“Buyers want a shortened sales cycle?” You’re not dreaming, but you do need sales enablement tools

A recent post at the IDC sales productivity blog cites proprietary research that revealed that IT buyers want to reduce their buying cycle length by 40%. If this doesn’t fall into the category of “nice problem to have,” it’s hard to imagine what would. But what is really interesting is what additional findings from the research revealed: the solution to the problem falls squarely in the crosshairs of sales enablement. When asked about the primary vendor cause of buying cycle delays, almost 50% of respondents cited the salesperson’s lack of understanding about their company and industry.

Salespeople should be busy selling, not doing industry and company research. Even if they had the time, most do not possess the research, analysis, and synthesis capabilities to do this work effectively. However, creating a market intelligence capability that is able to feed the sales force insights on prospects and industry trends would deliver the results desired by the buyers, would keep the sales people focused on developing the relationships, and would put market intelligence gathering in the hands of people who have the skill set to execute this most effectively. Similarly, the needs of the 15% of the buyers who cited a lack of preparation for meetings and poor follow-up could be addressed the sales enablement resources: meeting preparation and follow-up are precisely the issues presentation and email templates help to resolve.

This situation is a classic example of the cloud’s silver lining. The buyers are unhappy with the service being provided, but enduring their satisfaction is within the grasp of any company that is willing to invest in the tools the sales force needs to deliver what the buyers want. Indeed, this research suggests that the company that makes the investment to develop strategically sound sales tools will successfully and positively differentiate itself in the minds of buyers.