Last year, CSO Insights reported that 45% of companies now have a dedicated sales enablement function. That’s a huge increase from just three years earlier, when only 19% responded ‘yes’ to the same question.
Clearly, more companies today are investing in sales enablement – which is good! But the actual focus and responsibilities of the role can vary from organization to organization. There are a few reasons for this. One is that the sales enablement function is still maturing as the B2B world’s understanding of what truly enables sales continues to evolve.
Another reason, however, may actually come down to a single word: content.
The sales content (and enablement) conundrum
A large number of B2B companies struggle with what’s been dubbed “the sales content problem” (described in detail here). Modern reps rely on the right content to support the conversations they have with buyers, but too often struggle to find or access the resources they need. Maybe there’s no central place to find it. Maybe the content they have is out of date. Maybe it’s being delivered to them from all angles as “random acts of sales support.”
Maybe it’s all of the above.
What’s clear is that sales content management is a major challenge. Many software providers that position themselves in the sales enablement space aim to solve this very problem (in fact, Brainshark is one of them.)
The trap many companies fall into, however, is that they interpret “content” as being specific only to the public-facing assets used by reps to share with and engage buyers. As a result, many sales organizations, vendors, and even some industry analysts have grown to view sales enablement as a vehicle for solving this challenge, and this challenge only.
And that’s a problem, because while solutions for sales content management and engagement are an important piece of sales enablement, if you’re starting there, you’re likely starting in the wrong place.
Your sales enablement strategy is backwards
The truth is, easy access to all the best content in the world won’t make a lick of difference if your salespeople don’t understand how to use those resources effectively. The ability to find “the right content at the right time” also won’t matter if reps haven’t already mastered the core skills and competencies needed to sell your offerings.
This is why the same CSO Insights report referenced above states that sales onboarding – not content management – is the top priority of most sales enablement programs. In other words, sales training and readiness needs to come first, and if it doesn’t, your sales enablement strategy is likely backwards, and potentially headed for failure.
This requires a broader and more comprehensive view of the role sales enablement – and sales enablement technology – needs to play at your organization. In addition to sales content management or “engagement platforms”, leading sales enablement functions are also investing in technology that’s specifically geared toward training and coaching to help:
- Ramp-up new hires faster and accelerate time to productivity
- Ensure salespeople are always up-to-speed on new products and messages
- Validate that reps can demonstrate mastery of critical knowledge and skills when out in the field
- And yes, use content to effectively engage buyers and advance conversations
In other words, sales content management is critical to sales enablement, but it’s only half the battle (and it may not even be the most important half when you get right down to it.)
Which brings us back to technology. So what does the right sales enablement solution look like? This eBook breaks down the must-have sales enablement technology features to target for any strategy in which readiness and skills mastery is a priority.