The market for sales enablement platforms has never been more robust. As companies like yours clamor for clients, revenue, and growth, they’re showering billions on the latest technology tools to help get them there.
In fact, a recent report projects that the global market for sales enablement tech will grow at a 15 percent rate over the next five years, topping $9 billion by 2028.
With so many tools competing for your sales enablement dollar, it may be hard to get a handle on what combination might be the best for your company’s business model – and the sales pros who fill the coffers.
At Chief Outsiders, our fractional Chief Sales Officers have seen many scenarios like this: Either businesses don’t have the right tech stack; they have signed up for SaaS sales tools and don’t know how to use them; or they are satisfied using Excel spreadsheets and don’t understand the allure.
In this blog, we’ll take you through the process that we use to analyze the fit between companies and tools, and how to best roll out these platforms for success.
So why do companies need to make such a sizable investment in sales tech? It’s simple – there are simply too many variables, and much more competition for the sales dollar, to function without an efficient and effective sales platform.
Of course, you might say, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have been around for decades. This is true. However, they have often been poorly implemented, inadequately resourced or fail to take into consideration the modern-day needs of the sales rep.
In fact, their shortcomings alone create a vicious cycle — sales reps end up avoiding the platform altogether, and never realize the transformational results that were originally expected. Social media platforms can be the personal equivalent of a website for a sales rep, articulating their expertise and the value proposition. Yet they too often receive limited support from corporate and lack the automation tools required for effective usage.
And new technologies, especially AI-based tools, hold great promise even for sales reps,though are still in their infancy. When harnessed correctly, they can dramatically improve the efficiency of sales reps across a range of applications, including competitive analyses, outbound communication, and sales forecasting.
Let’s take a deeper look at this trio of platform types:
Despite the challenges spotlighted above, CRM systems remain a must-have for any sales team. They are, at their essence, the best way to manage and organize customer interactions and data throughout the customer journey, from lead generation to closing deals and post-sales support and add-on revenue.
When you’re on the lookout for a good CRM, you’ll want to make sure it incorporates tools to automate and streamline various marketing activities, such as email campaigns and lead nurturing. By providing relevant and timely content to prospects, sales teams can build better relationships and close deals more efficiently.
When used correctly, platforms like LinkedIn unlock a powerful channel for sales reps. Social media platforms lift the velvet rope and permit entry to a large professional network, enabling sales reps to identify and connect with potential leads and build “trusted” relationships with key decision-makers.
A good LinkedIn page incorporates the best practices of a corporate website. The aim is to educate, inform, and inspire, rather than simply promoting your product or service. Unfortunately, many sales reps have not optimized their profile and fail to showcase the kind of expertise and value potential buyers are looking for. Training will only take you so far. Maximum advantage from social media comes from a coordinated effort with marketing, often enabled by a social media management tool.
AI tools are receiving more and more attention by companies but haven’t gotten their due when it comes to selling. That’s unfortunate. We’ve seen that when harnessed correctly, they can provide very tangible benefits to sales at a very low cost and with minimal training.
Increasingly, CRM solutions have been adapted to seamlessly integrate AI capability into the lead management and sales forecasting function. They identify patterns in data and continually learn and improve over time with little human intervention. Recent strides have also been made in AI technology by training natural language processing tools on the full corpus of the Internet. They can synthesize and evaluate a competitor’s value proposition, compose emails with compelling subject lines, write blog posts and proposals, and even help with social media outreach with consistent and engaging messaging.
We are in the early days of the AI-revolution. Much fanfare will be made of the successes while mistakes will receive passing attention. That’s to be expected as these tools become quickly and progressively more “intelligent.”
CRM, social media and AI are simply tools. They are not, in and of themselves, solutions. In the hands of a properly trained user, they can enhance both the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales team and deliver value to both the company and the customer.
At Chief Outsiders, our fractional CSOs can help you cross the minefield of technology choices and provide the training and support needed to lead you and your team to the promised land. Let us know if we can help.
We’ve developed The Chief Outsiders Sales Readiness Assessment – a guided process designed to walk CEOs through a detailed understanding of the issues at hand and provide a framework to help set the business on the proper path forward. Email John Blessing to request a link to the assessment.
In case you missed the first two blogs in the series: