New findings: Sales enablement programs lacking formality may be worse than no program at all

Sales enablement has been a vital business strategy for the past decade, but many programs remain in their infancy.

In 2017 the marketplace saw a large uptick in sales enablement program launches. But according to the CSO Insights 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study, maturity and progress has been slow to follow. A large majority of programs lack formal structure.

This means misalignment with other business functions across organizations. This amounts to missed opportunities for sellers to bring strategic, consistent value to buyers. This ultimately leaves a salesforce struggling to reach quotas to their greatest ability — and contribute to sustainable revenue performance.

Programs Differ — But the Need for Formal Strategy Applies to All

I have discussed in detail how sales enablement is one of five necessary elements to holistic sustainable revenue performance. The CSO Insights study, which gathered input from more than 900 participants around the world, found evidence that a formal approach to sales enablement garners significantly better business results.

According to CSO Insights’ research, win rates for organizations with an informal approach to sales enablement were 3.1 points lower than average win rates and 3.6 points below average quota attainment of 60%.

The above may seem like small diversions from the average, but in fact numbers like these can mean the difference between a successful and sustainable fiscal year and a serious financial dip.

The bottom line: informal sales enablement programs are not cutting it.

Formal Sales Enablement Programs Deliver

A formal sales enablement program can empower your market-facing teams to connect in more meaningful conversations with buyers, to convey consistent, compelling and differentiated value propositions, and to level-up salespeople skills. Learn more about the positive impacts of leading a formal sales enablement program in your organization:

Cross-Organizational Alignment

It is no secret that many organizations are still fragmented across departments, functions and geographies. According to HubSpot research, one in four companies indicate their sales and marketing teams are either “misaligned” or “rarely aligned.” And this misalignment is costing B2B companies 10% or more of lost revenue annually.

With a formal sales enablement program, these fragments are brought together in better alignment and agreement across an organization. Operations and task-items run more smoothly, with greater understanding of roles and responsibilities — and purpose.

Effective Coaching Approaches

The CSO Insights study found that formal sales enablement programs often amounted to more mature coaching approaches.

Sales training is never a once and done event. Leadership must require continual opportunities for improvement of their salespeople’s skills. They must provide opportunities to practice effective listening, value-oriented conversations, responding to “no” and more common situations they will find encounter. Regular formal sales training programs aside, leadership must also reinforce sales training often at meetings with check-ins, practicing in “ride-alongs,” and assessing and dissecting real sales moments in order to ensure sales are at a level required for revenue performance scalability.

Buyer Journey Alignment

There is an intentional art to creating sales tools that resonate with your target buying audiences. And a lot of this stems from understanding your target buyers and formally mapping out how they will go from “I have a pain,” to “I choose your solution and long-term trusted advice.”

Then it is important for leadership to align teams around goals, targets, value messaging frameworks and more in order for the resulting sales kits and tools to be revenant and worthwhile.

What does sales need for its buyers? How can marketing develop tools sales can customize per buyer to make a compelling case for your solution? Where are the gaps?

The Proven Mereo Sales Enablement Solution

From decades of consulting and real organizational outcomes, Mereo has developed and refined the sales enablement approach that interweaves three interdependent pillars.

sales skills

It starts with having an instituted sales process that is synchronized with the buyer journey while clearly defining roles, responsibilities, activities and benchmarks across each step. The second leg stands firmly with effective techniques for selling – and enhancement of the requisite skills. The third component bring the value messaging to each of the conversation and interaction points of the sales process, where sales are enabled with compelling solution value propositions reflected in sales kit assets, thereby aligning an entire organization has aligned around the process, skills and messaging to sustain revenue performance.

We recently partnered with an international information technology organization and incorporated this formal sales enablement strategy into their business. Explore the winning outcomes here.


Real Success of Formal Sales Enablement