This article is part 2 in a two-part series focused on sales enablement strategies. Click here to read part 1.
As BtoB organizations shift gears from cost cutting to revenue growth, industry research points to a greater need for efficient sales enablement solutions. The inability to get sales enablement optimized can cost organizations a significant amount of money. Moreover, buyers continue to dominate the selling process, as nearly 70% indicate that sales is not adding enough value to their engagements, according to Forrester Research.
This new world of selling — where the savvy buyer holds the cards — has made it critical for organizations to ensure that all prospect and customer conversations are centered on value, problem solving and knowledge sharing.
“Today many firms are transforming the way they sell to address the needs of a very savvy customer,” said Craig Nelson, VP Sales Enablement, iCentera, a Callidus Software Company. “Many times before the first sales call, the buyer knows your product, your company, your competition, pricing and possibly the social buzz about you and your market.”
Additionally, sales teams must be prepared to have strategic, problem solving, value-creating and differentiated conversations, rather than traditional product, feature, benefit pitches. “Sales professionals must become more proficient with online selling,” said Jim Burns, President, Avitage. “This puts a premium on content, and creates new requirements for both sales and marketing organizations who must align in a seamless, joint selling effort.”
And while sales enablement solutions have traditionally and primarily focused on fueling revenue, industry insiders point to emerging trends in the usage of sales enablement tools. For many organizations, “connecting the dots” of disparate internal teams and operations can be daunting, but the concept of sales enablement helps bridge the gap.
“Sales enablement started as a powerful tool used by individual sales people to ‘sell more,’” said Mark O’Connell, President & CEO, SAVO. “More recently, it has transformed into a social, collaborative and purpose-driven management platform that empowers executives and managers alike to close the gap between growth initiatives and revenue-generating execution in the field.”
Supporting Buyer Stages With Content
Content now plays an inherently critical role through the buyer’s journey — from inquiry to interest to close, content must support behavioral needs and help convey complex messages at every touch point.
“Information on-demand — and everywhere you look — is the sales rep’s new reality,” said Lewis Miller, CEO, Qvidian. “With savvier buyers engaged, sellers need to respond correctly (and quickly) to put themselves in a position to win. To do this, it is critical that sellers immediately understand the type of buyer they are engaged with (i.e. budget, timeframe, industry, motivating factors, valuation of project, etc.), and ensure they’re providing the buyer the right information, at the right time, so the deal progresses accordingly, and in-line with the unique objectives and approaches their buyer is bringing to the table.”
And while the industry is faced with an increasingly complicated selling process due to the savvy buyer, content can ultimately act as a supplement that helps cater to key concerns, like budget constraints. “Although buyers are more empowered, under current budget constraints they have been forced to “do-more-with-less” and as a result, have less time than ever to fully understand their issues / opportunities, and research / deliver solutions,” noted Thomas Pisello, The ROI Guy; Chairman & Founder of diagnostic / ROI sales tool provider Alinean Inc. “There is a greater need for consultative insight to help close this gap.”
Pisello further explained how the sales enablement process and Alinean tools work throughout the buyer’s journey to help facilitate the buyer’s decision-making process:
- Discovery: Early in buying lifecycle, help buyers understand potential solutions, by helping them to illuminate issues by using diagnostic assessment tools to survey current practices, benchmark versus peers and leaders and intelligently develop improvement roadmaps based on highest priority issues;
- Consideration: In the middle stages, help justify the right solution by quantifying the savings, business value, return on investment and fast payback. ROI sales tools can help identify current costs and opportunities, recommend the right solution configuration and quantify potential benefits, investments, risks, ROI, payback and other key financials;
- Selection: In the later stages, validate the decision by proving that the selected solution competitively has the lowest total cost of ownership, best value and lowest risks. Alinean TCO comparison tools are designed to help sales teams prove that the selected solutions represent a clear fiscal advantage that goes beyond initial cost.
“The shift to customer relevant, educational, thought leadership oriented, sales ready content, from traditional product oriented, feature/benefit brochures, requires a new approach to content creation, management and delivery,” Burns noted.
Click here to access a case study about Microsoft implementing "provocative selling" with diagnostic assessments.