Sales Enablement Consultants Share 3 Steps to Repeated Success

Pretty much every salesperson and sales manager agree that increasing seller productivity will improve performance results. But that's easier said than done.

In an IDC report, the analyst firm shared that the average B2B company spends $12,500 per rep per year on sales enablement and $9,100 per rep per year on seller training.

That's a big investment. Unfortunately, the research also advised that for most companies the results have been disappointing and fleeting.

For example, reps incur episodic training. But if that training is not made experiential, over 90 percent of the content is forgotten within 30 days.

Or reps are given access to new systems. But if that contributes to a hodge podge of unintegrated apps, the reps incur more productivity loss when they cannot easily find the content they need. The problem is exacerbated when they then use dated or inferior content, or recreate their own.

These are just two examples cited by a group of experienced Sales Enablement Consultants.

Improving seller productivity and performance is a long-standing problem worth solving. So, we gathered a group of Johnny Grow sales enablement consultants. They provided clear evidence that the biggest results are created from a relatively simple 3 step process.

So, before you consider your next salesforce productivity effort, consider the below advice from a group of seasoned experts.

01. Start with Sales Outcomes

You need to start with targeted outcomes in order to show real progress.

For most companies, these outcomes will include improving seller productivity and performance.

Productivity will be improved by reducing manual effort and reallocating that time toward customer facing activities. This will give salespeople more time to spend selling.

For example, according to IDC, most reps spend an hour or more every day on data entry. But you can reduce data entry with techniques like synching emails from customers into the CRM system. Or using AI to extract and enter key points from customer conversations into CRM. Or using voice activated activity updates. This is just one use case that increases staff productivity by double digits.

Another opportunity is to reduce the time staff spend searching for things. Reps incur 30 to 40 minutes per day, on average, searching for presentations, proposals, contracts, case studies, customer information, marketing collaterals and many other forms of content. Providing a single window that searches across disparate applications to easily deliver what sellers are looking for can plug this time leak.

The below diagram shows how to quantify results.

Sales Time Reallocation

Performance goals will be defined as increasing sales win rates, improving quota attainment, and accelerating sales velocity. Techniques for this goal will include things like adopting or improving strategic sale methodologies, predictable sales processes and sale opportunity win plans.

02. Optimize Business Processes

A common mistake when trying to improve productivity is deploying technology before processes are optimized. Poor processes are not helped with new technology.

That's why experienced sales enablement consultants begin by helping clients optimize business processes. Improved processes accelerate cycles, reduce errors, increase efficiencies, improve service levels, reduce costs, and support scale. Highly efficient and repeatable processes become your intellectual property.

Business process optimization is a three-step progression. You have to simplify, streamline and automate; in that order.

Two of the best methods to simplify and streamline processes are Universal Process Notation (UPN) and Agile Value Stream mapping.

UPN is a good starting point for processes that are not yet simplified. A UPN diagram example is shown below.

Universal Process Notation

A UPN process map is a hierarchy of diagrams. You can drill down to show more detail. This allows each diagram to be kept to 8–10 boxes and still able to describe a broad scope or complex process. There is no limit to the number of levels you can go down.

An effective UPN process map will enable you to drill into enough detail to understand the process so that you can streamline it, drive out waste, and achieve targeted outcomes.

Agile Value Stream mapping is another technique that is well suited to improving business outcomes.

It calculates business process efficiency by measuring Activity Time (value add activities) and Wait Time (non-value add activities) for all the steps in a process. It then divides Value Time by Non-value Time to show an efficiency measurement.

This is really helpful in identifying bottlenecks and non-value-added steps. Oftentimes, this technique doesn't just reduce non-value-added steps, but completely eliminates tasks or activities that don't add value to the outcome.

Agile Value Stream Mapping

The sales enablement consultants advise this business process design method consistently discovers activities that can be done in less time and activities that can be eliminated. The latter delivers the most significant time savings and productivity improvements.

Regardless of method, it’s a good idea to map your business processes pursuant to the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) standards. This is a widely adopted and universal process design specification. It facilitates things like industry benchmarking and system integration.

Once you have simplified and streamlined processes, it's time to apply technology for automation.

03. Apply Technology Automation

Workflow tools are the go-to process automation technology. They are usually either external Business Process Management (BPM) apps or workflow apps within your existing CRM system. These tools sequence and automate steps to make processes fast, consistent, and repeatable.

Guided selling tools are frequently used to reinforce training lessons, prescribe content, emphasize coaching advice, or recommend content based on sales context and past success.

For example, if an opportunity is in the forecast stage, the system may advise the prospect has incurred four interactions over the prior 45 days. However, historical data shows that opportunities of this type that are won incur 9 interactions over the same duration. That's a not-so-subtle insight that it's time to increase engagement if you expect to win.

Technology can also automate things like dialing customers, leaving voicemails, logging notes, and scheduling next steps. It can show buyer online behaviors and digital footprints. It can display buyer insights, customer intelligence and a 360-degree customer view. It can suggest the next best action, collateral, or similar engagement.

However, one big caution. Sellers will struggle with multiple data siloes, fragmented software apps and systems that are not integrated.

So, the experts advise a smarter approach is to assemble a strategically designed Sales Tech stack. This can replace ad hoc and piecemeal systems with a holistic application portfolio. An example built on a 3-tier architecture is shown below.

Sales Tech Stack

A smartly designed Sales Tech stack creates a competitive advantage as it defines an overarching architecture that blueprints the applications needed to succeed in data management, process automation and information reporting. It also future proofs your technology purchase decisions.

One more thing. The experts say that software adoption rates improve dramatically when sales enablement technology is tightly integrated with CRM, email and Playbooks.

Next Steps

Most companies have well defined and relatively consistent processes for HR, Finance, Billing, Procurement, and IT. That consistency often evades sales organizations. Too often, sales processes are handled like ad-hoc events with insufficient planning and results based on hope more so than data driven expectations.

When trying to figure out where to start, search for processes such as the below:

  • Heavy email collaboration
  • Reliance on spreadsheets
  • Shared local documents
  • Time-intensive, repetitive manual steps
  • Customer engagement
CRM Business Process Improvement

Also recognize that the biggest problems are driven by manual labor. Do some analysis to measure and rank manual labor and you will find your best opportunities.

You should also identify key processes which are contributing to revenue shortfalls and need to be fixed. That means reviewing processes that drive revenue goals such as increasing customer acquisitions, customer share and customer lifetime value.

This analysis will surface even more opportunities for improvement. They may include things like better outbound prospecting (i.e., using ABM), increasing lead conversions (i.e., using lead scoring, nurture marketing, and sales and marketing alignment), winning more sale opportunities (i.e., with sales strategies, predictable sales steps and win plans) and cross-selling existing customers.

And you don't need to tackle more than one challenge at a time.

Putting the focus on any one problem will likely deliver a high single digit or low double digit labor improvement. That's equivalent to shifting 4 or more hours per week to customer-facing activities and achieving the ultimate goal of giving sellers more time to sell.