It’s that time of year again… trend time. Before we get into it, let’s first clarify what a trend actually is. According to the dictionary definition, a trend can have different aspects, such as a drift (a prevailing tendency or inclination), a swing (a general movement), a vogue (a current style or preference), or an approach (a line of development). Looking at it this way, let me focus on drifts, swings and approaches; I’ll skip styles and preferences.
Trend 1: Data and technology helps value messaging become dynamic, targeted, and tailored
This is a big trend – a new holistic approach around communicating value to your buyers and customers. You might say it’s not new, as we’ve known for years that we should communicate value. Yes and no. In general, it shouldn’t be new. But it’s about time for a holistic approach that takes advantage of the assets we have available to us, such as data and technology.
Customer value management leverages the best of three dimensions: dynamic value management, real data from use cases and customer projects, and state-of-the-art technology.
The first dimension is dynamic value management. Dynamic means that in the age of the customer, you need different value messages along the customer’s path, such as value hypotheses early on, and unique value propositions in the actual buying phase. Additionally, think about value confirmation messages when customers are in their implementation and adoption phase.
The second dimension is about leveraging data. Harvest your customer projects and extract the relevant data on specific business problems, investments, and actual customer value that has been delivered using the metrics that matter to them. Based on your data, you can cluster patterns and categorize specific problems you solve, and then you can come up with targeted and tailored messages that cover three things: the uniqueness of the business problem to be solved, the involved buyer roles, and the relevant customer’s path phase.
The third dimension – technology – is very closely connected to data. Recognizing patterns in data, extracting relevant pieces of information in your data and understanding the story the data tells you – that’s where you need capable technology to power your dynamic customer value management approach.
Ideally, such a holistic and integrated approach is able to provide specific value messages in all three dimensions in a way that sales enablement content management solutions can help to dynamically tailor and furnish with specific content.
Trend 2: Addressing selling challenges through the lens of the customer path becomes mandatory for effective sales enablement
This is a growing trend (a swing and a drift, I’d say) that becomes more evident year after year and is ready for a breakthrough. For the past couple of years, only one-fifth of organizations got this right and worked backward from their relevant customer journey maps. It’s important to integrate buyers’ steps and the gates they have to go through to make a buying decision in internal selling processes. And yes, these are processes (plural), because you have to cover the entire process chain from marketing to sales to customer success/customer service.
Why is this trend ready for its breakthrough? Because the performance impact this one-fifth of organizations could achieve was double-digit for the first time in 2019: a 17.9% inprovement in win rates and 11.8% improvement in quota attainment.
Trend 3: Seller engagement is the core of effective sales enablement and customer engagement
Seller engagement is the emotional commitment to both solve buyer problems and achieve desired sales results. As such, seller engagement was underestimated over the past couple of years. However, it stands at the beginning of effective sales enablement, because only an engaged Sales force is ready and open to utilize and apply all of the enablement services you created and provided for them.
Now the question is how to get to highly engaged Sales forces. Sure, there is a cultural element to it; however, we learned in our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study that the most important driver for an engaged Sales force is the frontline Sales manager. This shows once again that sales enablement can only be effective if Sales managers are a target audience – if they are informed, involved and engaged from the very beginning so that Sales Enablement and Sales managers work hand-in-hand on the same goals: a highly engaged, perfectly equipped and empowered Sales force that drives both customer engagement and the desired sales results.
Combine the first three trends , connect the dots, and you will get real leverage.
Trend 4: Technology must be utilized wisely
This is more of an appeal, but it will hopefully become a trend. No doubt technology is already everywhere, and that will only continue to increase. What I want to address here is the need for humans to finally get into the driver’s seat when it comes to technology. Technology is here to serve us, meaning we as humans have to master technology. And that’s unfortunately very often not the case.
The discussion about AI was initially based on the idea of augmenting the expertise of humans. And that’s still a great cause. Now what do you experience if you check, for example, your email inbox with handfuls of mistargeted, untailored, zero-value prospecting approaches that don’t even get your role right?
It’s important to take the time to really understand what the technologies you use are capable of and what you want them to do along the entire customer path (see trends 1 and 2). The focus for this exercise should be the desired customer experience you want to create.
Effective Sales Enablement leaders – the winners who are busy climbing the next mountain – are already working on these trends. If you haven’t already, it’s time to get started as well.