Studies show that businesses that implement a sales enablement solution see an increase in their content usage, conversions, revenue generated and deal size. However, before you deploy your sales enablement solution, pause and ask yourself: Is your sales enablement platform everything it could be?
With more and more companies chasing the promise offered by sales enablement, the industry has been quickly maturing. However, according to the 2017 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Report,
While the number of organizations investing in sales enablement has grown significantly, less than one-third of organizations say the majority, or all, of their sales enablement goals are being met.1
The truth is, while the sales enablement tools available today have ironed out many of the early wrinkles, and the practice of sales enablement continues to evolve, perhaps it’s time to look to the next generation of tools. We did a study of the current landscape of enablement solutions to identify the gaps in the product offerings that need to be filled, the areas that solution providers have not paid enough attention to and the problems faced by customers that need to be addressed by the next generation of tools.
Here’s what we found:
Scope for unification
Sales enablement platforms typically deliver on three core areas of sales enablement functionality — content, training and coaching. However, not all vendors of sales enablement platforms support the three capabilities natively. In fact, there are very few platforms that do. As a buyer, you might want to consider a platform that offers all three capabilities natively, as you could benefit from better integration of the core functionalities and a more seamless platform experience.
Moreover, there’s much value to be gained from such a unified solution. For instance, content is used by an organization to both engage buyers and educate sellers. Insights drawn from the analytics of these engagements can, in turn, be used by the organization to provide further training inputs to the seller, and to improve the content for a better sales outcome.
Integration of use cases
Talk about sales enablement, and you’ll find one recurring theme constantly highlighted by all the experts: Sales enablement doesn’t start and end with the sales team, but rather involves, in equal measure, the product and the marketing teams, as well. We agree. In fact, we argue that sales enablement involves the channel partners, the prospects and customers just as much. And so, a cohesive enablement platform that unifies the use cases for all the stakeholders would undo all the information silos and unlock previously unachievable levels of visibility and efficiency.
Imagine the possibilities. With a single platform, using a common UI, collaboration amongst all the stakeholders becomes streamlined. Process alignment becomes that much easier. With data and insight into how each customer engages with content, and based on the relevance of the content in the customer journey, the product team can empower its sellers with the right content to meaningfully engage with their customers on each and every interaction that they have.
Scalability of pricing
Whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a mid-sized start-up, budgets matter. When it comes to pricing, many platforms are licensed on a named-user basis, which means that you pay a fee for each individual user on the platform. Some others use feature-based licenses, which require you to pay depending on the platform features you utilize.
What do they all have in common? While they may seem reasonable in your current circumstances, all of these pricing models become highly cost-prohibitive when your sales enablement function grows into a more complex, large-scale operation within your organization, inviting more users into the platform.
Solution providers would be wise to reassess their approach to pricing and offer more scalable options. Perhaps a floating license option or a usage-based pricing model would be more sustainable for those organizations that see growth on the horizon.
Deeper format support
As far as sales enablement is concerned, enabling the right content at the right time is at the heart of it. There is an untapped opportunity here, as many enablement platforms offer little or no support for modern content formats, such as streaming video and adaptive content for smart devices. We’ve all been regaled with tales of the engagement and retention benefits of interactive content. Yet, it remains left in the dark by many enablement platforms, where it could have high-value applications. The same can be said for rich-text formats.
Intelligent content recommendation
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and predictive analytics have irrevocably established their influence in the sales enablement domain. Introduced initially to automate repetitive tasks and reduce the time spent by sales reps on mundane administrative activities, these technologies are now used by enablement platforms to make basic content recommendations. However, we believe AI-augmented technologies have the potential to enhance every aspect of selling in the near future. One such technology that buyers can hope to see in a next-generation enablement platform is guided selling, which dynamically aligns the sales process to the buyer’s journey, supporting the seller with information on what steps to take and what to communicate in any given sales situation.
Clearly, there’s much room for improvement, and the sales enablement industry is poised for disruption. With a deeper understanding of sales enablement and its intricacies, we’re ready for the next wave of improved platforms and solutions. It’s only a matter of time before players in the industry recognize this and jump at the opportunity, with early movers standing to gain a competitive edge. Now is the perfect time to ask: Is your sales enablement platform living up to its potential?