The ways in which trends ebb and flow affect just about every aspect of our personal and professional lives. So it’s no surprise that they have a role to play in the arena of Sales enablement.
Some of the most notable Sales enablement trends are things that directly pertain to the Sales cycle, while others will more broadly apply to Marketing, accounts, finance, and other areas of operations. It will be critical for Sales organizations to closely examine all such factors if they hope to optimize their Sales enablement program for substantial, ongoing success in 2020 and beyond.
AI and Machine Learning in Sales Operations and Enablement
Not too long ago, there was a considerable amount of anxiety among workers in most industries around the world regarding how much of an effect artificial intelligence would have on the labor pool. This was felt even in service fields like Sales, Marketing, and customer service, at least to some extent. It quickly became clear that AI was not going to be replacing human Sales reps in the 2010s, of course, and certainly not for a very long time. The prevalence of chatbots is about as close as we are to anything like that happening.
That being said, AI and its associated technologies, like the constantly evolving, cutting-edge capabilities of machine learning, will absolutely be of use to Sales organizations. In numerous cases, they already are: There are the aforementioned chatbots, which are particularly useful in retail, as they provide buyers with a great deal of immediate assistance on a 24/7 basis. Algorithms that help determine product recommendations are already fairly complex and will only expand their capabilities through machine-learning functionality that improves their accuracy over time, which customers notice, subtly increasing their level of trust in a brand.
But the Sales enablement process, arguably, may find itself more radically transformed by AI than any other aspect of operations. According to Forbes, AI can help Marketing professionals identify the most promising new leads and quantify how likely such prospects are to close on a deal. Through integration with an agile Sales enablement platform, marketers then deliver this info to Sales managers, who share it with their reps to bolster their chances of closing on their leads – i.e., better enabling successful Sales. Additionally, automated data gathering regarding the best practices of the organization’s Sales leaders (everything from ask strategies to habits for better time management) allows these insights to further serve as Sales enablement tools by being incorporated into onboarding and training modules.
The Rise of Guided Selling
Guided selling is not, strictly speaking, a brand-new practice; it has been around and in practice for at least a few years: Data regarding not only the background of a given Sales prospect, but also their likelihood of committing to a deal (and how much the deal may be worth) is collected, through various interactions, by a company’s account-based Marketing team. It then factors into a seller’s interactions with the prospect, characterized as lead scoring or opportunity ranking data. All of this constitutes a personalization-heavy approach to guided selling.
However, the expanding role of AI throughout various aspects of the Sales funnel can also broaden the scope and capabilities of this Sales enablement methodology. Guided selling is likely to shift from a process centered around case-by-case opportunity scoring to a tactic that provides wide-ranging insights on what products or services to offer prospects. (This could be individual prospects’ situations or for various demographics within your customer base.) Improved guided selling techniques can even help Sales teams determine whether pricing needs to be adjusted in some situations and provide real-time insights into how Sales efforts can be modified or improved at any point in the Sales cycle. It will thus be critical to make room for AI-based enhancements in Marketing and guided selling processes. Those who downplay the value of such developments deny the Sales team a tool that could notably bolster their performance, and may ultimately put themselves at risk of falling behind their competition.
Better Alignment of Sales Enablement to the Customer Journey
At times, Sales can definitely feel like a dog-eat-dog world, especially to reps when they’re under a great deal of pressure to match the quotas set by Sales leaders. In these moments, sellers may have tunnel vision solely for the closed deal and want to aggressively push value propositions on prospects. However, such an approach can actually undo a sale that was 65% of the way to completion. Customers know that the seller wants to make the deal to help his or her company’s bottom line, but still want to feel the vendor values them.
Along these lines, it’s reasonable to project that the best Sales organizations will aim to better align their Sales processes with the journeys of buyers – from Marketing leads to satisfied customers. According to the Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study from CSO Insights, only 19% of businesses surveyed said that they were engaging in such a dynamic process of seller-buyer alignment. However, those that had adopted such an approach saw advantages that are hard to overlook: a 17.9% increase in win rate and an 11.8% uptick in quota attainment across Sales teams. Whether Sales strategy and customer journey alignment becomes a widespread trend among businesses or not, it’ll be worthwhile for your organization to strongly consider adhering to this practice going forward.
Increased Departmental Integration to Foster Sales Enablement
As noted above, the journey that a customer takes does not begin with your company’s Sales reps. It usually starts with marketing or social media (depending on whether you have a dedicated social team apart from Marketing). If the prospect is pleased at the way everything has gone so far and haven’t felt pushed or pressured, they’ll reach your Sales department, and it then becomes a rep’s responsibility to make them feel at least as confident in the organization as they already do (and ideally more so). You must be cognizant at all times of their journey, or risk jeopardizing the chance of a completed sale.
To better facilitate the progression toward Sales success without infringing upon the customer journey thus far, you need a comprehensive view of data from every stage of that path. Therefore cooperation and integration with all other units of the business who have been a part of said journey is essential. This involves much more than simply being on the same page with other departments in terms of approach. The tools that each team uses must also be integrated for easy and immediate distribution of relevant data from one department to the next.
Your Sales enablement software should be able to call up Marketing data as needed when aiming to determine if an ongoing Sales pitch has a genuine likelihood of success. For example, perhaps the actions of a prospect’s CEO seems to indicate a likely sale, but records of their prior interactions with marketers show a more difficult side. You’ll only know this if there’s complete platform integration between the two teams. Similarly, Sales should readily share the data collected from all transactions with the Marketing and Account Management teams (as well as with any other department that may benefit from having it). Last but not least, all of the information and content resulting from such integration of teams’ tools should be put to use as insights for Sales onboarding and training exercises when the department brings on new reps. This way, recruits are always taking the best examples of successful practices from Sales leaders right at the start of their tenure.
Showpad’s platform represents the Sales enablement technology your organization needs to thrive. Through seamless integration with other teams’ CRM software and tools – plus the capability to create and disburse content vital to the Sales training and coaching processes – Sales enablement solutions from Showpad facilitate your ability to operate at the vanguard of your field.