How to Build the Business Case for Sales Enablement Technology

In a hyper-competitive sales environment, the best investment leadership can make is sales enablement: boosting performance through onboarding, training, and coaching sales reps.

But making the business case for sales enablement technology? That can be a tall order.

As with other key investments - IT, marketing software, productivity tools - sales enablement tech has to show it can impact the goals that matter most to the organization.

Here are the principles of a persuasive business case for the technology to improve sales team performance.

Choosing the Right Sales Metrics

Every investment needs to be quantified, but with all the possible metrics that can be used to show impact, which ones lay the best foundation?

A systematic, intentional process is the best way to put together the metrics package that best tells the story, but too many enablers start from the wrong place: their own input rather than the revenue outcome from their program.

Because sales metrics should follow a top-down approach. They flow from the high-level goals of the organization, which usually include things like total revenue, revenue by product/service line, yearly growth, profit margin, and the like.

If you want to justify your budget, you need to connect your work to the sales metric that drive the top-level business outcome you want to influence - and then map out how your the sales enablement technology is going to help get you there.

One of LevelJump’s customers is Compass. They knew they needed to revamp their onboarding in order to improve sales performance across their nationally dispersed team.

The program, however, was essentially sending 70-plus links to the new reps and leaving them to their own devices to go through the material and learn from it.

Some of the sales metrics that they decided were key were time-to-territory and time-to-second deal. They built a business case that showed leadership how a better, virtual onboarding program could get new reps up to speed faster. That in turn would boost sales revenue because reps are getting to their second deal faster - thus generating more revenue.

Compass implemented a new company-wide sales onboarding and training program with LevelJump (in just 8 days), and since launch, it has helped reps hit time-to-second deal 20% faster, and decreased time-to-territory by 40%.

Now onboarding tends to have easier metrics to choose, even if they’re not easier to track. But what do you do if you’re not onboarding? Depending on how refined your sales motion is you might track:

  • Activity metrics: will your program increase the number of conversations started, number of emails sent, number of calls made, average call duration, number of records created, etc…?
  • Pipeline / deal metrics: Amount of pipe / revenue, size of the deals, number of deals, cycle length, pipeline / revenue against a specific SKU, etc...
  • Conversion metrics: Conversion rate by stage, win rate to closed / won, etc...

Keep in mind that some activities have little to no connection to revenue, or that one rep may deliver more revenue with different activities than another. It all depends on what outcomes your organization wants to achieve and which metrics you can influence that will get them there.

At the end of the day, if sales enablement solutions are making sales processes more efficient, but higher-ups don't notice any significant improvement in the numbers they care about, then enablement will be viewed as a waste of money.

The right metrics will get the buy-in you need.

(Click here to learn more about the top sales enablement metrics for 2021.)

Using Industry Benchmarks to Show Potential

The good news for sales enablers is that your sales organization isn't the first to use a sales enablement program to positive results.

You can use industry-wide statistics for sales performance improvement to showcase the potential enablement technology can have for your organization.

For example, these statistics show how other programs have seen improvement through their sales enablement efforts:

There's no guarantee that your enablement strategy will see the same improvement, of course, but sales is a competitive environment. If other competitors are finding results from, say, a sales training program, then it behooves your organization to find a way to upgrade its training strategy - and enablement technology is often the most straightforward method.

Presenting the Sales Enablement Solution

Demonstrating the right technology - the piece of the puzzle that is most relevant to your needs and core mission - is a crucial part of building the business case.

Leadership needs to understand how each proposed sales enablement tool can contribute to improving the KPIs and sales key metrics that enablement is intended to boost. That means the sales enabler needs to show not only which pieces can be implemented, but also how they'll work together to give sales managers, coaches, trainers, and reps a fully-functional toolbox.

(Click here for our buyer's guide to sales enablement technology to see how to differentiate and decide.)

The major areas of enablement covers are onboarding, training, ongoing coaching, and productivity. There's often overlap between these different areas, but you may find it more effective to focus on the area that will deliver the most bang for your buck.

Another priority is to focus on areas in which the organization is the most deficient and shore up a weakness that could be the biggest impediment to sales.

Of course, just providing coaching and the right tools doesn't ensure success. In fact, without the right type of delivery and reinforcement, skills can deteriorate, and knowledge can decay.

One of the best investments an organization can make is to use a tool that reinforces training, provides feedback and analytics on how well your tools are working, and helps you optimize for better performance. Having analytics to connect sales enablement to revenue or your other outcomes - what we call outcome-based enablement - is huge, especially when you're building a business case.

In fact, proving the ROI of sales enablement isn't just a one-time thing when you're pitching a new platform. It's an ongoing task that never really ends. A sales tool that has built-in functionality for improving sales productivity, connecting enablement to revenue, and demonstrating value is a must-have component of an enablement system.

In the end, businesses that don't have robust and well-crafted sales enablement programs in place won't compete. But while this is true, it's also true that pitching even a necessary solution can be difficult. With this information, sales enablers will be armed with the foundation of a business case for more budget that’s too compelling to pass up.