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. Sales Enablement includes Sales Training, Content and Technology (such as CRM and analytics).
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.
Here are a number of potential blockers we typically see in sales:
- I don’t understand my customers
- I don’t know who my customers are
- I don’t know enough about my product to sell it
- I don’t have the sales skills to effectively sell my product
- I don’t have the resources and content to share with my customers
- I don’t have the tools to properly do my job
- I don’t have a sales process I can follow to achieve success
So, there are obviously other, additional blockers that you might think of, but these are the common ones we hear from clients – and sales enablement seeks to remove these blockers, across sales training, sales tools (such as CRM, call monitoring and coaching), content (for both customers, marketing activities and internal training, such as Sales Playbooks), and sales processes and methodologies.
Where does Sales Enablement fit in an organization?
Sales enablement crosses into marketing, sales management, product management, sales ops and sales training departments – sitting across all of these areas. Sometimes an organization might have a dedicated Sales Enablement department, other times, sales enablement might be a multi-departmental network of people who come together to deliver a sales enablement initiative or program.
What does Sales Enablement look like?
If we take the previous ‘blocker statements’ we mentioned before, we can demonstrate how enablement might address each of those statements:
- I don’t understand my customers – Sales training on different target industries and their motivators; Account Planning
- I don’t know who my customers are – Training around identifying target customer profiles; Territory planning
- I don’t know enough about my product to sell it – Product training and positioning
- I don’t have the sales skills to effectively sell my product – General sales skill training and role plays
- I don’t have the resources and content to share with my customers – Content creation; Marketing collateral; Product information
- I don’t have the tools to properly do my job – Sales operations delivery of CRM tools, etc.
- I don’t have a sales process I can follow to achieve success – Company defined processes; Sales operations processes
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales Enablement covers three main pillars: Training, Content and Tech. But within that, there is operations, coaching, analytics and many more parts that make up the Sales Enablement machine.
Is Sales Enablement the same as Sales Training?
Sales Enablement includes Sales Training but it’s more than that: it also covers the technology that salespeople use to do their job and the marketing content they use to educate and sell to customers.
How do Sales Playbooks help with Sales Enablement?
Sales Playbooks are core to any Sales Enablement strategy – they should be the bible for all your product marketing and sales training content. They’re also sometimes called Product Playbooks or Go To Market Playbooks.
Does Marketing own Sales Enablement?
In some companies, yes it does – but Sales Enablement usually sits in the Sales function. It is often managed by Sales Management or Sales Operations. The confusion is because Sales Enablement needs to work closely with Marketing to create the content that salespeople need to sell, such as social posting, sales playbooks, bids and proposals, case studies, and so on.
Is Product Marketing part of the Sales Enablement department?
Not usually, however, Product Marketing is very closely aligned with Sales Enablement for creating sales content around particular products and sales scenarios. Product Marketing might help with developing a Sales Playbook, for example.
What analytics is important to a Sales Enablement Manager?
Sales Enablement Managers will primarily be concerned with CRM data, plus analytics tools that monitor selling activities across the organization like sales call analytics and data from social media platforms about customer engagement. Deal review analytics and content views will also be important to Sales Managers.
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. (Take a look at our Sales Playbook Template pack to find out how to create your own playbook).
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.
Want to learn more? Take a listen to our podcast on Sales Enablement:
In Episode 7 of The Sales Way Podcast, we tackle the question “What is Sales Enablement”.