Customer preferences have been steadily shifting away from relying primarily on in-person interactions with sellers toward accessing digital channels for completing buying tasks.
According to the 2021 Gartner Digital Buying Survey, 43% of B2B customers prefer a rep-free experience. When examining this statistic by age groups, 54% of millennials, 43% of Gen Xers and 29% of baby boomers preferred a rep-free experience.
B2B procurement organizations forecast that 59% of their annual B2B purchases will be through websites and other online channels by the end of 2023. That means that as early as the end of this year, buyers will increasingly engage with digital channels to support buying compared to traditional sales channels.
So if buyers prefer a rep-free experience and rely on other channels to procure goods and services, are sales enablement teams enabling the right roles?
Speaking today at the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference 2021 Americas, Doug Bushée, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, said the sales enablement function, even though set up to enable sales, has almost exclusively focused on seller enablement.
However, changes in today’s customers’ buying realities mean that sales enablement leaders must evolve the function’s capabilities from solely enabling individual sellers to supporting revenue enablement activities across all customer-facing roles.
“CEOs and chief sales officers recognize that functional silos handing off clients from one function to the other, and using different technologies, people and processes, are a barrier to revenue growth,” said Bushée. “As a result, progressive organizations are beginning to align sales, marketing and customer success technology, data and KPIs to provide an end-to-end view of the revenue generating engine.”
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 75% of the highest-growth companies in the world will deploy a revenue operations (RevOps) model. Instead of siloed functions that follow a linear buyer model, end-to-end revenue operations and enablement offers a continuous feedback loop across the buyer journey and creates one singular go-to-market model for driving end-to-end revenue growth and customer acquisition.
“This puts demands on sales leaders to provide consistent enablement to all revenue-generating touchpoints, filling in gaps in onboarding, training and support for all revenue producing roles,” adds Bushée.
To get started, Gartner recommends that sales leaders focus on enablement technology, talent development and content.
- Step 1: Take inventory of sales, marketing and customer service technologies.
- Step 2: Create a plan for eliminating redundant enablement technology and identify revenue technology gaps.
- Step 3: Begin integrating sales, marketing and customer service technology, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and automating administrative tasks.
- Step 1: Assess existing onboarding and training programs for revenue-generating roles.
- Step 2: Identify commonalities and differences in existing programs for revenue-generating roles, then create a unified roadmap with role-specific modules.
- Step 3: Align on a common set of metrics with cross-functional partners and measure training and onboarding effectiveness by revenue-generating role.
- Step 1: Review existing content creation and management programs for customer-facing roles.
- Step 2: Centralize revenue-generating content and make it easily accessible by sales role.
- Step 3: Use AI and content analytics to refine content creation and improve content utilization.