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sales enablement trends in the digital age
March 5, 2024

Sales Enablement in the Digital Age: Trends and Challenges

sales enablement trends in the digital age

When you’ve worked in sales enablement for 20-plus years, you’ve seen a thing or two.

You’ve seen a seismic shift toward digital transformation, dramatic changes in buyer behavior, and the evolution in learning best practices. Alongside those, events such as Brexit, U.S. presidential elections, and the Covid-19 pandemic had profound socio-economic impacts on how you work and on businesses overall.

For Peter Kyranakis, vice president of Solution Consulting and Sales Enablement at Allego, sales enablement at its core has remained the same: ensuring salespeople have the skills, knowledge, assets, and processes to maximize every buyer interaction. It’s the surrounding factors that have changed. Peter has witnessed the transformation of enablement methodologies and practices, the advancement and proliferation of enablement tools, the rise of generative AI, and the crucial need to prove enablement’s value or risk elimination.

For example, enablement used to involve throwing hours of work into training programs. Enablement tools have improved and sped up the process, allowing teams to create dynamic and engaging programs—and increasing his team’s productivity and efficiency, Peter said.

“Where manpower used to be the approach, now it’s about using tools to drive efficiency across enablement and the sales team,” he said.

In this interview, Peter discusses how specifically enablement tools have made his job easier, how AI has changed enablement (including specific AI-powered tools he uses), the impact the economy has had on enablement (and adjustments he’s had to make), and the one piece of advice he has for his enablement peers.

Download Modern Revenue Enablement: A Buyer-Centric Approach to Win Sales and Grow Revenue and learn how go-to-market teams can reach, engage, and win over more buyers.

Michelle Davidson: How long have you worked in sales and/or sales enablement?

Peter Kyranakis: I’ve been in some kind of sales or service leadership role for about 20 years. A lot of my time has been spent in SaaS (software as a service) organizations—companies that have 200, 300, up to about 500 people. While running an enablement team came later in my career, I would say I’ve been doing enablement for sales organizations for my entire career. That’s because in each of my roles, there’s been some aspect of helping people understand the product, helping people understand the industries that we service, and helping people understand the personas of the people who buy it.

During that time, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in sales enablement?

Kyranakis: One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the evolution from using lots of manpower for traditional instructor-led training to using enablement tools to create better training modules. For example, in smaller organizations enablement uses a lot of manpower to build PowerPoint decks and workflows that go into an instructor-led session where you just dump information on people. That method is still used today by a lot of organizations: just creating content and pushing it onto their audience.

But as tools have gotten better, enablement teams are able to provide learning in digestible chunks. Sure, there’s still a lot of instructor-led content and training that’s happening, but now you can subdivide that and cut it up into easier digestible pieces to add to your sales content management system or learning management system (LMS) for people to consume later. So, as you’re doing the instructor-led training, you’re creating the content. Then, you can add those pieces to your content library where it can be used again and again.

Where manpower used to be the approach [in enablement], now it’s about using tools to drive efficiency across enablement and the sales team.

Where manpower used to be the approach, now it’s about using tools to drive efficiency across enablement and the sales team. You may have a small enablement group, but they can support a wide number of sales teams and sellers because they have better tools that make their job more efficient. Not only are the tools better, but they’re becoming more affordable and easier to use.

And those tools make it much more efficient to drive enablement. Instead of a single person trying to build a course or build a process flow and train people on it by just talking to them, enablement teams push out smaller digestible pieces. And sellers can consume them when they have time, when preparing to have a conversation with a customer, when trying to execute an internal process, or if they need technical support.

Do sellers like how enablement has evolved?

Kyranakis: No one likes being talked to for a whole hour or 90 minutes once a week or once a month, or at all. Sellers much prefer to have these bite-sized chunks of learning, and they much prefer for the content to be searchable and findable when they need it. Because as much as you try to enable and educate them, it doesn’t sink in until sellers have to use it in the real world. So, having tools that allow them to go back and find content and information is valuable because that’s when they’re going to absorb it—when they need it to execute their job. That’s a huge advantage than having to recall what you were taught six months ago.

AI and generative AI are probably the biggest change agents right now. And things are still advancing quickly on that front. Are sales enablement teams using AI tools such as ChatGPT or AI-enhanced sales enablement tools?

Kyranakis: I think sales enablement teams are using AI, but it is embedded in a lot of the applications that enablement teams already take advantage of. You could use ChatGPT on your own, but most tools in the enablement tech stack have some AI component now. And that naturally increases the amount of AI being used by enablement teams, which I think is great.

But it’s still early in the AI process. AI does simplified tasks now, which is great—it makes people’s jobs more efficient—but it can’t do the more complex tasks yet, at least not without a lot of oversight and review by humans. But I expect AI will get better and eventually be able to do more complex things. So, the more enablement teams use AI now, the better they’ll be able to adapt as the AI gets better within the tools that they use.

The more enablement teams use AI now, the better they’ll be able to adapt as the AI gets better within the tools that they use.

What are some of the simple enablement tasks that AI can do today?

Kyranakis: One thing we take advantage of today is Allego’s AI-powered quiz question generation. You just feed the content into Allego, and it generates quiz questions and responses for you. Then you can edit them as needed. That’s a simple task, but in the past, it’d take you 20 to 30 minutes to think about 10 questions and four different multiple-choice answers for each.

Another AI-powered tool that we use is Allego’s Search Answer Synthesis. You type a question into Allego, and it leverages Generative AI to distill answers from documents, lessons, and video transcripts that are already securely managed within the platform. That’s also a great use because again, enablement people don’t know everything all the time. So being able to find information easily and quickly in your content tool or in Allego is valuable.

Allego’s Dialog Simulator is also very helpful for sales coaching. Often with sales coaching, a sales leader sits and watches a sales rep do pitches and then they give the rep feedback. That’s not the most productive use of either person’s time. The Dialog Simulator uses AI to create a life-like avatar, then you give the simulator question and answer sets based on common scenarios sellers face. Sales reps can then have conversations with the avatar. As a rep provides responses, the simulator uses gen AI to determine if the response is correct. It allows sales reps to work on their basic skills—practice their pitches and get basic feedback. Then once they master those fundamental skills, a human coach can take the sales rep to the next level.

Gazing into your crystal ball, how will AI help sales enablement in the future?

Kyranakis: In the future, I see AI creating content such as presentations and pitch decks. You’ll be able to give the tool basic information and some simple information, and the AI will create pitch decks, animations, and visuals. Then you can fine-tune and customize that content. That will help marketing teams, as well as enablement.

In the future, I see AI creating content such as presentations and pitch decks.

AI will also help remove language barriers for enablers. You’ll be able to produce one piece of content that then can be translated into different languages to be shared with global sales teams. We’ve seen a little bit of that, but it takes a lot of finessing right now. So, I expect that will become easier. AI will take us into the future, so it isn’t so arduous to create content in many different languages. It’ll just go.

There’s lots of potential for AI. It will be interesting to see how it’s handled. And that’s why I’m encouraging people to use it now—whether you’re in enablement, sales, or marketing. The more you work with it now, the easier it’ll be as it evolves. And as your company uses it more, you’ll be right there with it rather than fighting it.

Are there any other trends in the sales enablement world that are influencing how you work?

Kyranakis: Yeah, budget. Budget in this economy is huge. People are trying to get the most out of every tool that they have. So, the more you can consolidate on a vendor stack, the better. Have one contract and platform instead of three or four different ones. That’s important because budgets are only going to get tighter. They’re not going to get looser. So, it’s important to understand what tools you have and how you can get the most out of them.

Then second I would say is you have to be flexible. Business is moving at such a pace that it’s impossible to set 12-month goals and be able to deliver on them. Twelve months is too far into the future. You have to be more agile in setting targets, in creating initiatives, so that you can keep up with the business strategy, which changes more frequently and more often thanks to today’s economy.

Last question, if you could give your sales enablement peers one piece of advice, what would that be?

Kyranakis: Just one? There are so many, but if I have to pick one it would be to build solid relationships internally within your organization, especially across your sales leadership team. They’re your stakeholders. They’re the ones you’re partnering with to make their lives easier and your life easier. I think those relationships are critically important in any size organization. You want to try to develop those and keep those as best you can.

And again, it’s about staying agile. Don’t get caught up in thinking you have a particular thing you want to accomplish over the course of the year because business changes so rapidly. You have to be able to change based on the environment that exists now. Plus, you need to help your company handle any business shifts. That’s especially important when times get tough because one of the first areas companies cut when they’re struggling is enablement. But by being a strategic member of a company’s success, you show enablement’s value.

About Peter Kyranakis: Peter is Vice President of Solution Consulting and Sales Enablement at Allego. He is a proven leader with over 20 years of experience managing technical sales and operations teams. And he has a track record of scaling teams to help achieve accelerated growth targets.

Download Modern Revenue Enablement: A Buyer-Centric Approach to Win Sales and Grow Revenue and learn how go-to-market teams can reach, engage, and win over more buyers.

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