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(Results Are In!) What B2B Sales Leaders Really Think About Sales Enablement Tools

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Marcus Woodard:

All right, let’s get going. So, hello, my name’s Marcus Woodard. I’m actually on the Allego marketing team here and excited to welcome you to today’s webinar, B2B Sales Leaders. What B2B Sales Leaders Really Think About Sales Enablement Tools. Allego elevates performance for sales and other teams by combining learning, content, and collaboration into one app designed for the flow of work.

We’d love for you to stay connected with us on LinkedIn and Twitter, and for those live tweeters and influencers, make sure to use #allego webinar so we can keep track of your contribution to the conversation. At the conclusion of this webinar, there’ll be a brief three question survey that helps us keep improving these events and we value your feedback, so please take a moment to complete the survey. This presentation is being recorded and an on demand recording will be emailed out to you in a couple of days. We’ve reserved some time at the end for a proper Q&A if you will. So submit questions throughout and we’ll try and pepper them in when we can.

I’m delighted to introduce today’s presenters, Gina Hall and Tiffany Clark. Ginna is Allego’s senior content marketing manager and research coordinator, and Tiffany is Allego’s director of sales operation. They bring tons of experience and know how to this topic, so we’re excited to have them presenting with us. Ginna, take it away.

Ginna Hall:

Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us. I just wanted to, if you want to hop ahead. Yeah, Marcus, thank you. Today we’re going to talk about the state of sales enablement tools. There’s a lot of questions around this. As Marcus just mentioned, we had just finished some research into this topic and I wanted to share some of those results with you. And Tiffany will be joining us from front lines of sales ops.

Just to give us a little bit of context about the topics, so we’re all on the same page. B2B sales are getting more complex. The tech needs of B2B sales teams are growing. It’s becoming buyer led process. Buyers want to research on their own time and there’s limited time for meetings with vendors selling sales tools. Nancy Nardin’s group just came out with an accounting that said there are actually 1200 different sales tools on 43 different categories. So there’s a lot of confusion in the space about what the right tools are. There’s a lot of challenges managing that tool base and also just evaluating your tech stack. What should you have in place?

So before we get started, I just kind of wanted to find out who is on the webinar today, and I thought we could have a brief poll. So just to find out what everyone thinks about the tools that they’re currently using. Do you feel that you have the right number of tools? Do you think you need fewer tools? Or do you think you might need some more tools? Or you’re not sure? We’d love to find out where everyone stands and what their thoughts are and the complexity that everyone’s facing with all the technology that’s possible.

Oh, we’re getting some numbers. This is interesting. Thanks. It looks like a lot of people think that they need to have some more tools. 52%. That’s really interesting. 13 have the right number. Only 4% think they definitely need fewer tools. And a lot of you, 30%, that’s a hefty percentage, are actually not sure.

Just [inaudible 00:04:17], this sort of resonates with this quote from Gerry Hurley who’s at Tripadvisor. Full transparency, and Allego customer, but he really summed it up well by saying selling is complex and the last thing you want to do is put more barriers in front of your sales team. You need to ease the way so that they can do what they do best, talk to customers and bring value to those customers.

I was just going to present one little slide of our sample from our research showed that 11% of our sales enablement audience was using one tool, 50% we’re using two to five tools, and 39% are using more than five tools. So that’s sort of the landscape that we’re going into where most people are using multiple tools.

Tiffany, I wondered if you wanted to discuss multiple tool use and how you’re seeing that impact Allego sales team?

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, definitely. As you said, Ginna, there are so many tools out there in the market to evaluate all the time. And so, a lot of times companies are maybe buying more tools than they need. So really trying to figure out when you should consolidate and when you should invest in new tools is a really big challenge right now.

So some of the top things that I see for companies wanting to consolidate tools kind of fall into four main categories. So one, companies want to be able to reduce the workload of the administration side of managing multiple platforms into more of a single pointed solution, as well as help increase user adoption. So a lot of times the more tools that you have and the more a sales rep has to kind of switch back and forth between different places throughout the day can lead to confusion and lower adoption.

And then number three, I would say is having a single source where all of your data lives so that you can have accurate visibility into your reporting. So a lot of times when you get lots of different tools in place, the integrations can lead to some data loss across all of those platforms trying to speak to each other. And then number four, I would say cutting costs. So companies are always trying to cut costs where they can. So making sure that you evaluate what you’re using and how you’re using it so that you can kind of simplify and reduce the number of subscriptions where it makes sense. So those are kind of the primary reasons from what I see on the front lines for why companies would want to consolidate some of their tools in their tech stack.

Ginna Hall:

Yeah, absolutely. I’d love to show some more of the findings from their recent research report that we’re actually finding that companies, we did a survey of 330 B2B sales leaders, and we found that companies that are using multiple sales enablement tools are reporting some negative impacts of those. Kind of mirrors what Tiffany was just mentioning about all the different challenges that you’re paying a lot more and that companies are actually seeing poor adoption of sales tools when there are multiple sales tools. So there’s 76% of companies say that poor adoption is a top reason why these teams are missing their sales quotas actually. And then 74% said that it actually feels like a second job that they’re actually having to manage all of these multiple tools and that there are also increases in security and data risk that they’re seeing.

Tiffany, when do you think is the right time to evaluate sales tools? How do you know when you have the right number?

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, that’s a good question. As far as there being a right time, I don’t know if there’s a specific right time, but at Allego we’re always in the cycle of evaluating tools, because there are so many options out there. We want to make sure that our sellers have the best technology in front of them to do their jobs effectively. But some of the three key factors that I try to keep in mind before I move into an evaluation is one, just making sure that I understand the problem that I’m trying to solve. So make sure I understand who is impacted by the problem, and how often it’s happening to see if it makes sense to invest in a new piece of technology. And then number two, I will take a good look at what we already have in place. So do we have any tools, or processes, or existing resources in place that we can optimize before investing in new technology?

And then the third factor is when evaluating a new piece of technology to solve a problem is to also think ahead and try to think, is this going to be a fit for us six months from now, two years from now, companies are always growing and changing, so that can be the structure of your company changes. So really trying to be thoughtful about what you might need down the road so that you are on the path to have a path of consolidation so that you can have a tool that grows with your organization in potential use cases as you expand.

Ginna Hall:

That’s such a good point. It’s meeting your current demands, but also being able to look ahead strategically and figure out where you’re going in six months, a year, two years, if you know there’s something big for your company, if you’re going to be expanding into a new market, if you’re going to be changing the way sales is structured or your sales team, then you’re going to have to take all those factors into consideration even though they may not be on the plan at the current moment.

Really interesting, I know we have a second poll coming up here. I’m really interested in following up on that question. How often does your company reevaluate your sales tools? Is this something that you’re doing continuously, once a year, every quarter, every month, or do you wait until the contracts are about to expire to decide whether that’s a tool that you need or not and do that kind of assessment? So it sounds like at Allego, we’re doing it fairly continuously because things are always changing and you have, I guess every tool probably is on a different contract schedule as well. So it’s not like there’s one time during the year when you’re looking at what those contracts are and which ones you need to have in place.

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely, and it’s a good idea to get into a cadence of evaluations as well for specific vendors, or for instance, your data tool, if you want to look at that or pilot something else once a year or twice a year. It’s good, especially as you’re growing to make sure that you get into a cadence of those things.

Ginna Hall:

Piloting. We should talk a little bit more about that. That’s a really interesting idea. But here’s the results before we do that. So one to two months is the majority of when people look at their contracts, and then it’s pretty even between every year or continuously. Very few people, no one does it every month, and some 5% does it once a quarter. So it must take a lot of your time, Tiffany, also to be evaluating those tools and to always be looking at optimizing those used.

Here’s a few more stats from our report, which is that it’s not just the management of the tools itself. I believe Tiffany mentioned this, it’s how well reps are adopting those tools. Are they making full use of them? Are they really understanding which tool to use for which task? So we found a lot of stats through our survey that reps were really, there was some confusion around which tool to use for which task. One stat that we asked people about was whether they use TikTok at home versus their tools at work, and we found that 32%. So they actually use TikTok more at home. So it’s just a small indication, but I think it does kind of raise the question about whether your reps are being adequately trained and whether they’re getting your money’s worth and really adopting those tools, engaging with them the right way.

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, definitely. And I think that also to understand if they’re using them in the right way and who needs the tool. It’s really understanding what the problem is and who the tool is serving, because sometimes an executive or a manager’s need may be more related to visibility into reporting, whereas a seller’s problem may stem from actually being able to tactically execute on the day to day. So just being sure that you understand who the tool is serving can really help you determine whether you have the right technology in place to manage it.

Ginna Hall:

Because every user may have a different task and a different-

Tiffany Clark:

Right.

Ginna Hall:

Exactly.

Tiffany Clark:

So it’s really tough to serve all those audiences sometimes.

Ginna Hall:

And sales teams typically have so many different types of users. You’re doing inside reps, SDRs, you have account reps, you have account managers, and enterprise reps. So everyone is dealing with a different, slightly different buyer. So they have different needs for nurturing those, whether they know the company really well, where they are on the sales funnel, I can imagine.

We also asked, this slide just popped up, it’s not just manager’s or sales leader’s unhappiness or confusion around tools, but the sellers themselves have reported that they were somewhat unhappy just managing all of the passwords and figuring out which tool to use when. And we also asked teams who had migrated to fewer tools that had more robust capabilities, whether they felt any benefit of that after the change, and they did. These bottom stats report the things that companies said they were happier with once they had migrated to fewer tools. So onboarding, training more easily, reps can find content more easily, managers can coach remotely more effectively. All of those factors that companies find challenging and the reasons that they’re bringing the tools in to begin with are to help with those activities. So it was nice, interesting finding here that people were finding that the outcome was more positive when they had fewer tools.

Does that resonate with you, Tiffany?

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think the key is, as I mentioned earlier, is trying to find a tool that can also expand with your company as you grow and different use cases. So sometimes when I’m talking to vendors, I’ll just ask what’s on their product roadmap, because maybe they’re solving something that I haven’t even thought of could be a potential problem down the road and we don’t need to solve for right now, but it would be great to be able to solve for that a year from now instead of going to have to buy a new tool for that in a year.

Ginna Hall:

And our last slide is about really that last point that I made at the beginning, which is the challenge of building the right tech stack. How do you go about doing that? What are the priorities? What are the factors that you need to take into consideration and what is the best way to tackle this given that there are so many different tools? And Tiffany, I know you have a lot of experience with that and are on the front lines of doing that. I would love if you could share that with folks on the webinar.

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, sure. So what I just try to do is kind of get back to the basics with things, which is just shadowing your sales team and interviewing your sales team, and just understanding what does a day in the life look like? Which tools are they using? Where are they going to look for different information? And then from there you can get a baseline across the different roles in your sales organization of who’s using what. And then from there you’ll definitely come up with a laundry list of obstacles and challenges that they experience throughout their day to day. And sometimes the solution is a new piece of technology, but sometimes the solution can be something like training or unlocking a feature in a tool that you already have, or optimizing a business process. So from there you can come up with what the list is of things that are getting in their way, and then from there evaluate what the potential solutions are.

But it’s good to get into a cadence of doing this, whether it’s annually or every six months, depending the size of your organization. But the companies change, your structure changes, the people change. And so, sometimes those processes in place that we’re in place two years ago don’t necessarily work for where you are today.

Ginna Hall:

You had mentioned piloting earlier. I wonder if you would like to add a few words about that, the benefits of that and what the best practices are around trying out something.

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, sure. So it can vary. Pilots are a good idea sometimes when you’re investing in a new piece of technology that you’ve never used before. So it’s solving for a problem you haven’t solved for in the past, or if you’re trying to replace something that you have been using in the past. So you can have a better feel for it before committing to a new solution and then implementation. So, that can vary across the types of platforms that you’re using. But in the market right now, it’s very competitive across the landscape. So you’re always hearing from the latest and greatest technology vendors out there, and it’s always good to compare what you have, but definitely get into a cadence of when you’re going to pilot something. Otherwise you could be piloting new tools 12 months a year. So making sure that maybe you do it every six months or something like that can really just help increase the efficiency for that.

Ginna Hall:

That makes sense. And then how do you know at the end of the pilot whether you should go all in or pull the plug?

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah. Well I think it depends. It depends on what you’re trying to get out of the pilot, whether it’s a data tool or something else, but usually the end users are the best source for qualitative feedback. So for instance, if a sales rep loves it and they’re using it all day every day, and then they’re going to be really upset if you take it away, then that’s a good sign that it will be well adopted. But if the pilot doesn’t go well and it’s not being used, then it’s probably not worth your time going through the implementation process.

Ginna Hall:

That makes a lot of sense. I wondered if you have a baseline, like a base tech stack that you recommend for people. Are there certain areas with virtual selling, with the complexity of the B2B sale, are there certain technologies that companies absolutely need to have and then they can add on or mix and match beyond that?

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, good question. It’s difficult. It’s not necessarily one size fits all. It varies by company size and industry, and how your sales teams are structured, and the sales enablement landscape is growing as well, as far as the technology. So I would say kind as a baseline, you definitely need a CRM, some sort of task management platform to automate the tasks your sellers are experiencing on a day to day basis. As well as something to help with training and onboarding, and that content you’re constantly delivering to sales teams for them to use on a regular basis. And then the last one I would say is some sort of data platform that gives you information about your target market and key accounts and contact information as well.

Ginna Hall:

Excellent list. Was wondering, Marcus, would you like to, well, if anyone has any questions, obviously you can throw those into the chat at any time. We should take advantage of having Tiffany here. She’s really got an amazing expertise and has worked with so many different kinds of tools. Would love to hear if anyone out there has any questions.

Marcus Woodard:

Yeah, if you guys want to go ahead and just use the questions tab, input your questions, and we’ll get those answered. We do have a couple questions here. Tiffany, is there a sweet spot for the number of tools that a rep should be using?

Tiffany Clark:

I wish there were a magic number, but as I said earlier, that can change depending on your needs and the size of the organization. But I would suggest just always doing your due diligence to evaluate what you have in place first in your tech stack to see if anything can be optimized before investing in a new tool. And just making sure you really understand and are confident with the problem that you’re trying to solve.

Marcus Woodard:

Awesome. As a reminder too, if you’d like to download the report, you can actually take out your phone and take a picture of the QR code or go to a allego.com/setechreport and get the report right there. Looks like we do have a couple more questions here. Do you have any tips on increasing tool adoption? That might be a good one.

Tiffany Clark:

Well, I would say just making sure that it’s set up in a way that makes sense to the person who’s using it. So this is where, I think we talked about a little earlier, but a pilot can come in handy just to make sure that all the use cases are there as well as shadowing the person who’s going to be using the tool to see if it really does work in the day to day flow of their processes.

And then I would just say, trying to reinforce the best you can. So it’s really easy to train on a tool and roll it out and then kind of move on to the next project. But getting into a process of doing some type of live training and sending out videos either ahead of time and afterwards so they know they have some reference material, as well as setting up some office hours going forward where people can drop in and ask questions. But really having that support plan after you roll out for where people can ask questions and find resources so that they can use the new piece of technology effectively. Otherwise, a lot of times if you can’t find the answers right away, then you just kind of abandon it and move on to the next thing in your day.

Marcus Woodard:

Awesome.

Ginna Hall:

Does your shadowing come into play there also? Do you shadow new reps to see if they are using a tool correctly, or is that just something you do later when you’re trying to evaluate a tool in general?

Tiffany Clark:

As part of the onboarding process, we typically have an onboarding course set up when somebody joins for their specific role. And that’s going to include how they use all the tools, as well as how to execute in their day to day job as well. So we have some reinforcement there as far as courses go and quizzes and things like that. And then just regular check in meetings where it’s really just kind of bring all your questions and let’s see what we can answer.

Ginna Hall:

Yeah, that makes sense.

Marcus Woodard:

Ginna, I do have one for you. Did the research indicate what types of tools sales reps were struggling to adopt?

Ginna Hall:

Oh, that’s such a good question. But we did not ask, we just asked them if they were struggling and what the impacts were on the organization and that’s when they responded that it was impacting rep’s ability to achieve quota. But that would’ve been a really, really good question. I need that person in my research team next time.

Marcus Woodard:

Let’s see. Any-

Ginna Hall:

What’s interesting though, one of the questions just to follow up that the admins said that they were using sometimes up to four hours a week, just helping reps find lost passwords to help them get back in tools. Like very, very basic on ramp kind of things. Not even a sophisticated level that Tiffany is talking about. We’re really adopting and using properly, but this is just like, can we get into the tool? So there’s something about the more tools, I mean, we all have that in our real life. We’re all keeping track of a million passwords. So that plays out in the business setting also. So just making it streamlined and as easy for reps so that they… A lot of reps it seems that will have a favorite tool like a go-to and they just will go back and use that. And if the other ones don’t come onto their radar as being as easy, then they might not take full advantage of it and that’s when you end up wasting a lot of those licensing fees.

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, definitely. Making sure you have the support in line to help with that is really important.

Ginna Hall:

Once we saw that with another report that we did about virtual selling where a lot of companies were, when they made the shift from at the beginning of the pandemic, from in person meetings to virtual, they just assumed that their reps would make that shift with them. And they didn’t realize you actually need additional training all around the act of virtual selling. It’s not just, we’ll switch everything to Zoom now. There’s so many different ways to look for content, have content at your fingertips when you’re in the middle of a virtual call, knowing what to do before and after because you usually have shorter calls. You might be doing back to back, so you need to have everything ready before. You can’t really wing it as much. So we’re just seeing that there’s all this context around the tool that’s, as you just said, like that you need people, you need reinforcement, you need all of the things to make sure that people are adequately using it after the initial rollout. There’s so much more.

Marcus, are you seeing any other questions?

Marcus Woodard:

Yeah, I got one more question from Linda. She asked any recommendations on tools to have more confidence in forecasts? And how about tools to focus on profit?

Ginna Hall:

I think revenue predictions, and yeah, forecasting is huge. Revenue intelligence is huge. I don’t know that Tiffany. Do you know?

Tiffany Clark:

No.

Ginna Hall:

Tools that you would use.

Tiffany Clark:

There are lots of revenue intelligence platforms out there for forecasting, and I don’t have a specific recommendation. I’ve looked at Clary in the past as well as InsightSquared, but there’s definitely a lot of them out there. But I don’t have a favorite yet. We actually, we don’t use one yet at Allego. But it’s definitely on the list of things for us to explore this year.

Ginna Hall:

That’s usually a good question for the analysts. So going to Forester or Gartner and seeing if they have reports, they do have a sales enablement tool report. Forester is also recently released a report called Are You Ready to Level Up Your Sales Enablement Tools? So there are a number of analysts evaluating these different spaces. And also smart selling tools is a site that you can go to and do some research. And tools that are organized by category, so you might be able to find something there. But Tiffany said there are so many to evaluate.

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, and there are a lot of revenue operations. LinkedIn groups and Slack groups as well that I’ll use frequently and it’s just a group of revenue operations professionals where you can ask who uses a tool for this? What have you found works well, works doesn’t well. It doesn’t work well. So I also go to those forums for questions like that just to make sure that I’m not missing anything in my online research.

Ginna Hall:

Excellent suggestion. Crowdsource.

Marcus Woodard:

Well, it looks like that’s all of our questions for today. Oh, actually, we’ve got one more that just chimed in if you guys are up for it. What advice would you give to vendors selling to enablement teams? And then how could a vendor make a pilot a huge success?

Ginna Hall:

Well, those are two excellent questions. A vendor selling to sales enablement teams, that’s what we do. So I think it’s all about education. I mean, at this point, sales enablement is a relatively new function at many organizations. So we have a full slate of content based on the funnel. Top of funnel content is all about educating buyers about what sales enablement is, what functionalities, and capabilities, and roles, and assets, and all of the things that you need to incorporate to support your sales teams fully. And then we also have middle and bottom of the funnel, if you will, content that relates to people’s more detailed questions. How are other companies using this? Customer case studies and webinars like this can really go a long way to educating your buyers and to help them make these just complex decisions, because as Tiffany mentioned, every company is slightly different, the size, the market, the buyers. So you really have to develop a sales enablement that’s right for your company. So to sell to sales enablement teams means really understanding them, their problems and challenges at a pretty granular level. What was the other question, Marcus? That’s about…

Marcus Woodard:

It was, how could a vendor make a pilot a huge success?

Tiffany Clark:

Yeah, so I mean think that the key there is just really understanding what the customer wants to see from the pilot and what the success should look like. And then from there, I would, depending on how the pilot works, whether you’re incorporating sales people or other people within the organization, just making sure that the pilot includes a set of people that’s not too large, because sometimes people can lose sight of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. So make sure that your pilot is very focused.

Marcus Woodard:

Great. That looks like all of our questions for today. So with that, thanks everybody for joining us, and upon leaving the webinar, remember there’s a short three question survey that can improve these webinars in the future. And as a reminder, I’ll be sending out the on-demand recording within a couple days for you to re-watch or share today’s presentation. And a special thanks to Ginna and Tiffany, what a great informative session. And this concludes our webinar. Thanks guys.

Ginna Hall:

Thanks everyone.

Tiffany Clark:

Everyone.

About this Webinar

A whopping 82% of sales leaders say trying to get reps to use sales tools feels like a second job!

Are you one of them?

Low adoption of sales tools by reps is a common problem, and it keeps getting harder, as the number of solutions proliferates. Sales teams use more tools every year—from sales learning, sales coaching and conversation intelligence, to CRM and sales content management. Increasingly, sellers don’t know which tools to use or when to use them—and this can end up undermining the impact of those tools.We surveyed 330 B2B sales and marketing leaders to find out the pros and cons of their current technology stacks.

Topics Covered

  • 7 new findings about the current state of sales enablement tools
  • How sales leaders and sellers feel about the tools they use
  • The downside of using multiple sales enablement tools
  • 3 recommendations to build your sales enablement tech stack

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