Once upon a time, some good conversation, a few samples, and a firm handshake was all one needed to successfully close a sales deal. But no more: Selling is more complex than ever, and often requires the help and input from multiple teams across the organization. If you feel like closing a deal is getting more difficult, you’re not wrong: SiriusDecisions found that the length of sales cycles has grown 24% in the last two years…and even if you do manage to get people through most of the cycle, many decision-makers are still having a difficult time taking that next step.
But that’s not the only issue facing sales today. Some other things teams are contending with include:
More competition for buyer’s attention
It’s probably no surprise to learn that the average buyer’s attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, according to Statistic Brain. That means you’re not only going up against your competition, you’re also contending with everything else your prospects are giving their time to, be it Facebook, emails, slack, or something else. And even if you manage to get their attention, you need to keep it long enough to convince them your product is the perfect solution to their pain points. That’s difficult on a good day and it’s definitely not been made easier by current events.
There’s a lot of people to win over
If you’re selling any products that are complicated, expensive or just need a financial sign-off, you have a very steep hill to climb
According to a study by CEB, the average B2B purchase requires the approval of 5.4 stakeholders in a company. Selling to an enterprise company? That number rises to 10.
The way business is conducted now, it’s not enough to have a few champions within a company since you can still lose that deal if their colleagues don’t get on board as well. Ouch.
The people you need to convince are busy
It’s no secret that we all have a lot on our plates these days. But even when there’s not a pandemic on, most decision-makers have a long list of challenges and responsibilities they need to attend to that don’t involve making a decision about your product.
As we stated above, 95% of buyers need a financial justification for purchase, but unsurprisingly, 66% of them don’t have the time or resources to explore solutions themselves.
Decisions take time–if you can get one at all
For all the time reps devote to prospects, an increasing amount of demos aren’t converting to sales. And if you’re not closing, you’re not getting much ROI for your efforts.
Getting the same results is costing more time and money
On the note of ROI, if you’re able to get that deal over the finish line, it typically requires a discount of 20% to get sign-off. But more than that, all of these challenges lead to a sobering truth: that companies are working harder and spending more just to get the results they used to achieve. Some B2B businesses have actually reported spending 50% more to generate the same amount of revenue they earned two years ago.
It’s easy to see why this increase in output and spend isn’t sustainable for sales, nor is it the ideal situation for businesses who want to grow their bottom line. Luckily, there is a solution to your sales woes: proper enablement.
So You Want to Activate Sales Enablement at Your Company?
Although more companies are implementing sales enablement programs, many are doing it in bits and pieces, rather than a fully fleshed-out strategic initiative which can lead to diminished results. But new technology is only successful if your reps are incorporating it into their everyday workflows and processes. Here are some common roadblocks to sales enablement adoption and how you can overcome these challenges.
A big reason why companies fail to achieve adoption for their sales enablement efforts comes down to insufficient technology. Choosing the right solution to meet your organization’s needs is key but you also need to work out what will happen after the implementation is complete. Craft a plan that outlines:
- What content will be created
- Who the content is for
- How it will be categorized
- Where it will be stored
- How it will be distributed amongst your team
But a sales enablement portal isn’t just another tool–it needs to become an integral part of your organization. Before you introduce a new platform, you need to understand what works (and what doesn’t) about your current sales flow. Consider what gaps you have in your processes, where communication breaks down, what tactics your team is using that are effective and which could be helped by the creation of new content. Taking a critical look at how a new solution will work in your existing sales infrastructure ensure employee buy-in and engagement post-implementation.
Poor Content Management
Everyday salespeople ask themselves: where can I find the right content to send to my prospect and the sad truth is they’re spending way too much time looking for it. In fact, it has been reported that reps spend close to 43 hours every month searching for information. That’s over 500 hours a year. Imagine how many more deals they could close if they had ever a fraction of that time back.
This is why it is absolutely essential that your company have a proper sales enablement portal where assets are created, stored, and organized. Not only does this create a single source of truth for all company information but, if properly optimized, this hub can be a hugely effective way to increase your team’s productivity and performance.
But it’s not enough to just have a great portal. Content also needs to be categorized effectively. Optimize your content by:
- Sorting it into channels based on goal or subject matter, such as proposals, prospects, customers. You could also utilize customer traits like sales-cycle status or industry.
- Adding relevant tags to increase the likelihood of discovery
- Adding contextual documentation so the rep understands more about the asset’s background. This could be a thumbnail or a short description that accompanies the file name.
- Annotations that relay important insights about content others can refer to.
Having all of these categorizations in place will increase the likelihood that content will be useful and easily found later, removing another barrier to adoption amongst your team.
Customers need change. That’s just the nature of selling. Today, it’s all about customization. Not only do buyers expect an individualized purchase process that takes their specific challenges and priorities into consideration, but they’re also looking for businesses that can cater to their unique needs. While it’s imperative to tailor your process for this new selling environment, without a proper solution in place, you’re unlikely to be as effective as you could be.
A good sales enablement tool will provide you with the analytics and insights you need to make effective, data-driven decisions. By looking critically at who is accessing content, how long they engage with it, and if it contributed to a sale, you can tailor your team’s content strategy to help better personalize the customer experience and add value to rep conversations.
For a rep to grow and be a proficient sales enablement user, they need to be coached on how to sell effectively. But so often, organizations conduct a one-time training session, usually during the onboarding process, then opt to send the salesperson out into the field without much more support. This is a lost opportunity since most people forget almost 80% of what they learned during training in as little as a month.
The best way to combat information loss is by introducing a culture of continuous learning at your company through pre-recorded training and asynchronous role-playing scenarios that can be evaluated later. This not only gives your sales force the opportunity to refer back to information they may have forgotten or missed, but it also empowers them to learn on their own time whether it’s between client calls when they’re sitting on a train, or even when they’re at the gym.
The stats don’t like: Companies that use technology for sales training and onboarding are, on average, 57% more effective. But, more than that, those with continuous coaching in place have reported a 50% higher net sales per sales rep.
Once your company has an effective and efficient sales enablement tool in place, you’ll find that many of the internal messaging and alignment issues that typically plague sales teams are greatly reduced. Not to mention your team will feel more aligned, productive, and be able to focus on what they do best: selling (yes, even in a pandemic).
If you’d like to learn more about how CircleHD can help support your sales coaching, and enablement efforts, we’d love to speak with you. Get in touch here.