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There is no doubt that sales enablement technologies are a huge trend for forward thinking leaders looking to increase sales and find a better way of doing things. Unfortunately, as organizations implement and adopt these new technologies, we are seeing some common practices that can actually backfire and work against improving sales performance.

It is noted that the main challenge sales reps face seems to be the same, no matter what the industry is. The number one reason sales people miss quota is that they can’t articulate value, according to Sirius Decisions.

When you dig into this, many sellers report not feeling prepared when they talk to customers, and, according to IDC, 65 percent of salespeople say they can’t find content to send to prospects. With all this stumbling around, it’s no wonder that a low percentage of first meetings convert to a second one.

To help sellers perform better in these situations, new technologies were developed. The whole idea behind sales enablement is to help a human being (salesperson) have a valuable conversation so they can move a sale forward and close it. The process, tools and coaching ultimately help salespeople perform better and sell more.

As you adopt and use the awesome sales enablement tools available, keep in mind that there can be a few pitfalls along the way that slow your progress and not result in the success you are counting on. Make sure to avoid these five common mistakes and misconceptions.

1. Focusing on just the content

If salespeople say that they can’t find the content, it is easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and perform a content audit, consolidate repositories and tag everything from a marketing point of view.  

Since Sirius Decisions reports that only 30 percent of marketing content is actually used, this activity may help but you’ll likely still have a content graveyard. Remember, even if it is easy to find, the content alone doesn’t close the deal. PEOPLE close the deal. Too many companies forget to help sales reps with what content to use, when to use it, and how to present it.

  • Make content manageable.
  • Have coaching prompts alongside the content so sellers have better conversations.
  • Predictively recommend content and align with the sales stage (don’t rely on the seller to find it).

2. Thinking that technology will solve everything

Content isn’t going to align sales and marketing by itself. If content isn’t being used, it may be for reasons other than it couldn’t be found. Does the content resonate with the sales team and/or the prospect?  

  • Include sales when creating content. The content that marketing creates should  help sellers to have better selling conversations.
  • Align the content with sales training. Too often marketing has no idea what sales methodology the company uses and how to create marketing content that is useful when practicing that methodology.

3. Placing too high a priority on reporting

Having reports with colorful charts and graphs may give you a prettier picture of what is wrong, but it doesn’t help the salesperson perform better. Reports tend to be for the marketers and management. Reports can be insightful, but place higher priorities on features that actually help sellers. Consider the sellers first.  Does it help their performance? Does it fit into their daily workflow?

  • Look at tech solutions that have a seller-centric point of view - not just from the management or marketing perspective.

4. Thinking you are saving seller time

Sellers are spending too much time looking for content and often end up creating their own material and presentations. Some applications feature presentation tools for sellers to easily create personalized presentations, but this can turn them into content creators, not better salespeople. This doesn’t necessarily save them time or maximize their strengths.

  • Rely on applications that can suggest “just in time” information to recommend materials already created.
  • Deliver coaching prompts, alongside the marketing, to guide sellers on how to present the information that has been proven to work in other deal wins.

5. Measuring the wrong metric

What exactly do you want to measure?  Ultimately, you want more sales and therefor should measure performance, but often companies measure  just efficiency.  The content challenge will often cause companies to immediately jump into measuring how much content was reduced.  You probably gained some efficiency, but that alone isn’t enough – you need to look at increasing revenue.  Did saving time equal more sales?

  • Measure rep performance – before and after implementing a new process or tool.
  • Measure the correlation between content’s role in moving deals through the pipeline and ultimately if the deal closed.

The bottom line is that sellers need to be your focus. Always ask yourself, “What are we doing to help the sales rep?” Technology and tools are a means to an end and certainly helpful if used appropriately. If sales enablement makes it easy for sales to find the right thing at the right time for a better conversation and it saves a lot of time, the reps will embrace it with enthusiasm and sales performance will improve.  

Brian Fravel is VP of Marketing of Veelo, an award winning cloud based marketing and sales enablement provider. Brian is a frequent contributor on topics related to learning,, sales and marketing  and sales enablement solutions. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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