How many Microsoft Word or Excel features do you really use? Ten percent, 20 percent? Most Office users will never write a book and they will also never use more than the basic arithmetic. It’s similar with sales enablement technology, but it doesn’t need to be like that, if the change gap can be closed.
Sales enablement technology is a growing industry
The sales enablement technology industry’s big providers offer sophisticated services that go far beyond the initial enablement and collaboration platforms focused on content: There are sales process modules, integrated to marketing automation, collaborative, workflow based plug-ins for CRM systems, and all services are available on all devices – a perfectly integrated world. Furthermore, niche providers join the market with shiny new apps, etc. But there is a gap between creating good value with technology and being able to leverage technology’s full potential to create much bigger value.
Sales enablement’s core challenges
Listening to the customer success stories at a recent conference, I noticed that the speakers mostly talked about implementing enablement and collaboration solutions, providing and improving content and developing interactive playbooks. The big integration projects to CRM and marketing automation with instant feedback from buyers were not the primary focus of their stories. Their challenges were people and change related, e.g. how to establish cross-functional frameworks to drive change across the sales force to be able to leverage technology’s full potential. They shared how they removed collaboration barriers and how they organized and improved content creation, publishing and localization across the organization; all that to create significant more value for the sales force. Those topics define the necessary foundation to drive change, to leverage technology’s full potential, to create significant business impact.
“People don’t leverage the enablement platform”
Whoever worked with salespeople experienced a simple truth: They only use what creates an immediate value for them. Everything else gets little to no attention. Most of them won’t spend much time to rate content or to share their best practices. If they don’t immediately find what they are looking for, they will close the system and call their buddies for immediate help, as they always did. If people don’t understand why they should change to be more effective, they will use new technology like the old one. This is where change management comes into play.
Sales Enablement is change management
Never start an enablement initiative without a change story. It has to answer the why question from a sales professional’s perspective, plus the question what’s in it for me before you explain the what to do, the how and the when. Change requires internal selling, and salespeople are the most challenging customers.
Even if technology is intuitive, it won’t work without training. Provide short video lessons how to leverage technology and how to use content effectively. Collaborate with front line sales managers, work directly with salespeople and develop “evangelists” to get traction.
Change requires vision, leadership and consequent execution. But leadership is not only a must for the enablement leader. If sales enablement is not a sales leader’s strategic issue, the enablement team alone won’t be able to drive the necessary change. Creating this strategic relevance – driving change from top to bottom – is key to leverage technology’s full potential successfully.
Stay tuned – we will soon address the collaboration gap!