Last October, before COVID-19 was part of the daily conversation, Forrester predicted 50% of B2B organizations would transition their sales enablement functions to marketing.
“The organizations in which sales enablement reports to marketing are exceeding revenue expectations more frequently,” said Caroline Robertson, Forrester VP and research director serving B2B marketing professionals. According to Robertson, the organizations that are winning when it comes to sales enablement capabilities are arming their sellers with modern toolsets.
“Tools that drive better efficiencies, effectiveness and better experiences for buyers — these tools help sellers deliver personalized experiences at scale, increase seller preparedness for each interaction and capture and automate data collection,” said Robertson.
Onboarding the right sales technology
But where do you even start when it comes to integrating a comprehensive sales enablement toolset on top of the martech foundation you’ve already built?
When Carrie Griffin joined The SALT Group, a financial services firm, her primary objective was to triple the company’s revenue in three to five years time — but she was lacking the necessary sales enablement infrastructure to meet such audacious goals says Darryl Praill, CMO for the sales engagement platform VanillaSoft.
“It was her opinion that the current systems they had were wholly inadequate. It got them [The Salt Group] where they were, so that’s not a negative, but they were using platforms like Goldmine and a number of homegrown apps,” said Praill during his Discover MarTech presentation, “What they were finding, because of the homegrown technology they had in place, that to make any changes — to adapt to what they needed — was going to be really expensive.”
Griffin’s dilemma of having to replace homegrown tech is a common occurrence. After surveying nearly 400 marketing technologists last December, we learned respondents were nearly as likely to have upgraded or replaced a homegrown technology solution (49%) as a commercial app (51%) — with most moving from a homegrown tool to a commercial offering. The primary reason marketers gave for shifting away from homegrown tech was because commercial platforms had better features.
Griffin used the following criteria to select a sales enablement platform: It had to be user-friendly, customizable, affordable and it had to include analytics that allowed her to track individual sales reps performance. Griffin decided to go with a two-prong approach, implementing VanillaSoft’s sales platform atop Salesforce.com.
“She gets asked ‘why didn’t you just go with Salesforce across the board’ — they have a huge ecosystem and an exchange that includes tools for sales development reps or appointment centers, as well as customer service reps,” said Praill, “What she found challenging was they [Salesforce] didn’t have an out-of-the-box sales offering. They have lots of bells and whistles, and can be customized, but it wasn’t out-of-the-box, which was important for her.”
Putting the sales analytics to use
Once in place, Griffin’s sales enablement platform allowed her to onboard her sales reps dramatically faster, said Praill. The platform’s data and analytics tools also made it possible to quickly identify her high performers — and then leverage their skills to cross-train the reps who were not hitting the same goals.
“She was not only measuring the data, but maintaining her margins — and actually going through projects faster,” said Praill.
According to Gartner, one of the top priorities right now for sales enablement leaders is coaching sales reps for tough conversations as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis — promoting empathetic customer conversations and guiding sales reps on the content, tone and style they’re using.
“Sales enablement leaders are adjusting their sales training content to provide frontline sellers with frameworks that enable them to operate in the virtual ecosystem, as well as delivering educational programs on coaching sessions to their first-line sales managers,” reports Gartner.
The research company predicts, that in a post-pandemic world, an effective customer experience will depend on tighter alignments between the marketing and sales organizations across the different stages of the new customer buying journey: “To this end, process maps detailing how different functions interact with one another will be crucial to deliver the ‘right’ content at the ‘right’ time to customers.”