IT firms facing challenges around sales enablement and marketing

There have been a couple of interesting pieces of research recently regarding both the sales and marketing functions within IT businesses.

The first is that we’ve seen sales enablement, both as an industry and organisational function, grow significantly over the past couple of years. In fact, the global sales enablement platform market is anticipated to reach $12.8 billion by 2030.

However, issues related to talent, skills and knowledge are reportedly still hindering sales enablement maturity according to new research from Seismic and LXA. In their recent survey of B2B sales and revenue leaders, they found more than half (52percent) say a lack of staff and resources was the number one barrier to driving their organisation’s sales enablement, operations, and technology maturity.

Moreover, a lack of skillset and/or knowledge of sales enablement was cited by 40 percent of respondents, who are from a range of industries including tech. More than a third (34 percent) say their firm lacks the internal skills and talent required to capitalise on sales technology investment, and 72percent agree that the market is lacking sales enablement professionals with the necessary sales tech, data, sales content, or sales operations skills and knowledge.

So, what does that mean for both vendors and channel partners? There search calls for businesses to implement sales training programmes to upskill and reskill customer-facing teams so that they “can engage a more informed and demanding generation of buyers”. Being able to support knowledgeable buyers has never been more crucial as nearly three quarters of B2B buyers will only engage with a seller to make sense of the information they consumed during self-led research.

The good news is that 75 percent of organisations have a structured sales training and coaching programme in place. And these companies are placing a greater focus on the buyer rather than products, with personal skills such as deal closing and negotiation (62 percent) identified as the most common element of sales training compared to just 33 percent for product knowledge.

However, the report also notes that 25 percent of companies are still missing out on formalising their knowledge sharing and integrating advanced training and coaching experiences. And it suggests that sales training is not being delivered effectively due to challenges such as geographical distribution of sales reps, engagement in training, scheduling conflicts and learner retention of information.

The study notes: “Organisations must recognise that maturing their sales team and plugging skills gaps requires a cultural shift towards continuous improvement and development. This must be embedded across the organisation. Only by embracing a ‘snackable’ and ‘just-in-time’ approach to training and coaching will businesses be able to effectively engage their staff and empower their sales functions to go from strength to strength.”

Onlinebranding is more important than ever

Separately, recent research from technology marketing agency Motion Marketing shows that 67 percent of IT companies now see their online digital brand as more important than it was before COVID-19.

The survey conducted across 300 senior decision makers in the UK shows that business leaders not only place more importance on their online digital brand than they did three years ago, but 81 percent of IT companies also believe that visual identity has a strong influence on the cost of what they sell. These figures highlight the importance of a strong brand in the B2B marketing technology space is required to maximise sales value.

However,while brand importance is clearly recognised, very few IT companies – only 14percent – have utilised a professional brand company to create theirbrand. One of the longstanding biggest challenges is that many IT firmsare established by a ‘non-creative’ person.

MattJupp, senior marketing consultant at Motion Marketing says that the pandemic changedthe shape of sales and marketing, and online content has become more important:

“We areseeing more clients recognising this fact and actively taking their brandforwards. In a digital age, it is a cost-effective way of reducingbarriers to sales, gaining competitive advantage, increasing salesvalue, and opening more doors to opportunities.”

Ultimately,the two pieces of research highlight both the critical nature of sales andmarketing to tech firms, but also how quickly the functions are evolving inline with changing customer demands. It will become increasingly important forboth channel partners and vendors keep up with this shifting landscape.

Glenn Robertson

Glenn Robertson

CEO of The Channel Agency: Purechannels
Founder of Nuzoo and Viewpoint | Channel Chief | Agency Leader | CRN A-Lister