The Explosion of B2B Sales Data in Sales Enablement

The Explosion of B2B Sales Data in Sales Enablement
January 23, 2020
There has been an explosion of B2B sales enablement data in recent years.

This blog post was originally published by Rekener, now a Brainshark company. Learn more about what that means in this Q&A.

Sales enablement has a data problem. It's all about ramping up sales reps and improving performance over time. But sales rep data is all over the place. 

I estimate that sales enablement people spend their day in three to five different SaaS platforms and a whole bunch of Google Sheets. Important data relating to sales reps lives in all of these sources.

The reason is that sales enablement is a complex job, primarily focused on three key elements:

  1. Getting the right resources to sales people at the right time to help them sell more effectively.
  2. Training salespeople on how to sell the company's products and services.
  3. Measuring the effectiveness of #1 and #2 on an ongoing basis and adjusting as necessary to continuously improve.

Each functional element is contributing to the explosion of B2B sales data. In this blog post, I'll break down the data landscape for sales enablement and explore options for how to bring all this data together into a 360-degree view of sales reps.

The Data Landscape for Sales Enablement

The expanding data landscape for sales enablement includes the following data sources:

  • Content Delivery Platforms
  • Sales Training Systems
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Sales Engagement Platforms (aka Cadence Tools)
  • Conversational Intelligence (aka Call Recording Systems)
  • Endless spreadsheets.

Content delivery platforms help sales people find and personalize the most effective content. Companies like Seismic and Highspot lead this category. 

Sales readiness platforms provide training materials and structured learning programs. They also help sales managers improve their coaching. Brainshark is a great example in this category. The training systems allow sales enablement leaders to create courses and curriculums for new hire onboarding and continuous learning. In addition, coaching assessments allow sales teams to certify the rep's knowledge and skills before he or she gets on the phone with prospects or customers.

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of content delivery and sales training, the number of tools and data sources is exploding. 

The CRM is still really important. Most companies still use the CRM as the primary source for sales activity data. The CRM is also critical for data related to pipeline.

But the CRM is no longer the "single source of truth" when it comes to sales activity data. More and more companies are using cadence tools (also called sales engagement platforms) such as SalesLoft, Outreach and Yesware. Many companies are tracking sales activities directly in those platforms instead of integrating the data into the CRM. Salesforce encourages this indirectly by charging for storage.  

Another emerging category of sales enablement tools is conversational intelligence. Vendors like Gong.io and Chorus.ai record calls and then use machine learning and natural language processing to identify topics and key words. These are good for discovering what is working and what isn't. Sales enablement teams and sales managers can use that data to improve call scripts and improve coaching.

Even with all these tools, spreadsheets are still a major source of sales rep data. For example, sales quota is frequently kept in a spreadsheet that is updated annually or quarterly.  

Spreadsheets are also used to collect a growing amount of qualitative information about sales reps. Sales enablement people need qualitative feedback from sales reps and sales managers. This feedback helps the sales enablement team with continuous improvement of content and training.

A Comprehensive View of Sales Reps

With so much data and so many sources, the challenge for sales enablement teams is to pull it all together. With a comprehensive view of each sales rep, it's possible to figure out what's working and what isn't. In the absence of a single view, it's difficult to find any signals in the noise.

There are three hurdles to overcome to make this happen:

  1. Integrating multiple data sources
  2. Joining data at the sales rep level
  3. Visualizing trends over time

A solution that overcomes these hurdles has huge potential, because it can serve as a comprehensive operating system for sales enablement.

How To Create A Sales Enablement Operating System

Many companies try to cobble together their own solution. Because of the number and diversity of data sources, spreadsheets are not a good option. The alternative is to use general purpose business intelligence ("BI") tools. BI tools are a powerful solution, but they are very expensive in time and money.  

The elements of a BI solution add up to a high total cost of ownership:

  • Setting up a data lake
  • Integrating data from all the sources
  • Building a data warehouse with data joined at the sales rep level
  • Using SQL to do analysis
  • Creating visualizations to generate insights

In addition to the cost of software and services, a BI solution requires a team of analysts. 

Any time the sales enablement team needs something new, they need to submit a ticket. If the priorities of the business pull the analysts in a different direction, the sales enablement team is left without a solution.

Sales Scorecards: Powering Sales Enablement

Rekener (now Brainshark) puts the power of sales data directly into the hands of the sales enablement team by automatically creating a data warehouse in the cloud for any business using the Salesforce or HubSpot CRM. 

From there, sales scorecards can be used to zoom in on a single sales rep or compare teams of reps. The data can easily be visualized over time in order to see trends, like which reps are ramping on pace and which are behind. The application is designed to be used by sales leaders, so it is easy to make changes without waiting in line for business analysts.

Scorecards are the fastest and most powerful way to give your sales enablement team everything they need to drive better performance.