Today’s post is by Bob Junke, 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.
In their 2015 study, Heinz Marketing and Highspot said there is “A massive gap between the importance and effectiveness of Sales Enablement.” The gap was confirmed in their 2017 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 well “above radar,” and is considered 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.
In my view there are nine key factors causing the gap – all of which can be resolved.
- Content Is Misaligned with Sales Process
CSO Insights said, “Organizations that implement a dynamic sales process and align it to the customer’s journey have higher win rates and quota attainment than those with lesser alignment and lesser degrees of process.”
But what about then aligning content with that buyer-aligned sales process? Here the results are not so good. MarketingProfs said, “Most companies admit that there’s a lot of work to be done in aligning marketing content with sales processes.”
- Content Lacks Granularity
A key objective of sales enablement is to provide the right content, at the right time, and in the right format. Generally, however, content simply tends to be far too broad brush. The processes a seller executes should parallel, enhance, and shorten the buyer’s journey. Content should, in turn, parallel a seller’s processes. That means it must be specific to buyers based on a number of important factors:
- The step the seller is executing
- The buyer’s vertical market
- The buyer’s job function
- The critical business issues the buyer likely has
- The business capabilities the seller’s products/services can provide
- Lead Generation Content and Activities 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. This translates to them wasting 40 percent of their time calling on buyers who cannot buy.
In most companies this devastating problem starts with marketing, who inadvertently directs their lead gen efforts to “below the power line” buyers.
- Inadequate Coaching by First-line Sales Managers
The linchpins in the sales organization are first-line managers. They must execute effective assessment of opportunities, pipeline management, and metric analysis to ensure sellers are executing effectively. If this is done properly, seller skill deficiencies – including inadequate use of sales enablement tools – can quickly be identified and rectified.
- Appropriate Metrics Aren’t Used to Track Success and Drive Improvements
Today, management struggles with sales enablement metrics, but there are very good predictive metrics that enable sales management to pinpoint specific performance anomalies related to each step in the sales process. This, in turn, enables managers to determine whether an individual has skill deficiencies, if a broader content issue exists, etc. The aforementioned A/B ratio is such a metric.
- Comp Plans Don’t Reflect Sales Enablement Objectives
With metrics in place, the stage is set for aligning compensation plans with sales enablement objectives. This will appropriately incent salespeople and sales managers to improve execution of sales skills and better utilize content.
- Misalignment Between Marketing, Sales, and Product/Service Teams
According to a report from Demand Gen Reports, “misaligned organizations suffer from poor communication, flawed processes, and weak and inconsistent follow-up. Marketsource went on to report that “Misalignment between sales and marketing is a troubling challenge for B2B organizations. Fractured relationships, lost leads and sales, inefficient processes, and lowered revenues are far too familiar for these groups.”
Particularly as it pertains to content development, it is also important to align a company’s product/service development team with marketing and sales. While marketing and sales understand markets and buyers, the product/service development team best understands the capabilities the company can provide to help buyers. Including them in content development is essential.
- Lack of Executive Ownership
Too often executive stakeholders do not take ownership – which, in my view, is more than leadership – for sales enablement results and, therefore, problems arise such as poor-quality content, content not being used by sellers, late delivery, etc.
- Technology Delivery Problems
HubSpot reported that 27 percent of companies still use email as their primary method to deliver content. If you are a salesperson, try integrating that into your sales process! A comprehensive technology solution should support end-to-end sales enablement activities – whether it is training, new or updated solution roll-out, pre-call planning, post-call follow-up, etc.
We have seen companies that overcome these deficiencies achieve 1,900 percent improvements in key sales enablement metrics in less than two quarters, and increase product sales from as low as 207 percent to as high as 647 percent.