As with many emerging software categories, sale enablement software's definition can become a bit fuzzy. In essence, though, sales enablement is the act of implementing strategies, tools and processes that continually increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales ecosystem.
Ray Smith, CEO of sales software provider Datahug, said it is all about equipping sales reps with the knowledge, training and tools they need to be successful.
"We expect more from salespeople nowadays because so much information is available on the internet about the product and the category of product they are selling," said Smith. "When that face-to-face or phone interaction occurs, they need to go beyond what the customer knows already and deliver real value."
Sales enablement software is undeniably beginning to catching on with enterprises. As many as 400 vendors are said to offer one kind of sales enablement tool or another. Forrester Research narrows this fragmented group down to about 100.
"The issue of buzzwords in an emerging market such as sales enablement is that every vendor uses its own words and in its own vested interest," explained Steven Wright, a Forrester Research analyst.
You can read here for more on evaluating sales enablement software and ensuring you purchase the right solution or solutions for your organization.
In this article, we attempt to clear up some of the confusion by discussing:
- Sales Enablement Software Functionality
- Why Is Sales Enablement Software Market Growing?
- Sales Enablement Software's Role in Training
- How Sales Enablement Software Helps Managers
- Other Sales Enablement Software Benefits
Sales enablement software's functionality typically encompasses the following:
- CRM and CMS integration
- Knowledge and tools to accelerate sales development
- Process automation
- Sales management
- Guided selling
- Better reporting
A CRM system and/or a content management system (CMS) is often the underlying foundation of sales enablement software. Tools that enable the sales development team to deliver tailored calls and emails into their target accounts at scale are often layered on top of this foundation.
Account executives or closing reps also need a repository of content that they can present to customers and prospects. These include basic sales pitches, as well as case studies, assessments and guided product tours. Once they are equipped with what to say, they need a guide that tells them when to reach out, when to follow up and when to include more stakeholders in the conversation, Smith said.
Additionally, sales enablement should help managers play their part and effectively coach their reps. Tools and training can help determine where to focus their efforts. Effectively managing the pipeline can help both managers and reps better manage the sales pipeline and focus on the deals that have the best chance of closing.
In addition to making the sales force more effective, sales enablement software should help manage the necessary back-end integration to CRM, salesforce automation (SFA), enterprise content management and lead-to-revenue management, said Forrester's Wright.
Further, Pete McChrystal, CEO of Accent Technologies, a provider of sales software, listed guided selling as a vital area of sales enablement. This can assist reps with scoring and qualification to better prioritize how their time is spent, help them with next step recommendations, provide sales plays and playbooks with embedded coaching and relevant content, and offer easy ways to research buyers and prospects.
The sales enablement software market is growing due to:
- Sales process inefficiency
- Pressure to deliver results
- Increased competition
- Demand to reduce organizational cost per sale
An obvious measure of the strength of the market for sales enablement software is the sheer number of vendors in the space. Another is the high average annual growth rate of 38 percent, according to Forrester Research's study of 18 of the top sales enablement vendors.
A big reason for growth of this kind of software is the keen scrutiny of sales. While technology has helped areas such as manufacturing, the supply chain and distribution achieve much higher levels of efficiency in recent years, sales has tended to lag behind and stick to its old modes of operation, McChrystal said.
Top management is no longer going to stand for a hit-and-miss approach to sales, said Aragon Research analyst Jim Lundy.
"The pressure to deliver in both sales and marketing is reaching intense levels," Lundy said. "Both areas of the enterprise need to take action to help their organization reach higher levels of performance and engagement."
This goes as far as greatly reducing the cost per sale to the organization. "We are seeing increased pressure on enterprises to reduce the escalating costs from their selling model to remain cost-competitive and to protect thinning profit margins," said Mark Magnacca, president and co-founder of Allego, a provider of sales training software.