Sales Enablement is a critical function for growing organizations. In this article, we’ll give you a complete rundown of everything you need to know about Sales Enablement.
If you have the right tools and knowledge for a job, you’re far more likely to succeed than someone who doesn’t have these resources. The same can be said for sales teams.
When organizations struggle to close deals and teams aren’t on the same page, sales enablement can help by providing the right tools and resources.
But what does sales enablement mean, exactly? How can it help companies and why is it so important?
What is Sales Enablement?
There are many sales enablement definitions, but at its core, sales enablement is the process of helping companies sell things. That’s the simplest definition of sales enablement – the enablement of sales.
But what is sales enablement? What does it entail? There are two primary aspects of sales enablement:
- Core sales training – how do you become a better salesperson?
- Finding things internally to help sales teams improve their performance – the deck you use, what to do on the first call, how to use SalesLoft, ZoomInfo, etc.
Those who work in sales enablement are often like an extension of the VP of sales. Often with the sales job title of Sales Enablement Manager. They assist with structuring, creating templates, defining processes and more. Enablers are excellent organizers and teachers, and their primary goal is to ensure that the sales team has the knowledge they need to succeed.
What Do Companies Need Help with When It Comes to Sales Enablement?
While every company is different and will have its own unique needs, businesses often use sales team enablement to bring structure to their sales process. Their goal is to make sure everyone is on the same boat and rowing in the same direction.
Many companies – new businesses especially – don’t have a well-defined sales process. They typically have a small core team and as they grow, they don’t spend enough time building the process.
Their stage definitions are vague, their Salesforce data isn’t great, and forecasting becomes more difficult. Sales enablement can help with all of these issues.
How Does Sales Enablement Help Companies?
- Defining the sales process. What do you define each stage as, what are the entry and exit criteria, etc?
- Getting stakeholders to agree to these definitions and getting the marketing and sales teams onboard. The goal is to figure out how to sell sales enablement to stakeholders and get everyone to agree so that all parties are on the same page.
- Providing salespeople with direction. Sales enablement helps the sales team understand each step they should be taking. A company’s sales enablement defined processes ensure that the team is moving in the same direction and following the same steps.
- Making it a salesperson-oriented process. For example, sales enablement can help sales teams understand what they need to run their opening calls, what they should know, what they should say, the documents they need and what to do after the call. All of these steps will be mapped out and turned into a playbook that empowers the sales team.
When sales enablement teams can assist with all of these steps and processes, VPs can focus on more important and strategic things.
Why Is Sales Enablement Important?
Defining sales enablement is easy, but why is sales enablement important? When done properly, it can:
- Increase win rates
- Improve the sales process
- Create a cohesive strategy
- Provide easier access to resources across departments
Sales and marketing teams often have a gap that needs to be closed. Sales enablement helps close this gap so that salespeople can improve their win rates.
The benefits of sales enablement are invaluable when teams get it right.
Sales Enablement Process
Sales enablement means getting the ABCs in order. Getting the core processes in place is crucial and requires:
- Defining a sales process
- Clarifying the steps in a sales process
- Getting stakeholders to agree to the steps
- Ensuring everyone is following the process
Marketing sales enablement must be aligned with what the sales team needs. Sales enablement is done properly when there is a playbook that allows VPs to do high-level tasks and salespeople to continue generating sales.
When processes and procedures are in place that improve sales and win rates, sales enablement is working.
Common Sales Enablement Mistakes
The most basic sales enablement definition is to enable or help sales teams sell more effectively. But what happens when sales enablement gets it wrong?
One of the biggest mistakes in the sales enablement process is not doing enough content reviews.
For example, let’s say that a company has a massive sales enablement library and hours of call recordings. Sure, they have a lot of content, but salespeople aren’t interacting with it. After all, who has time to listen to hours of call recordings?
If salespeople have to jump through hoops to find things or you have an unorganized Google Drive, they won’t interact with your sales enablement content. Instead, salespeople will continue to use their big master slide deck and never pay attention to or incorporate the new things you want to roll out.
To avoid this mistake, figure out the simplest way to get the information into the salesperson’s hands to ensure they will actually use it.
Why do companies make these mistakes?
In many cases, these mistakes are made because organizing the basics of a sales team is not a top priority – unless you have an experienced sales leader.
The company is trying to hit its big goal and, in the process, overlooks the important foundational work, like getting the sales enablement strategy in order first.
Fractional Sales Enablement
Fractional sales enablement departments work well for many companies, particularly startups with small teams.
If you’re unclear about the fractional sales enablement meaning, let’s clear things up.
- Fractional enablement departments provide their services periodically (e.g., a set number of hours per week or deliverables per week) rather than full-time.
Unless it’s a big sales team, there’s often no need for a full-time sales enablement person. Given a Sales Enablement Manager salary, a full time hire may not make sense. The same reason some companies find it unnecessary to add a full time sales manager and opt for fractional sales management.
Fractional departments can give startups or VPs the playbook with sales enablement processes and sales enablement strategies, and let them get to work. Often, the ongoing organization of sales enablement is something that can be done in just a few hours a month.
That said, if a company is experiencing rapid growth, a fractional sales enablement department may no longer suffice. Having a full-time sales enablement person, in this case, can ensure that enough time is spent on training and updating content.
What Are the Top Enablement Services
Now that you know how to define sales enablement and understand what is enablement in sales, let’s look at deliverables.
What services does a sales enablement team provide?
- The playbook (the hub, the brain), which is the go-to resource for salespeople to find the latest deck, one-pagers, etc. The playbook is a centralized resource that’s easy for salespeople to access, and it can easily be updated with the latest procedures. Maintaining the playbook is the sales enablement’s role. Sales enablement will also work with the VP to ensure all of the right things are in the playbook.
- Specific training on tech stacks or processes. While software like Sales Loft will offer its own training, companies find it useful to have enablement assist with specific training with their goals and internal processes in mind.
Who Creates The Sales Enablement Process?
The creation of sales enablement and marketing processes is a collaborative effort. Sales enablement will work with sales leaders as well as the VP of sales to develop processes and definitions.
When creating software training, sales enablement will typically talk to sales ops about logistics – how the platform is set up, technical aspects, etc. Enablement will also speak to the VP of sales to get a better idea of what they want to focus on – activity metrics, setting goals, prospecting procedures, etc.
When it comes to things like deck design, a fractional sales enablement person or team would likely handle the deck design. For a larger organization, an in-house design team may handle this step.
What is the Most Repeatable Thing in a Sales Enablement Program?
Sales enablement functions are often repeatable. Weekly or monthly, there are things that continue to pop up. One commonality among sales enablement programs is playbook management of where things are.
In the best-case scenario, sales enablement operates as a “brain.”
Professionals go to sales enablement to find the material they need to do their job, such as:
- New marketing content
- Push for selling new upgrades
Companies always have something new happening, such as a VP requesting that sales teams push a new product that demands someone come into the company to:
- Organize content
- Organize procedures
In the deal review process, especially on an enterprise level, the ability to store and record deal review processes, checklists, score cards and so on will increase win rates and pay dividends.
Deal reviews are intricate processes, and it’s not uncommon for enterprise sellers to land in a startup. Imagine a sales executive for a Fortune 500 company steps into a startup and hires a bunch of other executive sales team members.
This individual assumes that the team is well-seasoned in sales, and during the month, becomes bogged down with work.
At the end of the month, it’s time to review. He discovers that he had $1 million in potential sales fall through, even though everyone on the team had the sales skills to make these deals a reality.
Deal reviews could stop these lost sales because team members meet with the VP, often weekly. The AE scores the review, goes over the score card, and then the VP helps increase the deal quality with their recommendations.
For a VP, the benefit of deal reviews is that their forecast for sales goes way up and becomes very accurate.
For someone in the sales enablement role, they learn from the VP and also better understand the deals that are being made around them. Anyone learning sales will learn invaluable tips and insights through the deal review process.
Win-loss reviews can also be used in a similar manner. You can pull all of the activities from Salesforce, write up what happened with each meeting, and then create a summary of the entire deal from start to finish.
What Do Sales Orgs Need Created?
Marketing and sales enablement are crucial to the long-term health of a business. If you want to integrate a sales enablement program with any level of success, you need to create the right:
SEs can also recommend sales enablement tools, but this is a topic that deserves much more attention and will be discussed below.
Your goal as an SE is to bridge the gap between your marketing and sales team, and this comes down to offering the right resources. For example, you may need to:
- Create checklists and guides for sellers to follow
- Train sellers on how to adapt their approach to increase sales
- Provide relevant content for sellers
As an SE, it’s all about helping improve productivity and making measurable impacts on businesses. You may create content to better educate the sales team or help with coaching and training to improve sell rates.
Who Is Involved Internally in the Sales Enablement Function?
The sales enablement function has a lot of moving parts, and you must work with internal team members daily. You may need to work with:
- VP of Sales
- Account Executives
- Sales Operations
- Revenue Operations
- Product teams
- Anyone who wants salespeople to say something
Communicating a consistent message is one of the main goals of sales enablement. Working with anyone who wants salespeople to say something is crucial to the program because it guarantees all points are covered from departments to teams and customers.
Salespeople are often bombarded with information that leads to chaos. One example is a sales team that has meetings every week with departments. Here’s what they may experience:
- Marketing teams want a new message heard
- Product teams want you to sell a new product
- VPs want salespeople to focus on a new persona
Sales enablement helps break through all of this noise and fits all of the information into a neat framework. The framework will help guide salespeople on when to focus on a persona or when to sell a new product and to whom.
The sales enablement function should include anyone who wants salespeople to do something, such as sell a new product, use a new persona or more.
Additionally, sales enablement services may also include tools that are used to keep everything organized for salespeople.
Popular Sales Enablement Tools
Software helps sales enablement define and improve workflow. You’ll find that there are many options, such as:
Sales enablement technologies can be loved by one team and not another. For example, HighSpot is designed to make sales enablement teams more productive, but there is an obvious learning curve involved.
Find out more about the best sales enablement tools.
What is sales enablement software good for?
Streamlining how you manage content, engage buyers, guide reps and more.
Often, it’s worth the time and effort to learn these tools because they can add sales enablement automation into the mix, too. Allowing SEs to focus on high-level tasks while automating many of the repeatable tasks can help bolster sales.
However, the tools must live with the salespeople.
For example, sales enablement people will want to be where the salespeople “live.” Why? You’ll find salespeople are less likely to adopt a new tool that you use, such as HighSpot. If your sales team “lives” inside of Google Drive, meaning that’s what they have open all day for their own files, it’s better to use Google Drive because it’s already part of their workflow.
Salesforce integration is so crucial for many software companies because it’s widely used. If SEs use tools that integrate into Salesforce, they’ll have a much higher adoption rate from salespeople because they already rely on Salesforce.
What are sales enablement tools? They can be timesavers, but they also need to be adopted by the sales team if they’re worth the investment.
Sales enablement empowers sales teams by providing access to tools, resources and materials necessary to increase sales and boost revenue. With the ability to quickly access information from a central location, reps across departments can edit, manage and share resources to keep sales pipelines full.