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How Sales Enablement Impacts the War for Talent

Can sales enablement better equip organizations to win the war for talent? Jeremy Boudinet explains why.

How does sales enablement impact the War for Talent? A recent study finds beneficial sales enablement impacts on retention, recruitment and onboarding. Just published on the Aberdeen Group blog, Peter Ostrow's article, Would You Buy from a 20th Century Sales Rep" offers an excellent breakdown of some key metrics on sales enablement impact.

What is sales enablement? More or less any sales technology that companies use to accelerate their sales process and augment their sales operations. The rapid proliferation of sales enablement technology warrants taking a step back and asking -- what ancillary impacts are these tools having on our sales force?

How Sales Enablement Affects the War for Talent

In general, sales force management in 2015 looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago. Integration of technology across all aspects of the sales process, the rise of inside sales and the entrance of Millennials into the workforce are just a few of the key deltas evolving sales operations at what seems like warp speed. 

The scope of this post will focus on the area of talent management. In particular, we're looking at three pivotal factors in the War for Talent:

  1. Talent Retention
  2. Talent Recruitment
  3. Talent Onboarding

Does sales enablement provide competitive advantages in these areas? Let's take a look. 

‚ÄčSales Enablement Impact on Retention

As noted in the Ostrow article, "the typical cost of replacing each B2B sales rep is over $29,000 and takes 7.3 months to hire and train."  In turn, it comes as no surprise that retaining elite talent and mitigating employee attrition due to poor performance are major goals in every sales organization. So how does sales enablement impact these important objectives? Note the graph below, sourced from the Ostrow article.

war for talent

The most telling part of this graph is the dramatic disparity in Marketing lead acceptance rate between early sales tech adopters and everyone else.  As the Ostrow article notes, "more marketing leads accepted by sales will create a cascading efficiency that yields a stronger batting average for the closers."

The message: Sales reps who work for early adopters of sales enablement technology get more air cover from their marketing teams. Although the margin in total sales quota attainment is relatively slim, it can be posited that many early adopter reps likely had higher sales quotas, due to the amplified presence and effectiveness of their companies' corresponding marketing efforts. 

Sales Enablement Impact on Recruitment

The benefit of high sales quota in the War for Talent: Higher quotas mean higher salaries, larger commission checks and the assistance of a well-oiled marketing machine. The data also indicates another benefit for early adopters of sales enablement: It Is it easier to transition from a non-early adopter to an early adopter than vice versa.

A second chart from the Ostrow post offers further validation for sales enablement benefits on recruiting. See below:

technology sales recruiting

Nearly half of Best-in-Class sales organizations assert that they regularly implement new technology, even if they don't become early adopters. Another 21 percent of Best-in-Class organizations are, in fact, early adopters.

At the bottom end of the spectrum, 0 Best-in-Class sales orgs asserted they 'lag(ged) behind almost all other companies in sales technology.' Nearly 1 in 5 sub Best-in-Class organizations asserted they lagged behind almost all other companies.

Investing in sales enablement, therefore, seems at minimum a prerequisite of becoming a Best-in-Class sales organization in 2015. It's also worth noting that roughly 2 out of 3 early adopters of sales technology are Best-in-Class organizations.

Sales Enablement Impact on Onboarding

Aberdeen Research has previously noted that "companies that adopt best practices across their sales teams had double the quota attainment of their peers." Whether it be codifying best practices, automating non-selling tasks or providing visual reminders of performance expectations and benchmarks, sales enablement offers some of its most direct value in the onboarding and ramp-up aspects of talent management.

In our recent post on the state of B2B SaaS sales, we included an important graph from TOPO's Sales Development Benchmark Report that indicated average ramp times for new SaaS hires to be on the rise.

new sales hire onboarding

The bottom line: Sales enablement offers big impacts on a necessary, time-consuming, and revenue-sucking part of talent management. If your current sales enablement tools aren't bringing your new hires up to speed more rapidly, you may want to consider investing in an alternative option to your existing platform.

Using Sales Enablement to Win the War for Talent

There are plenty of exhaustive articles and online discussions regarding sales enablement and its related topics. But the War for Talent tends to fly under the radar in sales enablement discourse. That's unfortunate, as it's not only a pivotal topic, but one that identifies some of the hidden value-adds of existing sales enablement software.

war for talent

"Who's coming with me ... to a sales organization that requires manual CRM data entry?"

If you're feeling overwhelmed from a talent management aspect at your sales organization, that in and of itself bears reassessment of your current sales enablement arsenal and how it's being optimized in your sales force.

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