Friday, September 03, 2010

Sales Enablement Effectiveness?

Because of Frugalnomics, an environment where buyers now demand bottom-line value from every investment, B2B sales teams are challenged more than ever to deliver expected results.

IDC research shows that because of frugal buyer sentiment, 62% of B2B vendors need more leads in order to generate the same amount of sales, and 72% indicate an increase in sales cycle time over the past 6 months.

Sales enablement seeks to address these challenges, providing the practices, resources, training and tools needed to help fight Frugalnomics. According to sales and marketing analyst firm SiriusDecisions, “Successful reps know that establishing credibility and providing value to a prospect or customer throughout the buying cycle is the difference between closing the deal and losing it. Sales professionals must ask the right questions, gather data and coherently identify need in the context of an opportunity, then be equipped with the proper tools as the opportunity progresses.”

Sales Enablement Ineffectiveness?
No one would argue the important of sales enablement in the face of Frugalnomics, but most would be surprised that the current practices and significant investments are not delivering to expectations.

According to Forrester, companies are spending worldwide, on average, 19% of their SG&A costs, some $135,262 per quota-carrying salesperson, in sales support-related activities. And these costs are growing, with 65% of sales executives indicating that investments in sales enablement will be increased / increased substantially over the next 12 months. Unfortunately, not only are the investments in sales enablement much higher than most expect and growing, the investments don’t seem to be generating expected returns.

According to IDC research, legacy sales enablement investments have not generated expected outcomes, with buyers not being satisfied with the value sales professionals are delivering to the engagements. In a recent survey, 24% of buyers indicated that the sales reps are not prepared for presentations at all, 30% indicate that they are somewhat prepared , and only 29% indicate that they are well prepared. The lack of preparation drives inefficient conversion, longer sales cycles, more discounting, and higher competitive losses.

Forrester analyst Scott Santucci concurs, indicating that "problems cross-selling, long sales cycles, declining win rates, margin pressure, and getting average deal size up can be traced back to the same source – the conversation between your client facing people and the combination of stakeholders that represent your buyers."

So why are the sales enablement investments not paying off?
  • Are sales professionals resisting the fact that buyers and the buying lifecycle have fundamentally changed?
  • Are marketing and sales enablement teams producing the right presentations, white papers and tools for sales professionals to use in customer engagements?
  • Is the sales force aware of these tools, and have knowledge to select or is prompted as to which tools to use when?
  • Is the sales force using the presentations, white papers and tools?
  • Or is it an issue of acceptance, where the methodology, presentations, collateral and tools are not being accepted by customers as credible?
The fact is that according to the research, key marketing and sales enablement investments are not delivering the expected return on investment - improved sales effectiveness, and executives will not let the current trends continue without intervention.

Before executives take negative action, sales enablement groups should proactively assess which of these suggested barriers to success, or others, are preventing success, and what can be done to improve effectiveness.

Sources:
1) SiriusDecisions B-to-B Buyer's Survey 2010
2) New Realities about B2B Buying, Jeff Ogden, SandHill.com Blog, Jun. 08, 2010

3) IDC Executive Tele Briefing on Sales & Marketing Strategies for 2010
4) Uncovering The Hidden Costs Of Sales Support, Forrester Research, Inc., April 2009

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