Over the last couple of years, we’ve observed a much broader acceptance of sales enablement as a function, along with a wider embrace of technology as a way to ensure that salespeople consistently deliver on their numbers.
Companies have realized that it costs on average $29,000 to replace a business-to-business (B2B) sales rep and takes 7.3 months to ramp new hires, so investing in technology solutions to ensure that sales teams are more productive has become standard practice. What’s not yet standard, though, is the degree to which companies have embraced sales enablement technology. As a result, we will witness two conflicting trends in this space in 2015:
- Having realized that CRM is an essential piece of the sales and marketing technology ecosystem, sales leaders will be looking for the next layer to give them a competitive advantage, focusing on ROI, adoption and analytics.
- CFOs and CIOs will be more selective around system acquisition, looking to consolidate SaaS solutions and de-clutter the environment.
The New Competitive Advantage
Organizations with mature investments in sales enablement solutions will be focused on consolidating existing tools. At the same time, companies with more adolescent investments in sales enablement will be focused on expanding the CRM ecosystem, and acquiring complementary SaaS solutions that increase the value of the CRM tool for individual sales reps, as well as sales ops and management. In both scenarios, we can count on an investment in Big Data – according to The Aberdeen Group, 68 percent of best-in-class companies find it “highly effective to apply analytics” to “historical sales activity, or the current sales pipeline.”
Guest article by Amanda Healy Collins, Vice President of Inside Sales, SAVO
A “mature” company is likely to have at least one senior-level executive focused on Big Data and analytics. They’ll likely be working with a cross-functional team to build out their organization’s internal sales and marketing IT infrastructure. It’s likely they will have a marketing automation system, a CRM solution, and a plethora of other tools designed to impact their business. In these cases, a CFO-led audit of software is probably already happening: and beware the SaaS point solution that no longer fits as part of the larger vision – your days are numbered.
Companies newer to the sales enablement concept are likely to spend more time building the strategy, and will be looking to embrace technologies that save the sales team time: CPQ, proposal automation, content delivery, mobile applications, etc. Ideally, they will also invest in a scalable platform with robust analytics.
Strategic Technology Additions
While marketing budgets are predicted to increase over the next five years, CFOs, CIOs and increasingly CMOs will be more selective about the technologies entering the company’s ecosystem. As mature companies look to consolidate their SaaS investments for a less siloed approach, the importance of a synergistic relationship between sales and marketing will become ever more apparent. Giving a holistic view of the business – from lead generation to sales process to close – will be paramount, so, despite the streamlining and heightened selectivity around SaaS investments, there will still be room for strategic additions to the technology ecosystem.
Meanwhile, it is clear that to compete in today’s market, companies will need to be focused on ensuring that they are doing all they can to invest in differentiating themselves from the competition. For companies that are neither wholly mature in sales enablement, nor completely new to the sales enablement game, the conflict between these competing initiatives may cause some executives a degree of concern. This can be addressed by an early acceptance that additional SaaS investments will be required, but as long as they are strategic in nature and tie in to the overall company vision and goals, they will be worth it.
As far as all the non-CRM SaaS vendors in the sales/marketing technology space are concerned, 2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year.
Read the Aberdeen report CPQ = Better Sales Productivity
Amanda Healy Collins is the vice president of inside sales at SAVO, a Chicago-based company that provides leading sales enablement software solutions to drive improved productivity. Her team helps clients focus on improving sales productivity and sales enablement, providing them the tools and resources to make a measurable impact on their business.