Today, even the most seasoned sales reps are facing some serious hurdles. Budgets are shrinking. Markets and products are ever-changing. Competition is fierce.

Yet, in the midst of these challenges, buyer expectations are at an all-time high. And oftentimes, sales reps aren’t meeting them.

It’s really no wonder why missed quotas have become the norm. In fact, research tells us a mere 26% of organizations indicate that 90% or more of their reps achieved quota last year.

A growing number of organizations are investing in sales enablement teams, tools, and technology to help overcome these challenges and get more reps ready to sell.

This isn’t surprising, as sales enablement – when it’s done well – is proven to have a large impact on key business outcomes including win rates, quota attainment, and both buyer and seller engagement.

But how exactly are organizations approaching sales enablement?

Recently,Mindtickle surveyed more than 500 sales leaders, sellers, and sales adjacent professionals to shed light on how they’re structuring their sales enablement programs and measuring success – and how that may (or may not) change with an upcoming recession on the horizon.

Read on for our four key findings.

Key finding #1: The definition of sales enablement varies

Today, many organizations claim to have a sales enablement practice. But the reality is, the phrase “sales enablement” means different things at different organizations.

So, what typically falls under the scope of sales enablement? Here’s a look at the top five activities owned by sales enablement teams:

  • Ongoing training: 51%
  • Sales onboarding: 47%
  • Sales kickoffs: 38%
  • Creating a coaching culture: 36%
  • Sales certifications: 35%

It’s easy to assume sales enablement teams also contribute to enabling their organization’s chosen sales methodology. That’s true, to some degree.

At organizations with an institutionalized sales methodology, 72% of respondents indicate they’re part of enabling it. Yet, a mere 43% have institutionalized such a methodology.

Sales enablement scope varies widely. It’s important to clearly establish what is (and isn’t) in scope for your sales enablement team – and ensure this information is socialized to stakeholders.

In addition, remember that all sales enablement activity should be tied back to the skills and behaviors you’re aiming to develop in your sellers.

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Key finding #2: Organizations have large enablement tech stacks – but they’re often underused

More often than not, sales enablement teams have a dedicated budget for software tools to engage and train teams; 67% say this is the case.

And oftentimes, their budgets are quite large.

More than half (55%) of those who have dedicated sales enablement budgets indicate they’re $100K or more.

Oftentimes, budgets are spent on myriad solutions that each promise to address a single sales enablement challenge.

The result?

Large tech stacks. Just under a third (32%) of organizations indicate they have 10 or more tools to support their sales tech stack.

But purchasing a tool doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be widely adopted.

Just over a quarter (28%) of those we surveyed said their teams use 10 or more tools on a daily basis; 53% use five or more.

When it comes to sales enablement tools, more isn’t necessarily more. It’s critical to holistically reevaluate the tech stack on an ongoing basis to identify opportunities for consolidation.

Doing so is an important way to improve adoption and efficiency – and maximize budgets.

Key finding #3: When it comes to measurement, adoption metrics aren’t enough

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

It might seem cliche. But it’s very true – especially for sales enablement professionals.

Without continuous measurement, it’s impossible to determine what (if any) impact your sales enablement program is having on key business outcomes – and where there are opportunities for optimization.

In the recent past, many organizations didn’t measure sales enablement success at all. Those that did focus primarily on adoption or completion metrics. In other words, an organization might track sellers’ completion of training modules or the percentage of reps regularly logging in to the sales enablement platform.

Even today, a good portion of organizations – 36% – measure the success of sales enablement by tracking training materials and module completion.

However, many organizations are starting to realize these metrics only tell part of the story. After all, a rep’s completion of all assigned training materials certainly doesn’t guarantee success in the field.

As such, more sales enablement leaders are starting to track metrics that prove the impact of sales enablement on key business outcomes.

Our research found that nearly six in 10 (58%) of organizations measure sales enablement impact using business metrics.

Such metrics might include the percentage of reps attaining quota or the time it takes for a new rep to reach a milestone such as their first deal or achieving quota.

Without regular measurement, it’s impossible to prove the impact of sales enablement. This is a problem, especially at a time when budgets are under more scrutiny.

If you’re not able to prove value, it’ll be impossible to secure additional resources – or retain the resources you have.

At the end of the day, the goal of sales enablement is to drive sales. So now, more than ever, it’s essential to regularly measure the impact of sales enablement on key business outcomes – including the percentage of reps hitting quota and rep retention.

However, it’s also critical to track leading indicators of success, such as key skills and behaviors. By doing so, you can understand true impact and identify opportunities for improvement.

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Key finding #4: sales enablement investments will grow

News headlines are filled with talks of inflation, an economic downturn, and a potential recession on the horizon. It’s not surprising many organizations are going over their budgets with a fine-tooth comb to look for opportunities to cut costs.

However, if sales enablement teams are able to prove their value, their budget is likely to remain untouched. In fact, their budget is likely to grow. 74% of organizations plan to dedicate more resources towards sales training and enablement in an effort to get more reps to hit quota in the midst of a potential recession.

This number is even higher (87%) when looking solely at responses from sales leaders.

Why the planned increase in spending in the midst of a downturn? Clearly, organizations understand the potential impact of sales enablement.

Instead of hiring more sellers to hit their goals, many plan to focus on boosting the performance of the reps they already have.

But where exactly do sales leaders plan to allocate those increased sales enablement resources? Here are their five top sales enablement focus areas for 2023:

  • Improving the strategic importance of the enablement function within the sales organization: 49%
  • Measuring ROI or business impact of enablement: 45%
  • Improving sales coaching efforts among frontline managers: 40%
  • Driving higher adoption and completion rates of existing programs: 30%
  • Creating more seller engagement via gamification, leaders, etc.: 30%

Start getting more ROI from competitive enablement

Today, most sales organizations understand the value of sales enablement. Even in the midst of an economic downturn, enablement can be a powerful, effective way to get more reps ready to sell.

However, not all sales enablement programs are created equal. In fact, as our survey results prove, many lack foundational components, including an optimized tech stack and a plan for measuring success.

Being a seller is only getting more challenging. Now’s the time to ensure your competitive enablement program is optimized to yield maximum ROI.