Is 2017 the year of sales enablement for technology enterprises?
The sales enablement function has gained momentum in large enterprises, especially technology firms where decreasing sales productivity has come into focus. Competing priorities are sometimes seen as impediments to the time spent on actual selling – sales administration, management reporting, a meeting culture, multiple reporting lines and duplication of efforts are big hindrances to those who simply want to sell and make money.
Add to this the complexity of the buying cycle and changing buying behaviors, multiple stakeholders, a raft of checks and balances, and technology sales is not a profession for the faint-hearted.
So how can tech sales leaders help their organizations spend less time juggling and more time closing deals and broadening relationships with customers? How can efforts be streamlined to boost sales effectiveness?
Enter sales enablement.
Gartner’s Todd Berkowitz recently published his predictions for B2B Tech Sales and Marketing in 2017, agreeing that tech providers will begin to pay more attention to sales enablement as leadership shifts their focus from sales productivity to sales effectiveness.
Will 2017 be the year of sales enablement for technology providers? If you’re a tech sales leader, here are five simple ways to health check the effectiveness of your sales enablement efforts and get the most out of your sales team in the new year.
Health Check 1: Do you have complete ownership of the sales enablement function?
Fragmented sales teams with different sales processes and methodologies, varied reporting metrics and matrixed org structures can make it a slow road to the holy grail of efficiency. Sales leaders that move quickly to take ownership and standardize their approach to sales enablement will reap the benefits of a fully aligned team more quickly.
Health Check 2: Is sales enablement an ongoing part of your sales strategy?
More often than not, large technology enterprises have a multitude of functions supporting the sales process – and all are keen to ensure sales are trained on the latest and greatest in their world. Filling up the calendar with one-time training on new products, versions, systems, playbooks and pricing structures can lead to a disengaged sales force who miss key information that will help them do their jobs better. As Todd Berkowitz from Gartner points out, don’t just think about sales enablement for kick-offs and product launches; it needs to be an ongoing, continuous part of the sales strategy to truly change behavior and help sales teams adapt quickly to a changing tech buying environment.
Health Check 3: Do you have a dedicated team that can help implement, monitor and adapt sales enablement strategies as markets change?
As many sales enablement professionals will tell you, their job was likely born of a successful, one-off project that grew into a much bigger, more strategic and dedicated function. Today many technology firms have sales enablement buried in operations, marketing or training departments. To deliver true sales effectiveness across a complex technology enterprise, the only way forward is to have a dedicated sales enablement function with total ownership, budget and the scope to streamline the disparate enablement practices that sit across the organization and generate a long-lasting impact on sales behaviors.
Health Check 4: Do we have the right technology stack in place to support a sales enablement program?
It’s an amusing conundrum that some of the largest technology companies are not always the shining star in deploying best-practice technology and workflows themselves. The sales tech stack often comes into question when systems don’t talk to each other, there’s duplication of data or functionality, and systems are there to service management rather than help sales do their jobs better. If you get Health Check #3 in place, giving your sales enablement team the scope to explore the right applications for your business and the budget to do it, life will be much easier for sales leaders and reps alike.
Health Check 5: Can we measure bottom-line impact of a properly formed sales enablement strategy?
It’s the million-dollar question: when all is said and done, if we do all these things, how is it going to impact our bottom-line? Will it help us onboard sales reps quicker and get them to full productivity in a shorter timeframe? Will quota attainment improve across the board? Will it help shorten sales cycles? Will it help us reduce staff turnover? Will it help us increase revenue? This is probably the most important health check of all. If your sales enablement strategy for 2017 is well formulated as per tips 1-4 above, the simple answer: yes.
Is your tech sales effectiveness plan in place for 2017 and beyond? Do you have more health check tips you would like to share? Tweet your thoughts to us at @Qstream.