We’ll be the first to admit: a sales enablement program isn’t right for every single organization.
Some organizations just don’t rely on sales reps that much. Maybe it’s more of a product-led growth strategy for small businesses. Or maybe it’s a freemium product that has zero-touch sales.
Maybe it’s a super technical sale, and your turnover is literally zero, and you have no need to grow. Who knows.
But here’s what else we know: there are also a bunch of organizations who will need a sales enablement program, but might not need one yet.
And that’s when things get tricky because if you invest too soon, you won’t get the full value of a sales enablement program...
… but if you invest too late, you end up leaving revenue on your sales table.
So we put together a list of 10 signs to look for that tell you if you need to invest in a sales enablement program.
Here we go!
1. Your onboarding process is one size fits all (and you have multiple sizes)
There are still a few organizations that have one sales training plan for all of their reps. This is one of the biggest blunders a sales manager can make. Sales reps have different past experiences, learn in different ways, and have different skills and tactics that they need help with. Sales training will even change for the same sales rep as they develop within your organization.
There needs to be a flexible and customizable sales training program. What’s more, many organizations actually have multiple sales roles. For instance, your mid-market reps probably have different training needs than your enterprise and SMB reps.
You should be tailoring your onboarding accordingly. If you can’t, then it’s time to consider a formalized sales enablement program.
2. Onboarding fails to get reps to quota
Do your reps take a long time to get up to speed, or leave your organization after a short period?
You may be having challenges with your onboarding program. Successful onboarding programs and tools are some of the keys to team sales success. If the reps don’t get started well how can they succeed in the short and medium-term?
Another sign of a failed onboarding program is that your reps don’t hit quota when they should. It’s different for every organization, but generally speaking, unless you’re selling to enterprise your first deal should be happening in the first 90ish days.
If it’s not, then it might be time to revisit your sales enablement program.
3. Sales reps can’t access training content
According to SiriusDecisions, only 35% of the content that’s created is actively used.
Why? Irrelevance and access. It’s either not useful, or impossible to find.
If reps can’t find your information, the information doesn’t apply to them, or they don’t know it is available, then that is a failure of your sales training program, and it might be time to look for a formal solution.
4. Managers have different training strategies
Sales managers, like sales reps, can have a varied background of experiences and environments.
Supporting the sales managers with their ongoing training efforts for their reps is one of the most important contributions from the leadership team. This means helping with the process and tools that can help with the development of the organization’s sales reps.
However, sales managers are also incredibly time-poor. For some, their training strategy is ‘figure it out on your own’. And this isn’t because sales managers suck – it’s because sales managers are busy. If your organization isn’t capable of supporting your sales managers in training reps by making it easy, then you need to invest in a sales enablement program.
5. Opportunities get stuck
One of the leading indicators of failed sales enablement program (or lack of one completely) is a pipeline full of stalled deals.
There are loads of reasons why deals get stuck. But it’s not up to the reps to ‘be better’. Rather, it’s a team effort of reps, managers, and enablers to work together to make sure that the whole team has the skills to drive opps over the line.
A sales enablement program can help provide the right training and content at the right time for the sales team, and in turn, keep deals moving through the funnel.
6. Customers are churning
Churn is really caused by three things: changing needs, poor product-prospect fit in the first place, or poor implementation / configuration. Let’s dig into those in a bit more detail.
1. The customer’s needs changed
This happens. Sometimes, a customer can buy your product and then decide that actually, they don’t really need this anymore. For instance, someone might be using Pipedrive as they scale, then convert to Salesforce when they’re a bit bigger. There’s not a whole lot that Pipedrive can do about this.
2. The customer shouldn’t have been sold in the first place
This is a major problem that a sales enablement program can help with. Basically, what happens is that reps are great at selling and convince a prospect to buy, even though the product-prospect fit isn’t really there. When the customer realizes the product doesn’t solve their problem, they churn as soon as they can.
3. The customer isn’t getting the service they need
Whether it’s customer success, an account management team, an implementation team, or full-on professional services, a failure to deliver a high-quality experience is guaranteed to increase your churn rate. And it’s not because your customers don’t like you (usually). Rather, it’s because, without a lot of hand-holding, most customers won’t get the full value of your product, regardless of product-prospect fit.
Unless all your churn is the first one (which isn’t very likely), then you need a sales enablement program ASAP:
- It’ll educate your existing reps on who they should be spending their time on, reducing poor fits and therefore, reducing churn.
- It’ll help your CS and account management teams learn how to reduce time to value and, more importantly, tell that story back to the customer.
7. High turnover
According to a study from InsideSales last year, the average SDR tenure is now 3.2 years, increasing from 2017.
If that number is staggeringly high, then it might be time to think about a sales enablement program. Retention has a huge impact on the lifetime value of a sales rep for the organization.
The longer you can keep a rep around, the more they’ll sell for you and, presumably, the better they get overtime, driving up their value even more.
(It’s also worth considering the dollar costs and opportunity costs of a rep quitting and needing to replace that headcount).
If you can up the average tenure of your reps by even 1-2 months, you can drive huge revenue returns for your business. A sales enablement program that gets reps onboarded and ramped fast and makes it easy for them to do their jobs is a quick win when it comes to increasing retention.
8. Sales reps stagnate in their careers
Your sales department should be a leadership factory. It should regularly be churning out sales managers, senior AEs, enterprise reps, and directors, VPs, and CROs. Part of your goal should be to train reps that, when they go in for an interview for the next stage of their career, the interviewer says “Oh, you worked at Blah Blah Company Inc? Say no more, you’re hired!”
If that’s not where your organization is and reps are stuck where they are, then you need to start a sales enablement program, both to get them to where they need to be today, and to give them the skills for where they want to be tomorrow.
Knowing exactly when to launch a formal sales enablement program is a little bit of a dark art. There’s no one single number that we can turn around and say ‘if your number is X, then you need to get a sales enablement program. If it’s not X, then you don’t need a sales enablement program’
Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple. But here’s what we do know.
First, companies who invest early will pay a premium for a while… but if they continue to scale, be far better to reap the rewards when they grow into the sales enablement program.
And second, we know that companies who invest late are potentially leaving millions in sales revenue on the table – millions that might be the difference between making it to an exit or not.
Cover image: Austin Chan via Unsplash