What Your Sales Leader Needs from Enablement

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Ask any sales leader what their primary goal is, and the answer will likely be some variation of the following: drive revenue.

As the massive transformations of the past year have proven, sales leaders are under significant pressure to make this happen. In fact, the most recent State of Sales Enablement Report found that 77% of the sales leaders think that sales has become more challenging in the past year. Furthermore, 66% of sales leaders rate the challenge level as significant. In order to overcome these challenges to increase revenue, sales leaders must have the resources and support necessary to build resilience across the sales organization in new and innovative ways. To achieve this, sales enablement can be the sales leader’s secret weapon.

Digging deeper into the factors that sales leaders view as their greatest challenges, they are largely symptoms of the current economic crises. For instance, hiring great talent is a top challenge for 42% of sales leaders, an increase of 35% compared to other respondents. When hiring amid uncertainty in the market, sales leaders need to find highly skilled individuals who can become productive quickly and achieve results consistently.

Other top challenges include competitive pressure for 42% and new or different buyers for 38% of sales leaders. Buyer preferences are rapidly transforming in response to macro-level industry changes such as the rise of virtual selling. This is further emphasized by the fact that 92% of the sales leaders agree that buyers have significantly changed in the past year. For many sales leaders, sales enablement has quickly become this strategic lever by which to improve sales productivity and performance, especially amid change.

“We’re doing a lot to try to make the field more effective going forward next year,” said Patrick Manzo, chief revenue officer at Skillsoft. “Our sales enablement organization is frankly one of the linchpins of that exercise.”

Sales enablement can be a vehicle to drive sales efficiency and effectiveness to optimize revenue and accelerate growth through three key areas: consistent rep performance, unified customer experiences, and insight into what works.

Consistent Rep Performance

In order to move the needle on sales productivity, it is critical for reps to exhibit the right behaviors that lead to consistent results. One of the core opportunities to ensure consistent rep performance is through effective training, an area where sales enablement can drive significant impact. In fact, 42% of the sales leaders indicate that providing training is a core sales enablement priority.

Through activities such as training and onboarding, sales enablement can help revenue-facing teams develop the competencies they need to become more productive faster, ultimately driving revenue growth. In fact, sales leaders who prioritize competency improvement through sales enablement see average win rates that are 10 percentage points higher than those who do not.

competencies chart


“Having [sales enablement] in place can decrease the time it takes to ramp and onboard a new rep,” said Mary Shea, leading sales enablement analyst. “As a CRO, if I had that kind of lever available, I would have paid my weight in gold a hundred times over. These are not easy things to get.”

Unified Customer Experiences

For sales teams to succeed today in retaining and growing customers, reps need to deliver an excellent and seamless experience for buyers at every point in their journey. Sales plays are a critical method to land corporate initiatives in the field and ensure revenue-facing reps are working in lockstep to provide value for the buyer. This is further emphasized by the fact that arming reps with sales plays that outline the knowledge, messaging, and assets needed to move buyers forward in their journeys is a top sales enablement priority for 42% of the sales leaders.

When landed effectively through sales enablement, sales plays can have significant business impact. For instance, organizations where sales play tools are effectively used see average win rates that are 8 percentage points higher than organizations where sales play tools are not used effectively.

sales play tool chart

Along with providing guidance on what to know, say, and do in customer interactions to have more impactful conversations, sales play efforts also help to unify the customer experience by driving cohesive processes across revenue-facing teams. These efforts are further enhanced through collaboration between revenue leaders, which sales enablement is well-poised to spearhead. In fact, 73% of sales leaders find collaboration efforts with sales enablement to be either meeting or exceeding expectations. With effective collaboration, enablement can drive alignment across the revenue organization to streamline cohesive processes and accelerate sales goals.

“[Sales enablement] can be that change agent and really get [cross-functional leaders] to start thinking about going beyond their silos,” said Jeff Davis, author of Create Togetherness. “Thinking more holistically and creating a unified customer experience can really help the buyer navigate the process to making a decision.”

Insight Into What Works

Without reliable analysis into the underlying factors that move the needle on sales goals, it can be challenging to effectively change sales behaviors to support corporate initiatives. Sales enablement can help sales leaders make the necessary strategic decisions to achieve and exceed sales goals by providing this data-backed insight on two fronts.

First, sales enablement can provide critical analysis into how their efforts across activities such as onboarding, training, sales plays, and collaboration help improve sales productivity and lead to increased growth and retention of customers. In fact, 62% of sales leaders say enablement is average or above average in its ability to correlate sales enablement initiatives to sales goals.

sales leader chart

Second, sales enablement can help sales leaders optimize productivity with data-driven insights into what good looks like for sales reps in order to over-achieve and provide exceptional value for the business. This is underscored by the fact that 54% of sales leaders say sales enablement is average or above average in its ability to use data to analyze business impact.

data analysis chart

Sales leaders who invest in sales enablement and support it in delivering solutions for key business initiatives will be well-equipped to enhance sales productivity both now and long-term. Sales enablement can be a vital catalyst to drive consistent rep performance through training and competency improvement, a unified customer experience through effective collaboration and sales plays, and data-backed sales strategy with insight into what works.

No longer a nice-to-have business function, sales enablement is imperative for sales leaders to adequately support reps with the tools and skills they need to grow revenue and engage with modern buyers. By embracing sales enablement within the sales organization, sales leaders can accelerate strategic change.

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