Friday, October 22, 2010

Accelerate Slow Sales Cycles with More Sales Enablement Investments?

Two successive downturns over the past decade have resulted in buyers more skeptical of sales pitches than ever, and a condition called Frugalnomics – where buyers demand quantifiable proof of bottom-line impact for each purchase decision.

The result of Frugalnomics has been a marked slowdown in the pipeline, and longer than ever sales cycles.

According to Andrew Gaffney in his article Marketers Shifting Focus To Sales Enablement To Accelerate Slow Pipelines , “Deals expected to close in the current quarter are often getting clogged and pushed out later in the year. Given this reality, many marketing organizations are investing in sales enablement tools and processes to accelerate deal flow and maximize the productivity of their sales teams.”

So how is the sales enablement role evolving within b2b vendors? According to IDC’s 2009 Tech Marketing Benchmarks, large enterprises have gotten the message that sales enablement is required to drive sales effectiveness, with more than 80% of enterprises with $5 billion plus in revenue now have a sales enablement role in their organization.

However, that number drops steadily in surveys of smaller firms, to:
  • just under 80% for organizations with $1 billion to $5 billion in revenue;
  • 60% for companies between $500 million to $1 billion in revenue and; 
  • less than 40% for companies with under $500 million in revenue.
Joe Galvin, an ex-colleague at Gartner and VP and Research Director with SiriusDecisions, a leading research consultancy in the sales and marketing space, said sales enablement and knowledge management “have now become required components” of a sales and marketing technology infrastructure. “Selling is an art,” Galvin said. “Productivity is a science. It’s the ability to add a new opportunity at the top of the pipeline and increase the number of active opportunities a rep can manage. The right collaboration and solutions can help drive the number of new opportunities — the number of active opportunities and lead to shorter sales cycles by improving the conversion rates from phase to phase inside the buying cycle.”

The ability to connect with customers is more important than ever, however, most buyers indicate that

  • sellers are ill prepared for meetings;
  • do not understand their business and needs, and;
  • are not adding value to engagements.
With sales professionals ill prepared to engage, and with more information and resources available on-line than ever before, buyers are using the Internet to drive purchase decisions, engaging sales professionals later and later in the buying cycle, if at all.

The Bottom-Line
The sales enablement group can help arm sales professionals with the right tools and content at the right time and right place to engage with ever more frugal and skeptical buyers. Without sales enablement best practices, sales cycles will continue to extend and deals will languish. Providing the fuel to sales professionals can overcome the issues, mitigate pipeline obstructions, and reduce sales cycles.


Marketers Shifting Focus To Sales Enablement To Accelerate Slow Pipelines - Andrew Gaffney , 20 July 2010

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