By George Brontén
In 2017, we saw massive growth in the sales enablement industry. An explosion of new sales enablement technologies fueled an increasingly heated and detailed conversation about the very definition of sales enablement and what its role is. Meanwhile, several new organizations sprang up to address the issue and begin building a body of work around the discipline, while research organizations scrambled to collect data to begin defining and analyzing it.
Yet all the conversation and growth has not yet translated into massive gains in performance for most organizations. In fact, we seem to have forgotten that the fundamental role of sales enablement is to enable better sales performance.
Organizations that want to excel in sales performance by improving sales enablement in 2018 will do well to focus on these top six priorities.
1. Avoid “point solution” chaos
The marketplace is full of so many cool “enablement” tools that it’s easy to get pulled into “investments” that provide no return. Instead of focusing on cool new technologies, organizations should be focusing on developing better sales strategies and then choosing tools that help them execute on those strategies.
2. Provide a better buying experience
Our industry gives a lot of lip service to putting customers first, but we rarely put our investments (or our attention) where our mouths are. In 2018, look for enablement technologies that help you understand your buyer better and align your sales process with their preferred buying experience. This simple approach will help to dramatically improve sales results.
3. Support salesperson success
It goes without saying that more successful salespeople translate to more successful sales overall. Yet many “enablement” technologies in the past have focused more on making salespeople accountable and providing them with neat tricks (like knowing when people open their emails) than with actually providing them support for the things that matter. In 2018, take the time to understand deeply which salesperson behaviors and activities actually move the needle – and then choose technologies, training, and leadership that support them to engage in those things.
4. Empower better coaching
Excellent coaching can be a critical multiplier for sales results. In 2018, take a good look at your coaching system and make sure you’ve enabled your coaches to help your salespeople execute on your sales strategy and provide the excellent buyer experience you envision. If you invest in coaching technologies like call monitoring, make sure they are integrated into the coach’s workflow and are provided with the training and support to coach effectively. Otherwise, they just become more point solutions in the chaos of point solutions.
5. Better insights for leadership
The “accountability” provided by traditional CRMs is no longer adequate for enabling high performance on a sales team. Leaders need to know more than just how many calls a salesperson made this week. They need to know where opportunities are in the sales process, which activities and behaviors are moving the needle, and where bottlenecks in the process occur. Armed with detailed, proactive insights and metrics, sales leaders can make smarter decisions and provide better support to their sales teams.
6. Consistent execution of strategy
Good sales strategy is useless if it is not consistently executed across the organization. Historically, sales enablement and CRM have not done a good job of orchestrating execution of strategy. That is changing and, in 2018, organizations implementing technologies and processes that make it easy for salespeople and coaches to execute on strategy will pull ahead of their peers.
I believe sales enablement is going to continue to be a hot topic for years to come – in part because we still have a long way to go toward realizing its promises. Organizations that get started this coming year with a strategic approach to sales enablement will quickly get ahead of the game. Focusing on these six priorities will help your organization be among them.
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George Brontén is a life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto “Don’t settle for mainstream,” he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. Inspired by the work of surgeons, sales best practices, and behavioral modeling, George has invented the SAAS platform Membrain.com to tech-enable sales process, sales methodology, training, and coaching.