Scrolling LinkedIn, I barely get past five posts before seeing an expert proclaiming “sales is broken” or “what worked before isn’t working.” While some are sensationalist, most are thoughtful — and correct. For most revenue teams, 2023 has been a year of adaptation. Quota attainment is falling, sales cycles are lengthening, buyer frustration is real (I say this as someone that gets an average of 13 cold calls a day).
Everyone wants to say the sky is suddenly falling, but the reality is this is not a sudden change. It’s been a gradual shift, with too many just now realizing how impactful it really is.
Today’s buyers are digital natives. Regardless of the polished sales process, the sophisticated email sequence and workflow, the mutual action plan put in place — the buyers are calling the shots and making the choices about how and when they engage. Gartner found the average buyer spends only 5% of their buying journey with any one seller. On top of that, they found buyers are up to 70% through their purchasing research before they contact a seller.
So, how can revenue teams add value, build trust, and ultimately close deals?
As a CMO, this challenge is front and center everyday. And the pressure is on. With the number of live buyer-seller interactions (in-person, phone, video) shrinking, revenue teams have to get creative. They have to identify different ways to drive engagement, stay connected, and maintain some influence over the journey.
Proactive teams are looking at this challenge as an opportunity.
The question — where to start.
The answer — data.
Six months ago Mary Shea joined Mediafly as co-CEO. There were a number of reasons I was thrilled with her arrival, with one being her commitment to research. I remember our first discussion. It wasn’t a question of would we do research?, it was all about, when and what would the topic be.
That time is now.
The topic, how top performing revenue teams are adapting in light of changing buyer dynamics.
As such, Mediafly partnered with Dynata in July 2023 to survey 300 North American based revenue and enablement professionals at enterprise companies across a range of industries and get to the heart of buying trends and best-in-class strategies to meet new buyer demands. Here’s just a taste of what we uncovered.
The path forward goes through revenue enablement
Traditional sales enablement that only supports the direct sales channel no longer works. Most companies have made or are in the process of making the switch to “revenue enablement.” It’s not just a name change. Revenue enablement is a comprehensive program to empower all revenue generating teams and systems – not just direct sellers – to drive growth. Our research found:
- High-performing organizations are more likely than low-performers to enable each revenue function.
- Eighty percent of respondents said their org. is increasing investment in enhancing their enablement program.
- Seventy-seven percent of respondents indicated they’re increasing investments in innovative sales technologies that drive efficiencies and effectiveness.
Understand content impact on both individual deals and overall revenue
Content is more influential than ever before. It’s your most valuable tool to use during the 95% of time your sellers can’t be “in the room.”
The right content at the right time, in the right way, increases buyer engagement, drives deals forward, and could get you a win. At the same time, the wrong content, used in the wrong space, at the wrong time, could cost you that win. As buyers increasingly suffer from information overload your content needs to break through the noise to capture buyer’s attention. The most effective way to ensure you’re using the right content at the right time is to track your content’s engagement and overall impact.
Companies who exceeded their goals in the last fiscal year were 37% more likely than their low performing counterparts to track the success of content using data and insights.
As a marketing team, we want to create the best possible content for our sellers. We also want to know sellers are enabled to use that content — and that they are using it at the right stage, with the right persona, and seeing the impact that we expected. Sounds easy right? Not quite. We found the top challenges in managing content include:
- “Our sellers spend too much time creating/personalizing content.”
- “Our sales content is outdated.”
- “We cannot govern our content to ensure the brand &/or regulatory compliance.”
- “We do not have the insights we need to understand what content works best & when.”
- “Our sellers often send content that differs from our brand.”
Sellers need easy access to that content to share it at the right time. Simultaneously, the brand needs to be able to govern shared content to ensure it’s accurate, up-to-date, and compliant with brand guidelines, helping to ensure the seamless journey buyers crave. It’s a delicate balance.
Data silos drag you down
Every company is trying to be a data company. They are sitting on troves of data. The question is — are they able to put it to use. In most cases, data silos and disparate sources are limitations. Our research found that the top challenge orgs face with revenue intelligence is that different teams use different sources of data. It causes confusion, competition, and results in a disjointed customer experience. With more buyer and seller activity data available than ever before, it’s critical to eliminate as many data silos as possible. Ask your vendors what data they will write-back to your CRM. If they wont, ask why. You’re the buyer, so if your data is trapped in a walled garden, you’re limited on what you can do with it.
Mary’s research shows that 70% of revenue pros prioritize vendors that offer a single source of truth for revenue data. When all GTM functions are aligned on what works and what doesn’t, they can work together to provide the hyper-personalized weekend experience buyers crave.
Overcoming no-decision is a huge challenge
The era of growth at all costs and throwing money at problems to make them disappear is over. Today, buyers need to be convinced before they buy. They want to know their purchases aren’t a waste of money — and that there won’t be egg on their face from their decision.
That puts the onus on the seller to build the case, and ensure your buyer champion is confident enough to advocate internally.
That’s where value selling comes in. When I say “value selling” I don’t mean a single slide in your sales deck with some unbelievable stats. Rather revenue teams should be looking at opportunities to create scalable, intentional value-based programs that are formally baked into their sales processes. Customizable tools and resources that tie the investment to the customers’ value drivers. This is an emerging aspect of content that should not be skipped.
In fact, we found high-performing organizations are 19% more likely to have a value-selling methodology than low-performers and are 38% more likely to use business value assessments in the sales cycle.
Ignore generative AI at your own peril
The explosion of the generative AI bubble, beginning in November of 2022, has sent shockwaves through the business world.
Our survey showed 59% of revenue teams are currently using or experimenting with generative AI to accomplish tasks, and high-performing orgs. are 44% more likely than low-performers to use or experiment with generative.
Some of the top use cases according to our survey include using genAI to:
- Get quick answers about pipeline health and/or forecast changes
- Summarize buyer/seller calls
- Provide next best action recommendations
- Create marketing content such as blogs, papers, slides, images, and videos
- Improve customer experiences with scalable, hyper-personalized interactions
- Automate time-consuming administrative tasks
However, to reap the full benefits of generative AI now and in the future, you’ll want a single source of data for generative AI to pull from. One option is a singular data lake that:
- Consolidates all relevant data in one centralized repository, simplifying data retrieval and minimizing the time spent searching for and accessing different data sources.
- Ensures consistency in the data used for training generative AI models. This is critical for producing reliable and accurate AI-generated content.
- Stores various data types in their native formats, making it easier to integrate and process them for AI model training.
- Accommodates increased storage needs seamlessly, enabling scalability for handling larger datasets, which can lead to more robust generative AI models.
A CMOs Key Takeaways
Revenue teams — emphasis on teams — must provide customers with the same highly personalized, seamless experiences we’ve become accustomed to in our personal lives. Companies like Amazon and Netflix have set the bar. Our buyers now have high expectations for user experience, data-led journeys, and consumption; now is the time for B2B to deliver.
It starts with:
- Tracking the impact of your content. Not just shares and views. Impact on revenue.
- Letting content do the selling when you are not in the room (or on the zoom). The content landscape is exploding. Don’t just settle for presentations and ebooks, explore short videos, interactive experiences, value calculators, etc.
- Aligning the entire revenue function around one single source of truth for buyer and seller activity data. Your post-sales team should know exactly what happened during the sales journey.
- Baking value selling into your sales process and integrating it with your content management tools so sellers have everything they need at their fingertips.
- Experimenting with generative AI now to ease the burden on your team today, and ensure you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits that are definitely coming.
To learn more about our findings and the state of Revenue Enablement, read the full report here!
We also invite you to enjoy this round table discussion to learn about best-in-class strategies from our research to win in the new era of sales.