In just the last few years, sales enablement has been evolving from a disparate set of informal activities into a centralized, strategic corporate function — complete with dedicated resources and budgetary line-items to prove it. According to SiriusDecisions, companies are now spending more than ever to increase the effectiveness of their sales force, with sales enablement budgets doubling to more than $2.4 million in the last two years, and sales enablement technology spend increasing 69 percent over the same period.

Driving that investment is the race to keep up with today’s ultra-informed buyer. According to IDC, one in three corporate sales is lost due to insufficient sales preparation. For a typical $1 billion company, inadequate sales preparation results in $14 million in wasted expenses and $100 million in lost sales opportunities every year.

With numbers like those, and in the face of increasing quotas and lengthening sales cycles, it’s no surprise that organizations are looking for ways to better arm their reps. Increasingly, sales and marketing teams are turning to a new tool that can uniquely address some of the most pressing challenges of modern sales enablement — video.

Through the effective use of video, sales organizations can improve their reps’ productivity and effectiveness in nearly every step of the sales process. Video-based training can slash the time it takes to onboard new reps, enabling them to engage in core selling activities more quickly. As an internal communication tool, video helps sales teams share best practices, insights and competitive intelligence more efficiently than emails and written documents. Video also helps sales reps connect with prospective buyers in a more engaging and personalized way, which can increase conversion of initial outreach and accelerate prospects through the sales funnel.

While business video has traditionally required the assistance of AV professionals and high-end hardware, the relatively recent commoditization of HD video cameras and the emergence of a new class of software called enterprise video platforms (EVPs) now make it possible for any organization to use video as a strategic asset for internal and external communication.

Here are a few examples of how video can improve your return on sales enablement investments, and the role of EVPs in making it possible.

Decrease Training Costs

It takes 73 days for the average organization to fully train a new sales rep. And according to ATD, even an experienced sales person can take a week or more to get up to speed. Onboarding and training sales reps can be costly – especially when you factor in the productivity loss of pulling managers away from sales activities to perform training and the tangible costs of travel, lodging, and logistics for an instructor-led in-class training.

Video can help you manage these costs and scale up your training activities, serving as a resource that your reps can access anytime from any device. Video allows you to offer live and on-demand training remotely, decreasing the time and resources required for in-person classes, and yielding substantial cost savings. By substituting video for in-class training and smaller events, Microsoft has reported that it was able to reduce the costs for classroom training from approximately $320 per hour per participant to just $17 per person.

In the not-so-distant past, the logistics and cost of setting up, recording, and producing instructor-led training videos made it cost-prohibitive in many situations. Enterprise video platforms are changing that. EVPs dramatically simplify the process of recording and live broadcasting in-class training, and reduce the time and cost of disseminating it to a geographically distributed sales force. With only a laptop and a webcam, trainers can use EVP software to capture and automatically synchronize video of the training session along with the content of their screen. The video is then uploaded to a secure corporate video library where it is converted for playback on any device. Minutes after the training session wraps up, attendees and other reps across the organization get access to a professional-looking video presentation that costs a fraction of traditional AV recording and video production services.

Better Team Communications

As organizations grow and mature, often one of the greatest challenges they face isn’t competition — it’s simple communication. Too many organizations rely on text-heavy documents, recaps, summaries, and emails to share ideas and keep each other up to date. Not only does all that take a great deal of time and effort to create, as many sales managers can attest, it’s seldom read.  According to Forrester Research, employees are 75 percent less likely to read documents or emails than to watch a video.

With a video platform, sales and marketing teams can use desktop software or mobile apps and the built-in cameras on their tablets, smartphones and laptops to easily share information on an opportunity, trade sales tips and best practices, record their recurring meetings, capture product demonstrations, and share competitive positioning. This kind of video communication is becoming a popular way for businesses to capture and share institutional knowledge, and it provides a more engaging way to deliver marketing and sales communication to the field.

 More Powerful Prospecting

Sales enablement tools aren’t just for internal use. They can help develop your prospects as well. Video can help sales reps stand out with prospective buyers through personalized presentations and communications at every stage of the sales funnel. Toward the top of the funnel, 85 percent of people are more likely to buy a product after watching simple “explainer videos”, and embedding a video in an email increases conversion rates by an average of 21 percent. Further down the funnel, a brief personalized video message in post-call follow-ups can be a quick and simple way to make your company’s messages stand out from those of your competitors.

Video can also offer valuable insight into prospect engagement. Modern video platforms include analytics and reporting packages that help sales teams see which videos their prospects are watching, dates and times that a prospect is engaged with your company’s content, how much time a prospect spent watching each video, and the point at which a prospect stopped watching. With this information at their fingertips, sales reps can gauge the interest of their prospects for forecasting, and tailor subsequent communication to the most relevant areas of interest.

Stop Searching, Start Selling

The first step in effective sales preparation is finding the information you need. That may sound simple, but in a world where buyers already have a wealth of information, it’s the details that matter. Getting to those details, however, can be no small task — with information spread across corporate SharePoint sites, file shares, wikis and dozens of other locations, your sales reps are spending valuable time just digging for those last bits of information. According to IDC, the average salesperson is forced to spend nearly eight hours per week — almost an entire day — just searching for information to prepare for sales calls.

In the past, video only worsened this problem, with no tools capable of searching the actual content presented within recordings. Fortunately, recent advances in video technology have changed this. Modern video platforms now include search engines that allow reps to search across an organization’s video library and instantly find and fast forward to any word spoken or shown on-screen inside any video. This ability to search inside the actual content of videos fundamentally changes the value that sales and marketing teams can extract from video training and communication. It makes videos as searchable as email, documents, or the web, while delivering the visual richness that only video can offer. The result is that your reps can get instant access to the information they need precisely when they need it.

When done right, sales enablement programs can help you increase the bottom line by improving the productivity of your entire sales organization. With video at their fingertips, your sales team will be empowered with helpful information that they can access anywhere, and with tools they can use to reinforce relationships, stand out from the competition, and make the most out of every conversation.