June 19, 2024

The Future of Sales Enablement

B2B sales are going through big changes, putting Sales Enablement teams in the thick of it. These are the teams who help salespeople close deals, and now they are under pressure to adapt with the times by applying new technologies while trying to support salespeople all within shrinking budgets. My friend Diana Wu David calls this the "Han Solo in the trash compactor moment." Not a lot of easy options here.

Sales Enablement 2024 team offsite meeting

Sales cycles are moving to a "digital first" approach which means that prospects do more online research before talking to salespeople, who get involved later in the process. This changes how sales teams need to interact with prospects. Enablement systems need to keep up with this shift.

In April, AWS announced a large layoff within business units that included sales enablement teams. They are shifting toward more digital training and training programs run by external partners, with a new focus on self-serve training.

Here’s what a spokesperson said about the layoffs (italics are mine). “Within our training and certification organization, we have evolved our strategy to prioritize investing in self-serve digital training and delivering instructor-led training through AWS Training Partners…”

What this really means: we’re cutting back investments on salespeople and looking to automate as much as we can. So, make massive changes, with not as much funding.

“One thing’s for sure, we’re all gonna be a lot thinner.” ~ Han Solo

The AWS layoffs could be the beginning of a broader industry trend towards streamlining sales enablement functions. Enablement professionals will need to re-think their approach to how they can best help these evolving sales teams.

One idea is to develop a short-term and longer-term plan because technology implementations take longer than expected especially when it comes to obstacles around data security. Short-term solutions that can be deployed right away can help get new ideas moving faster.

Here is one specific example, Hyberbound.ai provides sales training solutions that include customized bots that behave like prospects and will interact with sales reps helping them practice their messaging and presentations. This system can get up and running within hours and that includes custom reporting to help identify targeted areas where sales reps need help.

The bots can also be integrated into systems such as Hubspot or Salesforce, but that’s a process that takes more time and can be included in the longer-term plans.

The days of hiring giant sales training companies and/or internal trainers who conduct drawn-out interviews and resource-intensive long form face-to-face training may be quickly ending. Today, A.I. tools, targeted and customized training in the form of digital, remote or calibrated face-to-face engagements are what businesses want to see. Not every salesperson may need end-to-end training. Instead, use technology to identify gaps and provide more efficient training modules.

Sales enablement leaders who understand and adapt to these trends will be the winners.

The tension here lies in the belief that sales can be digital from end-to-end versus the importance of the human element of large and strategic sales accounts. No doubt, some companies will take the digitization too far, trying to eliminate the human element. Ultimately, people still buy from people so the sales enablement leaders who can find this balance will be the ones who escape this current squeeze.

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