What a time to be alive a part of the greater Sales Enablement ecosystem.

2018 was a critical inflection point for the sales tech market, as multiple product trends evolved into bonafide product categories. That’s because, over the last year, sales organizations converted interest to action.

More specifically: for enterprise and mid-market buyers, strategic initiatives focused on maximizing performance and modernizing culture — and in order to make that happen (fast), they’ve been investing in both process transformation and new tools with enhanced capabilities.

Those sales orgs are finding that two distinct tracks need to be updated or completely overhauled:

  • the methods used by sales people engage and interact with customers, and

  • the systems sales leadership uses to analyze, coach, and develop their people.

Here’s a closer look at each track and where they’re headed.

Sales Engagement

Every sales organization with any type of scale and process must be enabling their people with tools to connect with and inform their customers effectively. In fact, if you’re pre-adoption, you’re behind the eight-ball.

At its core, sales engagement is about enhancing the customer experience at every point in the buying cycle. That means optimizing workflow (often, by removing superfluous steps) and equipping your sales team with the right kind of value-add sales content and training collateral.

It’s also about learning from and leveraging every customer interaction. At this point, there’s no reason not to track every phone call, email, text, or chat. And as of 2018, most sales orgs are doing this in some form or fashion — and in many cases, they’re even scoring those interactions. But now, managers are tasked with figuring out what all that data means, and how to make it actionable.  

That happens to be a great segue into…

Sales Coaching

Sales coaching exploded in 2018, with conversation intelligence leading the way — and systems for recognition, one-on-one coaching, and goal management coalescing to radically change how sales leaders could both:

  • visualize their reps’ performance, and

  • focus on distinct areas of improvement.

Which leads us to the new challenge for sales leaders. Tracking and gathering data is now the easy part; the hard part is drawing insights from data, then leveraging those insights to make your reps more successful. Four trends we’re seeing:

  1. Sales Performance Management is being rebuilt for a millennial workforce.

  2. Data-driven and metric-based coaching are growing out of smart goals and incentives

  3. Coaching programs define priorities; rep attention follows.

  4. Attribution is critical — the question is, are your programs effective?

What’s next?

  • In 2019, managers will continue to increase their investment in sales management platforms that can seamlessly aggregate rep interaction data and utilize it to provide workflows for consistent coaching, with metric-based coaching data and levers to actually drive behavior change.
  • Sales Enablement appears poised to garner greater influence in sales organizations; with evidence that enablement teams will expand their scope and work to address and provide expertise around a myriad of topics:
    • Best practices to identify / connect with / and engage customers
    • Quality collateral to educate both internal and external stakeholders
    • Best practices for coaching programs, methodology, accountability, and training
    • Coaching and Manager analytics and program attribution
    • Creating a positive sales culture with recognition/ motivation/ development
  • Rep workflow tools (dialers/ email sequencing/ etc) will become more ubiquitous, with personalization being the critical factor as buyers become more aware of the automation behind the scenes.

A convergence of systems that enable management to coach and develop more effective sales people; sellers with better visibility to performance, objectives, and tools to engage with their customers; and a broad ecosystem that is creating more data that allows for agile management, rapid improvement, and a culture of recognition and achievement.

Happy selling — and happy New Year!



Read more:

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Agile Sales Management (link)

  • How To Get Started With Sales Coaching In 5 Actionable Steps (link)

  • How To Inspire & Motivate Your Inside Sales Team (link)

  • Why the Best Sales Contests Don’t Reward the Top Producers (link)

  • How to Set Smarter Sales Goals for You and Your Sales Team (link)

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