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Revenue Enablement

What is Sales Enablement: Everything You Need to Know

Sales enablement–the strategic, ongoing effort of providing sellers with the content, resources, training, and sales coaching they need to engage buyers effectively–is a fast-growing priority. The 2021 State of Sales Enablement report found that 74 percent of respondents have a sales enablement function at their organization, a 19 percent increase from last year.

Investing in an enablement function can be a true differentiator in today’s competitive market. Companies with effective sales enablement can expect better win rates, higher quota attainment, and increased employee and customer retention.

The 2021 report found that an overwhelming 97 percent of organizations say that the enablement team has increased business success. So if you want to improve your bottom line, you can’t afford to miss out.


In this article:


What is sales enablement?

A sales enablement team equips sellers with the knowledge, process, skills, and behaviors they need to help them sell. This includes onboarding, ongoing training, change management, optimization of sales tools, and providing valuable sales content they understand when and how to use. 

At a high level, this requires coordination between different departments and stakeholders. Most often, sales enablement is collaborating and bridging the gaps between Product Marketing, Product Management, and Sales so that sellers get exactly what they need at the right time in the sales cycle. 

A sales enablement strategy also includes: 

      • Creating training materials
      • Running training sessions
      • Building on-demand training
      • Helping managers become more effective at coaching sales reps

Why is sales enablement important?

Sales enablement is essential because it drives results. At a glance, the 2021 State of Sales Enablement report shows that sales enablement efforts can significantly improve:

      • Win rates (by four points on average)
      • Quota attainment (by eight points on average)
      • Customer retention (by nine points on average)
      • Employee engagement (which can increase quota attainment by 30 points)

Additionally, sales enablement teams help improve your sales rep onboarding process. Organizations with a strong onboarding process can lower ramp time by two months. How would it benefit your organization if ramp time was two months shorter?

Read more: The Sales Onboarding Checklist Designed to Take Onboarding From Good to Great

Sales enablement is a key part of aligning marketing and sales teams. Misalignment between sales and marketing costs businesses $1 trillion a year in wasted efforts and low productivity, but aligning these functions can increase closed deals by 67 percent.

“Without an enablement team, you’re flying a team and building it at the same time,” according to Nina Bankar, Vice President of Customer Success at Calm. “This can result in a couple of crash landings. An enablement team can help guide what needs to happen to ensure customers are successful. Without enablement, you’re setting yourself up for more pain and potential failures.”

Who is responsible for sales enablement?

Sales enablement works best when there’s a dedicated team with a formal charter and responsibilities. 

The 2021 report found that 32 percent of companies have an informal vision for enablement, 28 percent have a formal vision and strategy, and another 28 percent have a formal sales enablement charter.

A charter is associated with higher levels of success and greater impact within the organization because enablement can scope and focus efforts on projects that align with their core skills and strategic vision. In addition, enablement deliverables often cross-reference each other and co-exist in ways that make it easy for a rep to access what they need quickly and easily. 

A dedicated team allows the enablement department to focus solely on training, sales process improvements, onboarding, sales assets, and coaching initiatives to improve sales performance. Ideally, the sales enablement team should report to a revenue leader like the Chief Revenue Officer. 

Each year of consistent implementation of sales enablement practices can result in an additional three-point increase in win rates over the previous year. Also, it’s ideal to have multiple people working on enablement—win rates increase as the sales enablement team grows.

Understanding how to build a business case for an enablement team can help you get buy-in. Learn more about setting responsibilities and KPIs and discover five essential strategies to build a sales enablement team

What is the difference between sales enablement and marketing?

Sales enablement serves as a strategic and tactical liaison between the sales and marketing teams.

Generally, the marketing team builds brand awareness for your products or services, creating leads. The sales reps follow up with leads and make the sale. Marketing might also focus on creating materials that the sales reps use to generate and propel leads and interact with prospects along the buying journey. 

Sales enablement ensures that the processes, changes, and materials coming from marketing are translated into a language and motion that the sellers understand and can easily use daily. Sometimes, the enablement team will “deliver” the marketing assets or deliverables to sales in a consumable and relevant format.

Mark Hart, Chief Operating Officer at Pollen Returns, a pick-up service for e-commerce businesses, notes in a recent Martech article, “A typical salesperson says, ‘just buy it, whatever it is.’ Marketing will say ‘buy what is promoted.’ Operations and inventory will say, ‘just buy what is there.’ What each unit sees as a “win” is different.”

Russ Sharer, Chief Sales Officer for The Brooks Group, says, “It is actually a big deal in most companies that the incentives for the three groups often are contradictory. Combined forecasting meetings should bring the three together, where they must show their work and defend their plans.”

Aligning the goals and expectations of each department is one of the key functions of the sales enablement team. When everyone is on the same page, the sales process matches the customer journey, and sales reps have excellent leads and high-quality, customizable marketing materials to win the sale.

Many organizations also have a content marketing team. This unit creates content for buyers and prospective buyers, like blog posts, white papers, eBooks, and more. The sales enablement team focuses on creating internal content that sales reps use to understand the product and connect with prospective buyers.

Sales enablement is often confused not just with marketing but with sales operations as well. Understanding the difference between sales enablement and operations helps keep your enablement team focused on the areas where they can have the most impact. 

What are the components of sales enablement?

The sales enablement team has many different roles. The enablement process helps the sales team be more effective and increase revenue.

Training and onboarding 

New hire training is one of the first duties most organizations consider when they think of sales enablement for a good reason. The 2019 State of Sales Enablement report found that the enablement team was in charge of training in 43 percent of the companies surveyed, making it the most common role for the department.

Sales enablement content 

Sales enablement content includes internal assets that help sales reps be more effective. The enablement team creates and organizes content that sales reps use to educate their prospects, address concerns, answer questions, and make the sale. 

Common sales enablement content includes:

      • Buyer personas
      • Email templates
      • Talk tracks
      • Discovery call checklists
      • Demo recordings
      • Case studies
      • One-pagers
      • ROI calculators

Read more: 13 Types of Sales Enablement Content Your Team Needs

CSO Insight’s 2019 Sales Enablement report showed that only 31 percent of companies had an enablement content strategy. Still, those companies saw an increase of 27.1 percent in win rates and 18.1 percent in quota attainment. 

Sales enablement tools

Sales enablement tools can help the team be more successful and efficient. Tools like sales intelligence software, a content management system, a knowledge base, and an all-in-one learning platform can significantly affect how well the sales enablement team performs. 

Read more: 3 Sales Enablement Tools for Your Sales Team

Setting goals and tracking performance

By tracking how successfully sales reps meet their goals, enablement can pinpoint ways to offer or improve training, optimize the sales process, create necessary content, and much more. The enablement team is also often in charge of helping managers become capable coaches for their sales reps, which helps everyone improve.

How can you focus your sales enablement unit when they have many organizational roles? Consider these five focus areas for your sales enablement strategy.

Do you need a sales enablement team?

Sales enablement allows you to coordinate the efforts of everyone in your organization that helps the sales team succeed: marketing, operations, product management, L&D, and more. 

Having a sales enablement team with a specific charter, clear responsibilities, accountability, and goals is the best practice for improving your sales results. This strategy can help you increase win rates, quota attainment, customer retention, and revenue. At the same time, it allows you to reduce ramp time and get more productivity and engagement from your sales team.

“Enablement is the fuel of the revenue engine. They’re responsible for building and setting up any program for success.”

-Matt Green, CRO, Sales Assembly

 

Read more: How to Assess Your Needs for a Sales Enablement Program

Set your sales enablement team up for success

A sales enablement team can help to improve results at every level. Teams work together better, your company saves money lost due to inefficiency, and you increase win rates and quota attainment. You can’t afford not to have a sales enablement team.

Great sales enablement teams are even more effective with the right tools and resources. WorkRamp is an All-in-One Learning Platform that can help you equip your sales team with on-demand training to increase rep efficiency, drive revenue and performance, and close more deals. 

Contact us for a free, personalized demo to learn more about how we can help your reps perform their best. 

 

Anna Spooner

Freelance Writer

Anna Spooner is a digital strategist and marketer with over 11 years of experience. She writes content for various industries, including SaaS, medical and personal insurance, healthcare, education, marketing, and business. She enjoys the process of putting words around a company’s vision and is an expert at making complex ideas approachable and encouraging an audience to take action. 

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