If you’re reading this, you already know that sales enablement won’t be going anywhere in 2016. But as the hype around this ever-evolving industry builds, it’s important to understand exactly how sales enablement might change in the next year—and that what means for your company. This will help you build and refine your sales enablement strategy, better align sales and marketing, and ensure that your sales performance only improves in 2016. Below are 9 predictions on the future of sales enablement from the pros, including Forrester, Gartner and HubSpot.
The B2B spotlight will be on sales enablement:
“I think the biggest shift in 2016 will be Sales Enablement. Unlike [in] the past, when many would say Inbound Marketing ‘doesn’t work’ because of unqualified leads or poor sales alignment, Inbound Marketers [are] going to be helping their sales team close the leads they bring in,” says Bob Ruffolo, founder and CEO of IMPACT. Sales and marketing teams will have equal stake in converting and closing customers, so ensuring these two teams are on the same page will be more important than ever before.
Personalized selling will dominate all sales approaches:
Brian Halligan, CEO and Cofounder of HubSpot is predicting an increased emphasis on personalized selling in 2016: “Outbound sales is dying and the days of the cold calling are coming to an end. The new sales playbook will consist of a personalized approach to the buyer, and like we’ve seen proven on the marketing side, the use of great content and insights that helps solve the buyer’s unique problems.”
Personalized selling will facilitate more engaging sales interactions, which will lead to more positive buying experiences for B2B customers:
Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer at HubSpot echoes and elaborates on his CEO’s prediction: “In 2016, organizations will look to transform their sales process so they buyers have a positive experience through their entire buying journey.” Leading sales organizations are vastly aware of the correlation between one-to-one sales interactions and positive customer experiences, and others will continue to adapt in 2016.
Marketing will contribute to the bottom line more than ever:
“In 2016, I believe marketers will have even more of a responsibility to impact and improve the entire customer experience. From initial interest (lead generation) and the sales process (sales enablement) to delighting customers (retaining and upselling), smart marketers will see the value in closing the loop and learning from meaningful prospect and customer feedback,” predicts Brie Rangel, Account Strategist at IMPACT.
Analytics will become a key competitive weapon:
“In 2016, cutting-edge algorithms will give leaders a leg up over competitors drowning in data and using run-of-the-mill analytical tools,” predicts Forrester Research in a recent report. Being adaptable to these new algorithms and tools will be important for sales and marketing organizations in 2016.
Understanding buyers will be the #1 responsibility for B2B marketers:
According to ITSMA, 85% of B2B marketers polled in 2014 stated that understanding buyers will be their #1 priority in two years. That means in 2016, empowered buyers will still have control of the buying process and the information they consume, and marketers will need a deep understanding of these buyers more than ever. With an increased number of purchase influencers, “hidden sales cycles” and overabundance of information, it’s never been more difficult to understand buyers’ needs.
CRM/sales enablement integration will no longer be just “nice to have”:
“CRMs will evolve from sales-oriented tools to truly integrated marketing and sales platforms,” predicts Kathleen Booth, CEO of Quintain Marketing. “There has already been some movement in this direction…but in the future, integrations will be replaced by all-in-one software platforms that truly marry the needs of sales and marketing.”
Increased visibility will become a marketing priority:
A 2013 Gartner report stated that by 2016, 70% of the most profitable companies will manage their businesses using real-time predictive analytics and/or extreme collaboration. Jim Sinur, Gartner’s Research VP stated that “the most dramatic change [before and after integrating analytics] is the increased visibility in how the company is running and what is happening in its external environment.” When marketing organizations know how their actions are affecting the success of sales interactions, they have more power to increase the frequency of these successes. Increased visibility into sales’ content usage will only increase sales and marketing alignment and won deals.
Predictive content will be the next big thing in sales enablement and marketing success:
“In 2016, there will be a greater emphasis on empowering sales reps with content that has been proven to win deals. Using content analytics, sales and marketing organizations will be able to identify sales materials used in successful deals and emulate that behavior in future sales interactions. By providing sales reps with predictive content, marketing teams will be able to analyze the overall success of content and quantify their contribution to revenue,” predicts Doug Winter, CEO and cofounder of Seismic.
2016 is looking like a monumental year for the sales enablement industry—meaning only good things for sales and marketing organizations looking to gain an advantage over their competitors. Keep these 9 predictions in mind when revisiting your sales enablement strategy in the final weeks of 2015, and you’ll be sure to start out 2016 on the right foot.