By Jerry Rackley

Editor’s Note:  This post is part of a series of interviews with sponsors and speakers at the upcoming Demand Metric Sales Enablement Virtual Summit, which will take place on April 3, 2014.

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Meagen Eisenberg, Vice President of Demand Generation at DocuSign, is on the agenda to present “The Future of Sales Enablement” at the upcoming Sales Enablement Virtual Summit.  We asked Meagen to share her thoughts on Sales Enablement:

Why is Sales Enablement so important?

It is so important because it is the aligning of sales and marketing to drive efficiency and cost savings to obtain and exceed revenue targets.

Our research shows that only half of organizations have a Sales Enablement function, and many that do have it aren’t doing it well.  Why do you think this is?

Headcount is expensive and resources are constrained.  Many companies are stuck in a tactical mode fighting fires.  They do not step back and realize the cost savings and major benefits to the organization as a whole when they focus on Sales Enablement as a strategy to drive more efficiency and knowledge in their teams.

You’ll be presenting during the Virtual Summit – what will attendees learn during your session?

Attendees will learn how DocuSign aligned their sales and marketing organizations.  That success derives from a progressive commitment around building the relationship together, transparency in results and habitual communication.  Marketing technologies are transforming marketing and sales by delivering the platform, necessary efficiencies and innovation to sustain and accelerate the relationship.  Attendees will take away ideas and tools to implement a stronger relationship with their sales and marketing counterparts.

About Meagen Eisenberg

Meagan

Meagen has spent almost two decades in the high-tech industry and currently serves on the board of advisors of DemandCon. According to an AdWeek study, she has one of the Top 50 most retweeted Twitter feeds by mid-sized marketers.  She received the 2012 SuperNova Award in Matrix Commerce from Constellation Research and the 2011 Marketing Visionary Markie award within the marketing automation field.  Before joining DocuSign, she was Director of WW Demand Generation at ArcSight, an HP Company, and prior to that she led worldwide programs and events at TRIRIGA (acquired by IBM). Prior to TRIRIGA, she was at Postini (acquired by Google) and IBM.  Meagen earned her MBA at Yale.

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By Clare Price

In the now classic baseball film, Field of Dreams, the mysterious voice kept repeating, “If You Build It, They Will Come.” Eventually Kevin Costner, probably sick to death of that nagging voice, did build the baseball field in his corn field and the legendary baseball teams did show up to play.

“If You Build It, They Will Come” has now become a common catch phrase.  So common in fact that I almost hate to use it . . . Except that is it the perfect way to describe the benefits of Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ).  Seriously? Yes, seriously.

The first word of CPQ is CONFIQURE. The core benefit of CPQ is to automatically configure or BUILD a custom product from a large and complex inventory of parts, priced separately and quoted differently.

As the name implies, Configure, Price, Quote solutions provide functionality to support complex sales transactions. CPQ systems enable sales teams to custom design or configure a solution for a customer from different product sets, options or piece parts, price the solution for a profit, and prepare a quote for the customer in a negotiated sales situation.

At Demand Metric we define CPQ as comprising the strategies, processes, technologies and tools that support the organization’s ability to effectively configure product/services from a set of options, price a customized solution based on relevant internal and external factors, and provide a digitally generated quote for customer signature and payment.

A typical CPQ system includes a design/configuration engine, pricing engine and quoting system driven by business rules or constraints, supported by a proposal management system, augmented by approval workflow systems.

Primary industries that have heavily relied on CPQ systems include manufacturing, transportation, telecom, High Tech, medical/healthcare, retail, and insurance and financial services.

Today, new solutions and cloud technology have enabled CPQ systems to be used by small and mid-market companies in a full range of industries including general business services, real estate and media/publishing.

Modern CPQ systems have moved way beyond the classic definition of “Configure, Price, Quote” to offer a range of enhancements including:

  • product design and visualization tools that extend configuration options;
  • value pricing, value modeling and value communication tools to enhance pricing;
  • ROI and TOC calculators to optimizing quoting;
  • Contract management and Guided Selling to improve operations and sales performance. 

In short, these are not your father’s CPQ systems!  We’ll detail the range of standard, advanced and specialized functions and features in our Solution Study Series: Configure, Price, Quote: Insights, Landscapes and Vendor Analysis, to be released during our upcoming Virtual Event on April 3rd.

An especially valuable aspect of this Solution Study is the evolution of CPQ from its basic capabilities into contract and revenue management applications. Our Action Plan includes eight must-have CPQ-related assessments, scorecards and vendor evaluation matrices you can start using immediately.

Effective Sales Enablement is a multi-stage process. In our Sales Enablement Solutions Study Series we examine each key stage of Sales Enablement from initial marketing and sales alignment to the final deal close and revenue capture. In addition to CPQ Systems, we examine Marketing Automation, Enablement KM, CPQ, Sales Communication Tools and Sales Intelligence.

We’ll be sharing these insights and more on the new CRM landscape as well as the entire Solution Series at our Virtual Event on April 3rd.  We hope to see you there.

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By Jerry Rackley

Editor’s Note:  This post is part of a series of interviews with sponsors and speakers at the upcoming Demand Metric Sales Enablement Virtual Summit, which will take place on April 3, 2014.

Jennifer Kling, product marketing manager at CallidusCloud, a titanium sponsor of the upcoming Sales Enablement Virtual Summit.  We asked Jennifer to share her thoughts on Sales Enablement:

Why is Sales Enablement so important?

Sales Enablement is really about the customer.  At its core, Sales Enablement aims to improve sales efficiency and effectiveness through timely knowledge transfer – before and during engagement with the customer.  Technology alone is not the answer, but right tools coupled with processes that are repeatable, measurable, predictable, and scalable improve the customer experience.

Our research shows that only half of organizations have a Sales Enablement function, and many that do have it aren’t doing it well.  Why do you think this is?

Most companies are making the same mistakes. Companies often fall short on training, coaching, and/or informing sales reps. Sales Enablement is not the responsibility of just one person.  Sales Enablement is about having all the right tools to help managers coach sales reps for improvement at the point of execution.  It’s about keeping sales educated on the company’s products.  Sales Enablement is also about ensuring the rep has access to marketing materials to propel opportunities forward.  Needs are always evolving and companies should regularly review their needs and make appropriate adjustments.

You’re sponsoring the Virtual Summit – what can visitors learn by visiting your booth?

CallidusCloud will be demonstrating how companies can enable sales to be more efficient and effective.  They’ll see how valuable information is gathered about website visitors, messaging is targeted to specific prospects, and how qualified leads are routed to sales quickly.  From there, CallidusCloud will demonstrate how the sales rep can follow the company-prescribed plan when receiving that lead. Instead of reinventing the wheel to respond to leads, sales can be trained with the right knowledge and have easy access to the right materials.  This is just a sampling of CallidusCloud’s complete suite of solutions to help companies sell more deals for more money in record time.

About Jennifer Kling

With previous experience as an event manager, branch sales manager and field marketing manager, Jennifer recently joined CallidusCloud as the product marketing manager. CallidusCloud® (NASDAQ:CALD), is a leading provider of sales and marketing effectiveness software.  CallidusCloud enables organizations to accelerate and maximize their lead to money process with their complete suite of solutions that identify the right leads, ensure proper territory and quota distribution, enable sales forces, automate configure price quote, and streamline sales compensation – driving bigger deals, faster.  Over 2000 leading organizations, across all industries, rely on CallidusCloud to optimize the lead to money process to close more deals for more money in record time.

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By Jerry Rackley

Editor’s Note:  This post is part of a series of interviews with sponsors and speakers at the upcoming Demand Metric Sales Enablement Virtual Summit, which will take place on April 3, 2014.

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Blair Symes is demand generation manager at Ifbyphone, a gold sponsor of the upcoming Sales Enablement Virtual Summit.  We asked Blair to share his thoughts on Sales Enablement:

What is the connection between Sales Enablement and lead generation?

One of marketing’s main goals is to drive quality leads to sales. But when marketing and sales aren’t aligned, marketing can feel like it is lobbing leads over the fence to sales, with no idea what happens to those leads. Is every lead being worked? Is the quality of leads high? What campaigns are driving the most opportunities and revenue? And sales can feel like they are being inundated with leads from nowhere, with no context as to where marketing found them or how to frame their initial conversation.

First, marketing should always keep sales appraised of new campaigns. Second, sales and marketing should agree on the definition of a lead, and marketing should institute filters to only pass people that qualify as leads to sales. Third, sales should always be aware of where each lead came from. And fourth, marketing should be able to see which campaigns generated the most leads, opportunities, and revenue.

Three pieces of technology can help you do all four:

  • Marketing automation tools like Marketo and Eloqua can help filter web leads and content downloads using registration forms and behavioral scoring.  These tools can integrate with your CRM system so sales will know where every lead came from before calling, and marketing can follow each one through the sales cycle.
  • Voice-based marketing automation (VBMA) tools can do the same for phone leads using IVR (interactive voice response) technology to score callers before passing to sales.  VBMA tools also have call tracking technology that tell marketing which of their campaigns are generating leads.  VBMA can also be integrated with your CRM to track each phone lead through the sales cycle. What’s more, when someone calls in, sales will see what campaign or keyword search the lead came from before taking the call.  Knowing where a call is coming from can be a significant help to a sales rep trying to close a deal. 

In an increasingly mobile world, how does email marketing fit into the Sales Enablement and lead generation landscape?

Smart email marketers know that 88% of people check their emails daily on a mobile device, and they optimize accordingly.  But this means more than designing mobile-friendly emails.  It means considering the increasing probability of calls from mobile devices to your business, which means you need to have a phone number in your marketing emails.  Marketers with successful email strategy are using click-to-calls to address the needs of mobile users…and getting great results.  As mobile adoption continues to increase, so does the probability of calls from mobile devices to your business.  The ability to track these calls back to the specific marketing source, including your email marketing, is an important part of understanding your ROI.

Marketers are making big investments in content marketing.  Do traditional lead tracking approaches work for content marketers, or are there new considerations?

If your content is effective, tracking web leads and online sales makes a strong statement about the value of content marketing.  But it still only tells half the story.  What if instead of visiting your web page or filling out your form, the lead picks up the phone and calls you?  Can you tell exactly what piece of content drove that call?  Can you tell if the call even came from content marketing at all?  If you aren’t tracking phone leads back to your content and through to revenue, you aren’t doing your work justice.  Not only are you almost certainly underreporting lead volumes to execs, but you also aren’t getting proper credit for the revenue those calls will bring in.  And since inbound calls to sales usually turn into revenue at a higher rate than web leads, this could be a significant gap in ROI reporting.  What’s more, you don’t know what content is truly resonating and getting existing leads to re-engage with your sales team.

About Blair Symes

Blair is demand generation manager at Ifbyphone, a leader in voice-based marketing automation (VBMA) that connects, measures, and optimizes sales and service calls for businesses and organizations.  He has over 15 years of experience as a writer, editor, content manager and marketing manager.

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By Jerry Rackley

As I write this post, we are just over a week from the Sales Enablement Virtual Summit, a gathering of experts, users and vendors in a forum to share, learn and be inspired.  What often happens to those who participate in events like this is they come away with renewed passion to make some changes.  In this case, those changes will involve Sales Enablement, either implementing it for the first time or improving an existing function.  This is exactly what we hope the Summit will accomplish.

Those who do attend the Summit (which, by the way, is free) won’t go away empty handed.  The content bundle we’re giving away to attendees contains a rich set of resources to help jumpstart any Sales Enablement initiative.  It’s so rich, with at least 80 different resources, at first glance you may wonder just where to start!  If your need is to implement an effective Sales Enablement function, the best place to start is with the Sales Enablement Plan Methodology.

Demand Metric methodologies are among our most popular forms of content.  They provide a roadmap in stages to help you implement strategic marketing processes.  The Sales Enablement Plan Methodology will guide you through six stages, beginning with getting approval, then project preparation, selecting solutions, creating a sales playbook, launching your function to the Sales Team and concluding with measurements and continuous evolution of the function.  Each stage leads you through a series of steps, all of which use or reference other Demand Metric resources.

If you’re implementing a Sales Enablement function from scratch, the Sales Enablement Plan Methodology provides you with a roadmap for getting there by the best possible route.  If you already have a Sales Enablement function, but perhaps it’s not living up to expectations, this methodology provides a template for change.

Whatever inspires you to pursue a Sales Enablement initiative – attending the Virtual Summit, an internal directive or simply a vision for greater sales effectiveness – the Sales Enablement Plan Methodology is a great resource to help you get from where you are to where you want to be.

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Too Much of a Good Thing?

March 28, 2014

Can you really have too much of a good thing? Well, if it is dark chocolate maybe not, but if it is content, especially content developed to close sales, the answer quite often is yes!

The marketing world is awash in content and when things are not working as they should our default reaction is – more content! It’s not more content that matters, it’s the right content, put in the right context that can be the game changer.

Let’s look at a typical sales scenario. A new qualified sales opportunity comes in. The sales rep has to learn about the company, possibly the industry, and who the decision makers, stakeholders and company influencers are. They have to uncover where the buyer is in the sales cycle: seeking information, evaluating solutions, ready to buy. Then in this scenario the sales rep either trots out the usual presentation materials, sale sheets and brochures or frantically scrambles to find or create something unique for this prospect.

Or it could go something like this. The same opportunity presents itself. Only this time the sales rep taps into a well-designed, well-organized knowledge management system that provides the rep exactly what they need for this prospect in minutes. The rep already has a customized designed portal and playbook for this customer’s industry, size or location complete with product information, presentations and video customer testimonials for social proof.   The company CRM system has fed the knowledge based detailed customer profile information, the Marketing Automation system can tell the rep what nurturing campaigns this customer has been offered. The rep has access to an asset management system where they can personalize and localize the sales content for this exact sales call.

That’s the power of Sales Enablement Knowledge Management. What we call Enablement KM. It shifts the focus of the marketing and sales process from content production and delivery to contextual empowerment.

Our research shows that with an effective Enablement KM system, the reps win rate increases significantly and they make their quota faster: often cutting time to quota from 9 months to three.

Getting Enablement KM right isn’t easy. It takes a complete understanding of all seven components of Enablement KM: Asset Management and Resource Center, Distributed Marketing Platform (Portals), Content/Campaign Management Systems, Personalization, Localization, Presentation Systems and Metrics.

It takes a thorough review of the vendors and solutions available for each component and solid action plan for deployment and change management.

That’s why we’ve produced our complete guide, Enablement KM: Insights, Landscape, and Vendor Analysis as part of our new Solutions Series.

Effective Sales Enablement is a multi-stage process. In our Sales Enablement Solutions Study Series we examine each key stage of Sales Enablement from initial marketing and sales alignment to the final deal close and revenue capture. In addition to Enablement KM, we examine CRM, Marketing Automation, CPQ, Sales Communication Tools and Sales Intelligence.

We’ll be introducing Enablement KM and the entire Solution Series at our Sales Enablement Virtual Summit on April 3rd.  We hope to see you there.

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By Jerry Rackley

Editor’s Note:  This post is part of a series of interviews with sponsors and speakers at the upcoming Demand Metric Sales Enablement Virtual Summit, which will take place on April 3, 2014.

Tim Riesterer, chief strategy & marketing officer at Corporate Visions, is on the agenda to present “Winning the Complex Sale” at the upcoming Sales Enablement Virtual Summit.  We asked Tim to share his thoughts on Sales Enablement:

Why is Sales Enablement so important?

Companies can do everything right with their products, go-to-market strategy, segmentation and personas, BUT, in B2B sales all this has to pass through the lips of a salesperson. Selling conversations are literally the bridge between company strategy and customer acceptance. Sales Enablement is about making sure those typically unstructured moments are consistent and high quality – on purpose versus by accident. Increasing sales performance comes down to increasing selling conversation competence… which is at the heart of Sales Enablement.

Our research shows that only half of organizations have a Sales Enablement function, and many that do have it aren’t doing it well.  Why do you think this is?

As with many ‘movements’, Sales Enablement seemed originally to be driven by a “technology-as-panacea” approach. “If you just buy this piece of technology you will be doing Sales Enablement. If you just centralize all of your education, commercial training, product information, etc. you will be doing Sales Enablement.” At its core, technology is always a tool to improve the efficiency of access and use of stuff and, what Sales Enablement technology showed us is that sales processes are failing or, at best, under-used.  It also showed us that most selling content and training is off the mark (product and company centric versus customer centric), or at best misguided, and it showed us that the critical departments – Marketing, Sales, Training – are not aligned around the same objectives. So, now companies are grappling with the “stuff” that the technology solutions brought to light, which is more around organizational inertia and change management, which is always harder to fix than writing another check for a piece of software.

You’ll be presenting during the Virtual Summit – what will attendees learn during your session?

Enabling selling conversations requires the ‘enablers’ to know the objectives and desired outcomes of the various ‘value conversations’ that take place across the buying cycle. My presentation will provide a simple, concrete way for looking at the key value conversation inflexion points, providing definition as well as three fresh ideas for how to improve each of the value conversations with enablement content and tools.

About Tim Riesterer

Tim has more than 20 years experience in Marketing and Sales. Prior to joining Corporate Visions, Tim co-founded Customer Message Management, LLC where he served as CEO until its acquisition by Corporate Visions in 2008. Tim is co-author of Customer Message Management: Increasing Marketing’s Impact on Selling (Thomson/AMA) and Conversations that Win the Complex Sale: Using Power Messaging to Create More Opportunities, Differentiate Your Solution, and Close More Deals (McGraw Hill).

Tim Riesterer

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Summit gathers industry experts, analysts, users and vendors to discuss strategy, technology, tools and best practices for Sales Enablement

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On April 3, 2014, Demand Metric will host its very first Virtual Summit, “Sales Enablement for Success: Research, Experts, Tools and Solutions”.  This Summit is a forum that gathers industry experts, analysts, users and vendors to discuss strategy, solutions and Sales Enablement best practices.

Free for attendees, the Summit features three keynote addresses and the opportunity to interact with industry experts and Demand Metric analysts.  Those who attend will receive more than 80 premium Demand Metric Sales Enablement resources all for free, and attendees that take a survey poll are entered in a random drawing for a free Macbook Retina.

The Summit features a Technology Expo that opens at 9:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Thursday, April 3, 2014 that lets attendees visit the online vendor booths.  At 10:00 AM EDT, Demand Metric founder and CEO Jesse Hopps will share welcoming remarks with attendees and introduce keynote speakers, including:

  • Clare Price, vice-president of research at Demand Metric
  • Meagan Eisenberg, vice-president of demand generation for DocuSign
  • Craig Nelson, principal of the Sales Enablement Group
  • Tim Riesterer, chief strategist of Corporate Visions

After the keynote presentations, attendees can visit the Summit’s Communications Lounge and participate in a group chat with these industry thought leaders.

The Virtual Summit agenda for the afternoon includes a series of presentations and customer success panel discussions:

  • eSignatures: panel members include Brian Frank, vice president of global strategy at LinkedIn, Marshall Nam, senior product marketing manager at DocuSign and Clare Price, vice president of research at Demand Metric.
  • Enablement Knowledge Management: panel members include Julie Zisman, head of marketing at Showpad, Matthew Penzone, field marketing manager at Infraredx and Clare Price, vice president of research at Demand Metric.
  • Sales Intelligence: panel members include Kent Potts, executive vice president & chief marketing officer at Skura and Jerry Rackley, chief analyst at Demand Metric.
  • Account Based Marketing: presented by Russell Kern, president & founder of Kern Agency.
  • Marketing Automation: panel members include Leo Merle, marketing programs manager at Act-On Software.
  • Asset Management: panel members include James Mooney, founder & CEO at ROInnovation and Jeanne Sauer, director of solutions marketing at Broadsoft.

When not in sessions, attendees can visit the Technology Expo to learn about vendor offerings

“The Sales Enablement Virtual Summit is an important industry event for several reasons,” says John Follett, chief marketing officer for Demand Metric.  “It’s a gathering place for the Sales Enablement community, providing a forum for interaction between users, experts, vendors and analysts who have a common interest and goal:  empower sales and optimize the sales and marketing partnership for better performance and profitability.  It’s also a launching pad for some groundbreaking new content, including:  six Benchmark Reports and Infographics, a Best Practices Report with a maturity model and framework, six Technology Solution Studies, more than eight Vendor Profiles and Case Studies, 12 Analyst eWorkshops, six How-To Guides, and two Consulting Methodologies and Tool-Kits including dozens of practical templates and tools to engage our members and drive attendance of senior marketing and sales professionals.  Attendees will have access to this rich, new set of resources at no cost, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors.

Participation in the Sales Enablement Virtual Summit is free for attendees.  Those wishing to attend simply need to visit the Virtual Summit registration page.

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Maturity model will allow organizations to evaluate the strength and success of their Sales Enablement initiatives.

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London, ON – March 26, 2014 – Demand Metric is set to unveil the Sales Enablement Maturity Model at its upcoming Virtual Summit, “Sales Enablement for Success: Research, Experts, Tools and Solutions” on April 3rd.  The premier Maturity Model will address Sales Enablement and will serve as the foundation of the more than 80 premium Demand Metric Sales Enablement resources Demand Metric will give to attendees of the Virtual Summit.

Demand Metric Maturity Models enable organizations, marketing departments and technology vendors to evaluate the strength of their organization or solution against well-defined, critical success factors.  These holistic Maturity Models describe four key stages in the journey to maturity and growth: Undefined, Progressive, Mature and World Class.  The Demand Metric Maturity Model provides an objective framework for rating the maturity of vendors, their technology solutions and the organizations that use them.

Demand Metric Maturity Models are supported with tools and other resources to help vendors and organizations using vendor solutions to progress to more advanced states of maturity.  “As our Maturity Models detail the progression from one stage to the other, we give companies and vendors the strategies and tools they can implement to move forward from stage to stage,” says Clare Price, vice-president of research for Demand Metric. “Our vision for these Maturity Models is to foster improvement throughout the organization.  Not only will they provide an objective framework for assessing maturity in a number of marketing technology and practice areas, they also point to tools and resources for improvement.”

The initial release of a Demand Metric Maturity Model addresses Sales Enablement, and its release will take place on Wednesday, April 3, 2014 during the Virtual Summit.  The Sales Enablement Maturity Model enables organizations to determine in which of the four stages – Undefined, Progressive, Mature and World-Class – their Sales Enablement initiative belongs by considering eight key organizational components: Orientation, Leadership, Technology/Infrastructure, Alignment, Sales Support Tools, Process, Metrics and Results.

“Using the Demand Metric Sales Enablement Maturity Model, an organization can highlight achievements, discover gaps and focus on challenges needed to increase company success,” continues Price.  “Organizations should use our Sales Enablement Maturity Model as a roadmap to develop a World-Class Sales Enablement Function.”

The Demand Metric Sales Enablement Maturity Model is part of the content bundle available at no charge to attendees of the Virtual Summit, “Sales Enablement for Success: Research, Experts, Tools and Solutions.”   The Virtual Summit opens at 9:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Thursday, April 3, 2014.  Participation in the Sales Enablement Virtual Summit is free for attendees.  Those wishing to attend simply need to visit the Virtual Summit registration page.

 

About Demand Metric

Demand Metric is a global marketing research & advisory firm serving a membership community of over 40,000 marketing professionals, CEOs, and business owners with advisory services, 100+ research & benchmarking reports, 20+ consulting methodologies, 50+ training workshops & courses, and a library of 500+ practical tools and templates.  Using Demand Metric resources, members complete projects faster and with greater confidence, boosting respect for the marketing team and making it easier to justify needed resources. Our 1,200+ corporate clients range from start-ups to consulting firms to members of the Global 1000. To learn more about Demand Metric, please visit: www.demandmetric.com.

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What is Sales Enablement?

March 24, 2014

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By Jerry Rackley

Sales Enablement seems to suffer from an identity crisis.  Recent Demand Metric research paints a picture of Sales Enablement that is both a paradox and a panacea, depending on the organization in which it exists.  A marketer from a high-tech firm with over $100 million in annual sales shared, “I have not heard of Sales Enablement.”  Similar comments came from a number of others who participated in the Sales Enablement benchmark study Demand Metric recently completed.  Others, however, have a very clear vision for Sales Enablement, and they report that it contributes significantly to their revenue goal attainment.

Sales Enablement is a new and emerging function that organizations are embracing with varying degrees of enthusiasm and commitment.  Like all emerging arenas, the definition of Sales Enablement shifts depending on the perspective of the company, user and implementation. For this reason, it’s important to develop a foundational definition of Sales Enablement that clarifies the value proposition of the function, and provides direction.

Demand Metric defines Sales Enablement this way: the processes, practices, technologies and tools that improve the performance and productivity of the sales organization. In other words, Sales Enablement enhances the ability of the sales team to increase company revenue through sales.  The bottom-line:  Sales Enablement drives revenue by directly impacting the sales teams’ ability to close more deals.

The definition above is a great starting point for orienting the Sales Enablement function.  Let’s build on that definition with further detail and best practice data to help structure a Sales Enablement function that truly helps drive revenue.

Sales Enablement is Strategic

It’s easy and even tempting to put Sales Enablement in place with a simple charge to “help the sales team”.  When you do this, however, what usually results is a Sales Enablement function that is a slave to the sales team.  This isn’t ideal, but neither is having Sales Enablement function as the master of sales.  Instead, what is needed is for Sales Enablement to have a Sherpa-like relationship to the sales team:  a wise-experienced guide that helps carry the load, choose the path and avoid the perils while letting the sales team lead.

What this looks like in practical experience is a Sales Enablement function that stays close to sales, develops a deep understanding of the sales process, and then recommends techniques, tools and assets to facilitate sales success.  Too often, however, Sales Enablement exists as an order-taking entity that fulfills requests from sales for assets: presentations, brochures, proposals, etc.  This latter arrangement may seem convenient for the sales team, but Demand Metric research makes clear that this operational orientation doesn’t create favorable results as well as when Sales Enablement works strategically.

From our research, examples of what this strategic Sales Enablement orientation looks like includes but it not limited to:

  • Recommending, providing or administering systems and support to facilitate sales
  • Providing sales effectiveness training
  • Integrating new channels into the sales process
  • Offering coaching to members of the sales team
  • Flattening the organization to secure internal resources needed to support sales

Sales Enablement is Understood

Our research reveals what seems obvious:  Sales Enablement is far more effective when it is understood.  Who wouldn’t understand what Sales Enablement is?  As it turns out, a surprising number of organizations don’t really understand the Sales Enablement function that exists within their walls.  What is occurring is that an organization rightly perceives that Sales Enablement is helpful, but in the zeal to implement it, overlooks the need to communicate what it does and whom it is for.  This oversight is serious enough to develop into a fatal flaw.

To implement Sales Enablement by assuming everyone involved intuitively understands what it is and how it helps is a serious mistake.  Fortunately, this mistake is easy to prevent and even correct.  Sales Enablement, like any function, needs a vision to drive it.  A clear, articulated vision, however, is not enough.  It’s also imperative that the sales team understands exactly why Sales Enablement exists and how it will help, so they will perceive it as an ally and not a threat. Good, clear communication early in the process of building the Sales Enablement function sets it up for effectiveness and success.

Sales Enablement is Measured

Like any function, Sales Enablement needs a set of success metrics that are tracked, reported and used to improve the process.  The Demand Metric Sales Enablement benchmark study reveals that almost half the organizations reporting that their Sales Enablement function isn’t contributing have no measurements in place for it.  Those that do have effective Sales Enablement not only measure it, most are using some combination of a financial measure (e.g. sales or profit) and a productivity measure (e.g. assets created, training hours delivered or some other measure of throughput).  Selecting a relevant financial and productivity measurement provides an effective tool for managing Sales Enablement, as long as those measurements are taken and used.

Summary

The current reality is that the destiny of Sales Enablement is entirely in the control of the organizations that have the function.  It is either highly effective, a failure or somewhere in between.  What determines its position on this spectrum is the vision expressed for it, its strategic orientation, the resources provided to it and how it is measured and managed.  When Sales Enablement is implemented using this model, it contributes significantly to revenue goal attainment.

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