As the macroeconomic environment becomes more uncertain, the buying journey is getting longer and customers have never been more informed, aware, “social” and self-reliant. Rigid sales and marketing teams that persist with vintage methods find themselves challenged in a changing world. In this post, Touch & Sell looks at the role of Sales Enablement in this unprecedented environment and explores the key pitfalls to avoid to turn it into a major competitive advantage.
A macroeconomic triptych that calls for an efficient Sales Enablement function
The four post-pandemic customer behavioral trends (B2C and B2B)
A turbulent economic context, a hesitant recovery that is still threatened by the mutations of the Covid-19 virus, and the unbridled digitalization of sales (accelerated by remote working). This macro-economic triptych is putting sales and marketing teams up against the wall in the face of increasingly skeptical customers when it comes to corporate rhetoric. A recent study by Accenture outlines the four main characteristics of the post-pandemic customer:
- The customer is more and more skeptical of the sales pitch. This mistrust drastically lengthens the buying process, as the decision becomes even more collective. It must be said that in times of crisis, the customer has no right to make mistakes, which leads him to secure his buying decision by doing extensive research and sounding out the opinions of other Internet users (B2C) or of his peers and colleagues (B2B).
- He is getting more autonomous. Accenture explains that customers carry out more than half of their purchasing journey (57%) before making initial contact with a potential supplier.
- He is becoming more social. In fact, 56% of buyers use social media rather than search engines to gain knowledge. This trend also reflects the erosion of trust in corporate or sponsored contents.
- He is more and more demanding, as he expects a hyper-personalized, tailor-made service, even in the B2B world.
Sales Enablement affects both profitability variables
This increased autonomy pushes the customer to seek information in a self-service fashion, which in turn pushes the salesperson to sharpen his or her sales pitch. However, as Gartner explains in its study “The New B2B Journey and Its Implication for Sales”, 50% of buyers feel ” overwhelmed ” by the volume of reliable and quality information available on the Internet. Rather than helping them make the right decision, this magma of content overwhelms and slows down the buying journey even more. We are entering an era where the production of content is not necessarily the main challenge… it is the sorting, exposure and timing of such content that really matters.
As buying journeys become more complex, top management is becoming more willing to allocate budgets for a Sales Enablement function that can put Sales in the best position to affect the two variables of profitability:
- Eliminate the hidden costs associated with the research of content to use in customer meetings. As we explained in our paper on Sales Enablement Training, salespeople spend up to half their day on non-sales tasks (SiriusDecisions).
- Maximize revenue by allowing salespeople to focus on their core activity which is bringing in revenue.
HubSpot pinpoints the three pitfalls that undermine your sales enablement performance
A 2017 study by Smart Selling Tools concluded that 47% of companies that did not use Sales Enablement intended to do so the following year. Three years later, Smart Selling Tools has highlighted a leap in the use of Sales Enablement tools of… 567%! While the progress is spectacular in terms of penetration rate, the ROI remains very mixed. Indeed, according to HubSpot, the majority of firms with a Sales Enablement unit neglect some or all of its key success factors:
- Sales representatives do not have easy and intuitive access to all content produced by the marketing team. Sometimes access is available but the sales rep is not notified of the availability of new content.
- Communication between Marketing and Sales is not optimal. In order for Sales Enablement to fully function as a business catalyst, salespeople need to provide feedback to Marketing. How did a particular piece of content perform in a sales meeting? Which content is least used and why? Which part of the content generates most objections?
- Analysis of audience engagement data is rarely done in the right way. HubSpot explains that a significant portion of the companies surveyed did not even evaluate content views. Yet these contents cost hundreds of dollars per unit.
According to HubSpot, these three “mistakes” are enough to undermine the performance of companies’ sales enablement efforts. The numbers are startling. In companies that have not adopted proper Sales Enablement practices:
- Only 9% of content produced by marketing is used more than 5 times by the Salespeople;
- 68% of these companies have at least five unconnected storage folders;
- Sales produce 40% of marketing content, reporting a “mismatch” between the content they receive and their actual needs.
Use Growth Enablement to reach your full growth potential
Touch & Sell is the French pioneer of Growth Enablement. On average, companies that have adopted this mindset have halved the onboarding time for new employees, boosted their turnover by 20% in the first 6 months and saved a year’s worth of man-days by optimizing document sourcing. So let’s discuss your next project!