As go-to-market teams look ahead to make plans for 2022, one thing is for certain: the sales enablement category is poised for continued growth. Aragon Research predicts a 20.8% compound annual growth rate for the sales enablement platform market. With the dawning of the new year, now is the time to evaluate sales enablement strategies and make plans to prepare go-to-market leaders for whatever 2022 may bring. At this stage, it is also important to help enablement leaders set themselves up for success to support their teams and deepen their enablement literacy as the tools and audiences evolve.
To focus on empowering enablement leaders, new priorities must take center stage. Though many of these steps may seem familiar on a general level, their importance will continue to resonate in 2022. When implementing this advice, consider the needs of specific leaders and brainstorm ways that can help them do their tasks more efficiently within the parameters of adaptability, alignment, communication, and customization. The following skills are vital to strengthening enablement teams and preparing them for the year ahead.
1.) Be Adaptable
Now is the time to take advantage of automation, which can free up time for reps by optimizing the sales process on a holistic scale rather than strictly on an app-by-app basis in the typical enablement tool repertoire. Automation can take the form of AI software that reduces manual tasks like data entry. Machine learning also provides tailored, actionable recommendations regarding how to distribute content and how to effectively coach and train unique teams. Automation can be accomplished by altering the sales process with new approaches like using email and pitch templates, employing CRM software to schedule appointments, and installing tools that keep record of customer interactions.
As for other tech to consider, the Gartner Fall 2021 Marketing Guide for Sales Enablement Platforms recommends establishing microsites for content sharing. Leveraging these digital sales rooms will help enablement teams arm reps with content that will resonate with buyers’ unique needs. Organizing sales assets in microsites also makes performance more measurable, empowering enablement teams to pinpoint what content is helping sellers close deals.
To Teams’ Needs
Enablement leaders, no matter how successful and talented, can always improve. When recruiting new leaders or finding ways to revitalize old tactics used by established enablement teams, training should be a top priority. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space, so up-to-date training is a valuable approach that can better equip enablement teams for new and upcoming challenges.
Remote and hybrid work are also likely to continue in the next year. As such, enablement teams need to acclimate to this new normal. Developing new strategies for remote and hybrid work environments is a great way to keep teams engaged no matter where they are and make sure everyone still has the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
To New Customer Needs
To better know the customer in this time of remote and hybrid engagement, each team needs to recognize that their strategies may need to change to respond to the new needs and availability of customers. Being in tune with the availability and expectations of the customer will illuminate not only the best channels through which teams can interact with them but also point to arising needs they have in their new spaces of daily functioning that the company’s service or product can address.
In times of immense change and uncertainty, it is important to remember the humanity of everyone, sales leaders and buyers alike. By being in tune with the world and how it is impacting the company and its customers, both employee and buyer experiences can be improved and loyalty retained for this humanistic approach to enablement goals.
2.) Champion Cross-Functional Alignment
Cross-functional alignment, an iterative process focused on growth and scalability gained through collaboration between different teams to achieve a common goal, can be achieved by prioritizing interdepartmental communication and shared tools. To align teams across their functions in the organization, enablement leaders need to know the purview, function, and current goals of each team under and outside of their jurisdiction. After gaining a thorough understanding of each team and how their functions overlap, the next step is to align their goals, plans, accountabilities, deliverables, and deadlines. This way, everyone is aware of each other and on the same page of what is expected from them and how to achieve it through collaboration.
As for particular steps that can be taken to achieve cross-functional alignment, every action must be done with the knowledge of what each team needs to help the other and themselves. Enablement leaders can distribute relevant materials to all departments, arrange regular meetings, and establish standardized metrics so each leader and team member knows what everyone is talking about, working toward, and actively achieving.
Another channel through which enablement leaders can achieve alignment is via centralized revenue operations, which combines marketing, sales, and customer service into one department that reports to the same leaders. Rev ops is gaining traction in the enablement community as an endeavor that prioritizes enablement practices to achieve revenue goals. By integrating a centralized revenue operations strategy, enablement leaders can support their teams by giving them more support and making sure everyone is on the same page working toward the same goal. The more team power behind the effort, the better chance sales, marketing, and revenue teams can shatter expectations and reach new heights of productivity.
Cross-functional alignment is important because it creates a unified team and more productive customer engagement. By encouraging collaboration between sales and marketing, enablement leaders are practicing future-thinking strategies that recognize the value of interdepartmental flow and support their teams.
3.) Prioritize Communication
Communication is key to any industry. To empower enablement leaders, productive dialogue must be opened up between different teams. This communication can be encouraged through regular meetings and shared materials.
Internal communication is important, but customer-facing messaging also remains a priority. Enablement leaders need to equip their teams for successful customer interactions by coaching them on messaging and helping them practice their unique engagement techniques.
In the sales and marketing industries, customer communication often involves a story. In order to effectively coach reps on how to sell a story, enablement leaders themselves need to know and be able to tell their own story. For knowledge to be passed down and retained, the enablement leader can consider sharing their own experiences with their team as an enablement professional and as a consumer in search of a specific product or service. Enablement leaders can effectively train their customer-facing teams by encouraging them to refer to shared guides on how to formulate their hook story in a narrative arc with a setting, problem, turning point, and resolution. Encouraging this story-minded, personal approach will help leaders equip their team on how to best engage buyers’ interests and appeal to their needs.
Conversation intelligence uses AI, or conversational analytics, a natural language processing system, to analyze written or spoken communication to pinpoint data-oriented insights on interactions between sellers and buyers. To better equip teams for engaging with customers, enablement leaders should consider employing conversation intelligence when coaching and training.
Conversational analytics combines AI, email, SMS, social media, and consumer reaction data to provide insight into lead engagement. When informed by conversation intelligence, templates for communication are also a helpful tool to aid sellers in optimizing their messaging and customizing their outreach to each potential buyer.
4.) Customize Using Data
Enablement leaders can customize their teams’ strategies by gathering insight from data on employee productivity and buyer conversion rates. Data also provides a roadmap to how to engage with a prospect based on their expectations and needs.
For the team’s strategy
To strengthen an enablement team’s strategy in 2022, leaders should evaluate the ROI on their outreach to get a better idea on areas to focus on during the year. Focusing on KPIs is also a useful data-based approach to begin to build predictable and quantifiable revenue growth. Overall, enablement leaders can support their team by making sure they have access to streamlined data with standardized metrics and reports so that everyone on the team can measure their success.
For the prospect’s interests
Data can also help customize approaches to customer engagement. Enablement leaders can support their teams by requiring them to adopt a customer-first strategy so that they can better predict the customer’s expectations and make sure they get what they need at every stage of the process. Furthermore, when teams are equipped to focus on the individual buyer’s journey, they can more efficiently customize the content funnel to that buyer’s needs and authentically align the service to their focus.
Sales enablement is set to grow and develop in the 2020s. Enablement leaders will reach new heights this year as the star of sales enablement continues to rise. To ensure enablement leaders will benefit from this period, it is important to recognize all the work they do and champion measures that are conducive to their success. Additional investment in new strategies will help enablement and go-to-market teams alike in establishing the groundwork for a successful 2022.