Traditional Change Management vs Change Enablement

Traditional Change Management vs Change Enablement

Let’s face it, change is a necessary part of life. It may not be something we like, but it’s something we have to deal with, especially in business. Queue the traditional change management process…

In the past few decades, organizational change management has been a hot topic. What’s interesting is despite how much buzz there’s been around it, no one seems to know how to manage change. McKinsey & Company note that the failure rate of change management initiatives holds at around 70%. Today, the stakes are even higher because change is happening at an even more accelerated rate.

20 years ago, large organizations did a reorg every 7 years. Today, it’s happening every 7 months.

Couple that sheer speed with a 30% success rate and you can begin to understand the bigger picture. We’re changing quickly and we’re not being intentional about it – at least, not in the right ways. So how do we turn the tide? Is there a way to learn how to embrace change in an organization?

The first step in rewriting this story is shifting the change management jargon.

 

Change Management Process to Change Enablement Progress

It’s time to reset the way we talk about traditional change management and replace it with the phrase “change enablement.” By reframing the way we talk about change, we can get ahead of some of the fear and anxiety that comes with it.

For a lot of people, the term “management” implies that something is outside of their control and falls under someone else’s sphere of influence – and for most of us, a lack of control triggers anxiety.

So why use “enablement”? The word enablement, by definition, is the action of giving someone the authority or means to do something. Basically, it’s giving each person the power to influence change and own it. Instead of viewing change as something we have to manage, we’re shifting to view it as something we want to enable – it’s thinking about change as more of an opportunity than an obligation.

 

Change Management

Change Enablement

A small number of people are responsible for the change Everyone shares a mutual responsibility for the change
Top-down messaging about what’s changing and how it impacts employees Transparent, company-wide communication about why change is happening and why it’s exciting
Focus on what has to be done Focus on accelerating adoption

 

3 Steps to Change Enablement

To facilitate the shift from a change management process to change enablement, your program has to have the right infrastructure in place. Our recommendation is to follow the three-pronged approach: tools, training, and support.

Let’s take a closer look at the essentials of change management when it’s redefined as an enablement process.

 

Part One: Tools

The first piece of the puzzle is having the right tools. This one sounds simple but requires some real consideration. Think about what you may need from a logistical perspective to roll out the change and make sure everything is in place before you move forward.

  • Does your team need new software?
    • How many licenses or seats will you need?
    • How long will it take to download on their devices?
    • How much memory does it take up and is there enough on the devices?
  • Is your LMS equipped to support the change?
    • Do you have a community board for discussion about best practices or overcoming hurdles?
    • How will you share updates about the change? Instead of email, can you use a News or Notification feature on the LMS?
    • Does your LMS have a coaching component for observation and feedback?

Part Two: Training

When you’re rolling out a change, you need to think really intentionally about how you’re teaching about the new expectations, responsibilities, and norms. A couple of the big reasons why change management fails in organizations is a lack of buy-in and change battle fatigue — employees are tired of change and naturally resistant to it.

Training is a healthy, proactive step that prepares everyone for what’s to come and leads the organizational change from the front.

Share the What, Why, How, and When

Before you start building out your training, think long and hard on the following:

  • What is Changing?
  • Why is it Changing?
  • How is it Changing?
  • When is it Changing?

Use the answers to these questions as the underlying message for your entire training program. Begin with a live-action video that features some of your leadership team speaking candidly to the camera about the above. Transparency from the onset can help people trust that the change is well thought out, which in turn can decrease some of the change management challenges.

Then, set your team up for success by giving them training on any new technology you’re rolling out, how to use it, and any new expectations you have around their performance. Remember, the keyword in change enablement is enablement. You can’t expect employees to do it perfectly if you don’t show them how.

In any training you roll out, keep the focus on employees and keep the messaging centered on how they can influence the change.

Sustainment

Change doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. Use sustainment to make sure you get there. If you aren’t already familiar with it, do a bit of reading on the Forgetting Curve to learn the “why” behind sustainment.

With sustainment, the focus should be on fun, engaging activities designed to help reinforce knowledge and practice key skills. Ask yourself: Does this topic lend itself well to a game? What about role plays, a huddle, or a simulation practice? Sustainment activities should empower your employees to be ambassadors for change with their peers. By demonstrating behaviors for their peers, you’re reinforcing their learning in action.

 

Part Three: Support

You can have all the best tools and training on the market, but your team needs to know who to go to when (not if) they have questions. Let’s face it, the best tools and training should prompt questions and spark some curiosity.

Online Support

As with any training program, it’s crucial to have a designated person or group to go to for support. You can use office hours, an email distro, or even a support number. Just make it easy to remember and easy to do. Sometimes, simply having a human that employees can connect with can help alleviate some of the fear that comes with change.

Manager Check-Ins

We also recommend weaving manager checkpoints into your change enablement program. In these check-ins, have the team members meet with their manager to ask any follow-up questions and to talk about how they’re instituting the change in their day-to-day jobs. Use targeted discussion questions and reflection activities housed in a companion workbook to help make sure these meetings are specific and valuable.

Like it or not, change is here to stay. And it’s not enough to simply react to change anymore. Instead, you have to teach people why the change matters, why it’s happening, and how it impacts them – not just what their new job responsibilities are. Empower them to take some ownership over the change themselves.

After all, what you’re really trying to do is enable change, not just manage it.

 

Unbox Change Enablement

Are you ready to transform your traditional change management process into a modern, change enablement solution?

Change (and planning for it) doesn’t have to be scary. Unboxed Training & Technology can help you enable change, today.

Call (888) 723-9770 and our team of experts will help you find the right change enablement training for your organization.

2020 training trends webinar

The start of every new year is a chance to revisit training goals and aspirations for the coming 12 months. How do you know what’s worth your investment?

Share This Article

More Articles Like This One

Building a Product Training Template

Building a Product Training Template

Launching a new product or bringing a new sales team member on-board comes with a level of uncertainty. How will the product be received by your audience? Will a new team member be able to understand and communicate your offerings? Answering those questions is a lot simpler than you may think. In fact, there’s a pretty straightforward solution to both: a product training template.

Following the guidance of Simon Sinek’s popular TED Talk Start With Why, the product training template below aims to get to the passion behind the product first before uncovering the more obvious information surrounding it. By creating a basic product training template like this, you’ll not only have a framework that provides critical context to your team members, you’ll also have a tool that can be reused for future launches and onboardings.

1) Product Training Template Purpose (AKA the Why)

Start by providing the essential information:

  • What is the purpose of the product?
  • Why should anyone care?

2) Product Background (AKA the How)

Build from there on to what your company can offer that others can’t:

  • How does the new product work?
  • How is the new product better than what is offered by your competitors?

3) Product Basics (AKA the What)

Then lay out the big picture:

  • What is the new product?
  • What does the new product do?

It may seem counterintuitive to start with the purpose before outlining the basics behind the product, however working from the unique details to the big picture is exactly the way your sales team should approach their pitches. Clients want to know what makes your product the best option for their needs, and they want to invest in something they believe in. By training your team with a template that provides that information up front, you’re setting the stage for successful client interactions.

With that in mind, let’s explore how to put this product training template into use. Before sharing out with your team, work with leaders to complete each field and the associated questions. Refine responses into a simple, clear text to share out to the team members who will be selling the product.

Then, whether you’re conducting a group product launch or a one-off onboarding, you can walk learners through each section of the template. As you go through, share the thought process that leads to the content and prompt questions that uncover the learner’s own connection to the product and its purpose.

As shared earlier, encourage them to find their own passion and connection to the cause and be prepared to articulate that in client conversations. This is a great opportunity to create a connection with customers with a bit of personalization.

Launching a new product or training on an existing offering can seem daunting. Don’t let it be, using this product training template will help you organize your thoughts and focus on the why behind what it is you’re selling. Looking to take your sales training one step further? Check out ReadySet Sell, our foundational selling skills to help sales reps ramp up faster and ultimately win more deals.

Share This Article

Featured Resource

Does your onboarding get the job done? Download this essential guide.

More Articles Like This One

Is Product Recommendation Software Right for You?

Is Product Recommendation Software Right for You?

Forbes reports that 57% of sales reps missed their quota last year. While that statistic is alarming, the critical question that managers need to ask is why. Why aren’t reps knocking every single sale out of the park? Sales can be an area of high turnover, so maybe they’re not all up to speed, they’re struggling with product positioning, or they aren’t strong at interpreting and identifying the needs of a customer. Sales managers want their reps to hit more home runs – and product recommendation software is a big bat.

If you don’t have great selling aids, it’s time to consider what benefits come with the use of a guided selling tool. It enables new sales reps to get up to speed more quickly, helps reps keep their messaging consistent, and ultimately leads to the right recommendation for your customers. Think of your best salesperson. A guided selling tool basically lets you clone that person and have them in the sales conversation with all of your reps.

Product Recommendation Software, like all tools, is designed to help you achieve what would otherwise be much harder without the assistance – so much so that we’ve seen close rates increase by 40% when product recommendation software has been used.

 

So, What is Product Recommendation Software?

Before considering what to look for, it’s important that you understand exactly what product recommendation software is. In short, it’s a software application that enables reps to deliver excellent sales experiences and recommendations through a conditional, needs-based assessment. With this software’s help, reps are better able to guide customers and generate trust and confidence.

Benefits of guided selling:

  • Onboards reps faster
  • Increases sales productivity
  • Engages buyers with an interactive buying experience
  • Delivers an accurate and highly-personalized buyer experience with real-time leave behinds
  • Replicates and automates what works for top performers

Product recommendation is an art that enables the asking of intelligent questions and then uses customer response to drive recommendations and guided up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Isn’t that what any customer and sales rep would want?

 

9 Essential Considerations

Now that you see the problem and understand a potential solution, you’re on to something. Here are some considerations for you before adding product recommendation to your toolbox:

 

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT IT WHY YOU MIGHT NOT

SHORTEN TRAINING TIME

Product Recommendation Software allows your reps to get up to speed more quickly because they have a tool to help them and because that tool doubles as a training aid.

INCONSISTENT MESSAGING

If you have a brand-new team still looking to establish itself and figure out what works, you’re messaging might not be consistent enough, yet.

ACCURATE PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS

If your reps are using a tool that has the correct information, they’re far less likely to make a wrong recommendation.

DON’T KNOW WHAT WORKS

If you haven’t figured out your “special sauce” yet, it’s difficult to scale what works. It helps to figure out sells within your organization as a foundation before incorporating this software.

BUYER-LED JOURNEY

Potential buyers can interact with the tool and feel ownership of the process – leading them to feel less “sold to” and reducing the chances of an incorrect recommendation.

LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE

Perhaps you don’t have the infrastructure to capitalize on the rich data insights Product Recommendation Software can provide. If you can’t harness the full functionality of the tool, it might not be worth it for your organization.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Product Recommendation Software has the ability to delight customers by providing an interactive experience and better recommendations.

REDUCE FOLLOW-UP TIME

You can send follow-up communications immediately either during or after a meeting to keep the pipeline moving and keep your reps selling.

ENGAGE MORE PROSPECTS

With shorter, more precise sales meetings, your reps are more available.

 

Does This Sound Like Something That’s Right for You

We’re not talking about a CRM or refresher training. We’re talking about focusing on your customers, their experience, their trust, and ultimately – their purchase.

If you’re looking for a sales aid that’s consistent, up-to-date, personalized, digital, mobile, and has shown consistent results like 60% increase in YOY sales and 40% increase in rep productivity, then using product recommendation software could be a solution for your company.

Give your customers exactly what they want at the right price—without second-guessing your product recommendations or quotes.

Share This Article

Featured Resource

Free B2C Training Evaluation Guide

More Articles Like This One

The 3 Most Impactful Sales Enablement Trends for 2019

The sales enablement sector experienced unprecedented growth in 2018. More organizations than ever before leveraged technology to provide sales reps the content, data, and tools they need to engage buyers at every stage of the sales cycle.

As a testament to that growth, most sales organizations now have dedicated sales enablement teams, or have plans in the works to create one soon. Clearly, sales organizations have come to appreciate the value that sales enablement solutions can offer, particularly in decreasing the length of the sales cycle and increasing pipeline opportunities.

But as fast as the industry is changing, there’s still room to refine and create new solutions that solve common problems and help sales reps reach their full potential.

So, what will the top sales enablement trends be for 2019? Here’s our take.

1. Emphasis on learning and coaching

Based on a comprehensive survey done by Quark software, Sales Learning and Coaching Platforms is one of “the top two investment priorities [of sales organizations] over the next 12 months.” This may come as a surprise to others, but it wasn’t a surprise to us here at Unboxed.

In our 10+ years working with sales organizations, we’ve seen across the board that training is the most overlooked part of sales enablement. What good is having the right content and tools if you’re presentation misses the mark or you haven’t learned to effectively communicate with your prospect and ask for the sale?

As one of our top sales enablement trends in 2019, we demand and expect deeper integration of learning and coaching tools into existing sales enablement platforms. Inadequate or ineffective training leads to increased turnover, slower ramp time, and fewer sales, and your organization can’t afford to ignore the data any longer. Gryphon Sales Intelligence describes it this way:

“According to a recent survey, 84% of all sales training is lost after 90 days. This is majorly due to the lack of information retention among sales personnel. This highlights the need for refresher training from time to time along with effective sales training.”

 

2019 sales enablement trends - learning and coaching

If your organization doesn’t have a strategy for ongoing sustainment and continuous learning, you’re falling behind the curve. Look for a solution that integrates with your other sales enablement tools, ideally a one-stop shop with seamless access to training that gets pushed out over time and can be completed on-the-go.
And don’t stop there. For sales teams to reach their full potential, your solution must also give sales leaders and managers the ability to easily and consistently coach their teams to success.

2. Seamless access to important content—finally!

Sales reps lose up to 26 hours a month just searching for, editing, and managing content. Although sales content and asset management platforms have made it easier to organize marketing content and collateral, sales reps still struggle.

Most sale reps says they store content in 3-6 different locations, sometimes even up to 10. Many of those locations aren’t accessible to the marketing team for quality control and easily become outdated, and so the story goes.

 

2019 sales enablement trends - content management

Since this problem is still so prevalent, sales enablement software must reimagine the solution in 2019. Adding yet another location to stash the content won’t cut it, but creating a hub that helps you seamlessly organize and integrate content from a variety of sources will. Expect to see solutions that bring together content from disjointed platforms into one centralized location.

Let’s give reps back those 312 hours in 2019.

3. New ways to leverage artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has the potential to make a huge impact on sales teams, which is why it’s on our list of sales enablement trends to watch in 2019. Early adopter sales organizations are already reaping the benefits:

  • Sales reps save significant time through automated prospecting assistance.
  • Analyzing and prioritizing leads is easier than ever before.
  • AI-powered customer service guides buyers to the right solution more quickly.

The time savings are inarguable, but the rise of AI has other effects as well. AI increases the value of human skills that can’t be replicated by a machine. Skills like influence, empathy, and ability to gain trust.

 

2019 sales enablement trends - artificial intelligence

But what if you could use AI to help reps hone those critical human skills? In 2019, we’re introducing AI-powered roleplay that analyzes facial expressions to provide insight into the real emotional responses of an audience. We’re incredibly excited about the potential of this tool and thrilled with the early results we’ve seen from test cases. Sign up here to be included in our big announcement in Q1.

What sales enablement trends will you watch in 2019?

How will your sales enablement strategies evolve in the coming year? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Leave us a comment below or contact us to see how can support your sales enablement goals.

6 Things Top Sales Training Programs Have In Common

Sales training is hard. You’re challenged, over and over again, to create fresh content for programs that educate, engage, and influence behaviors. And what works in one scenario might not work for another because every organization and product is unique.

Still, the pressure to show improved sales performance is high. If reps don’t perform, 25% are either fired or quit every year. That’s almost double the turnover rate for most organizations. Is bad sales training a part of the problem?

Through the years, we’ve seen our share of sales training that fails to deliver. But it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why we decided to share the “secret sauce” the world’s top sales training programs have in common. A framework you won’t find readily anywhere else.

 

top sales training programs hero

1. STRATEGY

All the best sales training programs begin with a strategy. In other words, it has to be more than checking off a box on your sales team’s to-do list. Your product, audience and market environment is constantly evolving – and you need to “plug into” that.

Start with the end in mind by asking the right questions and using the answers to develop your strategy.

  • How does the training tie back to your business goals? For example, are you introducing a new product, entering a new market, growing your existing accounts, etc.?
  • What are your knowledge and skill gaps? Do your reps need better product/competitor knowledge? Do they struggle with lead follow up and overcoming objections? Do your managers need help coaching reps?
  • What behaviors do you need to change? What do your reps need to start, stop, or continue to improve performance?
  • How will you define and measure success? How can you make data collection/reporting a priority? Define the process and be clear about the goal. And don’t forget to reinforce and advertise your results.

Once you have a strategy in place, you can start building a plan to get to your goals. Be sure to get everyone from leadership to field personnel on board and excited about your approach.

2. CONTENT

Let’s face it, content matters. Ever tuned out after the first 5 words of…anything?

John Cleese said it best…

top sales training programs - John Cleese

Sure, the word “engagement” gets thrown around, but what does it mean, after all? Can you measure engagement? What’s the benefit?

Based on our experience, the top sales training programs are highly engaging…even:

  • “Fun”
  • “Entertaining”
  • “Refreshing”
  • “Knock your socks off”

(our clients’ words, not ours)

So, how do you get reviews like this? Use these two tips to make your training “sticky,” meaning reps will actually want to complete it (maybe even more than once).

Make it contextual

That means it has to be RELEVANT. Reps need to know how to apply what they are learning to their job and day-to-day life.

  • Present common scenarios or situations.
  • Use real language that reps and customers actually use.
  • Show or mimic real people and locations

Remember, generic examples and broad, sweeping generalizations are impossible to put into practice. Your training should help reps:

  • Identify: “I’ve met that customer. I have these conversations.”
  • Care: there’s an emotional connection when something looks and feels like you
  • Know: exactly what to do or say in the same or similar situation.

Make it conversational

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we’re so focused on delivering all the right content in a few sessions that we go all “teachy.”

It’s like in Peanuts, when the teacher talks, it’s just a bunch of “womp womp womp.”

Keep it simple and use human speak, like:

  • Everyday words and phrases
  • Short sentences (to sales reps, time is money)
  • Honesty

Bonus tip: Lighten up. Adults love it when we make fun of ourselves and our culture.

The good news is you don’t have to start with a blank canvas. Spend a little time conducting a content audit. Decide what you can continue to use as-is, what’s missing, what needs a little refreshing, and what needs to be scrapped and recreated.

 

3. DELIVERY

You also need a platform that’s sticky. And mobile-friendly isn’t enough. It should be virtually impossible to resist. Think bug light attraction.

You could create the world’s best sales training program, but if your reps can’t find it, access it, or don’t use it your efforts were wasted.

This may mean investing in newer technology. If that’s the case, look for these things.

Collaborative and social learning tools

Reps have tons of expertise and experiences worth sharing. Empower them to be in the driver’s seat, to pro-actively lead/contribute to their learning and growth. Let them share best practices, ask questions, and get feedback in real-time.

Informal learning like this doesn’t replace formal learning. It enhances it. In fact, in the 6th Annual Learning in the Workplace study, 93% of employees ranked “on-the-job experience” as essential to how they learn, followed closely by social learning at 90%.

Give employees a way to continue their learning outside of the classroom or course. Don’t fear social learning tools like these.

Real-world gamification

Sales reps are competitive so gamification ties into their desire to compete, win, and get recognition.

Many platforms have basic gamification built-in, like earning points, leaderboards, badges, and levels.

To take gamification to the next level, look for a platform that allows reps to redeem their hard-earned points for real-world incentives like company swag or other rewards.

Frontline communication tools

Reps are typically on the go, which means they may not have access to things like the company Intranet at all times.

And their inboxes are already overflowing. But including critical communications like new product launches, promos, and other company updates into your training platform gives them a one-stop-shop to find everything they need to get their jobs done.


A New Spoke in the Training Wheel

the world's top sales training programs use Spoke

 

 

 

If you think a single platform built for training, collaboration, communication, and gamification sounds like a unicorn, think again.

Spoke, our social LMS, combines all these tools into an engaging platform that’s intuitive, practical and actually gets used.

Meet Spoke

4. REINFORCEMENT

The one-and-done “sales kickoff” isn’t enough. But, unfortunately, sales training reinforcement has become more of a buzzword than a best practice. Everyone recognizes its value – but also bemoan the time, focus and cost.

It’s not just an after-thought, it’s not even top of mind. What these organizations fail to realize, however, is that the best training reinforcement can be achieved in the normal course of business. You must build in and protect time for reps and managers to practice what they’re learning. 

Worried about where you’ll find the time?

Work with what you already have! Start small with your existing learning platform. Use those social/collaboration tools as a way to have reps practice putting product features/product positioning in their own words.

Everyone’s got a phone. Have reps video themselves practicing something, post it online, and ask for constructive feedback. Maybe a contest? Star rankings?

Or try quick role-playing games in morning huddles/sales meetings. Always ask for suggestions and feedback. Sales reps can be extremely resourceful!

All the top sales training programs include training reinforcement to some degree.

5. RESULTS

What gets measured gets improved. Ever heard that before? It’s because it’s true.

Shine a bright light on every aspect of your program. What went well? What needs improvement? Some of the results may be anecdotal, or conversations, or community posts in your social learning platform.

No matter where the data comes from, data collection can’t be an afterthought. Capture and learn from all of it.

Go beyond basic metrics like training completion.

  • Observe rep behaviors, customer experience ratings/scores (voice of customer), NPS (net promoter score), retention and churn, average deal size, etc.
  • Partner with L&D/marketing/etc. to get data and correlate data to training.
  • Review questions/comments/feedback left in your training platform’s chats and channels.
  • Try to read between the lines. This is where your emotional intelligence skills come in handy.

Share the results with key stakeholders and work together to make improvements.

6. LEADERSHIP

The last thing the world’s top sales training programs have in common is engaged leadership. If your leaders aren’t involved in a big way, you’ll struggle to get buy-in from the rest of your sales team.

Would Apple launch a new product without making a big deal about it? No way. Like Apple, channel your inner Steve Jobs. Build hype. Get people excited. Including your leadership team.

From start to finish, you own the program, so marketing your agenda and generating enthusiasm in upper management is huge.

  • Gain buy-in continuously from management and leadership.
  • Stay involved, from discovery to training review calls to pilot launches.
  • Be able to answer questions, both about the content and the logistics (When will it launch? How will we be evaluated on it?)
  • Share a “sneak peek” photo of the video shoot. Even better, invite all-star reps/managers to go on set and watch the magic happen.
  • Create some “sizzle” with a trailer video.
  • Actively solicit feedback. As results come in, share those with the team. What gets measured and shared, gets celebrated (and repeated).

The sooner you get leadership involved, the better your chances of success.

 

top sales training programs Don’t Build Themselves

If you’re resource constrained, or don’t have the in-house capabilities you need to create a world-class sales training program, don’t be afraid to look outside your four walls to find a partner.

Look for a partner with a proven track record and the ability to dive deep into your company and understand your culture, products and services, and even your competitors. A custom sales training program may be exactly what you need.

Wherever you are in your training evolution, we can meet you there. We’d love to hear from you on anything you’ve read, questions you have, or to explore our offerings. Let us know how we can help.

5 Sales Enablement Trends You Should Watch in 2018

As we enter 2018, sales enablement remains a misunderstood sector (what is sales enablement, anyway?), which makes it difficult to predict what the next big sales enablement trends will be.

And with more products available each year, the definition of sales enablement is likely to remain fuzzy for the foreseeable future. Just check out Nancy Nardin’s epic graphic of the 2017 sales enablement landscape to grasp the current extent of the space.

With all that technology available, you may be tempted to think getting customers to say, “Yes!” will be easier than ever. But the fact is, increased competition, evolving buyer expectations, and the need to hear “Yes!” from not one, but 6.8 buyers, the sales process continues to grow more complex.

No wonder 77% of organizations now rely on some form of sales enablement to assist reps in meeting—and hopefully exceeding—quota.

2018 Sales Enablement Trends

But, what’s next? What hot sales enablement trends should you be watching in 2018?

We’ve listened to our clients, analyzed their pain points, and asked which sales enablement trends they’re eyeballing. Overall, we’re seeing sales enablement branch beyond content to address sales efficiency.

Here we go.

sales enablement trends - one-stop technology#1: One-Stop Technology

For a sales rep, there’s a golden moment when, after experiencing a well-crafted, personalized presentation, your wowed customer is ready to sign. What’s more anticlimactic than explaining that you’ll need to go back to the office, export the file, re-key it in the order entry platform, then email them later―dampening their enthusiasm and possibly jeopardizing the sale?

It’s embarrassing.

Sales teams have been feeling the pain for years. It’s inefficient, frustrating, and time-consuming to muddle through multiple log-ins to collect the data and content needed to build a personalized sales presentation.

So we’re listing one-stop technology as the number one sales enablement trend in 2018. This year, we’ll finally start to see more sales enablement tools serve multiple purposes and address multiple stages of the buying journey.

These new, modern sales enablement tools will streamline functions and data, becoming a one-stop shop that benefits reps, customers, and managers. Needs analysis, presentation-building, customer-facing sales tools, CRM, training, customer communication, and analytics come together in one powerful solution. And all of these functions communicate with pricing, product databases, and location―further enhancing the platform.

With a one-stop solution, reps can analyze customer challenges, suggest the ideal solution, create a quote and then―with the tap of a button―place the order to close the deal. All from the convenience of a tablet!

sales enablement trends - personalized buying journeys#2: Highly Personalized Buyer’s Journeys

Personalization enhances loyalty, drives conversion rates, and grows revenue. Monetate says that 79% of organizations exceeding revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy.

Historically, it’s been difficult (and really expensive) to unite all the specific customer data needed – demographics, engagement with marketing content, answers to needs-based questions, etc. – from multiple legacy systems to create a personalized buying journey.

Off-the-shelf platforms can’t manage such a complex feat. But adaptable sales enablement solutions will begin to make this easier in 2018. As solution providers and IT departments continue to move into the cloud, expose APIs, and build integration points, flexible and customizable tools that can adapt to your infrastructure will be something we see more of in 2018.

Also, personalizing your buyer’s journey is one of the best ways your organization can create a competitive advantage. Our clients tell us that sales reps love delivering custom presentations because they’re unique, impressing customers. One client even shared, “I like that it’s interactive, so customers don’t play on their phones while we’re talking.”

“I like that it’s interactive, so customers don’t play on their phones while we’re talking.”

sales enablement trends - manager enablement via data#3: Manager Enablement Via Data

Sales enablement trend #3 is all about data and how sales leaders can use this data to their advantage.

A collateral benefit of improved data integration is what we call “manager enablement.” More data gives managers a huge advantage in coaching reps to perform better based on real-time results.

Sales manager dashboards are not a novel idea. But increased reporting insights are going to revolutionize how managers measure and manage data including productivity, pipeline analysis, understanding the buyer’s journey, forecasting, and marketing insights that maximize sales performance.

As one example, by aggregating data on the most highly recommended and popular products—in addition to the rarely recommended ones—reps and managers can discern:

  • which sales tactics are most effective
  • what content has maximum impact
  • which solutions reps should be recommending
  • which methods convert best
  • what point in the sales pipeline customers are most likely to drop out

Using this data, managers will have a roadmap to coach reps and suggest training and strategies to maximize conversions as they adapt to new buyer behaviors and expectations. The results: more accurate forecasting and revenue target attainment.

sales enablement trends - automation and artificial intelligence#4: Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Automation and AI are revolutionizing sales enablement, and we believe it will be one of the hottest sales trends to watch in the coming years. However, let’s make something crystal clear: AI won’t replace sales reps any time soon, and certainly not in 2018.

AI can’t achieve quota on its own. It can, however, make reps more productive and efficient with their time, shifting the human role in the sales journey.

What AI does best is provide data, insights, and information in an accessible way. What humans do best is make meaningful connections to other humans that result in depth and understanding of needs. AI is critical in decreasing the amount of time consumed by administrative tasks, freeing up more time for reps to do what they do best: sell.

Reps devote as little as 22% of their time to selling, yet spend at least 50% of it on administrative tasks. Done right, the goal of automation/AI is to decrease reps’ administrative task load, freeing up time to build solid client relationships mid-funnel.

With more time to focus on selling, reps come in at the dynamic moment when customers are informed but seeking guidance in making their best decision.

sales enablement trends - continued focus on digital sales tools#5: Continued Focus on Being Digital

Does your organization have a Digital Transformation or Innovation team? If it doesn’t―it will soon. To keep moving forward, companies large and small will be required to adapt to more modern ways of doing things.

While digital and mobile technology have been sales trends for years, many organizations are just now launching mobile apps. As mobile technology expands, Digital Transformation and Innovation Teams help organizations navigate issues around aging IT structures and the challenges enterprise mobile device management (MDM) brings.

While these teams help companies go digital and cater to their unique requirements, most organizations don’t have the in-house expertise or IT capacity to go it alone. The challenge is twofold: how to equip teams with mobile tech―and then manage it.

The movement from on-premise servers and aging IT infrastructure to cloud-based, on-demand, BYOD, digitally transformed companies is well under way and will continue in 2018. But this year, we’ll start to see organizations rely more heavily on trusted partners with proven experience to guide their transformation and help them think through challenges like MDM, security, data integration, accessibility, etc.

Identifying a partner who’s already been there, done that, and understands that change (including the pain of the change and how to make it easier) is critical.

What Sales Enablement Trends Will You Watch in 2018?

Sales enablement is rapidly changing. But hopefully the sales enablement trends we’ve listed above will help you focus on what you can do this year to improve the efficiency of your sales team.

Which of the sales enablement trends we’ve identified will you watch, or even implement this year? What’s missing from our list?

Share below or give us a call and let us know how we can help you achieve your goals—we’d love to talk sales enablement with you!