Even as a budding discipline, sales enablement has evolved quite a bit in just the past few years. Keeping up with that change – and ensuring your strategy is geared toward long-term success – is no easy feat.
That’s where research-driven stats are great at putting all the moving parts in context. During a recent webinar hosted by Vantage Point Performance, Bob Kelly, chairman of the Sales Management Association (SMA), highlighted his organization’s key research findings, including several trends that sales enablement leaders should keep on their radar.
Read on for 6 fascinating statistics that help illustrate the state of sales enablement and effectiveness in 2018. (All research attributed to the SMA unless otherwise noted.)
1. The Sales Technology Curve
The Stat: Firms that were “laggards” in adopting sales technology saw their sales goal achievement drop 12% from last year.
Why This Matters: Sales teams that stay ahead of the technology curve generally perform better than organizations that don’t. Companies that considered themselves “leaders” in sales technology usage improved their sales goal achievement by 8% from last year, while companies that felt they were “on par” with peers saw this number rise 11%.
“We were surprised at the gap in performance between companies slow to adopt technology in their sales organization and those that rate themselves on par, or even ahead of, other organizations,” Kelly said.
2. Some Sales Technologies Deserve More Attention
The Stat: 43% of companies made a moderate-to-high investment in sales learning and development technology.
Why This Matters: More than 2/3 of companies that invested in sales learning and development technology realized a positive ROI. The upshot: more sales teams could stand to benefit from learning and development technology, Kelly said.
“We see a cluster of technologies related to planning and deployment, and also learning. Those are two areas where we think sales organizations are especially underinvested,” he said.
3. Tech-Savvy Sales Teams Provide Better Training
The Stat: On average, firms that use technology effectively were 57% more effective at sales training and development than ineffective technology users.
The data factored in sales training efforts across 7 categories:
- Preparing salespeople for new assignments
- Improving low performers
- Selling new products or services
- Supporting changes in sales messaging
- Making new sales people productive
- Sharpening successful salespeople’s skills
- Addressing skill deficiencies
Why This Matters: Better sales training translates to better performance, productivity and retention across the organization. In order to maximize their training efforts, Kelly said sales managers must become well-versed in current technology usage and trends. (We’d add that this also applies to sales enablement leaders.)
“It’s highly unlikely that you can adequately train salespeople without embracing technology effectively. Technology alone won’t train your salespeople, but you’re unlikely to train people well without it,” he said.
4. Firms That Invest in Sales Enablement Are Seeing Results
The Stat: Companies with a dedicated sales enablement function improved their sales training effectiveness by 29%.
Why This Matters: Demonstrating the value of sales enablement, and measuring its impact, are common challenges for practitioners. But here we see that companies investing in sales enablement realize better training results than companies only supported by a learning and development or sales ops function.
“Firms that can create a sales (enablement) function that is tech-enabled are going much farther in solving their sales training challenges,” Kelly said.
5. The Same Old Sales Onboarding Isn’t Cutting It
The Stat: On average, new sales hires spend 10 weeks in training and development and only become productive after 11.2 months.
Why This Matters: Sales rep turnover is exceedingly expensive, with one DePaul University study reporting that it costs organizations $97,960 to replace the average sales rep. In addition, 60% of sales forces are understaffed, and turnover is too high in nearly half of them (48%).
The high costs of inadequate hiring and training make effective sales onboarding especially critical. In fact, good sales onboarding will reduce voluntary turnover in the sales organization, Kelly said. However, most companies (62%) consider themselves ineffective at onboarding new sales hires.
Onboarding “can influence a lot about staffing, including ongoing performance management efforts and the ability of the firm to compete for talent in the future,” Kelly said.
6. Sales Teams Have So Much on their Plates
The Stat: 8 out of 10 companies introduced a new product or service in the last 12 months.
Why This Matters: This is on top of firms that refocused their sales strategy (75%), pursued new markets or verticals (70%), made “significant” changes to their value proposition (61%) and implemented a new sales methodology (54%) during the past year.
The result of all that change?
“There’s just not enough time to do things very carefully or in a prepared fashion,” Kelly said. “We think this extends to a lot of areas, but we see it especially in sales training and development, where training initiatives are rolled out without proper objectives defined.”
In our eyes, the constant change sellers face every day demands an extensive degree of support and guidance from the sales enablement function – which is often already strapped for time and resources.
This is what makes sales readiness technology is so valuable. With a platform like Brainshark, you can ensure your reps stay prepared for any selling situation by delivering scalable sales training, coaching and content - when, where and how they need it.
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