In response to ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’ by Gerhard Gschwandtner (@gerhard20) Lee Levitt (former Director, Sales Advisory Practice; IDC) wrote the following comment on July 29, 2009:
“[…] Sales enablement is a recent phenomenon, at least from a branding standpoint. At IDC we’ve been researching and publishing sales enablement best practices since 2007, the same year that the phrase first started showing up in Google searches.
However, sales enablement as a business process has been around for a long time. As a field sales engineer at Texas Instruments, I implemented a sales enablement function on our internal network, using hardcopy terminals for information entry and retrieval. This was in 1985.
Social media at its best, given the constraints of the existing technology. Rapid sharing of tribal knowledge for those that had or needed it.
I’d suggest that Patterson’s Solution Selling Primer, written for the National Cash Register business, is an earlier example of sales enablement. Patterson’s Primer certainly meets the IDC definition for sales enablement, and Patterson absolutely reported results with it. In the 1880s.
Companies are reporting results with sales enablement. American Express, for instance, indicated that Time-to-Revenue for new reps dropped from months to weeks after they implemented a leading SE environment. They reported this at an IDC Sales and Marketing summit in 2008.
For another large IDC client, we identified a 15% increase in sales productivity after the company implemented some basic sales enablement processes, a small subset of the possibilities in that multibillion dollar organization.
While it’s still early in the sales enablement game, virtually every midsize or larger company today does something in the area of sales enablement, typically based on internal processes and maybe some intranet or SharePoint support.
A very small handful of companies, maybe a thousand in total, have taken a focused approach at moving their sales enablement activities to what IDC refers to as the third generation of sales enablement.
In these early markets, innovators and early adopters don’t care about ROI. That’s for the late majority to worry about. They’re looking for competitive advantage…and they’re finding it. When companies seek to address specific business challenges (new rep support, competitive response, customer intelligence, campaign support, etc), they find substantial improvements in sales productivity and customer satisfaction.
We’ve only scratched the surface with sales enablement. We believe that the potential for sales productivity improvement is on the order of 30-50%, or more, particularly if employed with the other four levers of sales productivity and properly measured.
And the net savings to the organization may be substantial. The typical technology firm spends more $12,000 per rep per year in marketing collateral development, with the vast majority of that expense going to waste. Firms that take an outside-in approach in sales asset development will find this cost dropping by an order of magnitude.
There’s ROI for you – higher sales productivity and lower costs.”