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Adobe Study: Companies Behind with Sales Enablement Strategy (Commentary by Cary Sherburne)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Press release from the issuing company

Despite overwhelming confidence strategy is “on the right track,” less than 30 percent of companies are actually implementing sales enablement solutions 

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Eighty-nine percent of sales and marketing managers believe their company is on the right track in regards to its sales enablement strategy, but believe a shift in approach (U.S.: 57%, U.K.: 54%, GR: 40%, FR: 61%) is needed to stay successful, according to research released today by Adobe. Driving this confidence is evidence of improved sales effectiveness and increased sales volume, however, in an increasingly mobile environment where pitches and deals are made and closed on the go, less than 30 percent of companies are actually implementing sales enablement solutions that allow teams to adapt to this technological evolution. 

The findings are detailed in Closing the Deal: The State of Sales Enablement, a survey of more than 1,000 business-to-business sales and marketing executives across the U.S., U.K., Germany and France. The study provides insight into sales managers’ attitudes and beliefs about their company’s sales enablement strategy—how traditional sales practices are evolving, what’s needed to improve sales effectiveness and the role of digital tools and mobile technology in shaping the future of sales.

“Historically, sales success was driven by a sales rep’s ability to manage the customer conversation from first engagement to final deal. But with technology advancements, customers are now more in control. They have access to information about products, pricing options and the competitive landscape at their fingertips, long before they meet with a sales rep,” said Nick Bogaty, head of digital publishing at Adobe. “Today’s successful organizations are those that implement digital tools to help reps have more informative customer conversations about product and services that add value to the sales discussion. These same sales organizations are also continuously measuring and refining the effectiveness of sales tools and the selling approach to ultimately close deals faster.” 

Better Strategy, Better Bottom Line
As companies consider how to reinvent their approach to sales enablement, the biggest challenges they face include training sales staff (U.S.: 27%), ensuring proper communication about products and services (U.S.: 29%) and measuring sales effectiveness (U.S.: 27%). A big part of the solution is embracing technology, with 86 percent of sales managers believing digital tools help improve job performance and cite the need for better sales enablement tools (U.S.: 43%, U.K.: 46%, GR: 60%, FR: 39%). Technology is also believed to increase sales productivity as well, specifically, data and analytics (U.S.: 89%), app-based solutions (U.S.: 84%) and customer relationship management (CRM) integration (U.S.: 86%) are viewed as important along with visually impactful (83%) and easily customizable (82%) sales collateral and mobile content they can use in the field (82%).

Mobile Leads the Future of Sales Enablement 

Mobile sales enablement tools are fundamentally changing the nature of enterprise sales (U.S.: 84%, U.K.: 86%, GR: 76%, FR: 66%) and are important for any effective enterprise sales strategy (U.S.: 87%, U.K.: 85%, GR: 75%, FR: 69%). Commitment to mobile sales enablement solutions is high based on the potential to shorten sales cycles (U.S.: 84%, U.K.: 86%, GR: 74%, FR: 68%) and companies point to mobile apps (U.S.: 76%, U.K.: 78%, GR: 75% FR: 50%) and the Web (U.S.: 68%, U.K.: 68%, GR: 67% FR: 79%) as their top investment priorities. 

Optimism High for Sales Enablement Solutions to Drive Bottom Line

Over the next 12 months, companies are planning to increase their use of sales enablement solutions to train sales staff (50%), create mobile apps to facilitate sales in the field (50%) and identify leads (50%). And, spending on sales enablement solutions is predicted to continue to increase over the next three years with Germany showing the most long-term potential (U.S.: 65%, U.K.: 56%, GR: 71%, FR: 65%).

Commentary by Cary Sherburne

The Adobe Sales Enablement research has both good news and bad news for the printing industry. Be sure to read the Adobe blog and our recent interview with the Buffalo Bills for more detail.

First, the bad news. As more companies turn to mobile solutions to arm their sales force with increasingly effective tools, it will continue to reduce the volume of print. I just spoke with another company (interview to be published soon) that started using iPad sales tools in 2010 and reduced its then-$600,000 annual print spend to $200,000 last year—and it has a very fulfilling and long-term (14 years) relationship with its printer. This is still in its infancy, but like all things mobile, expect it to scale rapidly—whether they choose to develop apps or use a mobile publishing tool like Adobe DPS or others on the market.

Now for the good news: This is a huge opportunity for printers! Adding the creation of apps to your repertoire adds extreme value and a higher margin offering. While the Buffalo Bills and my next interview subject both said that they preferred to keep the development in-house, they both said that they see an opportunity here for printers that truly want to be partners with their customers. All of the users of Adobe DPS that I have spoken to over the last several months have indicated that this is not difficult for any graphic designer who is experience with Adobe InDesign. Adobe InDesign files can be converted to digital publications quickly and easily. In fact, one graphic designer for a large corporation told me they had a corporate app developed and distributed to address a “marketing emergency” in less than 24 hours. And now with native Android and Windows viewers available, it is easy to distribute these publications to a wider variety of form factors beyond Apple iPads. And this is typically higher margin work. It often also draws additional printing business.

One user said, “If I were a smaller business and didn’t have a staff of über qualified designers that are hungry to do this, I would partner with my trusted printer partner who is smart and knows he is selling a commodity product. He knows we are buying into him and not his business—who he is and what he represents. When a vendor looks at you and says, ‘I care more about your success than my ability to bill you for stuff,’ that’s when you know you have a good partner.”

Everyone agrees print is not going away. But its role is changing, and we need to change with the market. There are tons of small to mid-sized companies in your respective customer bases who can benefit from adding this type of service to the mix. Don’t let that need go unanswered!


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