In recent years, sales enablement has established itself as an increasingly important business function. But why? What is sales enablement and why are companies eager to implement it?
Despite being on this fast track to prominence, there’s still an air of uncertainty surrounding sales enablement’s definition.
At SEC we strive to elevate the role across our events, courses, and content - so in this article, we’ll dive into:
- What sales enablement is
- How it differs from sales training and coaching
- Why sales enablement is so important
- Who owns sales enablement
- What sales enablement tools are
- What revenue, go-to-market, and buyer enablement are
- Where to find more resources
Let’s get started. 👇
What is sales enablement?
It’s difficult to sum up sales enablement’s value to the sales organization in just a few lines, but here’s our attempt:
Sales enablement is a strategy which encompasses coaching, training, content, technology, processes, and activities with the aim of supporting and empowering sales reps to move sales opportunities forward through knowledge-based interactions with prospects.
In short? Sales enablement is about helping salespeople be better at what they do by providing them with support and training.
It sounds simple, but in reality there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. A good sales enablement department will work with key stakeholders to ensure:
- New sellers are onboarded as quickly and efficiently as possible
- There’s quality sales content for sellers to use
- That sellers know which piece of content to use and when
- That seller performance is tracked in order to know where they need to improve
- The company’s sales kick-offs are engaging and effective
- Sellers have the fewest possible barriers in their day-to-day role
- That sales training and coaching is happening in an appropriate manner
- Cross-functional communication between the marketing team and sales team is efficient
- That the organization’s long-term sales enablement strategy is sound
And a whole lot more!
While specific responsibilities might vary from role to role, you get the idea. Sales enablement departments work on improving and maintaining some of the most critical, revenue-driving aspects of an organization - so it’s no surprise that the function has boomed.
But what makes a sales enablement professional different from a sales coach, or a sales trainer?
How is sales enablement different from sales training and coaching?
Sales enablement is different from sales training in that it focuses on providing the sales team with the knowledge, resources, and tools they need to be successful.
Sales training, however, is geared towards teaching sellers the specific sales skills they need to improve their performance, increase their win rate, and close more deals.
In that sense, sales training is just one aspect that sits under the wider umbrella of sales enablement. In the past, people with job titles like sales trainer and sales coach would teach those specific skills.
These roles still exist today, but as organizations began to expand their sales training into broader, more strategic disciplines the need for the term “sales enablement” came about.
Why is sales enablement so important?
Organizations worldwide are seeing the benefits of sales enablement and there are several reasons why. The entire function dedicates itself to supporting and empowering sales reps. It’s no surprise that empowered sales reps:
- Display increased sales confidence
- Are more likely to improve their performance
- Provide a better prospect and customer experience
The buyer journey no longer starts at the first contact with the seller. Nowadays, prospects and potential customers are well informed and have done their research right from the moment they interact with your sales team for the first time.
If your sales reps aren’t prepared for that, you’ll fall behind the competition.
This means that sales enablement is important in ensuring that your sales teams are kept up to date with the latest developments in buyer behavior. It’s about more than just training and coaching sellers in the short term to improve their skills.
It’s about having a long-term, strategic sales enablement process in your organization that ensures your sellers are consistently using best practices and maximizing their sales productivity.
When the sales enablement team is implementing best practices and is aligned with key stakeholders across the organization (such as sales operations, marketing, and product marketing), you’ll see your sales teams close more deals and bring in more revenue.
That’s what makes it important.
How do you know it’s working?
Measuring sales enablement can be difficult - it’s often tricky to tie a new onboarding program directly to an increase in new rep ramp time, for example.
How do you prove that your new content management system has led to easier access to content - and therefore increased usage?
Luckily, we’ve got bags of resources on enablement metrics and how to create measurable results your leadership will be impressed with.
Some key metrics to look at include:
- Time to productivity
- Sales confidence
- Content usage
- Conversion rates
- Sales velocity
Who owns sales enablement?
There’s no one answer here - in some companies, usually those with less mature enablement functions, there won’t even be a sales enablement team.
Sales enablement in this case is a strategy picked up by various departments, primarily marketing, product marketing, and sales, to ensure that sales reps have useful content they can use to sell the organization’s product or service, and that sales leadership is providing adequate coaching for underperforming reps.
This is why sales and marketing alignment is one of enablement’s core pillars.
Where sales enablement really shines, however, is when there’s a dedicated team implementing sales enablement best practices.
Oftentimes, it can be just one, solo sales enabler but larger organizations will have entire teams dedicated to ensuring that reps are receiving top-class empowerment and support.
Even with a dedicated team, cross-functional collaboration is a key aspect of sales enablement, with the department acting as a bridge between sales and marketing, as well as other teams across the business.
What are sales enablement tools?
Sales enablement professionals adopt a wide array of tools and technology to help them in their role.
These include content management and learning management systems, AI-powered conversation intelligence tools, all-in-one sales enablement platforms, and more.
These tools help sales enabers support reps more effectively at scale.
There’s a lot of depth to this conversation, which is why we have an entire article dedicated to running through the various types of tools you’ll hear about in the sales enablement world.
What is revenue enablement?
If you’ve joined in on any conversations across the enablement community, or attended our events, you’ll probably have heard the term revenue enablement.
But what is revenue enablement and where did it come from?
Essentially, organizations began realizing that the principles behind sales enablement were incredibly sound. For that reason, they began to expand from solely empowering and supporting the sales team, to looking at the entire customer-facing, revenue-driving part of the organization.
Now, you’ll often find more mature enablement organizations dropping the “sales” label and going by revenue enablement, taking the marketing and customer success teams under their wing.
This ensures that there’s total alignment between what the prospect is experiencing pre-sale, during the sales process, and post-sale in their interactions as a new customer.
What about go-to-market enablement?
It’s the same story with go-to-market enablement. Why stop with the customer-facing teams if enablement is so effective?
Organizations that employ go-to-market (GTM) enablement extend that level of support to any department involved in that GTM process of launching a new product or service, including product and often engineering teams too - in addition to the teams covered by revenue enablement.
Where does buyer enablement fit into this?
Earlier, we mentioned that buyer behavior has changed and continues to change - while sales enablement is one part of the equation in adapting to this change, buyer enablement is also a part of this adaptation.
We have an entire article on buyer enablement, but here’s a snippet to give you an idea of what buyer enablement actually is:
“When buyers change, sellers have to adapt and change as well. In this particular instance, buyer enablement is part of a broader move towards buyer-centric tactics and strategies. You have to understand a buyer’s preferences before, during, and after they buy in order to provide them with the best experience possible.”
The idea of buyer enablement involves bringing that same level of empowerment that reps receive from sales enablement, to buyers.
Where can I find out more?
Want to learn even more about sales enablement and its many intricacies?
Luckily for you, Sales Enablement Collective is the place to be for sales enablement.
- Our free Slack community allows you to ask questions to your peers, build out your network, and stay up-to-date with all the latest.
- Our bank of articles, podcasts, and reports analyzes the latest trends and figures to help you stay on top of your game.
- Our suite of worldwide in-person and virtual events provide you with the ultimate SE experience, with expert presentations and talks that put you at the heart of the industry.
- Our range of courses and certifications are designed to upskill and act as a springboard for your career, no matter your level of expertise.
Thanks for reading - and get in touch if you have any thoughts or questions! We're always on hand to help.
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