Everyone’s Talking About Sales Enablement – But what the heck is it really?
by April Williams
Sales Enablement is not a new term. But ask 10 people what it is and you will likely get 10 different answers. The one thing I have learned – it does not matter how you define it – what matters is that you are doing something that is helping to align marketing and sales. And that’s a win in my book.
At SalesAmp we have built our business around the understanding that 60%+ of sales people’s time is spent on non-selling activity. With that in mind our goal has always been to take as much off our client’s sales people plate as possible. What I have seen Sales Enablement evolve into for many companies is a truly helpful process for any busy salesperson that needs access to the right information at the right time. But you may still be scratching your head. So –
If you are one of the MANY people still trying to figure out just exactly what Sales Enablement is – read on.
Let’s start with some definitions of Sales Enablement
Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals. These resources may include content, tools, knowledge and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.
What is sales enablement? The field of sales enablement is predicated on providing sales people with what they need to engage their target buyers. As such, it’s important to provide sales with the resources the buyer wants.
What sales enablement provides to sales people is a critical part of defining your program. What you provide usually takes the form of information. We group this information into two categories:
• Content that sales will provide to the buyer
• Best practices, research and tools that sales will consume internally
FreshSales defines sales enablement as a process used by companies to provide their sales people with the necessary tools, training, and content to boost their productivity. This process involves multiple departments, and they all work together to help sales teams reach qualified prospects and close deals faster. For example, the marketing department creates blog posts, video tutorials, case studies, and other resources that sales people can use, to educate prospects during meetings. Some of these are also used to pre-qualify leads before they talk to sales, making it easier to close deals. They also create training/onboarding materials and offer ongoing coaching to ensure that their sales people understand the resources available to them, how to access them, and how to use them to their benefit.
The sole purpose of sales enablement is to help sales people do their jobs more effectively. Whether it’s prospecting, hosting customer meetings, or closing deals. Sales enablement enhances the process by weeding out unqualified leads using highly-targeted content. This includes providing resources that sales people can use to show the benefits and results of using the products and services they’re selling. By making these resources readily available, sales people will be able to inform and convert leads easier.
Sales Enablement Society
In a 2017 article by Bob Junke of Adventace cited a draft definition by the Sales Enablement Society. “Sales enablement ensures buyers are engaged at the right time and place, and with the right assets, by well-trained client-facing staff to provide a world-class experience along the customer’s journey, while utilizing the right sales and performance management technologies in addition to synergizing cross-organizational collaboration. Sales enablement optimizes the selling motion in order to increase pipeline, move opportunities forward, and win bigger deals more efficiently to drive profitable growth.”
The Answer Is
When you read all of these definitions above one thing is clear, Sales Enablement has been around for a long time and it is still evolving. You can see that there are many overlapping elements but no two definitions or Sales Enablement Programs are exactly the same. And I believe that is not only OK but how it should be. Because Sales Enablement can encompass many things companies today create enablement programs that fit their company and their marketing, sales and customer service roles.
Meet Sheevaun Thatcher – She Has Lived and Breathed Sales Enablement for Years.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Sheevaun Thatcher VP, Global Digital Learning and Enablement for Ring Central. What should catch your eye right away is that her title does not have “Sales” in it – just enablement. Sheevaun has been on the cutting edge of the sales enablement evolution – even being one of the founding members of the Sales Enablement Society. So I wasn’t surprised when she said she envisioned a future where none of us called it Sales Enablement any more – just enablement as it would run across multiple departments – with a shared singular focus – driving client success.
So I asked her if she could define sales enablement – here is what she said:
“I can give you an analogy. Imagine a bowling alley. You give every single bowler a ball, some of them will pitch it down there at high speed, at just the right angle and make strikes every time and some will just send it into the gutter right away.
So from an enablement perspective our role is to say who’s going to throw the gutter balls and put the bumpers up and make sure that no matter what, even if they may not get a strike every time, they’re going to take down at least one pin and be able to move forward”.
She also shared her Sales Enablement Charter that she believes is at the core of any successful sales enablement initiatives. It is essential she said to have this agreed upon before beginning your program.
These are the four parts of the charter:
• The Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy is understood by all
• All content and assets are aligned with GTM strategy
• Make all content and assets available to the buyer-facing folks at the right time during the buyer’s journey
• Create a feedback loop (Tribal Knowledge) so that you can constantly improve