This article is adapted from Catherine Young’s talk, ‘Sales Enablement + Sales Ops = Sales Success’, at our 2023 Amsterdam Sales Enablement Summit, check out her full talk here.

Selling is hard today. Like really hard. Between objection handling, competitor battles, and constantly evolving buyer expectations - it feels like you’re whitewater rafting without a paddle.

But what if I told you there was a way to transform your sales team into a high-performing, objection-crushing, revenue-generating machine? ⚙️

I’m Catherine Young, Director of Sales Enablement at Worldline, and as a sales enablement leader with experience spanning both corporate and startup environments, I’ve seen firsthand how sales enablement and sales operations work together to drive sales excellence

In this article, I’ll share: 

  • My perspectives on the distinctions between the two disciplines
  • How they can collaborate for greater impact
  • The success my team has achieved by embracing both. 

From analyzing performance data to building highly targeted sales readiness programs, I’ll be sharing some key insights to aid your transformation.

By implementing this collaborative framework, my organization achieved incredible results, including 5X order growth and 50% faster sales cycles. Sound impossible? Trust me, it’s not. Let’s dive into exactly how we did it and how you can too!

  • Defining sales enablement vs sales operations
  • Bridging the gap through collaboration
  • The power of holistic data analysis
  • Striking results
  • Final thoughts

Defining sales enablement vs sales operations

Early in my career, I was 100% focused on sales enablement. I designed programs, innovated, and worked with ops leaders without truly grasping their pain points. 

When I moved to Worldline and inherited an ops team, I was suddenly responsible for immediate reporting and data fixes requested by leadership and very quickly had to do some firefighting.

But this baptism by fire luckily taught me some of the core differences between sales enablement and operations:

Sales Ops 

  • Focusing on the here and now - what can we do today to hit our targets and get deals done? It’s about sales process optimization and execution.
  • Analyzing data to spot gaps and highlight issues, surfacing problems.
  • Focusing on improving sales processes
  • Focused inwardly on enabling their sales team.
  • Bringing new tools to the table to improve metrics like win rate. But once established, they help sellers adopt those tools for daily productivity.

Sales Enablement

  • Building capabilities to ensure future sales success. It’s about coaching, training, and getting sellers match fit for the long run.
  • Designing programs and solutions to fill those gaps and overcome challenges. 
  • Solving the problems that arise.
  • Creating new training content and keeping it fresh over time as products and messaging evolves.
  • Connecting across the organization to bring other functions like marketing into the fold.

While distinct, these disciplines are interdependent and thrive on collaboration.

Moving the needle with revenue operations and enablement | SEC
Brandon Jones, PAAY’s VP of Revenue, on the need to take ‘full-funnel responsibility’ for every revenue-generating touchpoint in the customer journey.

Bridging the gap through collaboration

When I first started at Worldline, there was definite tension between my sales enablement and operations teams. The ops folks were heads-down fighting daily fires while enablement efforts took a backseat. 

Not exactly a recipe for sales success!

I knew we needed to bring our teams together to get in sync. It was time for some bridge building across the silos.

We gathered our sales ops leaders and enablement crew for an open conversation to align on vision, clarify roles, and optimize handoffs between groups.

Steps to help eliminate siloes

Here are some tips that really helped us come together:

  • Review the entire sales journey - Get all team members in a room to map out the sales process end-to-end. Identify major pain points across the funnel that sales reps face. This gives you a heat map of where enablement can make the biggest impact.
  • Establish joint KPIs - Have both groups provide input then align on shared key performance indicators. This drives engagement as everyone owns the metrics.
  • Improve data sharing - Make performance data, analytics, and reporting transparent across ops and enablement. When everyone sees the full picture, collaboration comes naturally.
  • Map programs and priorities - Create a shared roadmap showing upcoming initiatives for both teams. This helps balance short and long-term goals and sets aligned expectations.
  • Communicate consistently - Report progress and wins regularly to sales leadership. Highlight achievements for both enablement and ops to build executive confidence.

Getting our teams communicating, collaborating, and sharing data was a game changer. Even now, we hold regular touch-points across functions to keep our strategies connected 🤝.

How stakeholder communication is an enablement difference-maker | SEC
Highlights from our conversation with Del Nakhi, exploring how to eliminate siloes, managing stakeholders, balancing your tech stack, and more!

The power of holistic data analysis

Data is the lifeblood that powers sales enablement and operations. But analysis can’t happen in silos. We learned that lesson the hard way.

Historically, our ops analysts would look at revenue numbers and team metrics. Meanwhile, enablement reviewed training attendance and engagement. 

The problem? We each had one piece of the puzzle. 

But when we started analyzing performance holistically, the full picture emerged. 

Now, our data deep dives incorporate perspectives from across the revenue organization. Ops provides the view on overall team attainment and results

This shows where we stand.

Enablement dives into behavioral data like activity levels and sales readiness metrics

This reveals who needs help where. 

Together, we autopsy the entire sales journey to pinpoint sticking points. These become focus areas for enablement programs 💡.

Our ops team extracts insight from win/loss data. Enablement then builds training to combat objections and beat the competition. Instead of siloed reports, we now have contextual intelligence to address root issues

This enables us to craft targeted readiness initiatives that move the needle for our sellers. The results speak for themselves - holistic data analysis has been integral to the success we’ve driven as a united revenue enablement organization 📈.

RevOps, data, metrics, and CX: The ultimate recipe for explosive growth and efficiency | SEC
Leore Spira explores how RevOps, data, and the customer journey go hand-in-hand, and how interconnectivity can elevate your growth.

Striking results

The harmony of sales ops and sales enablement in my own organization has borne remarkable fruit, despite facing various challenges. 

In 2022, we booked five times as much order entry than in 2021, increased the average total contract value by three times, reduced the sales cycle by 50%, and increased the velocity by 2.4 times.

While market factors contributed, improved sales enablement and operations played a major role in this sales transformation.

By bridging the gap between these functions, and leveraging data to craft targeted sales readiness initiatives, we’ve exceeded our growth goals. Our salespeople are enabled, our executives are delighted, and our customers are receiving even more value.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, sales ops and sales enablement, while distinct in function, are simply stronger together. 

By understanding their unique roles and fostering a collaborative environment, you can truly optimize your sales team's performance. I firmly believe that even the smallest improvements can make a big difference.

 While every company has a different structure, the fundamentals are the same. Collaboration, shared data, and common vision are the ingredients for sales enablement and operations to work in harmony - driving deal velocity, customer retention, and sales growth.

Here's to driving sales performance with a unified front, remember, we're stronger together!