The goal of most sales enablement initiatives is to ensure sales teams achieve quota in a scalable, predictable, and repeatable way. Although it sounds straightforward, a recent study by CSO Insights found only 30% of companies that implemented sales enablement initiatives in the past two years met all the objectives of their program. Without clear successes to point to, sales leadership can struggle to justify the cost of sales enablement investments to their CEOs or their boards. This is a real issue, because it’s harder than ever to sell, given today’s constantly evolving business environment, and while quota expectations keep rising, the actual number of sales people achieving quota continues to fall.
So, how can sales leadership improve the efficacy of their sales enablement programs and, in turn, secure buy-in from their CEO? The answer lies in data that goes beyond the number of calls made and deals closed. As CSO Insights points out, with data, a sales organization can identify their pain points and related causes, and then build a vision for what “better” looks like. Leveraging this data-driven approach can transform a sales enablement program.
The first step is understanding the sales competencies that matter most in driving the buying cycle. They should be based on the company’s unique product set, customer profile and market focus. Sales leadership can then measure how every sales rep and manager meets these core competencies, identify gaps, and design their sales enablement program to address specific gaps. Let’s look at some common pain points, their causes and the first steps toward solving the issues.
Continuous development vs. one-and-done training
Many organizations invest in sales training at a hefty rate of $1,000 per sales rep but few can point back to meaningful results. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there tends to be an assumption that reps will remember new information shared at a one-time event. However, neuroscience studies have shown that the human brain starts to forget nearly 80% of new information obtained within 30 days or less – it’s just how the brain works. Second, without data-driven insights on progress, it’s tough to show how much of an effect one training event had on sales rep capabilities. As time goes on, and the effects of that training decreases, it’s even harder to point to results. The solution lies in replacing a one-and-done mindset towards training and coaching with a continuous development strategy that helps reps recall critical sales information at any given point in time – particularly during conversations with buyers. In fact, companies that employ continuous sales reinforcement methods see a 20% higher quota achievement. Additionally, organizations using data-driven insights to measure rep capabilities can track the ROI of training investments.
Sales managers have a lot on their plates. They’re managing reps and quota attainment while juggling countless meetings and their own active deals. So, it’s no surprise that coaching their reps tends to take a backseat. CSO Insights discovered that nearly half (46%) of firms they surveyed spent less than 30 minutes per salesperson on coaching. So how can managers go beyond deal-based coaching to coaching on core competencies, and track key performance indicators against them, such as confidence, proficiency, and observed performance? While it seems like a tall order, data-driven sales coaching tools can help identify proficiency gaps, provide coaching recommendations and track improvements against KPIs to help increase effectiveness by up to 55% while optimizing valuable coaching time. This allows for the coaching of sales competencies against a consistent framework. And the ROI is significant: according to the Sales Management Association, organizations with a
formal coaching process generated much stronger results (54% win rate) in comparison to informal coaching processes (46% win rate) or discretionary coaching (45% win rate), where the process is left up to the individual sales manager.
Driving the buying cycle at the speed of change
Research shows that more than a third of enterprise reps, even those with lots of market and product training, can’t apply the context needed to successfully sell into their markets. As a result, buyers are turning to online searches to find the information they need. One reason is that enterprises lack the ability to easily identify and manage sales reps’ skills and knowledge gaps at scale. Without a clear understanding of the areas where reps need help, it’s tough to provide effective development strategies. In addition, a recent survey by the Sales Management Association showed that while 72% of firms experience annual change that warrants salesperson development, only 25% report that their salesperson development efforts are sufficiently agile to address change. Meaning, reps can’t keep pace with market changes that affect buying decisions. To combat these issues, organizations must incorporate continuous reinforcement methods that enable sales reps to retain critical market, product and buyer information, which will help them deliver relevant messages in real-time, establish value and drive the buying cycle.
Having identified pain points and the causes associated with them, organizations can move more quickly towards a solution for achieving consistent performance at scale. Using data-driven methods that provide a clear view into sales team capabilities and their improvement over time can help companies measure progress. And it’s that measurement of progress that ultimately proves the value of a sales enablement program, both to the reps and to corporate leadership.