Lack of alignment between sales and marketing is an age-old problem that has yet to be resolved. As mobile technology has advanced, sales enablement tools have flooded the market in an attempt to provide a bridge between marketing and sales.
Unfortunately, these tools have been introduced into the B2B environment as yet another point solution that users may struggle to adapt. As a result, not only has data integrity suffered but the “content disconnect” has become even wider. Sadly, the amount of administrative overhead placed on field sales and services staff has increased without providing an increase in efficiency and value in return. Far too often, organizations embark on implementing a sales enablement point solution but can’t answer one simple question from users. If I use this tool, how will it make me better at my job?
The bottom line is that when sales enablement is not part of a connected commerce cycle, it fails to deliver on its initial promise. The issues become even more severe in a complex B2B environment, where transactions are carried out by many different people, with varying roles and responsibilities. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the role of the salesperson in the B2B industry is changing. Although at Episever we don’t believe the rumors concerning the “death of the B2B salesperson” are true, traditional sales roles are evolving as customers shift to a self-service digital experience. Sales enablement can deliver relevant content but its value diminishes once the customer is ready to transact as it is unable to connect to ecommerce or ERP solutions.
But it’s not all bad news. There are ways to welcome sales enablement into a holistic, customer-centric commerce cycle that can power the customer experience, boost sales, and increase the value-add for the sales function within a complex B2B transactional experience.
After hundreds of B2B commerce implementations, the experts at Episever Software have identified 7 common points of failure for sales enablement – and what you can do to address it.
Points of Failure in Sales Enablement
Sales enablement tools are often unable to take advantage of historical and predictive data. The inability to map unique customer experiences as buyers engage with content and other aspects of the commerce cycle makes sales enablement a one trick pony. Sales enablement has the potential to provide meaningful data, but it’s rarely captured. Instead, it becomes merely a content access tool, with valuable data left unconnected to the larger ecosystem.
New Skillsets and work preferences of a Millennial and emerging GenZ salesforce are not being met. As digital natives not only enter the B2B workforce but assume leadership roles, they require more sophisticated tools and processes. Millennials in particular demand personalization for their own unique work experiences, and customized, real-time content that engages rather than simply “tells.”
The need of customer service representatives are not addressed by sales enablement. As the B2B buying cycle becomes more self-directed, roles like CSR’s and field service technicians are relied upon to support more and more of the buying process. Most sales enablement tools do not take into account the needs of these people, who are carrying an increasingly heavy load of responsibility.
There is no customization for industry process, unique customer account characteristics, and individual customer experiences. Generational shifts in B2B buying mindsets are of course increasing the demand for personalization within the customer experience. The needs of a B2B commerce environment adds yet another layer of complexity that is often not handled by sales enablement. This includes the need to acknowledge custom contracts, promotions, catalogs, pricing, support, and other aspects of the B2B experience that can be unique to a specific role, client organization, or process.
The focus is on technology, not on process. B2B selling objectives are often based on driving efficiency, rather than just increasing sales. In fact, many contracts are finalized at the beginning of the budget cycle, making value-added sales or remarketing opportunities less available than in a B2C environment. Just as sales enablement needs to map to the required customer experience for individuals, it also needs to understand and map to the unique processes of each individual organizational client.
Access is the only goal. Although access to marketing content is important, it’s not the only objective in sales enablement. Sales and service need for content is not static; they require customized information. Frankly, they need the right message at the right time, not only in the right way.
The tool cannot handle complex pricing and quoting requirements. Many B2C e-commerce software solutions require massive customization to work within the complex world of B2B, and sales enablement technology is no different. Contract pricing, unique payment terms, and client-specific promotions are all examples of areas where access to ERP data and other enterprise systems is required.
The Fix for Sales Enablement
Although sales enablement is facing multiple points of failure, the solution is really not as complex as it might seem. Most of these failures point back to this fact:
Sales enablement must be integrated into the B2B commerce ecosystem to succeed.
The reality is that adding another point solution won’t address the deeper issue of a lack of marketing and sales alignment. A sales enablement solution won’t break down the silos of information and processes and can’t create collaboration where none currently exists. And it certainly can’t handle the complexity of an intertwined B2B sales and support world.
The answer is to integrate sales enablement into the bigger picture. Most people think too narrowly about sales enablement, from ignoring integration with enterprise systems to the potential for supporting training and onboarding activities. A sales enablement solution that is integrated with the overall B2B commerce cycle can deliver strong benefits to an organization including:
- Meaningful data that delivers real statistics on the performance of marketing content.
- The ability to map to specific preferences of sellers, buyers and the myriad of roles associated with a B2B transaction.
- Reduction of silos and invaluable information as to how content consumption relates to the overall commerce picture.
- The capability to deliver access to relevant, customized and timely information when sales and support really need it.
- Support for the teamwork of sales and CSR’s in throughout the B2B customer journey and buying cycle.
At Episever, we know the benefits of a connected, fully integrated B2B commerce system. Sales enablement can deliver massive benefits, but it must be implemented as part of a holistic, integrated environment.