There is a common question we often get asked: is Sales Enablement really something new, or is it just another marketing term for Sales Training?
I can definitely see why you might think that – look for any definition of what sales enablement is and the results are never straightforward – we just want a simple answer!
We like to explain sales enablement as:
Sales Enablement is enabling sales: basically, removing all the blockers that could prevent a sale from happening.
A blocker is anything that stops a salesperson from selling, whether that’s clunky tools and processes, or a lack of knowledge about their products.
Sales Enablement’s job is to fix those blockers, so sales can progress smoothly, quickly and fluidly. The customer is happy, and the salesperson is even happier.
So, as you can see, this goes beyond the realms of just sales training.
Why Sales Enablement is more than just Sales Training
If we start by putting sales training to one side, let’s look at what Sales Enablement does that Sales Training doesn’t.
Sales Enablement Tools
We all need tools to get our jobs done, and sales is no different. It’s Sales Enablement’s responsibility to rationalise and decide which sales tools are needed by the sales force to better do their jobs. These could be enhanced CRM tools that flag up to salespeople when a customer hasn’t been contacted recently, or pricing tools to help salespeople quickly prepare quotes.
Sales Enablement Technology
Outside of the tools used by salespeople for day to day selling, Sales Enablement teams often implement sales enablement-specific tools to coordinate their enablement activities for the sales force, such as content repositories (such as solutions from Seismic or Showpad) that contain sales playbooks, case studies and product briefs in one place so reps can have instant access to the content they need.
Sales Enablement leaders can also implement tech to help them better track salespeople’s performance, with call recording software and reporting tools.
Sales Enablement Managers will be responsible for reviewing and putting in place sales processes – whether that’s processes around how to handle specific parts of the sales process, such as discovery calls or sales meetings, or more formal governance processes around the sales cycle and deal review activities.
These sales processes form the blueprint for how a company wants its salespeople to engage and interact in different situations, and has a big impact on the ‘sales culture’ of the organization.
Sales Management Coaching and Personal Development
Outside of ‘normal’ sales training, sales coaching by Sales Managers to their teams is incredibly important. Sales coaching can be delivered as formal 1-2-1 sessions where managers dedicate specific time on a regular basis to their sales employees, or can be more fluid; integrated into day to day activities such as joint customer meetings or deal review sessions, advising reps on areas they could improve, questioning certain tactics and strategies or being an ear during a difficult time.
But not all Sales Managers know how to do this, so Sales Enablement Managers need to coach their Sales Managers on how to open up conversations with their teams, and to refresh managers on the type of qualities the company wants to encourage across their sales force.
Many salespeople who move into sales management, are often promoted due to high performance and exceeding their sales quotas – which doesn’t translate into having great sales coaching and development qualities. What makes you a great salesperson doesn’t necessarily make you a great sales manager (in lots of cases, it can have the opposite effect). Sales Enablement leaders can work with Sales Management to develop high-quality coaching programmes, coaching the managers on how to coach their own teams. In turn, the more salespeople who receive good quality coaching from their own managers, will then have good foundations in place when they go on to be managers themselves.
Content is integral to sales enablement – it includes the content for training salespeople, the content for marketing your products and the content that your salespeople will give to customers to help them along a sales cycle.
Content can sit in marketing, but also has an important role in the sales department itself. For example, Sales Playbooks are a type of content that marketing might not necessarily create, but are still, in effect, content.
The reason why content is so important within the sphere of Sales Enablement, is that it can be coordinated rather than marketing, product management and sales all creating their own content. By Sales Enablement being involved in coordinating content creation that affects the sales team, sales training content can be seamlessly linked to sales presentations and product marketing collateral.
So what about Sales Training then?
Sales training, of course, sits within Sales Enablement, but it isn’t everything. Sales Enablement is instead extending the results of sales training to have lasting impact, across processes, tech, tools and content.
Sales training alone won’t have the impact that a coordinated, comprehensive sales enablement program can deliver – where every ‘cog’ is working together to deliver tangible outcomes for a business.