The data’s in: sales enablement programs boost win rates versus a random approach. And higher win rates mean more revenue.
In other words, sales enablement programs in general are profitable. But how do you prove the profitability of your own?
Today, with more remote sales reps than ever before, and with more buyers wanting to buy remotely, you could argue that tracking the ROI of your program has never been more difficult.
Not so. With the rise of sales enablement platforms and Big Data, it has actually never been easier to prove the ROI of your enablement charter. You just have to know which metrics to track and how to track them.
Get this right and you’ll have yourself a sales enablement program that trains your sales team to thrive no matter how challenging the conditions.
Measuring the ROI of sales enablement: problems and challenges
- Leading vs lagging indicators
- Time lag between training and implementation
- How do you allocate costs?
- How many enablement reps should you hire?
Leading vs lagging indicators.
You’ll immediately find yourself under pressure to prove return on investment.
Unfortunately, the crucial metrics for proving ROI are the revenue and sales performance metrics that take one or more sales cycles to unearth.
Want to keep the wolves from the door? You'll want to use leading indicators like signs of increased productivity.
This makes them lagging indicators of success. If you want something to keep the wolves from the door, you’ll need to use leading indicators that forecast the success to come.
Leading indicators are the early signs that you’re onto something. Increased productivity should be one of the first you see. When you notice outbound call volumes increasing, you know your sales reps are concluding calls more quickly.
This is an early sign that your enablement content is helping them solve customer queries quickly.
Time lag between training and implementation
If it takes months for your sales reps to start implementing what they’ve learned in your enablement training sessions, it’ll be difficult for you to claim your session was responsible for their improved performance.
This is another reason why anecdotal reports don’t work if you want to prove your program’s ROI. The non-believers will need more evidence.
Thankfully, that evidence is readily available if you know where to look. More on that later.
How do you allocate costs?
Ah, yes. How to allocate costs.
While you need to figure out the ROI of your sales enablement charter as a whole, early on in its deployment you won’t have the full picture.
You’re investing time and money all over the place. In people, in resources, in the opportunity costs that come with leaning on other departments, like marketing, to help your enablement reps create and deliver content.
That’s why you need to get granular with the data you’re tracking. Track each arm of your sales enablement strategy. That way you’ll stand a chance at figuring out the ROI of each arm, which’ll help you figure out the ROI of the whole later.
How many enablement reps should you hire?
The question of how many reps to hire before you begin is difficult.
How do you quantify how much time your sales representatives will save on admin from having sales operations or sales enablement reps in the building?
How much time and how many resources will you need to pull from other departments to support enablement reps in their role?
Combine knowledge of your enablement program with your budget to ID the best number of reps.
There are financial and opportunity costs associated with each of these. Our advice is to start with your sales enablement manager, the person responsible for building out your sales enablement program.
Knowing what the plan for that program looks like, you can combine that knowledge with your available budget to estimate how many reps you’ll need and how many you can afford.
The sales enablement metrics to track and how to track them
According to Allego’s Complete Guide to Sales Enablement ROI, sales enablement has four key goals. Each can generate ROI in its own way, so you should track and monitor each of them for effectiveness.
These goals are to:
- Accelerate revenue
- Cut costs
- Reduce risk
- Improve engagement
The types of metrics we discuss below correlate with these core enablement aims:
- Sales performance and revenue metrics
- Onboarding metrics
- Content adoption and effectiveness metrics
- Sales enablement platform adoption and effectiveness metrics
- Qualitative metrics
Sales performance and revenue metrics
These are the star metrics you’re going to want to jump to immediately.
But you can’t!
Performance metrics take time to unearth. Start tracking immediately, but expect to wait a while.
As we mentioned above, these metrics take time to unearth. You might need to wait months (or longer, depending on how long your sales cycles are) for them to reveal themselves.
Still, once you have them, they’re the ones that make the ROI of your program the most obvious.
Here are the ones to track:
- Lead conversion rate (what percentage of your leads do you manage to convert successfully?).
- Quota attainment (how many reps hit their target quotas?).
- Average length of sales cycle (the average time it takes a rep to move a lead through to conversion).
- Number of annual sales deals.
- Average selling price and/or average deal value (the average value of a closed deal).
Tips on tracking
If you wanna get real scientific with measuring the impact of your enablement charter, you can use a control group.
That’s right, simply don’t enable a group of your reps. Then compare their performance over time versus your enabled group.
Of course, you’ll have to adjust their sales targets and compensation so this isn’t unfair (after all, it’s not the control group’s fault if they start falling behind). But this makes the impact of your program as clear as possible.
Or, if you have all the relevant performance data already, you can simply use that as your control and see how the whole team pulls ahead once you pull the trigger on your enablement program.
Sales enablement teams often own the onboarding of new reps. Hiring and firing is expensive, so an effective onboarding process that minimizes churn is a high-leverage way of cutting costs. It boosts the ROI of your entire program.
But it’s not just the churn you can measure. If you can get your reps making money sooner after signing a contract with you, then you’ll have managed to increase the first-year revenue per rep. This is what’s known as a shorter “time to productivity”, and it’s a key metric.
Metrics to measure:
- Time to first deal (time to productivity).
- Time taken to hit quota.
- New hire churn.
- Content adoption after onboarding.
- Number of training sessions attended.
- New hire satisfaction scores.
Content adoption and effectiveness metrics
Are people using the sales enablement content you’ve created? If not, why not?
And for those that are using your enablement content, is it actually helping them close more deals?
Try looking at these metrics for content adoption and effectiveness:
- Content open rates.
- Click rates.
- Engagement time.
- Number of opportunities to use the content.
- Assists and attributions (when a rep ‘votes’ for the effectiveness of the content in helping close the deal).
- Content deal velocity (look at the average time prospects spend in each deal stage; measure if those times decrease when reps share content).
Sales enablement platform adoption and effectiveness metrics
Content takes time to create, and the tools and software you adopt cost money to run. So it pays to ask the same questions.
Are people actually using the tools you’ve invested in?
Are they well enough trained in the platform that it’s effortless for them to use it?
Show them what the platform’s capable of, and how it can save them time and effort, then train them to use it.
With your content management system (CMS), for example, it should take sales less time to find the relevant content they’re looking for. That means higher productivity (calls concluded faster, a greater number of calls per day, and more deals closed over time).
Tips on tracking
Your sales enablement platform itself has a vested interest in proving its effectiveness to you. After all, if you spend money on a tool every month, but it isn’t immediately clear how it’s benefiting you, you’ll stop paying.
Most sales enablement tools have reporting dashboards that will track and share key metrics with you. So it’s dead easy to find data on the various parts of your sales process.
When your organization invests in sales enablement, a number of key things happen.
First, a new business function exists to bridge the gap between your sales and marketing teams. So those two arms of your organization can sync up more effectively.
That causes a knock-on effect and, as a byproduct...
You get the following gifts:
- More consistent messaging across the board as sales become clearer on how to talk about the product.
- An improved, more consistent buyer experience from seeing and hearing the same things talked about across website copy, shared content, and from salespeople.
- Reps make better decisions on the fly thanks to better sales training on the product and marketing strategies.
- Improved customer engagement through their buyer journey.
All of these things are great, but there’s a problem: they’re not quantifiable.
While the qualitative metrics listed above make for valuable data and you should track them if you can, the world won’t fall apart if you don’t.
Each is a direct result of introducing a strategized sales enablement charter. And they’ll indirectly benefit all the quantifiable data we’ve discussed, including those all-important sales performance metrics. So, while you’re tracking what’s quantifiable, you’re also indirectly tracking these qualitative metrics.
To measure the ROI of your sales enablement program effectively, you want to start tracking as much as you can, as early as you can. It takes months for revenue data trends to establish themselves, but your superiors often put pressure on you to prove ROI immediately.
That’s why it’s vital you have a handle on the early indicators of success, like increased productivity. Keep an eye on what’s working best so you can double down on it and discard the fluff. This maximizes your chances of success in the long term.
Productivity is one of the earliest success indicators, but content data makes itself known after a few months too. That'll give you a clue as to what content resonates and what doesn’t.
Revenue and performance metrics take the longest to establish, depending on how long your sales cycles are. But once your first batch of these performance metrics is in, it’ll be clear you’re onto something.
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