Sales enablement is taking the worlds of sales and marketing by storm. And while it is important to know what the trends are for sales enablement in the marketplace, it is even more important to have a grasp on how they affect your business. Here is a short list of trends in sales enablement and their impact on your business:

  1. Prospects must be engaged – not sold to. This can be boiled down to “know your customer.” In 2011, it is imperative that you put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and understand how they think and what they need at different stages of their buying cycle (not YOUR sales cycle) so you can produce the most relevant content, information and messaging to engage them in deeper one-on-one conversations through your sales enablement tools.
  2. Everything must integrate with CRM. Sales personnel are busier than ever these days, so giving them the functionality to use your sales enablement software from within the place they already work is not only helpful, it’s required. The less switching they must do between platforms, means the more time they can spend selling.
  3. Everything must integrate with mobile. It seems like more mobile devices are activated on a daily basis than babies being born. This also means sales must be empowered with data, tools, technology and training they need pushed to their wireless devices to stay focused on creating relationships with prospects on-the-go at the most opportune moments.
  4. Brand yourself as a thought leader. Leveraging and showcasing your expertise in your solution set and/or industry is key. Professional branding is happening through thought leadership and participation in online professional networking sites and “watering holes” to gain visibility and credibility with key audiences. This is raising awareness of brands and expertise and creating “social proof” that your solution is the go-to resource. Sales enablement technology platforms are making it easier for sales to share assets and point prospects to online forums where they have offered thought leadership and track which links they’ve viewed.
  5. Time management and prioritization is a must. Sales enablement technology platforms are making it easier for sales to prioritize prospect follow-up efforts by tracking their behavior, telling them WHAT was viewed WHEN and by WHO. Not to mention, this information is giving sales greater insight into what the prospect is actually interested in and how to best tailor conversations to be most effective.
  6. Sales professionals are not paid to be copywriters. Sales makes the big bucks for closing deals, not writing emails for  prospects and creating use-cases or PowerPoints. Lack of writing skills causes undesirable communications, a bad image, and wasted time. Sales enablement software makes it easy to create “grab-and-go” templates, so sales only has to do MINOR personalization and can spend more time doing what they do best – selling.
  7. Merging of sales enablement and marketing automation technologies. It used to be that marketing automation platforms were reserved tools for marketers and sales enablement platforms were just for sales teams, but more and more software players are integrating sales enablement and marketing automation functionality within the same platform such as sales alerts, streamlined activity logs, centralized template libraries, etc.
  8. Content must be pushed to sales. If you are in marketing, being a little pushy when it comes to getting your content used is a must. If you’re creating content, collateral and sales tools for use in the sales cycle, making sales aware of new assets and PUSHING the content to them so that it can be used to engage prospects and close more deals is a requirement. Lord knows they’re not going to come to just magically find the latest and greatest collateral you produced – you’ve got to guide them in WHERE and HOW to use the tools AT WHAT POINT in the buy cycle.
  9. Finding the best prospects faster. Sales enablement data platforms are delivering a wealth of information to sales teams to approach more proactive, relevant and targeted prospects from the beginning. In addition, sales enablement activity platforms are giving sales the ability to track the behavior of their prospects, sending alerts with information about WHO viewed WHAT piece of collateral, and at WHAT time for better follow up.
  10. Sales drinking the Kool-Aid. Companies know that sales enablement platforms are all the rage right now, and are shelling out big bucks to have them. That is why sales buy-in and sales adoption are becoming more critical than ever to see the return on your investment in sales enablement. Whether your investment is for data, tools or technology, the bottom line is there’s no point in having it if it is not being used by your team and it’s not easy to use.

Sales enablement is a growing discipline spanning sales and marketing departments, and yet is often misunderstood and misapplied. Knowing the current trends in the marketplace and how to apply them in your business can help you keep a leg up on the competition – if you have the right equipment and the right strategy to implement it. Chat with us today about the considerations and realities of using sales enablement technologies in your business, and discover the ways it can catapult your business to the next level in 2011.

Jim Mooney
Jim Mooney is the Founder & CEO of RO Innovation. His passion for helping salespeople excel in all aspects of B2B selling, especially where customer references are involved, was the reason he started the company. His desire for helping others succeed flows through in the expert thought leadership he provides the industry, his customers and his employees.