Did you ever imagine that a virus would be the ultimate trigger for organizations to focus on digital transformation? Probably not. Here we are, in the middle of a global COVID-19 pandemic that is shutting down, and will forever change, the way we live and do business.
Observations on sales enablement after being silent for a few weeks
As I transitioned from one professional role to another over the last few weeks, I focused on observing, rather than actively participating in, the sales and sales enablement space. Here is what I found:
- The approach is understood, but execution suffers.
There is no lack of research, data, expertise, and best practices on WHAT should be done to make sales enablement a powerful driving engine for sales transformation. Sales enablement leaders struggle with HOW to approach this. Even if they theoretically know about the need for a strategic, formalized, integrated and targeted approach to meet their stakeholders’ expectations and KPIs, they struggle with getting access to their senior executives in the first place.
- Talent is discussed one-way only.
The usual focus with regard to talent in a sales enablement context is the talent to be enabled. What’s ignored most of the time is the talent that’s required in a sales enablement role, especially in a sales enablement leadership role. We see many sales enablement program managers who are excellent at what they do—managing programs—but only a few business leaders who have the expertise and the business acumen to set up this business function as an engine for digital sales transformation.
- Sales enablement and sales are only partly digitalized.
This is, especially now in times of COVID-19, a severe problem. With working from home policies in place, more sales forces than expected are struggling to engage their prospects and customers digitally. It was never just an option. Now it’s mandatory. It’s the same with sales enablement. Some enablement teams started with sales enablement content technology but did not digitalize their processes behind the platform. Other organizations already tackle sales enablement in more areas, such as content, training, and coaching. However, lots of training is still on-site, and only certain training services are available in a digital way, not to mention sales coaching services. Imagine, you have to onboard people digitally, and you are not prepared to do that. And imagine the tremendous competitive advantage of organizations that are doing this already.
How to integrate sales enablement into your digital transformation strategy
Ideally, there should be an organization-wide digital strategy in place. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. And in some cases, the strategy only says, “digitalize your processes.” Of course, that’s not an effective way, because a) such an approach doesn’t begin with the customer in mind, and b) it doesn’t optimize the processes before digitalizing them.
Whatever your situation is, here are four practices that help you to not only digitalize sales enablement but to make it even more effective.
#1: Key principle for how to approach digitalization:
Technology is a great SERVANT, and with artificial intelligence even more so, if we carefully MASTER technology and clearly define what technology should do, and where human interaction is required and desired. Humans have to remain the MASTERS of digitalization and the MASTERS of the technology they implement to drive CX in the age of the customer which is more and more about customer convenience.
#2: All “safe havens” are now subject to digital disruption
The digital disruption started in different industries at different times. Think about the music and photography industry in the last century, then print media, travel, or television beginning about 2010, followed by retail, healthcare, automotive, education, telco, food, banking, and insurance around 2015. Now, in 2020, due to COVID19 and other factors, there are no safe havens any longer. Going digital is mandatory; it’s no longer an option.
#3: Design in an integrated way with the customer experience in mind
The age of the customer and the age of technology come together. It’s more than sales; it’s the entire process of how you engage potential customers, from demand and lead generation, followed by their first experience with sales professionals, through to their buying decision, customer success, and customer service experience. As more and more B2C and B2B customers prefer buying products and well-defined and categorized services online, make sure that their customer experience is seamless, smooth, and just-in-time, across your marketing, sales, and service and support functions, processes, and technologies. Now, the real focus where sales professionals will create a huge impact is in complex, enterprise selling scenarios. Here, business problems that impact several functions must be solved, and the buying team’s desired business outcomes are complex in nature and require an integrated, business-driven, differentiating engagement strategy.
#4: Be consistent, align, and integrate. Communicate, communicate, communicate
With these principles in mind, make sure the core areas of your sales enablement initiative, such as value messaging, content, training, and coaching are all aligned to the customer’s path, stage by stage, consistent with each other, and technically integrated. Here, an overarching value messaging approach is crucial, which ensures that all content assets and training services are consistent, telling the same story. Now, make sure that you leverage integrated digital sales enablement solutions that ensure that you can provide all these services using one platform, connected to the CRM or integrated into your CRM.