Companies that fail to make sales and generate revenue quickly become insolvent and fade into the annals of corporate history. For better or worse, we’ve all hitched our professional wagons to our sales teams. So it’s without any exaggeration that I say – at the end of the day – getting the most out of sales representatives is a company’s single most important task. Efforts to achieve this are broadly referred to as sales enablement.
Not all sales enablement methods and approaches are equal. Here we’ll focus on steps you can take to achieve a winning sales enablement recipe. For best results: Serve warm with a generous helping of talented human capital secret sauce.
Lock the Doors & Shutter the Windows: The Brain Drain Cometh
Imagine the following scenario…
You’re responsible for training newly hired sales reps. It’s important to get it right from the start – especially when you consider the fact that most companies spend an average of $29,000 and 7.3 months to hire and train each rep. When it comes time for you to introduce your company’s sales technology to your new recruits, you proudly point to a shiny new fax machine sitting in a corner. You then hand your befuddled reps rolls of thermal fax paper, exhorting each one to, “Go forth and sell!”
If the year was 1989, you might be okay.
But it isn’t. While you’ve probably (hopefully) retired your fax machine by now, it’s a mistake to arm your 21st-century sales reps with 20th-century tools and then expect them to meet or exceed sales quotas.
In fact, a more likely scenario is that you’ll be plagued by a mass exodus of even your newest hires. Where are they going? To competing companies, of course. Those that have invested in the sales tools they need to be successful.
Best-in-class companies know the value of providing their sales reps with the best tools available to help them reduce the sales cycle time and increase revenue. And that’s not just my opinion.
Old School vs. New School: What Does the Sales Tech Data Say?
The Aberdeen Group recently published their findings on how the early adoption of sales technology affects a company’s overall performance. They found that early adopting companies showed an increase in customer retention and total team attainment of sales quotas when compared with companies that lagged behind in adopting new tools.
Additionally, the study showed a 57% marketing lead acceptance rate for early adopting companies, compared with 38% for all other companies. This statistic indicates that sales teams find more value in marketing leads that are generated using more robust technologies. This is no doubt due to the fact that new marketing automation and winning sales enablement tools encourage sales and marketing teams to work collaboratively – which lets sales teams have a voice in marketing messaging and campaign development.
All of this collaboration and sharing of data is familiar territory to the Millennials that your company is trying to recruit, onboard and retain. Millennials entering the workforce expect to be able to use technology to make their lives and jobs easier, faster and more flexible.
If your company’s sales tools look and feel “old school,” you’re going to encounter pushback from your sales team and your customers as well. Research shows that many customers expect a technologically advanced sales process that seamlessly takes them from the product research phase all the way through sales completion. Your customers too know that an outdated sales process may well indicate your products or services are inferior.
The Benefits of CPQ
From a sales rep and customer standpoint, a CPQ solution (Configure-Price-Quote) can be a key component to driving that seamless sales process that both parties desire. A CPQ tool transforms sales proposals from old-school static pieces of paper into real-time collaborative documents. It’s an exciting tool that lets salespeople and customers communicate and negotiate directly from the proposal itself.
To keep everything coordinated, the software tracks changes and directs the proposal to key decision makers for approval at the appropriate point in the sales cycle. Quote analytics show the customer’s interest level as they read the proposal, helping the sales team pinpoint weak areas, which enables them to respond quickly to their customers’ concerns.
Winning Sales Enablement: The Bottom Line
In the end, all of this information underscores the real benefits of CPQ and other sales enabling tools – there is a measurable correlation between companies that adopt next-sales technology and sales results. Simply put, companies using sales enablement technology outperform non-adopting companies.
And here’s a last sobering thought for those of you struggling to recruit, retain and train top sales talent…
Even if your company offers great products, a lack of sales enablement tools can drive your reps to your competitors who will fully support them in their quest to close as many deals as possible – as quickly as possible. Customers don’t want to work with companies that fail to update and innovate… so why should your top sales reps?