Sales technology has come a long way over the past few decades. And when revenue goals are increasingly more aggressive, and reps are expected to sell more, faster, yesterday’s outdated sales tooling will no longer cut it. The rise of the sales stack in 2016 serves as evidence to this fact.
These technological shifts are disrupting the sales process and the way that reps engage with prospects, customers, coworkers, and the world at large. Sales and sales enablement leaders must commit to modernizing their sales team by equipping reps with the right tools to help them do their job efficiently and effectively. So with this in mind, is sales enablement, a technology that has been trending recently, a luxury of a necessity
The B2B marketplace is evolving, and one of the most significant changes is in demographics. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that, as of 2016, Millennials have replaced Boomers as the largest generational cohort, currently accounting for nearly half of all B2B buyers and sellers. Within 10 years, Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforce. Thus, traditional sales strategies, tactics, and tools are no longer as effective as they once were.
The Millennial workforce is not just tech-savvy, having never known life without technology, but they also lack patience for doing things “the way they have always been done”. Wired Magazine asserts, “Thanks to the rise of mobile, cloud, and social, Millennials are used to flexibility, openness, and instantly connecting with people. What they’re not used to are the constraints and restrictions of an IT department when it comes to technology.” This generation of sales reps grew up understanding how to use the latest technology to their advantage and demands access to the tools that will help them work smarter.
Technology advancement is not slowing down any time soon. This speed of change means it’s imperative that B2B organizations keep up with the technologies that will impact the ability of sales reps to perform their jobs.
A few key characteristics of Millennial sales reps are their need for collaboration and knowledge sharing, their openness to change, and their fast tech learning curve. A sales enablement tool fits these requirements, as it learns from the MVPs and recommends proven sales strategies, best practices, and content to the rest of the sales team. Additionally, Millennials adopt new technologies twice as quickly as their colleagues from other generations – they are willing to use the technology, as well as help their peers get up to speed and promote usage throughout the organization.
The optimistic outlook on the economy has resulted in many B2B enterprises targeting larger sales goals. In fact, data from Accenture and CSO Insights shows that 94% of organizations have increased their sales targets. But consider the 20/60/20 rule, which says that about 20% of your sales team are top performers who often meet or exceed quota. That leaves a majority of your sale team with opportunity to increase their quota attainment. And when the sales department is acting as the company’s revenue engine, they need tools that will help them hit their goals.
Sales enablement leaders can enable more reps to exceed expectations by empowering them with the right sales technologies. According to Aberdeen, companies with a sales enablement tool see a 13% revenue growth rate, 3x that of companies without this technology. Accenture asserts, “Leaders [should] prioritize digital investments to align with the highest value aspect of their organization’s selling buying processes and emphasize approaches that power the most profitable growth”.
Sales productivity is the #1 challenge for almost 2/3 of B2B organizations, according to research from The Bridge Group, and studies show that it continues to decline year after year. While many companies are growing their sales teams and chasing larger goals, they aren’t necessarily scaling their processes, best practices, and sales tools appropriately. In fact, less than 1/3 of a sales person’s time goes to core selling activities because they are spending most of their time on repetitive or non-best practice tasks.
Organizations can leverage technology to create repeatable and scalable sales processes. And sales enablement tools can help streamline workflows and eliminate those unnecessary or tedious tasks, saving steps and time so that reps can devote more time to driving revenue. After all, the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of the sales force have a direct and significant impact on the bottom line.
Sales is becoming more data-driven, and leadership is recognizing the importance of metrics above and beyond just revenue – they want to measure those activities that are responsible for revenue increases. But more than half of sales executives are dissatisfied with their ability to offer valuable insights, due to scattered information and limited visibility into data.
Having the right sales technology in place to collect and analyze the proper data can quickly uncover opportunities for improvement and promote more-informed decision-making. The dashboards in a sales enablement tool will also give sales leaders the ability to visualize trends and gain valuable insights into sales rep activity. This type of data-driven sales strategy will replicate the behaviors of top performers and help the average performers improve.
So is sales enablement technology a luxury or necessity? Well, best-in-class companies have long since come to the conclusion that sales technologies are indeed a must-have. According to TOPO, high-growth sales teams have an average of five tools in their technology stack, and 72% of organizations plan to invest in sales technology this year.
Sales enablement technologies aim to align marketing processes and goals and then arm sales teams with the tools and content to improve sales execution and drive revenue. Sales enablement, by nature, empowers and enables sales reps to work more efficiently and effectively. Accenture may sum it up best when they say, “Ironically, the same digital technologies that have upended traditional sales can help forward-thinking companies effectively reinvent their sales management approaches”.
Shelley Cernel, Senior Marketing Manager at KnowledgeTree.