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What Good is Sales Enablement? Tom Pisello interview on the Fix the Convince podcast

By Tom Pisello | May 13, 2020

I recently had the chance to be interviewed by Paul Mosenson of NuSparkConsulting, and the host of the Fix the Convince podcast.

We discussed everything Sales Enablement, and the responses could be helpful as you build your digital selling and sales transformation plans.

For those who do not know- what exactly is sales enablement?’

There has been a lot of work on defining sales enablement, and the scope can sometimes vary.

    The way I like to think of it: Sales Enablement delivers the people, process, technology and intelligence to help sellers better collaborate with prospects to:

  • Diagnose key challenges,
  • Prescribe solutions to deliver significant business outcomes, and
  • Facilitate the buyer’s purchase journey.

The acronym DPF – diagnose, prescribe and facilitate – outlines the key attributes sales enablement should empower to reshare the seller – customer engagement.

Many think of sales enablement as just a repository for content, but it is far more?

Indeed, the first phase of sales enablement was centered mostly around the technology – to move beyond managing sales assets and content via email, or multiple shares / repositories to a consolidated, more powerful and intelligent “single source of the truth” repository and portal.

Now, sales enablement is so much more. It still includes sales asset management, but the most innovative companies are realizing that sales enablement is the catalyst for digital selling and sales transformation.

The best organizations are leveraging modern sales enablement to not just provide sellers with the right content and learning, at the right time, and in the right format, but to reshape the “last mile”, the “point of impact”, reshaping the on-line or in-person meeting experience.

For example, a major consumer product company, a worldwide beverage provider, wanted to move their sellers from talking about their products, to instead, helping the store or establishment they were visiting to reshape and grow their business. Rather than showing a boring product presentation, the sellers now use a data-driven interactive application. Leveraging local store purchasing information and trend benchmarks and a value calculator, the seller can show the owner and manager exactly what specific changes could do to daily and monthly sales. The tool helps the seller manage the 4Ps – recommend product mix, set better pricing, leverage promotions and optimize placement. Once the diagnosis is complete and prescription agreed upon, the seller can

Helping sellers to better engage customers is key. What had been the typical seller/buyer presentation approach, like PowerPoint decks, and why is sales enablement a more powerful way to engage with prospects?

    Traditional, big, linear presentation decks are not effective:

  • One in three – admit to falling asleep during a PowerPoint presentation (MarketingProfs)
  • One in five – would rather go to the dentist than sit through another presentation (Zogby)
  • 74% of buyers want sellers to pivot the presentation / meeting to discuss what the buyer wants to talk about (Forrester)
  • Five hours – the time each week the average seller wastes customizing presentations for customer meetings (Forrester)

Wouldn’t it be great if sellers didn’t have to take that 150 page presentation and spend hours parsing and customizing it for every presentation. And wouldn’t it be nice if the buyers followed a script and we could dictate the conversation with a big linear presentation, but the real world doesn’t work this way.

You have to rethink your presentations, to support the customer conversation and spark collaboration, not replace it, like a crutch.

My best advice? Start by dividing your big presentation deck into a set of one to 4 slide mini-decks, which I like to call vignettes. By breaking each section into little stories, you can focus more on the specific point of view you are trying to communicate in each little soundbyte.

Now, you publish each vignette into the sales enablement platform. This enables the seller to dynamically find the vignette without having to wade through all the slides. The seller can find dynamically jump to the vignette that supports the specific buyer challenges, use cases, success stories, and to support where the discussion goes. Embed navigation to prompt discovery and get the seller quickly to where they need to be.

And, based on an interactive discovery application, you can also assemble the pieces and content you need to support your story and create a shareable link, a collection of content that specifically addresses the buyer’s unique industry, location, size, role and challenges.

This sounds great, but do you have any industry statistics on companies that utilize sales enablement versus not?

Forrester just released some important research, from my friend and analyst Mary Shea, where they compared organizations who had implemented a modern set of sales enablement tools with those who were lagging. The results were impressive, with an average return on investment (ROI) of 666%. The benefits were divided into productivity improvements – doing more with less – and business opportunity and growth benefits.

    The productivity benefits include:

  • 28% less time spent entering and coping with CRM data requirements
  • 25% less time spent searching for needed content
  • 23% reduction in time spent customizing content
  • 23% less time working on low-value repetitive tasks (Forrester)
    The growth benefits include:

  • 24% reduction in ramp time for new sales reps
  • 19% reduction in the time it takes to engage a new lead
  • 18% increase in the average number of transactions per seller (Forrester)

There are a number of sales enablement platforms out there, not just Mediafly. How does one evaluate a solution from the set of those available, and what makes Mediafly different?

Many organizations turn to the analysts for magic quadrant and RFP guidance, or vendors even, who provide general guides for all the features and functions you should consider in a sales enablement platform. What I have found is that these guides tend to lead to favor the kitchen sink solution, leads to “over-purchasing” and complexity that ultimately gets in the way of the goals of the sales enablement initiative.

What I recommend organizations do is start with the “end-user in mind”. What specific challenges do you want to help solve for your sellers, for your partners, for your marketers? From the understanding of your specific users and their challenges, you will be able to then isolate and define specific use cases and experiences you would like to empower.

This is often a much smaller set of capabilities you ultimately need. And depending on the use cases, a clear winner often emerges as to the company that can specifically best solve those use cases.

Now, what makes Mediafly different, that’s easy.

For sellers, we provide extensions and interactive applications that transform the “last mile” or “point of impact”, to reshape each customer conversation from a sales pitch to a diagnostic, prescriptive, business value-focused collaboration. Specifically these include diagnostic assessments and discovery tools, value storytelling and assessment tools and product comparison / total cost of ownership comparisons.

For marketers, it’s all about maximizing the spend and effectiveness of the content, providing advanced tracking and analytics so you know what content is used by sales, consumed by customers AND driving deals forward and revenue growth. These insights help marketing optimize spend and importantly creates sales and marketing alignment.

Why aren’t more firms using Sales Enablement, seems like a no-brainer

There are some interesting metrics around sales enablement implementation and adoption.

A few years ago, we saw tremendous 80% growth, where between 2016 and 2017, CSO Insights reports that the percentage of organizations with sales enablement jumped from 33% to 59%.

Since then however, the growth has slowed. Two years on, the percentage of organization who have implemented sales enablement grew to only 61% overall (an anemic 1.5% annualized growth). So the number of firms implementing sales enablement stands at three of every five.

Why the slowdown? Perhaps new firms are not jumping on board because they don’t believe the promises and hype, there is confusion in the amount of choices and capabilities, and certainly now, there are less resources and budget.

For anyone just getting started, my advice is to start with a narrow view of your users and use case set, and implement a pilot with a select group. Financial justification is required, so prepare a business case and validate the results are achievable using the success of your pilot group to prove the larger scale results.

For those who have implemented some sales enablement and want to take it to the next level, again an incremental focus on the user, use cases and a pilot remain key, but I would add that you need to assure everyone understands the value you are delivering to the organization each and every day. You have to proactively communicate and quantify the value of sales enablement that you have delivered already, and use this to get everyone excited and on-board for the next evolution.

Checkout the podcast here:

Forrester – Building the Business Case for a Modern Sales Enablement Toolset
CSO Insights – The Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study

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