Sales Enablement: Factors Affecting Performance
In an economy where sales teams are having to do more with less, management has identified sales effectiveness as a top priority. Companies have increased their investment in sales enablement tools, sales training, and CRM software to support their sales teams.
The sales enablement challenge
According to Forrester Research, $135,262 is spent, on average, in support costs per year for each salesperson. Yet despite more streamlined support and relevant resources statistics show that some companies aren’t experiencing the results they had anticipated. A study conducted by CSO Insights shows that in 2011 only 60% of reps surveyed met their quota. A survey by the IDC showed that only 29% of sales reps were well prepared for client-facing presentations.
So what are the factors affecting performance? Consider these five reasons:
- Adoption: Probably harder than creating the sales enablement tools and systems is getting their sales team to buy into the new programs and incorporate it into their current systems. Without adoption, companies have just a bunch of shiny tools on a shelf.
- Consistency: Lack of consistency occurs when you have sales reps using certain tools and processes differently and at different times. This causes the customer experience to be varied and can even hinder win ratios.
- Collaboration: Top salespeople will define your best practices. Without an easy way to learn and transfer knowledge of the top salespeople the rest of the team will be handicapped.
- Coaching: Most reps forget what they learn in formal training sessions in a month or less. Meaningful coaching needs to timely and relevant.
- Compatibility: Some processes are too developed or too specific and don’t easily transfer to real-world scenarios the sales reps are encountering
If any of these are looking familiar to you here are some methodologies to improve in each category:
When rolling out new tools, collateral, or processes proper messaging and training is paramount. Management needs to “sell” these changes to their team and make it easy for them to implement them. If enablement tools are stored in multiple locations, consider consolidating into one location. This can be achieved by combining popular CRM applications with supporting apps to make access to the tools seamless and timely.
One way to align the team on sales processes and tool usage is to build them into your current CRM application. Companies such as Qvidian and The TAS Group offer development services to do just that (see example below). By integrating the sales steps, activities, and supporting tools reps are empowered to follow the system and management has sales team visibility.
To combat this human nature management needs to build a culture of collaboration. Make it easy for the sales team to communicate best practices with each other and with management. Consider incentivizing the sharing of ideas and strategies. Implement peer engagements such as peer reviews. Create a mentorship program.
With the Social CRM (CRM 2.0) trend picking up speed popular CRM providers are improving on creating vehicles for collaboration. If possible, integrate a collaboration feature into the CRM application your company uses to make it seamless for your team to communicate.
In order to provide timely and relevant support sales management needs to be able to know more than just what sales stage a particular opportunity is in. High-performance sales organizations build the sales process and key activities directly into their CRM. This allows both sales teams and management to measure and more accurately forecast sales rep pipelines on the activity level. This approach also empowers sales managers to proactively probe into the pipeline and as needed provide targeted, prescriptive support.
Managers need to request regular feedback on how relevant the enablement elements are in real-life situations. The structure is important but incorporates flexibility in the processes and tool choices as the situation allows. One way to do this is to develop frameworks with multiple routes to the same goal. Another way is to allow the sales reps to choose the tool of choice by giving them a few ways to approach a situation.
The IDC defines sales enablement as “the delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward.” The keyword in that sentence is delivery. By giving equal thought and attention to the delivery of enablement tools as with the creation of the companies will see the impact of enablement tools increase.