Episode 200: 20 Statistics That Prove the Business Impact of Sales Enablement
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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.
Over the past 199 episodes, we’ve spoken to enablement leaders spanning geos, industries, and organization sizes about how they are upleveling their own programs to drive business impact and solidify enablement as a must-have function in the business. Across all pillars of enablement, from onboarding to training, coaching, content, and engagement, one theme remains a throughline to effective enablement: proving business impact.
To celebrate the 200th episode, we want to highlight 20 powerful sales enablement statistics that reinforce the value of effective enablement, along with insights from some of our past guests and enablement leaders that help shed light on what good looks like in enablement today.
Let’s start with the programs that often serve as a rep’s first impression of enablement: onboarding and training. For our first sales enablement stat, we found that teams that effectively provide foundational knowledge in their onboarding and training programs see a 10-percentage-point increase in quota attainment. Nina LaRouche from Bazaarvoice shared some advice with us on how to set reps up for success from the beginning of onboarding to ongoing training.
Nina LaRouche: For me, as an enablement practitioner and somebody who’s been in the learning space for a long time, I really think about learning as a journey. It’s not a destination, it’s not an event. One of the books that I’ve recently read is by Laura Fletcher and Sharon Boller, and they talk about the four stages of learning. First, preparing to learn, second, acquiring knowledge or skills, third, building memory practice, and then fourth, sustain and grow. I think all of these pieces are critical when you think about really designing effective learning experiences.
SS: For our second sales enablement stat, using data effectively to improve sales onboarding and training programs can lead to a 9-percentage-point increase in average win rates. Amanda Romeo from DailyPay talked to us about how she measures the success of her learning programs.
Amanda Romeo: I’m very results-driven. I’m a big fan of the Kirkpatrick model for measuring effectiveness and I presented on this topic with some other enablement groups. Simply put, the Kirkpatrick model is broken into four levels: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. Reaction, simple satisfaction surveys…The second component is learning, and this is achieved through written tests, certifications, so on and so forth. One thing to note is that for reaction and learning to be really telling, you usually want to pair those two results together. For example, if they liked the training but didn’t learn anything, it wasn’t necessarily an effective initiative. Now, usually this is where I hear a lot of practitioners stop…Where I think we really get the business’s attention is beyond that when we talk about behavior and results.
SS: In tracking the impact of onboarding and training, having the right tools in place can make a big difference. For our third sales enablement stat, we found that teams using onboarding tools see quota attainment improvements of 3 percentage points. Let’s hear from Celine Laffargue at Salesforce to learn how her team is leveraging tools to improve learning in the virtual environment.
Celine Laffargue: We are using lots of tools today. The virtual world opened many new perspectives on this type of usage and apps. We do a lot of simulations, and you use simulations to really have people active during the training. We know that today, just delivering your content when you have a speaker and people listening is not enough. You need to have the interaction, you need to have people involved, and you need to use all the tools you can.
SS: Alongside seamless onboarding and training, coaching reps can help strengthen the skills and behaviors that ultimately lead to an improved customer experience. Our 4th sales enablement stat highlights this, as companies with effective sales coaching are 177% more likely to be effective at negotiation and handling objections. To add insight on how coaching can improve the customer experience, let’s hear from Aaron Evans at Flow State.
Aaron Evans: I think that it’s been incredibly valuable. The byproduct of that is how will it affect the customer? Well the things that you are coaching on, whether that is strategies that you are going to approach the customers with, or processes, whatever it may be that you are coaching on, 2e are finding that the outcomes are much stronger and much better. I think coaching will ultimately create a better customer experience because you’re coaching on the fundamentals that the business wants to execute on to ultimately achieve the goal of adding value in generating revenue.
SS: With insights on how coaching is leading to behavior change, enablement leaders can refine their programs. This brings us to our 5th sales enablement stat. Teams that use data to optimize sales coaching have quota attainment rates that are 5 percentage points greater. Here is Stacey Justice at HashiCorp talking about the ideal outcomes of coaching.
Stacey Justice: Good coaching shows progress. It shows development. If it’s not happening consistently, if there aren’t goals, if there isn’t a level of accountability that comes from it, then I just don’t think that you see that progress.
SS: For our 6th sales enablement stat, we found that teams that use sales coaching tools are 20% more likely to effectively negotiate and handle objections. Let’s hear from Chad Dyar from Zoom about the impact of coaching tools on the effectiveness of coaching programs.
Chad Dyar: For coaching, we use coaching technology to make sure managers were doing it every week and that their reps are improving the different areas that they were coaching on. So, if we identify that a rep was maybe stronger in discovery, but weaker in qualification, we would be measuring how they improved and how they’re qualifying their deals over the course of the quarter. So, forecasting went right down the line with what the reps were responsible for and how the managers were coaching to better behaviors.
SS: To equip reps to effectively engage with customers, training and coaching the right behaviors is only part of the full puzzle. Reps also need impactful content to deliver the right messages to buyers at the right time. Our 7th sales enablement stat found that having a proactive content strategy increases employee engagement by 25%. Hear why this is so important from Henry Adaso, author of “Content Mapping”.
Henry Adaso: We need to figure out how to increase the value of the work that we’re doing. That means constantly reviewing and evaluating our content strategies to make sure that whatever we’re doing is actually working. Our content strategy will need to be re-evaluated from time to time as we receive inputs from the marketplace, as we receive input from the organization or the brand or the customer, we need to pivot just like we’ve done recently to make sure that we’re still able to resonate.
SS: This brings us to our 8th sales enablement stat: sales enablement teams that strategically organize their sales content see a 14-percentage-point increase in win rates. Marcela Piñeros at Stripe shared with us a bit about why this is so important.
Marcela Piñeros: One major shift that I feel we need to make as enablement functions in general is to go from being content creators to being content curators…A lot of us do this work manually, so you know that the lift is enormous, and it does feel like a hamster wheel. You’re constantly trying to catch up and you can never really catch up when you’re talking about a hundred assets. You can potentially manage that content in a spreadsheet, but when you start thinking in the hundreds or the thousands, you really need technology to support you. You need to be able to lean on processes and tools that help you automate that. You can focus on more impactful tasks, like deciding what content you actually need to source to support key business priorities.
SS: We have all heard the phrase “time is money” and when it comes to sales, this really is true. Take our 9th sales enablement stat for example: companies that track the time spent searching for content see a 4-percentage-point increase in cross-sell deals. To double-tap into this statistic, let’s get insight from Chris Wrenn at Adobe.
Chris Wrenn: A lot of the work from a design and content strategy and management perspective and content delivery perspective has been around really making content easy to find, making sure that it is authoritative, and also just making sure that there are some governance activities in place to keep it up to date and current. Those three areas, search, governing, and authoritativeness of documents so people know they’ve got the right version at the right time, and also that it’s up to date, those are the three things that I think have been continuous in what my team’s journey has been, going from managing content to getting more involved in the actual experience of how people receive content, where they get it, and how they use it.
SS: Having content that is easy to find is only half the battle. That content also needs to resonate with buyers. Our 10th sales enablement stat emphasizes this: teams that effectively engage customers with content see a 20-percentage-point increase in win rate. Eric Andrews from TriNet shared some thoughts with us on how his team prioritizes customer-centricity in their content strategy.
Eric Andrews: I think one of the best ways to get the team more customer-centric is to focus on doing fewer things but doing them consistently and with a high level of quality. There’s only so much content that sellers or buyers can consume and we’re trying to shift from a “more is more” motto to a “more is less” motto. It’s the old Mark Twain adage, “I’d have written a shorter note if I’d had more time.” This is really about providing fewer, really high-quality enablement assets that sellers understand and can use effectively in the buying process rather than having to hunt through hundreds of documents to find the ones that make the most sense for their customers.
SS: Beyond just having the right content, reps need guidance on when and how to engage buyers through sales plays. For our 11th sales enablement stat, we found that those who use data to optimize their sales plays see win rates that are 15 percentage points higher. Let’s hear from Nieka Mamczak at Drift on the impact of data-driven sales plays.
Nieka Mamczak: Sales plays are not just warm and fuzzy, nice ideas, they are meant to drive results. You want to make sure that you’re establishing a sales play metric protocol that shows results – is this play influencing a customer conversation? Or is this play influencing a pipeline number, or is this play influencing a growth target or an expansion target? Make sure that revenue impact is also very key.
SS: In sales, customer engagement is one of the most important factors of success. Our 12th sales enablement stat highlights this: we found that effectively tracking sales engagement efforts can lead to 10-percentage-point greater win rates. Kris Rudeegraap, the CEO and co-founder of Sendoso shared with us a bit about why customer engagement is so important to sales success today.
Kris Rudeegraap: Today’s buyers really do a lot of homework in advance of buying. So, there’s a lot of information out there on the web and because of that, when salespeople are reaching out, I think relevancy and personalization are some key things that you’ve got to think about when going after the buyer. I think an orchestrated outreach and not bombarding with generic mass outreach is really what matters to them. I think you’ve probably seen yourself that people can be bombarded with thousands of messages every day, so it’s really reaching out with something that feels more genuine specifically to them.
SS: Our 13th sales enablement stat digs into this even further. We found that teams that leverage sales engagement data to improve the buyer experience have win rates that are 8 percentage points higher. Let’s hear from Wynne Brown at Fable on how her team optimizes the customer experience through data.
Wynne Brown: What we’ve seen is our most successful customers have us see them throughout that whole customer journey, not just in the sales process where we’re trying to get the dollars, but during implementation and of course after implementation with our customer success management team. I feel like customer-centricity is a little bit like art – you know it when you see it. But we are trying to put at least that cipher or that symbol in place that we know that if we visit and we show up and we form real human relationships, we succeed more because the customer succeeds more.
SS: When reps are highly engaged in an organization, they are better positioned to provide a positive buyer experience. This brings us to our 14th sales enablement stat: organizations that have above-average employee engagement are 3 times more likely to have above-average customer engagement. Let’s hear from Michelle Anthony at LHH on how she is keeping her employees engaged.
Michelle Anthony: I think it really does come down to empathy at the core, especially as leaders. I have found that I’ve had to put on my calendar as a reminder to make sure, whether it’s a team meeting, whether it’s one-on-ones, that I’m creating time and space just to check in and ask people how they’re doing. And not like, how is work going, but like, how are you doing? How is life? How are things going for you? What can I do to help? What is it that you need for me? Amazing conversations surface…We’re all part of different communities and making people feel valued and appreciated for the work that they’re doing as part of this community is really important. I think that empathy is needed from our team now more than ever. I think just listening, honestly, and responding on a human level is the best thing that we can be doing.
SS: One way that companies can improve employee engagement is by investing in professional development for reps. Our 15th sales enablement stat shows why: companies that provide career development support are 50% more likely to have high employee engagement. Imogen McCourt of AndGrow.io shared some insight with us on this.
Imogen McCourt: I think if you are really trying to drive world-class sales organizations and world-class sales rep productivity, you need to think very seriously about how your teams are motivated and how you can create a constantly curious approach to their attitude. That is how you get to real productivity.
SS: Of course, all these initiatives can’t be possible without sufficient investment in the enablement function. Our 16th sales enablement stat sheds some light here, as we found that every additional $50,000 spent on sales enablement leads to a 1-point higher win rate. Sharon Little from Skillsoft talked to us about the value of having investment from leadership in the success of the enablement function.
Sharon Little: I think we’re in a situation now where leaders, CEOs, heads of sales organizations really understand the value and the strategic impact that sales enablement can make. While most of us who work with sales understand that pain is a huge driver for many decisions including buying decisions and org structure decisions and where you invest your money internally within your company, I think that now sales enablement has almost become an aspirational type of investment. Most often when I talk to sales leaders, what their dream is when it comes to having a world-class sales enablement team is to have that be the impetus for creating a best-in-class sales organization overall and a selling team that has a reputation in the market of being the very best.
SS: Investment in enablement efforts can encompass everything from building the team to delivering programs – but one of the most critical investments is the tech stack. In fact, our 17th sales enablement stat shows that teams using a sales enablement tool see 9-percentage-point higher win rates. Gerald Alston from Varonis spoke to us about how tools can improve rep performance.
Gerald Alston: Today, salespeople really need to have a certain level of comfort with the tools and the stack to get the most out of the role. It’s nearly impossible for sales rep to really generate the type of success they probably want for themselves without some tools working in unison to get them there. A big part of my role is to make sure that reps are comfortable with not only knowing how the tools function and why we actually have them, but also giving them some strategy on how to use them together, especially in-house because all companies are different.
SS: Beyond improving rep performance, enablement tools can help improve collaboration across the organization. Take our 18th sales enablement stat for example. We found that those that use a sales enablement tool are 52% more likely to collaborate cross-functionally. Heidi Castagna of NVIDIA shared her perspective on how tools improve collaboration.
Heidi Castagna: There is so much mutual benefit to a well-oiled enablement organization when it comes to the product we use between the marketing teams and the sales leadership. Getting excellent resources out in the field, getting those over the finish line is incredibly important, but also it’s not like pulling teeth because it is obvious where the shared benefits are.
SS: Enablement is well-positioned to drive this collaboration, particularly with executive leaders. Our 19th sales enablement stat shows why. We found that 87% of sales enablement teams meet or exceed expectations in collaborating with sales leadership. Caroline Holt at Bonterra shared with us how enablement can drive collaboration with executive leaders.
Caroline Holt: I think that a big part of alignment is understanding both what does that person or that team need to get accomplished? What is it that they need to get out of the revenue organization or the sales organization? How does the revenue organization or sales organization affect them? How do you start to create that collaboration and alignment on business objectives? Then that starts to trickle into what we actually need to accomplish together. I think if you understand the needs of your internal stakeholders, and they understand what’s in it for them to work together, it’s a lot easier to build something in a collaborative zone.
Even if you know what you think the direction is that you want to take from a revenue perspective or revenue enablement perspective, it gives you more clarity and it enables you to work much more closely together because you feel like you have similar consensus-based objectives as opposed to, “this is the stuff that the revenue team needs to get done and here’s how I need you to help me get that done.” Which feels a lot more like, I’m either going in and selling them something or I’m going in and telling them that they need to get on board. It’s tough to create that interest if they are feeling “volun-told” as opposed to a collaborative part of the solution.
SS: Overall, being able to prove the business impact of enablement is a key ingredient to effective collaboration, as it can help enablement leaders earn a seat at the table. This brings us to our 20th sales enablement stat. The 56% of enablement teams that are exceptional at communicating business impact are also 2.3 times as likely to exceed expectations in collaborating with executive leaders. Let’s hear from Adriana Romero at Salesforce on how data can help enablement earn a seat at the table.
Adriana Romero: It is about credibility. One of the things that I would say is, you have to demonstrate that what you’re doing in terms of enablement functions or workshops or any initiatives are backed up by the data that you have in the company and that you are backing up data in terms of numbers, in terms of gaps. And you’re coming to the sales managers with an intelligent solution around, “look, I am not only thinking about implementing X, Y, or Zed workshop, it’s that we’re seeing these trends on the floor and we believe that we can actually impact efficiency or performance or any metric by doing this.” Having a very good grasp on the data that your managers and your leaders have is very important.
SS: Thanks for tuning into 200 episodes of the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. To learn more about all the statistics we shared today on the impact of enablement, be sure to check out the Reports section of our website.
And as always, if there’s something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.