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Rep Brains Will Love Consolidated Sales Enablement

February 13, 2017 | By Peter Zink

  • Most of what we do each day is driven by unconscious behaviors
  • No single sales enablement platform solves all problems – reps must consciously decide when to leverage a particular tool
  • Feature consolidation between sales asset management, sales coaching and learning management helps reps execute the right behaviors unconsciously

I’ve been recently reading about the unconscious mind – the portions of our brain beyond conscious thoughts that govern the thousands of split-second decisions we make each day. For example: Do you know why your feet are positioned the way they are right now? Joe Navarro, the author of What Every Body Is Saying, is a former FBI counterintelligence agent who cracked cases by understanding the unconscious body language that suspects exhibited. In the book, he argues that feet are one of the most honest indicators – the feet evolved and reacted to stimuli for millions of years, long before human speech developed. Today, lawyers watch when jurors’ feet point toward the courtroom exit, an indication that they don’t like a particular witness. Many of us turn our feet into an L-shaped position when we’re standing and are ready to leave a conversation. 

Our feet are just one small example of behavior guided by unconscious thought. Social media platforms leverage unconscious behavior to keep our eyes on the screen longer…which brings us to sales enablement platforms. Reps like technology that makes the right decisions for them, and if they can turn to ONE platform that does that, so much the better. To date, no such all-encompassing platform exists, but several exciting feature consolidations suggest that we are moving into an era in which a singular sales enablement solution might guide rep behavior:

  • Guided content with guided training. Sales asset management (SAM) platforms evolved with the goal of delivering the right content at the right time to sales reps. Content includes external-facing content to inform buyers and internal content that empowers sellers during the sales process. What SAM platforms often lack is the ability to deliver training and coaching to reinforce messaging. But that’s beginning to change; SAM solutions are starting to include detailed online training and asynchronous video coaching traditionally associated with learning management systems (LMSs) and standalone sales coaching tools. These capabilities allow reps to receive suggested content based on the specifics of a sales opportunity, along with appropriate training reinforcement and manager coaching, all from the same platform. The line between content and rep development has officially blurred – and this is a good thing, because both contribute toward deal wins and rep success.
  • Content delivery and content collaboration. The sale usually doesn’t close when content is delivered to a buyer – it’s often just getting started. Complex sales that leverage SAM platforms often involve many people – the rep, sales specialists, multiple buyers and finance personnel, to name a few. It doesn’t take long for an organization that doesn’t use a SAM platform to inadvertently share multiple versions of the same content over email or shared drives. Version control and content analytics fall apart as a result. SAM platforms are starting to take the best features of collaborative content editing and integrate them into their platforms to maintain a single source of truth within the organization. As a result, reps are realizing that there’s little reason to leave a SAM platform if collaboration is easier in the platform than with email.
  • Metrics-driven coaching. High-performing sales organizations recognize the need to have a formal coaching process in place to effectively develop reps. Sales managers are often promoted into the role after performing well as a rep, but they may lack the knowledge and infrastructure needed to coach effectively. Sales coaching solutions provide the infrastructure – and, increasingly, the knowledge as well. While many solutions include scorecards and guidance that organizations can embed to facilitate better conversations, purveyors of coaching solutions are realizing that they need to embed the actual sales performance metrics that managers monitor into the coaching platform itself. Instead of checking dashboards in a sales force automation platform that lies outside the coaching tool, they can use the SFA’s dashboards and sales performance metrics, which are increasingly embedded in the coaching tool to facilitate a quality conversation. Using metrics to drive coaching conversations allows managers to be more prescriptive in their efforts. The integration of metrics into a sales coaching platform allows this dynamic.

Consolidating current standalone enablement tools into a single platform enables rep performance in a less obtrusive way. The more reps can subconsciously utilize available tools, the more likely they will be able to improve their performance. The line between sales asset management, sales coaching and learning management continues to blur, and reps are will learn to love it without realizing it.

Peter Zink

Peter is a driven research analyst for the Sales Enablement Strategies (SES) service at SiriusDecisions. As an analyst, he works with clients to implement best-in-class research and frameworks that pertain to sales enablement organizations across a wide spectrum of industries.


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