The beginning of a new year is usually the time when we evaluate the past, list some goals/resolutions for the future and outline some strategies for achieving them. In the highly competitive world of business, companies follow the same path: objective assessment of past years' strategies, followed by setting up additional goals and plans for improvement. An inevitable part of that process is directed at foreseeing what comes next. Having a broad sense of how current tendencies will be reshaped in the future is additionally vital for companies' constant fight to gain a competitive advantage. So how will the world of sales enablement look in 2014? Here are some predictions, which we based on trends' analysis and observations over the past year:
1. Sales enablement will be for 2014 what Marketing Automation was for 2013
The topic of enabling sales teams will become even more of an issue for businesses and organisations. Thus far, most companies have been focusing their energy on developing effective marketing strategies and nobody was truly giving sales a helping hand in the process of closing the sales cycle. The topic of sales enablement will be high up on the to-do lists for businesses and the CMO (Chief Marketing Operators) will most likely have to take the lead.
2. Incorporating sales enablement within the overall workflow
Sales and marketing alignment is just part of the game - sales needs to be incorporated within the overall workflow of the company. After all, the end game is to generate business and to do so, there must be more sales. And to have more sales, the people responsible for this (sales reps) need to be incorporated within the overall workflow of the company - know everything there is to know in order to sell better and faster. Marketers will have to be involved in the overall customer lifecycle and sales enablement will be one of the key things marketers will need to understand and embrace in 2014. They will need to learn how to take a marketing campaign and pass it over to sales who will then need to work with the same set of content and tools in order to move leads down the funnel and close deals. On the other hand, sales need to be educated into how the marketing workflow works - they need to familiarise themselves with marketing automation solutions, lead nurturing and the different set of tools and tactics that marketing uses to generate leads.
3. Turning existing customers into evangelists
In 2014, there will most likely be a trend where marketing & sales collaborate in order to turn existing customers into advocates for the business in question. As we've mentioned before, acquiring a new customer is usually 6-7 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Not to mention that repeat customers spend, on average, 33% more than new customers, with 60-70% probability of conducting a sale again, compared to a 5-20% chance of selling to a new prospect. Nurturing existing clientele will therefore be a major tactic in businesses' efforts to maximise profits, while minimising costs in 2014.
4. Value-based selling (or the concept of Content Selling)
Today, there is still a gap in the overall lead nurturing process that needs to be closed. When a lead goes from MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) to SQL (Sales Qualified Lead), there is a complete change of approach. Referring to MQL, marketers are providing valuable content that emphasises the value of the solutions. However, when sales teams then take the lead, they turn this approach to 360 degrees and try to close the deal by aggressively approaching the lead and trying to make the sale. As opposed to that process, in 2014 that gap will be closed. Sales teams will be selling the value of a particular product or service. The term content selling will be a trend and sales reps will continue the nurturing process that marketers began until the lead is ready to sign the contract.
5. Mobile sales enablement
Considering the intensity of changes in tactics, processes and tools that sales reps have undergone in 2013, chances are that the pace of transformation will remain high in 2014 too. Being up-to-date with latest trends, therefore, remains a must for sales reps in the upcoming year. In other words, those who manage to foresee "in which direction the wind of sales enablement will blow next" are those who will get to optimise their efforts, hence convert more leads.In 2014, it is most likely that the majority of companies will equip their sales reps with devices on which mobile sales enablement technologies are installed. That tendency will inevitably bring about the emergence of more and more vendors, providing those services. As a result, because of the high levels of competition, 2014 can as well become the year when mobile technologies mature, with correspondence to sales reps' needs. One thing is for sure, as we've already witnessed in 2013 - the question as to if companies should invest in mobile sales enablement is completely redundant. Next year, that question will most likely be replaced by how and which.