Sales enablement refers to the processes, tools and training that support salespeople. The term was initially defined by Forrester in 2008, but as a function, sales enablement has come of age in recent years, thanks to advances in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
As a result, much funding is going into sales enablement platform providers. For example, Chorus.ai serves as a “conversation intelligence (CI) platform” for revenue teams. In July of this year, the company closed its Series C funding, a $45 million round led by Georgian Partners, which invests in software as a service (SaaS)-based “business software companies that harness applied artificial intelligence, conversational AI, and trust,” according to its website.
“You can think of CI as an additional attendee in your meeting or recipient on your email who records, transcribes and analyzes the discussion,” says Jim Benton, chief executive officer of Chorus.ai. With this information, sales managers can personalize coaching to each rep’s areas for improvement, and sales enablement professionals can improve their offerings.
“Our vision,” says Benton, “is to build a connected CI, bringing the conversation, backed [by] data-driven insights, into the existing workflows and tools of sales and revenue teams. Our latest funding will enable us to continue investing in developing world-class, patented solutions, while expanding our go-to-market team and accelerating our enterprise services.”
The “Fastest Growing Category in Sales Tech”
According to the press release announcing the funding, CI is the “fastest growing category in Sales Tech,” and Benton believes it’s partly due to COVID-19.
“COVID forced digital transformation on many enterprises,” he says. “The shift to remote work sparked growth as more companies recognized the need for it.” Sales teams are looking for better insights into their pipeline, “and without the ability to walk the halls and speak to reps… managers must turn to technology like conversation intelligence to be able to coach and lead their teams.”
Learning leaders are no strangers to the impact COVID has had on the workplace, and sales enablement is no different. Sales reps who previously traveled to meet with prospects and customers are now meeting with them from their home offices, and sales managers are enabling them virtually as well. While this shift to remote sales enablement has been challenging, these professionals are in a better position to make the shift – thanks to technology.
“Since the pandemic began,” Benton says, “we have used our NLP [natural language processing] technology to analyze businesses’ conversations to understand exactly how COVID was impacting operations.” Chorus.ai has conducted weekly Zoom broadcasts to share this information with executives, but organizations can similarly use AI to analyze salespeople’s conversations to better understand customers’ needs.
Adapting to Change
For instance, Benton shares that executives are scrutinizing business deals more so than prior to the pandemic. Chief financial officers “on the buying side are joining 91% more calls since January, and there is a 77% increase in director-level team members on calls.” Training professionals will need to adapt to help reps appeal to a more senior-level audience.
“With the four walls of the sales floor disappearing,” Benton adds, “enterprise companies will continue to seek out ways to collaborate on deals and drive performance improvements across cities and time zones. … We anticipate buyers will seek out tools and platforms that work within their infrastructure… as we all adjust to the new ways of business.”
Alternatively, based on its market research, Training Industry, Inc. predicts that spending on sales training will shrink 13.75% in 2020. Many organizations are in a catch-22: Technology can improve sales in a time when every dollar matters, but organizations need the budget to invest in that technology. As companies like Chorus.ai continue to innovate, they will be able to better serve salesforces in need.