There is such a thing as bad sales enablement. I’ve seen many market leaders discussing this topic lately.
One of the biggest misunderstandings I’ve seen is a lack of clear measurement for enablement efforts. There’s no consensus between the C-Suite, sales leadership, and various enablers (L&D, Enablement, Marketing, etc) on which metrics matter most to report successes.
And to me, this is a bit puzzling. Isn’t the goal of a sales organization to increase revenue? Shouldn’t every other measure be some sort of derivative from this?
I strongly believe that this confusion around measurement comes from having too many point solutions with their own reporting/analytics suites trying to inject themselves in the sales process, but not integrating properly with one another.
(P.S. Check out Nancy Nardin’s SalesTech landscape infographic if you’re not convinced that there are too many sales solutions.)
The Sales Enablement Bridge
Let’s discuss the bridge analogy for a second. Think of sales enablement as a bridge, where there’s information flowing from both sides.
On one side, you have inputs from various processes. These can come in different formats (sales enablement assets, marketing collateral, sales coaching/training, communication) from many groups, like sales leadership, sales operations, sales enablement, marketing teams, legal teams, L&D, etc.
In the middle of the bridge you have reps running the process.
On the other side, you have outputs. CRM metrics like meetings booked, pipeline created, deals closed, and quotas achieved.
When the sales enablement bridge is intact, the information flows seamlessly back and forth, and everybody wins.
We all hit our targets, and bring home the bacon.
But this typically isn’t the case for most organizations.
The Broken Bridge
Most sales organizations have a broken bridge. If everything worked perfectly, you wouldn’t see any declines in quota achievements. But that’s not the case, as you can see in this graph from CSO insights.
A broken bridge happens when there’s a gap in information flow.
In the sales process, this typically happens when you’re blind to what your sales reps are doing, and how it relates to sales outcomes.
When you boil it down further to the sales tech stack, visibility is typically lacking when technology isn’t integrated properly (or even worse, you're missing the right technology altogether). When there are broken integrations, data falls between the gaps.
This leads to missing information when making decisions about how to improve your sales process, including your sales enablement efforts, which can be very dangerous.
A doctor wouldn’t go into surgery without first doing an x-ray and properly diagnosing the patient.
If your tech stack is missing data, however unintentional, your enablement strategy could be completely misguided or in jeopardy.
Fixing The Bridge
If there’s such a big gap in information flow, how do you fix the bridge?
Everything needs to connect seamlessly through a single source of truth. For most sales organizations, this is your CRM.
You create reports with metrics and data from your CRM to make strategic business decisions. You present these reports to your executives and the board of directors on how the sales organization is performing.
Your sales enablement efforts need to flow through this data system of record in order to be credible and reliable.
Many sales enablement platforms have made API connections to CRMs an integral part of their solutions, with the intention of accessing insights to report on your enablement efforts. However, there are issues with integrations with third party vendors, where the data lives outside the CRM, or new data is introduced to the CRM.
This is where you’ll start seeing a big shift in the sales technology market. You will see a lot more platforms built 100% natively on top of CRM solutions within the next few years, with many added benefits:
- Native CRM applications share a single database with the CRM. There are no data synchronizations, connection issues, or data loss between databases. Having a single data store helps increase the speed of accessing data, generating reports, or mining the data because there are no round-trip transactions needed with the data.
- Native apps are more reliable. Since they’re 100% native in your CRM, your app will always be up and running when your CRM is running. You don’t have to worry about downtime from external vendors, or any API breakage.
- All data records are available for your CRM reports and dashboards.
- Native apps work entirely within the CRM environment and don’t have to pass data through APIs. External applications that integrate with your CRM have to use APIs to transfer data back and forth, and can incur additional charges.
- Vendors who are 100% native on a CRM are fully committed to the CRM for the long term, while vendors leveraging APIs might not be. Native apps are making CRM data the main source of reporting, not trying to inject their own external reporting dashboards in your process.
- There’s also added security. Because you don’t have to connect third party applications using APIs, your data resides in the CRM database and never leaves. It’s not sent or stored on an outside server nor does data enter from external servers, which may be the case with non-native apps.
Forward looking sales organizations are already making data-driven decisions. They’re looking to consolidate information into a single source of truth, which is typically done in the CRM.
Bringing in all sales applications, marketing collateral, sales enablement assets, and sales training/coaching inside the CRM will allow the best sales teams to make strategic decisions about their sales enablement strategy because there will be no gaps in data.
The Sales Enablement Platform Of The Future
I’ve already written about this in another article, but Gartner is doing a great job laying out the foundation of the sales enablement tech landscape.
The sales enablement platforms that sales leaders will implement moving forward won’t be point applications covering a single aspect of enablement (like LMS or CMS), but the technologies that are building their platform natively on top of CRM solutions, and integrating externally with other point applications. The best platforms will be built where the most important data records reside, not trying to pull the data away from the system of record.
Ask yourself, how are you measuring the success of your sales enablement strategies?
What data do you report to your C-suite or board of directors? What system of record do you use to pull this data?
Can you foresee any gaps in sales performance reporting as it relates to sales enablement efforts, whether from missing information, loss of information passing through various APIs, or having to manually report on your efforts?
Do your current enablement solutions provide you with the best window into sales performance measurement, with direct attribution to your enablement efforts?
These are all questions to ask yourself as you’re thinking about the backbone of your data strategy for sales optimization.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.