Boost Sales 10% with an Investment in Sales Enablement? IDC Says Absolutely!

Updated: March 31, 2011

As the economy recovers, many organizations are turning their strategic focus from cutting costs towards growing revenue, however, most organizations continue to struggle to hit growth targets.

A recent IDC Sales Advisory Practice article indicates that a part of the growth issue is B2B companies' inability to get sales enablement "in gear", costing typical companies upwards of 10% or more of revenue per year. For example, this 10% sales enablement challenge is a $100 M incremental revenue opportunity for a $1B company.

Cost drivers of this continued misstep in strategy include:

1) More Leads to Make Same Sales: a poorly performing lead pipeline requiring 2,000 to 5,000+ contacts at the front of the pipeline to yield 1 closed deal over a 17 month average buying cycle. (i.e., for BtoB, large revenue deals, from marketing through to sales);

2) Lack of Value: An inability for sales reps to engage their clients in a strongly desired dialogue by buyers to solve their greatest problems.

This insight, sourced from IDC's Sales and CMO Advisory Service research, has trended as such consistently over the past several years.

So how much would you invest in sales enablement best practices to generate a 10% revenue boost? We recommend the following best practice investments to directly address these primary sales enablement challenges:

1) Buying Facilitation - too often sales focuses inwardly, on the steps sales takes to move deals forward, the typical sales funnel, versus the process the buyer goes through to make a buying decision. In today's Internet fueled self service buying environment, traditional selling no longer works, as indicated by the metrics.

Understanding the steps in your customers' buying lifecycle, and knowing the right sales content / tools to apply along the journey, can help sellers focus on facilitating and streamlining buyers decisions.

The need for buying lifecycle alignment is highlighted in our article - Diametrically Opposed Forces: Selling Value in a Buyer Controlled World.

2) Outcome-Based Selling - in recent research by SiriusDecisions, the most cited reason for failure to achieve quota performance was "inability to communicate value effectively to buyers", matching IDCs findings as one of the greatest sales enablement opportunities. In the face of two economic downturns in past decade, today's buyers are more frugal / skeptical than ever, and require proof of bottom-line impact on most solutions.

Sellers need to have the right sales tools and content, at the right stage in the buying lifecycle, in order to:

1) Early in buying lifecycle help buyers loosen the status-quo and understand potential solutions, by helping them to illuminate issues, and that there is a "cost of doing nothing". This is often best addressed using
diagnostic assessment tools to survey current practices, benchmark versus peers and leaders, and intelligently develop improvement roadmaps based on highest priority issues;

2) In the middle stages, to help justify the right solution, by quantifying the savings, business value, return on investment and fast payback. This is often best accomplished using
ROI sales tools to help identify current costs and opportunities, intelligently recommend the right solution configuration and quantify potential benefits, investments, risks, ROI, payback and other key financials;

3) In the later stages, to help validate the decision, by proving that the selected solution competitively has the lowest total cost of ownership, best value and lowest risks. This is often best done using
TCO comparison tools.

This important sales enablement investment opportunity is highlighted in our article: Alinean Research Reveals Best Practices to Fight Frugalnomics

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