In Part 1 of this post, we discussed some of the high-level findings in CSO Insights’ Sales Enablement Optimization Study for 2017, including:
- The growth of sales enablement as a dedicated enterprise discipline
- The importance of creating a formal sales enablement charter
- The benefits of a program that works in concert with your customer’s buying journey, and
- How what CSO Insights defines as “dynamic alignment” is delivering exponentially better returns for both win rates and quota attainment
In Part 2, taking some cues from our recent webcast with report co-author Tamara Schenk, we’ll talk about how solutions like Qstream can make dynamic alignment a reality, plus how a new generation of analytics is helping both reps and managers to evolve skills and processes and improve over time, supported by smart coaching.
First, let’s get a quick refresh on what we mean by “dynamic alignment.” For CSO Insights, dynamic alignment is characterized by the mapping of internal processes to the customer’s journey, supported by ongoing review and feedback loops and leveraging sales analytics, so that sales teams can remain as agile and responsive as possible.
Implementing dynamic customer journey alignment requires adaptive capabilities from individual salespeople, as well as the teams that enable them, helping the organization to:
- Collaborate more effectively across customer-facing teams, including marketing, sales operations, customer success, and IT
- Build open channels to capture and act upon the voice of the customer
- Leverage technology for fast recognition and adoption, and
- Construct training and other sales development programs based on key analytics, both qualitative and quantitative
To achieve dynamic alignment, sales enablement pros must move beyond anecdotal or observational evidence alone and migrate to a data-driven approach. Used in this fashion, data cannot only provide critical direction about the focus, composition and timing of your sales enablement programs. It can also help address a key challenge cited by respondents in this year’s CSO Insights study: how to measure sales enablement impact, including its connection to key business goals.
But what are the right things to measure, and how do we achieve dynamic alignment of sales enablement and the actual process and metrics of selling? For most organizations, this requires a new category of analytics.
One way Qstream is enabling our customers to achieve this kind of alignment is by helping them identify and map what we refer to as, “The 3 P’s,” specifically, Performance, Productivity, and Proficiency.
Defining The 3 P’s of Sales Analytics
Performance analytics are the most common benchmarks tracked by sales leadership today, usually via your CRM system, and would include common metrics such as pipeline multiple, opportunity conversion rates, win rates, and percentage of reps hitting quota. These are the numbers sales leaders and enablement pros alike would use to answer the question, “Are we getting the right results to achieve our goals?”
Productivity metrics can come from a number of system sources, including your CRM but also potentially your marketing automation system, as well as sales intelligence and prospecting tools. Here sales leaders might be tracking the number of prospecting dials executed, emails sent each day, or the number of first meetings booked, each of which can help discern, “Are my reps focused on the right, most impactful activities?”
While performance and productivity metrics are important, they’re both largely comprised of lagging indicators – “rear view” behaviors that once measured, cannot be changed. Most experts agree that from a developmental standpoint, more focus should be placed on leading indicators, that is, analytics that serve as predictors of future performance, and therefore can be influenced or redirected to drive a positive end result.
From our perspective, the final “P”, and perhaps the most important leading indicator, is Proficiency. This metric can help answer a foundational question for any sales enablement practitioner: “Do my reps have the critical knowledge and skills, and can they translate that knowledge into the right field-based behaviors to consistently reach their goals?”
The critical link between the 3 P’s is possibly best exhibited by one of our favorite quotes from the new CSO Insights report. When discussing respondents’ top cited productivity goal (to increase selling time), in the context of their top performance goal (to increase revenue), the report authors suggest, “If we only improve salesperson efficiency, we are helping our average salespeople to go out and make more average sales calls.”
The missing link that addresses not just why your salespeople are average performers, but specifically where sales training and development resources must be focused to address the gaps, for each unique rep, is Proficiency.
Qstream’s manager dashboards and sales fluency heat maps, based on the unique responses of your team, provide a real-time snapshot of user proficiency levels, as well as engagement, including drill-down reports by individual and topic. The platform’s robust tagging system lets managers view data in unlimited ways, providing executives with unprecedented insights into organizational knowledge and skills gaps, even highlighting pipeline and forecast risk.
By aligning Qstream’s native Proficiency scores with Performance and Productivity metrics, the dynamic alignment prescribed by CSO Insights can, in fact, be achieved. Take just one of our customers, Snow Software, as an example. Leveraging Qstream’s clinically proven approach to knowledge and skills reinforcement, Snow Software was able to elevate the proficiency of their reps by more than 23%. This improvement, in turn, led to a number of measurable business outcomes, notably a 2x increase in the number of first meetings that took a second meeting.
In analyzing the Qstream data, and correlating it with other sales performance metrics, Snow’s sales enablement team was also able to identify a connection between pipeline creation and Qstream engagement statistics, specifically that the sales reps who were most engaged with their Qstream challenges had 30% more pipeline relative to their peers.
The Impact of Dynamic Coaching
But the 3 P’s, or any analytics for that matter, are only useful when they’re put into action, helping to guide both the focus and composition of your sales development program, and your managers’ coaching approach.
In previous years, almost half of the organizations responding to CSO Insights’ annual study simply left coaching up to the discretion of their managers. But without a programmatic plan and the right enforcement methodology, for most this meant that coaching simply did not happen. However, in 2017, only 34.7% reported this random approach, while an increasingly number of organizations reported the transition to a more formal or dynamic approach. So, what does this really mean?
Formal coaching, according to CSO Insights, requires that sales managers have been developed and trained accordingly, that a sales coaching framework has been defined, and that a documented process has been developed and implemented. Going further, dynamic means that the organization’s sales coaching approach is closely connected to its enablement charter and program plan, and supported by leading indicators to drive adoption and reinforcement.
Proficiency data plays a critical role here as well. With highly individualized information about the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team, sales enablement practitioners can, in turn, prescribe individualized training and coaching paths that ensure each rep reaches their full potential.
Even when sales coaches are expertly trained, many will struggle to find the necessary time to coach effectively. Yet good coaching doesn’t have to consume an overwhelming amount of your manager’s time. In fact, with support from Qstream’s proficiency data, sales managers can now focus their time on the knowledge, skills and behaviors that are most critical for helping each member of their team improve.
As the survey data shows, only 57.7% of sales people are making quota. How might a focus on proficiency data—the actual skills and capabilities of your sales team – help to accelerate your team’s performance?
Interested in reading the full survey report? Download a complimentary copy here.