2018 Sales Enablement Benchmarking: How You Stack Up

Monday, January 28, 2019 | Category :
    • Sales
    • Blogs

by Andrew Dornon, Analyst

Summary: There are three distinct maturity levels of sales enablement teams—emerging, competitive and advanced. Within each level there are laggards, average performers and outperformers, all of whom are focused on meaningfully different goals. Outperformers focus on goals similar to the level above them, as maturation can be accelerated but levels cannot be skipped. Skipping the fundamentals leads to lagging performance regardless of level.

enablement maturity levels

Research methods: Over the past 3 years, we’ve set out with the mission of better understanding what the outperformers in the community we serve were doing and what we could all learn from them. Our starting point was based on our client experience and knowledge from talking to some of the smartest executives from all industries.

After seeing such different levels of maturity across organizations, we looked at what about 100 large organizations were doing for enablement, and what their priorities and challenges were. We used their priorities to determine which maturity level an organization fell into.

We then examined our 100 companies’ financials to learn more about their performance as it related to their sales enablement. We looked at SG&A spend, year-over-year revenue growth, industry, and then compared them to other companies within their maturity level. Performance on sales results determined whether they were a laggard, average performer or outperformer. In 2018, we added fast growth technology companies because we identified that they were innovating their sales enablement efforts fast to get to the scale required. Because their results are not public we relied on private data and growth proxies like year over year headcount growth and venture capital raised.

What We Found

Three Maturity Levels:

Emerging Enablement

  • Standardized sales training; not individualized across roles or levels
  • Reps lack structured sales process; tools used for compliance only
  • Sales leaders and managers more focused on quota than developing capabilities
  • Content and collateral is not standardized and adoption is light

Competitive Enablement

  • Belief in onboarding for faster productivity; separate development for experienced sales reps
  • Sales process is work in progress, reps using CRM lightly
  • Sales leaders and managers believe in sales training but aren’t held accountable
  • Content and collateral are managed, possibly in a curriculum

Advanced Enablement

  • Training is at least 25% individualized and “in-the-moment”
  • Customized sales process determined by what the “great” do within the org; CRM used effectively
  • Sales leaders and managers accountable to coaching and developing reps
  • Content and collateral are updated in real time and deployed strategically

What Average Performers & Outperformers are Prioritizing to Get Ahead

Emerging Enablement

Average Performers are focusing on:

  • Sales skills training
  • Implementing modern CRM
  • Standardization
  • Getting sellers the right information/resource

Outperformers are focusing on:

  • Consumer-grade enablement:
  • Building to scale
  • User-focused and self-service
  • Business acumen

Competitive Enablement

Average Performers are focusing on:

  • Customizing sales training by vertical, role, etc
  • Embedding CRM in sales culture and cadence
  • Targeted information (right info, at right time, to right people)

Outperformers are focusing on:

  • Marketing infusing industry acumen
  • Sales and success pushing customer understanding upstream
  • Aligning marketing, sales, fulfillment to changing customer needs
  • Competitive intelligence knows how the other folks sell, how they talk about us

Advanced Enablement

Average Performers are focusing on:

  • Focus on curriculum review/rationalization
  • Reinforcement and retention of learning after a program
  • Using customer feedback extensively

Outperformers are focusing on:

  • Teams who use rapid experimentation of behaviors, content, tools to actually sell
  • Tools in workflow (keep reps out of CRM)
  • Digital transformation internally and with customers

What to Do

Identify where your enablement organization is in terms of maturity and then consider how effective your sales force has been over the last several years. If you are a laggard or average performer, look to outperformers within your maturity level who have set the course for enablement effectiveness. If you are an outperformer—congratulations!—look to the maturity level above you for the work that needs to be initiated. If you are an advanced outperformer—even more congratulations are in order—benchmarking will confirm you’re doing well now, but you will have to experiment and iterate to continue to stay on the forefront of enablement effectiveness.

 

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