Delivering value, making the ROI case, retaining customers, growing accounts, recruiting top talent, forecasting, implementing a sales process, using sales technologies, winning against the competition, developing sales managers, coaching sales teams, generating leads, onboarding, productivity, compensation …
There’s no shortage of challenges facing sales leaders, and it can be difficult to decide which deserve to be prioritized first.
The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research recently surveyed 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders to uncover their top challenges and priorities for the next 12 months.
After reviewing the results, we identified three sales enablement strategies to help leaders address top challenges they face and achieve their priorities.
Here’s what we found:
Top Sales Challenges
- Recruiting and hiring
- Lead quality and quantity
- Developing sales skills
- Developing sales managers
Top Sales Priorities
- Improve ability to communicate value
- Improve productivity of sellers and sales teams
- Increase business with existing accounts
- Improve customer retention, repeat business, and renewals
- Improve sales opportunity approach and planning
- Improve sellers’ ability to inspire with ideas
- Win more against difficult competition
- Improve sales manager effectiveness
- Drive “new logos” / new accounts won
- Optimize sales process
- Increase the average size of sales
You might be thinking, “Why do you have 11 priorities? If you have 11, you have none.” These 11 are the priorities that more than 50% of sales leaders said were “very important.”
When we first saw these results, we thought, “We can’t have 11 initiatives. So how can we look at this and still tackle the majority of them well?” Here’s what we came up with.
3 Sales Enablement Strategies to Solve Challenges and Achieve Priorities
To address these priorities while also tackling three of the four top challenges (two through four), the focus should be on three sales enablement strategies.
For those sales organizations that can execute these initiatives well, it makes the top challenge of recruiting top sales talent much less important because you’ll be getting more out of your sales force and developing your own top talent.
1. Improve sales productivity
What if we told you that the productivity of your sales team could be increased by 46%? Sounds like a pipe dream, right? Well, maybe not.
In our Extreme Productivity Benchmark Report, we found that Extremely Productive people (XP) spend 46% more time each work day on their priorities (investment activities), compared to everyone else (The Rest). Furthermore, The Rest spend on average, 4.3 hours per work day on non-value add (Mandatory and Empty) activities. That’s 4.3 hours wasted each day.
It’s no wonder that improving the productivity of sellers and sales teams is the number two priority of sales enablement leaders cited by 65% of respondents.
The opportunity is there to add 46% more time, without adding new sellers. The good news is that productivity can be learned and changed.
2. Develop multi-skilled sellers
Today’s top sellers need to be better than ever. It used to be enough to have sellers who could lead great consultative sales conversations to win the deal.
Now you need sellers who can do that and prospect, bring value to their conversations over and above the product or service you offer, know your customers’ businesses, are masterful negotiators when dealing with procurement, understand how to grow accounts, and develop executive level relationships, to name a few.
This is probably why so many of the priorities that sales leaders focus involve some kind of skill issue.
You need sellers who can succeed across the Sales Competency WheelSM (the common competencies every organization should possess to build a truly successful sales organization).
Across sales skills and knowledge needed to drive sales performance, Top Performers have significantly stronger skills.
Must each seller master every one of these skills? No. That’s unrealistic. However, they should be better than they’ve ever been. It’s not enough to be a product expert and just pitch. Your sellers should excel across many of these competencies, and your focus should be on building a sales force that covers them all.
3. Leverage sales managers
Sales managers are the ones who work most closely with your sellers, day in and day out. They motivate, coach, keep sellers focused, provide feedback, help sellers win, and keep sellers on track to achieve their goals. Or at least that’s what they’re supposed to be doing.
Sales managers hold the keys to unlocking top sales performance. Yet 66% of companies don’t believe their managers have the skills necessary to manage and coach sellers.
That’s two-thirds of companies that don’t have skilled sales managers.
This presents a huge opportunity for sales organizations willing to invest in developing their sales managers and providing them with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to keep sellers motivated and hold them accountable, as well as manage a team that not only meets, but also exceeds sales goals.