HomeBlog It's 2015. What Have You Done for Me Lately?

It's 2015. What Have You Done for Me Lately?

January 15, 2015 | By Jim Ninivaggi

  • All companies have one thing in common: They need to grow
  • Much of the responsibility for increasing sales rep productivity falls on the shoulders of the sales enablement function
  • Enablement needs to partner with sales operations to ensure reps are spending most of their time on high-return activities

By all accounts, 2014 was a pretty good year for b-to-b companies. Many achieved, and exceeded, their growth targets. We saw a huge uptick in the number of sales organizations that added to their field force, hiring reps at a clip we have not seen in years. For the typical CSO, hitting the 2014 number can mean only one thing:

The 2015 number is going to be even bigger.

GrowthWe work with hundreds of b-to-b companies of different sizes, in different industries, calling on different markets. Each client tells us it is unique, that it is not like other companies we might work with. And while it may be true that every client is a little different, with its own unique set of opportunities and challenges, they all have one thing in common:

They need to grow.

At our upcoming Sales Leadership Exchange, we'll focus on how achieving this growth will require getting more yield from every rep. In 2015, much of the burden to increase rep productivity will fall on the shoulders of the sales enablement function. In particular, sales enablement will need to focus on the following areas to help ensure that sales organizations continue to grow:

  • Finding and onboarding sales talent. The war for sales talent has just begun. The ability to find, attract and ramp up top sales talent will continue to be a focus of the sales enablement function. Particularly critical will be the ability to build a competency-based onboarding system that ensures reps demonstrate the ability to execute with the required knowledge and skills.
  • Maximizing year-two rep productivity. As mentioned, 2014 saw many sales organizations add to their sales ranks. As these reps enter their second year and sales organizations look for the payback from their investment, sales enablement will need to ensure that these reps are continually nurtured. Beyond the initial onboarding system, sales enablement needs to build programs that help these sophomore reps continue to learn, and help their managers provide the coaching that their reps need. High voluntary and involuntary turnover of early tenured reps can have a devastating negative impact on sales productivity. Minimizing that turnover is a key objective for sales enablement.
  • Enabling a better conversation. In a recent study we conducted of sales enablement leaders, we asked participants to identify their biggest sales challenge. A whopping 71 percent responded that it was the “inability of their reps to connect their offerings to the business issues of their buyers.” Sales enablement will need to work with product marketing to create messaging that resonates with line-of-business buyers – where business value is sold. Enablement will need to provide continuous learning, coupled with a rigorous certification process, to ensure reps are competent and confident in their ability to have these conversations.
  • Maximizing the time reps spend on high-return activities. In the same study, 65 percent of our respondents shared that one of their biggest challenges is that “reps spent too much time on non-sales activities.” Sales enablement will need to partner with sales operations to closely monitor how reps are spending their time, and look to minimize time spent on activities that have a low (or no) return. For example, an hour spent figuring out the commission earned on a recent deal provides no return to the rep or the organization. An hour spent properly planning and preparing for a sales meeting should provide a return.

It just so happens that growth is the central theme for our second annual Sales Leadership Exchange being held on February 25-26 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego. During the Sales Leadership Exchange, you will learn about our latest research on the topic of growth, hear how companies like GE, Rackspace and CA Technologies tackle growth issues head-on, and have the opportunity to network with other sales, sales enablement, sales operations and channel sales leaders. We hope to see you there!

Jim Ninivaggi

Jim Ninivaggi is Service Director, Sales Enablement Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Jim’s focus is on helping to deliver data, knowledge and insight that our clients need to improve sales performance and drive ROI. Follow Jim on Twitter @jninivaggi.

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