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The Sales Enablement Effectiveness Gap

Sales Enablement Gap is "Massive"

The Sales Enablement Effectiveness Gap is “Massive”

In their joint study Heinz Marketing and Highspot concluded that, “New research shows a massive gap between the importance and effectiveness of Sales Enablement.”   They affirmed that gap in their follow up study when they said, Persistent gaps in content performance metrics, best practices, and training are leaving too many sales teams underprepared.”

The good news is that Sales Enablement is now well “above radar,” and is now viewed as being very important.  I believe this is due to the promise it holds of making new hires productive more quickly, providing sellers with the differentiators they need to win more business, and contributing to the drive to reduce sale cycle length.

The bad news is that Sales Enablement effectiveness lags significantly.  I believe there are 9 key factors.

1. Content Misaligned with Sales Process

A key objective of Sales Enablement is to provide the right content, at the right time, and in the right format.  However, the reality that I have seen is that a significant gap exists here.  The steps and/or processes that a seller executes should parallel, enhance, and shorten the buyer’s journey.  Sales Enablement content should, in turn, parallel a seller’s steps and/or processes.  Here are the typical steps a seller executes, from initial contact through closure.  Each requires specific content, in the format sellers require and when they need it.

Planning

  • Territory and/or Account Planning: Specific templates along with examples should be provided and sellers must understand that the output of the plan must provide input to the next step, which is proactive identification of opportunities.
  • Opportunity Identification: This is perhaps the most overlooked step.  Potential high-probability opportunities should be identified that enable sellers to be “first in” and positioned to become trusted advisors.  In fact, I recommend that sellers produce Impact Trees, which provides multiple points of entry into an account.  You can take a look at how to build them in our Providing Customers with Insight article.

Prospecting / Lead Generation:  Sellers should be provided with content (scripts, emails, etc.) that is specific to the buyers being targeted.

Sales Call

  • Call Introduction: If a buyer does not know your company and/or the seller, then the seller may need to provide an introduction, the goal of which should be to quickly get the buyer to conclude that the seller is competent.  Content should be provided to support this, which should include, amongst other things, success stories formatted to support a seller’s verbal delivery.
  • Need Development:  Tools should be provided in a format that parallels the need development process that sellers use, and, again, be specific to both the potential market and potential job title within that market that sellers will be calling on.
  • Qualification: This tends to be a very difficult step for sellers to effectively execute because it is emotionally challenging for them.  We have found that actually providing a script works best.
  • Post-Call Followup:  Every good seller knows that they should summarize key points and findings from their sales calls in an email, yet most don’t and lose an important differentiator and the opportunity to provide their buyer with an email that should function as an internal selling vehicle.  What had taken hours to produce can now be compressed into only minutes with technology-based sales cycle control emails.

Sales Cycle

  • Sequence of Events: Perhaps the key tool to help sellers define, manage, control, and continuously qualify their buyers should be provided in template form, based on the typical sales cycle steps, as reflected in sequences of events.
  • Other tools could include methods to prove capabilities, ROI templates, implementation plans, etc.

 

2. Content Lacks Granularity

A key objective of Sales Enablement is to provide the right content, at the right time, and in the right format.  However, the reality that I have seen is that a significant gap exists here.  The steps and/or processes that a seller executes should parallel, enhance, and shorten the buyer’s journey.  Sales Enablement content should, in turn, parallel a seller’s steps and/or processes.  Here are the typical steps a seller executes, from initial contact through closure.  Each requires specific content, in the format sellers require and when they need it.

Planning

  • Territory and/or Account Planning: Specific templates along with examples should be provided and sellers must understand that the output of the plan must provide input to the next step, which is proactive identification of opportunities.
  • Opportunity Identification: This is perhaps the most overlooked step.  Potential high-probability opportunities should be identified that enable sellers to be “first in” and positioned to become trusted advisors.  In fact, I recommend that sellers produce Impact Trees, which provides multiple points of entry into an account.  You can take a look at how to build them in our Providing Customers with Insight article.

Prospecting / Lead Generation:  Sellers should be provided with content (scripts, emails, etc.) that is specific to the buyers being targeted.

Sales Call

  • Call Introduction: If a buyer does not know your company and/or the seller, then the seller may need to provide an introduction, the goal of which should be to quickly get the buyer to conclude that the seller is competent.  Content should be provided to support this, which should include, amongst other things, success stories formatted to support a seller’s verbal delivery.
  • Need Development:  Tools should be provided in a format that parallels the need development process that sellers use, and, again, be specific to both the potential market and potential job title within that market that sellers will be calling on.
  • Qualification: This tends to be a very difficult step for sellers to effectively execute because it is emotionally challenging for them.  We have found that actually providing a script works best.
  • Post-Call Followup:  Every good seller knows that they should summarize key points and findings from their sales calls in an email, yet most don’t and lose an important differentiator and the opportunity to provide their buyer with an email that should function as an internal selling vehicle.  What had taken hours to produce can now be compressed into only minutes with technology-based sales cycle control emails.

Sales Cycle

  • Sequence of Events: Perhaps the key tool to help sellers define, manage, control, and continuously qualify their buyers should be provided in template form, based on the typical sales cycle steps, as reflected in sequences of events.
  • Other tools could include methods to prove capabilities, ROI templates, implementation plans, etc.

 

3. Prospecting Tools Directed to the Wrong Buyers

The A/B Ratio is perhaps the most important predictive sales metric.  It measures the number of opportunities a seller has that are “Above the Power Line” divided by those opportunities where the seller is “Below the Power Line.”  Most sellers have A/B Ratios that are 1/8 or worse.  Sellers with a 1/8 ratio usually wast 40% of their time calling on buyers “Below the Power Line” who cannot buy.  And for many companies this devastating problem starts with marketing, who inadvertently directs their lead gen efforts to “Below the Power Line” buyers.  You can learn more about this problem and how to solve it at A/B Ratio.

4. Inadequate Coaching by Sales Managers

The lynchpins in the sales organization are first line managers.  They must execute effective assessment of opportunities to ensure that sellers are executing effectively.  If this is done properly, seller skill deficiencies and/or inadequate use of Sales Enablement tools will quickly be identified and quickly rectified.

5. Appropriate Metrics Aren’t Used 

Earlier I outlined the set of steps a seller executes requiring content specific to those steps.  Surgical metrics enable sales management to pinpoint specific performance anomalies related to each of those steps.  This, in turn, enables managers to determine whether an individual has sales skill deficiency, or if a broader content issue exists, etc.  The aforementioned A/B Ratios such a metric.

6. Comp Plans Don’t Reflect Sales Enablement Objectives 

Using the aforementioned metrics, a component of seller and manager compensation plans should be based on successful execution of both the skills and the associated content with that skill.

7. Marketing, Sales and Product Teams Misaligned 

Executive stakeholders, including but not necessarily limited to, include the CSO, CMO, and Product Management.  They must own the results.

8. Lack of Executive Ownership 

Executive stakeholders, including but not necessarily limited to, include the CSO, CMO, and Product Management.  They must own the results.

9. Technology Delivery Problems

HubSpot reported that 27% of companies still use email as their primary method to deliver content[1]. If you are a sales person, try integrating that into your sales execution!

A Deeper Look

You can take a deeper look at our approach and the services we provide for Sales Enablement. If you’d like to see how Sales Enablement integrates with CRM take a look at the Adventace Sales Management Systems™.
Bob Junke

Bob Junke

Founder & CEO

Bob Junke is the Founder and CEO of Adventace®. He is also the author of the bestselling book, Create the High Performance Sales Environment® and creator of the Adventace Sales Management System™, a Salesforce-based application that enables a high-performance sales environment. You can learn more about him at Bob’s Bio, and reach him directly at bob.junke@adventace.com or +1 412-585-1593.