A Tenured View of Sales Enablement

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Forrester defines Sales Enablement as:
“A strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”

I have been involved in Sales Enablement since the earliest days of CRM.  I have been very successful in developing several technologies that were very leading-edge, and I have been independently recognized for my insights (mentioned below only to establish the credibility for my observations and predictions for the future):

  • CRM Magazine – “Father of CRM” and “One of the Ten Most Influential People in CRM”
  • First CRM company to go public – recognized as the top performing stock on NASDAQ in one year
  • Telemarketing Magazine – picture as the front cover and many keynote addresses
  • Won recognition as “Large Center of the Year for all of Europe” for a 1,500 seat call center in the UK.
  • Success Magazine – picture as the front cover of issue labeled “A Precision Service System to Capture New Customers and Keep Them Forever” with a specific reference to me as running a company committed to customer satisfaction.
  • Business Week Magazine –  listed as #6 of “The Best Small Companies” in issue entitled: “Hot Growth Companies”

​This list of recognition could go on, but I only offer these examples to establish my experience in Sales Enablement tools so you can objectively consider the observations and predictions for the Sales Enablement Technology Stack I make below. (Humbly speaking – the list of my mistakes is a lot longer list!)

What has changed, how it has affected sales, and what is likely to change in the near future:

The PAST: 

  1. Prospects used to answer their phones because Caller ID did not “tell them” a sales rep is calling.
  2. Prospects gave you their real addresses so you could send them the brochure they requested (and they would give you their real phone numbers).  How many lead forms today are filled out with Name = Mickey Mouse  –  Address = Suite 100, Fantasy Land? The sales reps used to be the “brokers” of product information and thus all prospects began their search by contacting the vendor.  The well cited figure that today’s prospects are 70% through the buy cycle before they contact a vendor because of their solution search on the Internet may be understated.
  3. Sales reps used to meet with the prospects which means you had time to build rapport and demonstrate competence.
  4. Prospects who agreed to meet with you assumed you were Relevant because they did not have enough information to disqualify you.

TODAY: 

  1. Relevance must be immediately established and maintained to continue a conversation past “Hello” with a prospect.
  2. CRM systems are the databases where sales reps record (under duress and with limited content) a synopsis of the history of the account.  Properly designed Sales Enablement systems can go beyond “recording history” to “making history”.  Because CRM systems only reflect a little of what actually happened – and don’t show the actual time of each activity, they don’t give you the metrics you need to evaluate sophisticated ABM initiatives and other complex sales that are needed for realistic forecasting.   CRM systems are valuable, but they are the repository of only some of the sales activities.  Sales Enablement systems can give more, and invaluable insights.
  3. Cadence systems are very popular as a way to insure that Sales Reps follow the prescribed sales process.  They are very effective as sales discipline systems, but they don’t incorporate  AI Generated Sales Playbooks telling the reps “What To Say”.  The reps using these system are efficient, but they are not effective.
  4. Appointment Setting Call Centers are facing increasing client turnover because the sales reps for whom they set the appointments are not recognizing the value of the leads they receive.  Many call centers don’t recognize this change in the perceived value of call centers and will experience accelerated customer churn.
  5. Many companies are implementing call recording to better coach their reps.  However, their good intentions are not generating the desired results.  Leading recording companies are using machine learning and call transcriptions to help give the data for more effective coaching.  However, I am seeing a lot of frustration by those who buy these services – kind of like those who joined the gym in January with high expectations but realize in March that they are not getting the expected results.
  6. Sales Consultants are trying to solve the low retention of (application of) their training with electronic Playbooks and videos that can be reviewed before the call.   A step in the right direction, but not a step far enough because the Playbooks are not AI customized to every prospect for every call.

The NEAR TERM:

  1. Sales Consultants recognize the value of delivering their training in electronic Sales Playbooks – Playbooks that use Artificial Intelligence to deliver the “What To Say” in the sequence to say it tailored to each prospect – for each call.  This is a day and night difference from the practice of just giving training manuals or generic electronic Playbooks to those they train.
  2. Sales Consultants are willing to pool some of their IP with other Sales Process Experts as the “Fuel” for AI Engines that create Personalized (Relevant) Playbooks for each prospect.
  3. Sales Consultants are generating additional and consistent fees from their clients for customizing their Playbooks and for writing email content to feed AI Tools that generate personalized emails after each call like Writing2U.
  4. The growing percentage of Millennials in the sales team are excited with the easy ability for them to give feedback to the Sales Enablement team through tools like Useful2Me.
  5. Sales Consultants are more engaged with their clients by modifying the Playbooks based upon the user feedback through  Useful2Me.
  6. Innovative Call Centers are implementing AI generated Playbooks so they improve their perceived value because they are using AI Personalized Playbooks to establish and maintain relevancy with the leads they are calling.
  7. Call Centers that use Playbooks that create an accurate Story-So-Far with the complete details on what was discussed – and for how long each subject was discussed will regain the confidence of their end users (the sales reps for whom they set appointments).  Call Centers who adopt this approach will redefine the Call Center Industry.
  8. Reporting with the actual details of what was discussed and for how long will redefine the Metrics4ABM.
  9. Inside Sales Managers are realizing that products like ConnectAndSell are not just for setting appointments.  They will see the 10 X (or more) improvement in efficiency that ConnectAndSell gives to their senior reps.  The senior reps are focusing on closing deals with high level executives – and these executives are a multiple more difficult to reach than the lower level executives.  The senior reps love receiving connected calls rather than making 20+ dials to get only connection. The economics of using ConnectAndSell are incredible.
  10. Call Mapping (like provided by our Story-So-Far) will be an indispensable part of every Call Recording effort. ​

Are you ready to leave the outdated procedures behind you and harness the power of automatically customized playbooks to build sales conversations that are always relevant?