leaders, more of whom view sales training (68.1% of organizations) and content services (52%) as primary focus areas of their function today. Sales coaching drew more attention in 2018, as well coming in at No. 4 on the priority list behind content and training (No. 3 and No. 1, respectively).
Learn More: Want more sales enablement research? Download a free copy of the full CSO Insights report below: