Everyone here at Showpad is excited for the next critical juncture in the evolution of sales enablement, and most of us are also anxiously awaiting the new Star Wars, so a space analogy seems fitting. Every galaxy goes through formative phases of evolution where particles come together, invisible energy rises, smaller galaxies combine, and something new emerges, all in a perfect balance. Similarly, yet on a very different timeline, technology “disruptions” occur, combining existing capabilities with new innovations in order to solve problems more effectively.

Salespeople experienced this with the evolution of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Companies first tried to solve the problem of managing customer data and relationships in a number of ways, from creating complicated spreadsheets to customizing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms to salespeople’s needs. Then, things changed. CRM systems like Act! and Siebel emerged, adding concepts of how to manage prospect and contact data, along with revenue and forecasts. These were disrupted once more with SaaS and new cloud-based deployment models like that had similar capabilities, yet were much more cost effective. These models had far easier implementations and faster time to value, not to mention less risk and higher adoption. Since then we entered the advent of a “platform approach” with integrations, mainstream adoption of mobile platforms with smartphones and tablets, along with many other factors which led us to where we are today; a new renaissance of CRM and maturity of the space.

However, CRM platforms have yet to solve for the challenges that exist between marketing and sales, along with sales and the customer, which is why something in a galaxy not all that far away came into being. In the early days people leveraged a content management system (CMS) or portal to enable sales, largely focusing on a direct sales force. Then, sales asset management systems came into existence, building a stronger bridge between marketing and sales by managing and distributing content. One of the biggest disruptions was what we call sales enablement 1.0, which created capabilities that directly impacted more constituents, including channel partners and the buyers themselves. It also created greater collaboration and feedback between marketing and sales. Where will sales enablement 2.0 lead us? It is just behind the maturity curve of CRM, entering that perfect storm for a new disruption.

These are the 4 major areas of change we see in our customer base causing this disruption and evolution to sales enablement 2.0:


1) How We Think about Buyers is Changing

Today buyers educate themselves largely before interacting with your sales team, and are much more stringent with the  purchases they make. Although Marketers have done a good job capturing the buyer’s journey over the web, most sales teams are still not armed with this kind of data during the sales cycle. Sales enablement 1.0 provided individual sellers with more  buyer insights. The next wave of buyer innovation will provide deeper insights all the way back to sales leadership and marketing, and directly into CRM systems. If you’re focused on aligning more to the new buyer journey, here are a few tips from our VP of Sales.

2) Salespeople, Organizations, and Investments are Shifting

Leaders are becoming far more metrics-driven with sales reps, choosing to focus more on effectiveness than effort. They are centralizing the groups that enable sales, which is understandable given a CSO Insights report recently found that organizations with a sales enablement program achieve 8.2% higher revenue over those that do not. Today this represents only 25% of companies out there; however, in the next evolution this function will be similar to the growth in sales operations, which impacted the adoption of CRM systems.

3) Content and How Marketing ROI is Measured are Both Evolving

Back in the days of sales portals, content was mostly PDFs or PowerPoint presentations, and organizations measured downloads. The 1.0 evolution shifted towards media and measuring content engagement with customers. Much like the Internet, 2.0 enablement will focus on interactive experiences such as HTML5, which is leveraged 7 times more than documents. The next generation of sales enablement customers will also tie content to revenue, adapting content creation strategies based on learnings, and using this data as a recommendation engine to fuel higher sales effectiveness.

4) Software and Devices are Innovating Together

Portals and CMS systems were developed for desktops, sales asset management systems became more cloud friendly, and then sales enablement 1.0 focused more on mobile apps as adoption of devices skyrocketed. However, the shift that’s coming is largely human centered and hardware neutral, with a consistent mobile user experience across any device. The simplicity in user experience with apps will also exist in the web version for desktops. Also, as we see more and more in our personal life with email, mapping, file sharing and music apps, we will see innovations in the “hybrid model” with the benefits of a cloud deployment, yet offline apps so sales can be productive anywhere.

If we had known more about the new Star Wars plot line other than the great trailer, a more specific movie analogy could have been crafted for this blog. We’ll all just have to wait until after December 18th. All of these shifts are coming together at the perfect time in space to form the second awakening of sales enablement, much like what happened when brought a new cloud model and simplicity to CRM. There are still many more changes occurring at the same time as email moves to interactive communication, rigid becomes guided sales workflows, and static training moves to contextual coaching.

Where do you think the sales enablement space and 2.0 sales galaxy are heading? Why are you excited about the end of the year and new Star Wars (no spoiler alerts please)?

This article originally appeared on the Showpad blog.