The stereotypical fast-talking, freewheeling salesperson is now a relic of the past. Today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape demands a different approach – a more methodical and strategic mindset that leverages technology to maximize one’s chance of success.
Consequently, Gartner has predicted that by 2025, 60% of B2B sales organizations will have embraced a data-driven, analytics-led sales model. It’s not just the landscape that’s changed. Customer expectations have also evolved – and it’s fundamentally changed the way sales teams operate.
In a 2022 survey of sales reps by HubSpot, 88% of respondents agreed that customer expectations are higher than in previous years and 79% said that customers are more informed now than in the past. SaaS sales professionals must fully understand the technical aspects of their business’s software. On top of that, they must also be able to identify each customer’s unique needs and demonstrate software features that fulfill those needs.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. McKinsey notes that while customer experience is more important than it’s ever been both during and after the sales process, effective customer care is also more challenging than ever. Modern audiences are adrift in an ocean of competitors, all flooding them with noise about their products.
Coupled with an ongoing talent shortage, the proliferation of digital solutions and high turnover, this has created a perfect storm alongside shifting expectations. Let’s talk about how you can avoid getting caught in that storm – starting with the right sales enablement tools.
Before we explain virtual sales enablement, we need to define what sales enablement actually involves. Chances are, you’ve heard it described in a number of different ways. Our definition is simple – sales enablement encompasses the information and tools that help a salesperson do their job at an optimal level.
Typically, this takes one of two forms:
As the name suggests, the tools and content in this category help your sales team more effectively engage with prospects at each touchpoint in their customer journey. Examples include virtual demo platforms, PDF guides, training videos, and virtual sandboxes.
Internal sales enablement is focused on empowering a salesperson to be more knowledgeable, more confident, and better informed. Typically, this means providing specialized staff training, information on products, and access to customer analytics.
Virtual sales enablement, as the name suggests, is focused on the modern digital landscape. It’s about more than just ensuring salespeople have a versatile toolkit and access to information. Good virtual sales enablement is about providing the proper tools and content at the right time.
Examples of this include:
So how does one channel all of this into efficient, effective virtual sales enablement?
As of May 2023, the pandemic is officially over, though its impact will likely be felt for decades to come. That same month, a new Surgeon General Advisory officially classified loneliness as a public health crisis. This announcement was no coincidence – during the pandemic, the world took a collective step back from physical interaction.
This was not only incredibly disruptive for salespeople but also drove home truths of which sales professionals have long been aware. Humans crave connection, and the relationship between customer and salesperson is the key to customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, some businesses appear to have missed the memo.
Instead, they’ve gotten swept up in the hype surrounding automation and artificial intelligence. In a bid to streamline and reduce overhead, they’ve opted to cut the human element from the sales process. In most cases, this is a costly mistake.
Maintain a human touch in your sales and onboarding by combining instructor-led demos with self-paced training and virtual labs. This gives prospects the chance to learn at their own pace in a hands-on environment while also ensuring that they can engage with salespeople face-to-face whenever they have questions or concerns. This, in turn, exponentially improves the user experience.
Data is everywhere – but is your business leveraging it to the fullest extent?
Likely as not, you’re monitoring how users interact with your website, blog, and social channels. You’re probably also tracking your customer success and customer support efforts. What about sales demos, though?
How much content has a potential user consumed before speaking to a sales rep? How has the user interacted with the product in a hands-on virtual environment? Are there any features the user seemed to use more or less frequently during the demo?
Any of these can provide you with fresh insights on how to improve your organization’s virtual sales experience.
For example, a SaaS company might be holding a hands-on demo that allows prospects to explore its software at their own pace. Without analytics, the company’s sales team only knows who completed the demo and which prospects converted. They have no idea why.
Introduce analytics into the equation, however, and salespeople can be considerably more proactive. A salesperson might notice that a particular customer hasn’t accessed a feature that they’d find incredibly useful. At that point, they could either jump in and show the customer the feature or learn from the analytics and create more emphasis on this feature in future demos.
Content is a huge part of virtual sales enablement. Knowing what content to present to a prospect and when can be the difference between a successful deal and a complete flop. It’s therefore crucial that your sales content is regularly updated so that potential customers can make informed decisions.
This also applies to internal content, as your employees are only as good as the knowledge they’re given. If you provide them with information that’s out of date or inaccurate, this could easily cause them to miss out on a deal – or several. The good news is that this isn’t difficult to alleviate.
Start by creating a clear line of communication between marketing and sales helps to alleviate this. You should also introduce a review process, regularly assessing pieces of content after a set period to see whether it is still fit for purpose. Content delivery should also be part of a strong sales enablement process, so ensure that you have a technology that can deliver your content too.
Personalization is no longer a competitive advantage – it’s a basic expectation. Per McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions from companies. They expect your salespeople to know who they are and have insights into their engagements with your company. The analyst also found that 76% of consumers grow frustrated at a lack of personalization.
Additionally, McKinsey noted that faster-growing companies drive 40% more of their revenue from personalization compared to other organizations.
Develop your sales enablement approach with these factors in mind. A strong virtual sales enablement process should provide your salespeople with personalized information for every interaction. It should also tailor content and training tools to each individual customer or prospect’s unique needs.
According to Salesforce, sales teams use an average of ten tools to close deals, while Forbes in 2021 reported that companies overall use an average of 23 sales enablement tools. Salesforce also found that 70% of sales professionals are overwhelmed by the number of tools in their toolkits. Even more troubling is the fact that sales representatives spend less than 30% of their time actually selling.
If you plan to embrace virtual sales enablement, the first step must be centralization and consolidation. You need concrete processes and tools in place that your sales team can access whenever and wherever they require. More importantly, you need to reduce the complexity of your technology stack – because the current approach of specialized point solutions isn’t working.
For example, a business might use specialized software for:
This is neither feasible nor sustainable. And as the sales process grows progressively more complex, so too will these technology stacks. Circling back to the Salesforce survey, the vendor also found that 90% of sales organizations plan to consolidate their technology stacks in the coming years, ensuring reps can spend more time selling and connecting with customers.
Following suit should be the first step your business takes toward embracing better virtual sales enablement.
CloudShare is a video training and virtual labs sales enablement platform. It allows you to create customizable virtual demo environments to showcase your software to prospects. The platform enables you to connect with customers virtually and provide a more engaging and valuable learning experience.
** This blog was originally posted in March 2022, and updated in January 2024.