Elay Cohen is the Co-Founder and CEO of Saleshood, a Sales Enablement Platform. Recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as a “mover and shaker” in sales leadership and listed by LinkedIn as one of the world’s top sales experts.
Named Salesforce’s 2011 Executive of the Year by Marc Benioff after creating a Partner Relationship Management category and product line at Salesforce, Elay’s experience in B2B sales effeciencies is thoughtful and comprehensive.
M.R. Rangaswami: Why is sales enablement exploding now?
Elay Cohen: There are three main factors. First, the pandemic has accelerated the need for organizations to have solutions to enable sales teams that are now mostly distributed and remote. Second, there’s been a tsunami of investment and funding announcements that has resulted in many more software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. These companies want to grow fast and are looking for levers they can pull to achieve this growth. And third, sales enablement as a software category has matured to a point where senior sales and marketing leaders are measuring and correlating positive impact.
According to the B2B tech marketplace G2, sales enablement has recently surged in popularity, experiencing a 343% increase in adoption over the last five years, with significant impacts on sales (76% of organizations see an increase in sales between 6% and 20%). Compare this to a decade ago, when many organizations were not yet prioritizing sales enablement as a growth lever. Sales enablement has evolved from being a nice-to-have to being a must-have mission-critical system for growth.
At Salesforce, we created the sales enablement discipline and processes to ramp our sales and customer teams faster. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff had the vision to invest in sales enablement before it was a common business practice. We knew with sales enablement as a growth lever we could realize revenue faster.
It was the rocket fuel that propelled us into hyper growth. Based on our experience and success at Salesforce, we started Saleshood because the market lacked a scalable SaaS platform purpose-built for sales enablement.
M.R.: What changes to the sales profession are we seeing during COVID that will remain?
Elay: The simple truth is we’re not going to revert back to 100% in-person selling. The sales efficiencies realized during the pandemic will continue. Sellers and buyers appreciate the benefits of being remote and collaborating digitally.
People have become protective of their time. There’s less friction in the buying process and sales cycles are compressed. Sales tools like digital sales rooms (DSRs) where buyers and sellers come together to collaborate and drive better engagement are on the rise. Companies need to master digital selling or risk falling behind and losing out to competitors.
M.R.: With so many sales enablement tools being funded, what’s going to happen to the market?
Elay: We’re going to see massive consolidation in the sales tech space. Today there are so many solutions in the sales tech stack and they’re all in varying stages of maturity. Sales enablement, revenue operations, data cleansing, virtual selling, conversation intelligence — you name it. There are simply too many categories and there’s a ton of overlap, which will lead companies to start looking at their stack and questioning how many they really need. The same kind of consolidation happened in the marketing automation space in the early days of SaaS. The companies that rise to the top will be those that can deliver a seamless experience with tightly integrated systems and an end-to-end workflow that can win over the hearts and minds of their users.
Another trend we’ll see in the sales tech space is revenue teams will expect their systems to be smarter and more tailored to their roles and scenarios. AI (artificial intelligence) is playing a big role in defining the future of sales. It will streamline systems, workflows and processes for sellers (and buyers), helping to deliver more actionable insights. Expect to see AI become the standard in the sales tech stack.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com