December 10, 2019

Sales Enablement Technologies: Integration and Adoption Drive Performance

Technology’s role in sales enablement increases every year. The better technologies become, the more they support the success and scalability of sales enablement.

What sales enablement technologies are organizations investing in? And once invested, how are these technologies being leveraged and used? What’s the role of integration and adoption?

These are some of the many questions we set out to answer in our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study. As a first step, we wanted to know which enablement technologies organizations are implementing. While there are dozens of different types of enablement technologies, we clustered our results into three high-level categories: sales enablement content management (SECM), sales training and learning, and sales coaching solutions. 

The majority of Sales Enablement teams invest in sales enablement technologies.

Most organizations with sales enablement already had technology implemented across all three categories, with sales training and learning technologies being the most common (70.3%), followed by sales coaching solutions (57.6%) and SECM (56.9%). You might be surprised that the percentage for SECM solutions is not higher. Here’s why it’s not:

Almost half of organizations still share content via email or multiple repositories.

With so many excellent SECM solutions available, it’s unfortunate that nearly half of organizations (43.0%) still share content with their Sales teams using email, shared drives, and portals. This is almost the same percentage as last year (47.5%), meaning nearly half of organizations are still not mastering the content chaos for their Sales organizations, which leads to longer search times, less available selling time and lower productivity.

Why is this a problem? Think beyond content that comes from Marketing (only 38.8% does), and consider proposal templates, SLA attachments, contracts, SOW templates for various use cases, deep dive product documentation, configuration tools, and more. The problem is that every function that wants to help Sales provides their content via shared drives, portals or intranet pages they set up independently. 

Multiple sources of content frustrate sellers and make it less likely that they’ll use what has been created for them. Not only do adoption rates go down, but it  makes it almost impossible for Sales Enablement content managers to implement a content strategy and effectively manage all relevant content services throughout the content lifecycle. Additionally, these solutions are almost never integrated into the CRM landscape, which means sellers have to use various systems to find what they need.

Sales enablement technologies create the most value if they are integrated into the CRM. 

What’s the impact of integrated sales tech stacks vs. point solutions? It’s remarkable. As shown in the visual below, it’s encouraging to see that 42.5% of organizations consider their CRM the anchor for all enablement technologies. However, almost one-third (29.2%) rely on point solutions, and another 28.3% try to connect existing point solutions into the sales workflow. These findings are consistent with last year’s data.

Organizations that integrate their enablement technologies into their CRM achieved 19.1% better quota attainment rates compared to those with point solutions.

Image showing tech integration's impact on quota attainment

If we compare their quota attainment of 64.1% with the study’s average of 60%, the difference is 4.1 points or an improvement of 6.8%. It’s interesting to see that organizations that are connecting point solutions (making their first steps toward integration) achieved almost exactly average performance.

Adoption beyond 90% leads to 16.3% better quota attainment.
Having sales enablement technologies is not enough. In addition to integration, adoption is the last piece of the productivity puzzle.
What is your adoption rate for your SECM solution? What percentage of Salespeople use your sales enablement technologies in their daily workflows?

Image demonstrating SECM solutions' impact on quota attainment

Nearly 16% of our study participants reported that more than 90% of their sellers utilize their SECM solutions on a daily basis. This small group of organizations achieved 16.3% better quota attainment rate compared to the study’s average.

While this may sound very ambitious and almost unachievable, the good news is that smaller adoption rates can also lead to better results.

If at least 51% of sellers use their SECM systems daily, productivity improves by 6.8%.

The majority of organizations (56.8%) reported adoption rates either between 51% and 75% or between 76% and 90%. Interestingly, their quota attainment results were very similar, with an average of 64.1%. That means the tipping point for SECM adoption rates to move the performance needle is 51%. As soon as more than half of the Sales force leverages the technology this way, productivity improves. This is very encouraging for Sales Enablement teams that are currently taking their first sales enablement technology steps.

While integration is often an issue that sales enablement cannot impact alone, adoption is an issue Sales Enablement leaders can and should drive on their own. Here are five ideas to drive adoption:

Create a change story

Is there a comprehensive change story available and utilized that explains to sellers what’s in it for them? If the idea was to track numbers and not implement actual benefits for sellers, the implementation is doomed to fail. That’s usually not the case, but we see it over and over again: Many organizations don’t invest enough in change management, communication, and change leadership.

Engage senior executives to lead by example

Too often, such an initiative gets delegated down to the level of program management, whether it concerns CRM or SECM solutions. It doesn’t work that way. If your Sales leaders don’t use the SECM system, you will have a very hard time convincing the Sales force to use it. Involving them early on and engaging them to lead by example is key to success.

Involve and engage your Sales managers

This is also a step that is often overlooked. The best Sales Enablement teams always leverage the Sales managers’ wisdom, involve them early on and give them a specific role. And to drive adoption and reinforcement, managers’ coaching efforts should include the desired use of your sales enablement technologies. Sales managers should also lead by example here.

Give sellers a voice and work with early adopters

If a seller has a great experience, ask them to create a one-minute video to share. Such an approach is very powerful for engaging other sellers to try the system as well. It also helps to keep  your senior executives informed and engaged.

Measure defined metrics

Always define the relevant metrics early on. Ideally, you want to reduce search time, increase available selling time and improve conversion rates. To measure the latter, it helps a lot to look at the customer engagement analytics your solutions offer. Focus on business impact, not just any metrics available.

CSO Insights Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study

CSO Insights Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study

Sales enablement is slowly but steadily maturing. While many organizations leverage an enablement program in some capacity, some are still not realizing its potential.

Achieving Sales enablement success requires a formal, holistic approach. CSO Insights recently conducted its annual Sales Enablement Study to understand how organizations are implementing, executing, and analyzing their own strategies today.

Nearly one thousand Sales professionals completed the survey, providing insights into their use of enablement tools and resources, and how it’s influencing their overall Sales performance.

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