The cascading effects of COVID-19 have affected global business in more ways than can be counted, and likely in ways we don't yet fully realize. But one area of growth during the pandemic has remained consistent: sales enablement.
The size of the global sales enablement market is projected to soar to $3.1 billion by 2026, from $989 million in 2020—a 17.4% compound annual growth rate.
The B2B landscape has changed. Where once we met face-to-face with vendors and suppliers, sales and marketing teams have been forced to completely rethink their strategies and tactics for a post-pandemic world.
Sales enablement is now critically dependent on technology and on enabling sellers to operate efficiently in a digital environment. Furthermore, videoconference connections are now indicated by four out of five buyers as more desirable over audio or phone interactions in B2B settings, according to a McKinsey & Company report.
The pandemic was the push that B2B markets needed to accelerate digital strategies around sales enablement. A whopping 97% of executives claim the pandemic has sped up their company's digital transformation, and a full 95% are now actively seeking new ways to interact with customers and prospects on digital platforms, McKinsey reports.
The global crisis also demonstrated to top executives that sales enablement technology can help overcome geographic hurdles that once forced sales associates to think regionally.
Clearly, a new era focused on sales enablement has arrived in the business world, and as with any change, it requires investment in new approaches and new equipment on the part of your team to position your organization for success.
Here are some recommendations that can help your organization get started down the right path with your sales enablement planning and strategy.
1. Re-evaluate your processes and identify areas where the transition can be made to a digital-first strategy
This step may include updating hardware, streamlining or removing outdated systems, retraining employees, and establishing reporting and analytics measurements that reflect your new digitally minded approach.
A litany of software and tools exist to streamline the sales process and help associates become more efficient. Whether project management software, upgraded presentation decks, or scheduling tools, such technological advances mean that sales associates can save time and focus on pushing more leads through the sales funnel.
2. Ensure your sales tech stack is setting your sellers up for the best remote selling environment
Start by listening to your team. The field has the best sense of what prospects want and expect, and customer engagement is the name of the game. Your technologies should work together and integrate whenever possible, streamlining your sales processes and exuding efficiency and professionalism (think CRM integration, a smart presentation platform, reliable communication channels, dynamic screen-sharing apps, and more).
But it isn't just about your sales team. It's also about your potential customers and buyers—about ensuring that their sales experience is seamless. Technological hiccups could turn someone off to your company and its products or services. If the sales process isn't seamless, buyers might think that's emblematic of your company as a whole.
So listen to your sales associates and ask questions about your tech stack—particularly on how all your tools are interacting with each other. Is your tech stack as seamless as Gmail and Google Drive?
3. Find and designate an appropriate internal champion who will ensure new technologies are adopted properly across your organization
Rebuilding a decades-old way of doing business requires specialized oversight and maintenance, and no small number of interpersonal skills. You'll need a reliable, savvy advocate for your digital systems—someone who is fully invested and who understands the importance of getting the buy-in of all employees, from the top down.
That necessity has tasked company leaders—vice-presidents of sales, chief revenue officers, and the like—to bring companies to an understanding regarding sales enablement technologies that are available.
When hiring a leader or considering promoting someone from within your company, it's critical to dedicate time to understanding each individual's wherewithal, education, and high-level understanding of building and retooling a sales enablement tech stack.
4. Plan for your new digital-first approach in 2021 and beyond, because remote selling is here to stay
If your business isn't built for the new age of digital engagement, connecting with prospects and building a strong sales pipeline will be next to impossible. Adjust your budgets appropriately for the proper sales enablement spend to stay nimble for whatever the future brings.
As we all learned in 2020, predicting the future can be futile. But what's inarguable is that the pandemic has unveiled new modes of doing business.
Working from home, executives and technologists alike have been challenged with developing methods to make that transition easier. That has revealed the value of sales enablement technology.
It's possible that after the pandemic is over, executives will still relish the opportunity to do business in person. But as long as geographical limitations exist sales enablement software will, at a minimum, help advance initiatives between those in-person meetings—all of which will shorten the sales cycle. That's music to a sales associates' ears.