x close
Nothing to display...
8 min read

The what, how, and why of sales enablement

Team alignment

In recent years, sales enablement has established itself as an increasingly important business function. But why? What is sales enablement and why are companies eager to implement it?

Despite being on this fast track to prominence, there’s still an air of uncertainty surrounding sales enablement’s definition.

In this article, we look at:

Let’s get started. 

What is sales enablement?

It’s difficult to sum up sales enablement’s value to the sales organization in just a few lines, but here’s our attempt:

Sales enablement is a strategy that encompasses coaching, training, content, technology, processes, and activities to support and empower sales reps to move sales opportunities forward through knowledge-based interactions with prospects.

In short? Sales enablement is about helping salespeople be better at what they do by providing them with support and training.

The role of customer advocacy in sales and support
Product marketing and sales teams continue to collaborate closely with one another in a bid to fulfill short and long-term targets.

It sounds simple, but in reality, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. A good sales enablement department will work with key stakeholders to ensure:

  • New sellers are onboarded as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • There’s quality sales content for sellers to use
  • That sellers know which piece of content to use and when
  • That seller performance is tracked in order to know where they need to improve
  • The company’s sales kick-offs are engaging and effective
  • Sellers have the fewest possible barriers during the sales cycle and in their day-to-day role
  • That sales training and coaching are happening in an appropriate manner
  • Cross-functional communication between the marketing team and sales team is efficient
  • Sales managers are assisted in their roles within the organization
  • That the organization’s long-term sales enablement strategy is sound

And a whole lot more!

While specific responsibilities might vary from role to role, you get the idea. Sales enablement departments work on improving and maintaining some of the most critical, revenue-driving aspects of an organization – so it’s no surprise that the function has boomed.

But what makes a sales enablement professional different from a sales coach, or a sales trainer?

How is sales enablement different from sales training and coaching?

Sales enablement is different from sales training in that it focuses on providing the sales team with the knowledge, resources, and tools they need to be successful.

Sales training, however, is geared towards teaching sellers the specific sales skills they need to improve their performance, increase their win rate, and close more deals.

In that sense, sales training is just one aspect that sits under the wider umbrella of sales enablement. In the past, people with job titles like sales trainer and sales coach would teach those specific skills.

These roles still exist today, but as organizations began to expand their sales training into broader, more strategic disciplines the need for the term “sales enablement” came about.

Why is sales enablement so important?

Organizations worldwide are seeing the benefits of sales enablement and there are several reasons why. The entire function dedicates itself to supporting and empowering sales reps. 

It’s no surprise that empowered sales reps:

  • Display increased sales confidence
  • Are more likely to improve their performance
  • Provide a better prospect and customer experience

The buyer journey no longer starts at the first contact with the seller. Nowadays, prospects and potential customers are well-informed and have done their research right from the moment they interact with your sales team for the first time.

If your sales reps aren’t prepared for that, you’ll fall behind the competition.

This means that sales enablement is important in ensuring that your sales teams are kept up to date with the latest developments in buyer behavior. It’s about more than just training and coaching sellers in the short term to improve their skills.

It’s about having a long-term, strategic sales enablement process in your organization that ensures your sellers are consistently using best practices and maximizing their sales productivity.

When the sales enablement team is implementing best practices and is aligned with key stakeholders across the organization (such as sales operations, marketing, and product marketing), you’ll see your sales teams close more deals and bring in more revenue.

That’s what makes it important.

Why a hybrid attribution model is a better approach to understanding buyer behavior
Hybrid attribution models combine online and offline data to show every touchpoint in a buyer’s journey for a complete view of marketing impact.

Reporting and analyzing your sales enablement results

Sales enablement works. According to G2, "Organizations with sales enablement achieve a 49% win rate on forecasted deals, compared to 42.5% for those without." But how do you know your efforts are working?

Measuring sales enablement can be difficult – it’s often tricky to tie a new onboarding program directly to an increase in new rep ramp time, for example.

How do you prove that your new content management system has led to easier access to content – and therefore increased usage?

Some key metrics to look at include:

  • Time to productivity
  • Quota attainment
  • Sales confidence
  • Content usage
  • Conversion rates
  • Sales velocity

It’s increasingly important for your enablement team to be data-driven, both in what problems they solve first, and also in how they report their results and prove their return on investment (ROI) to senior leadership teams.

How Generative AI Transforms Revenue, Digital, and Growth Marketing

Who owns sales enablement?

There’s no one answer here – in some companies, usually those with less mature enablement functions, there won’t even be a sales enablement team.

Sales enablement in this case is a strategy picked up by various departments, primarily marketing, product marketing, and sales, to ensure that sales reps have useful content they can use to sell the organization’s product or service, and that sales leadership is providing adequate coaching for underperforming reps.

This is why sales and marketing alignment is one of enablement’s core pillars

Where sales enablement really shines, however, is when there’s a dedicated team implementing sales enablement best practices.

Oftentimes, it can be just one, solo sales enabler but larger organizations will have entire teams dedicated to ensuring that reps are receiving top-class empowerment and support.

Even with a dedicated team, cross-functional collaboration is a key aspect of sales enablement, with the department acting as a bridge between sales and marketing, as well as other teams across the business.

Marketing and sales alignment playbook

What is sales content and what does it have to do with enablement?

One of enablement’s many responsibilities is the creation and maintenance of sales content. Research shows that over 75% of enablement teams are at least partially involved in this process. 

Sales content, sales collateral, and sales enablement content (these terms are often used interchangeably) come in different shapes, sizes, and formats. 

From one-pagers that sales reps can give to prospective customers, to battlecards that reps can use to get the lowdown on their competitors before sales calls. 

Simply put, sales content contains information for either a sales professional or prospective customer to view, which provides them with a better understanding of your product/service. 

It’s content that a sales rep uses during the sales process to convince a prospect of the product/service’s value.

What are sales enablement tools?

Sales enablement professionals adopt a wide array of tools and technology to help them in their role.

These include content management and learning management systems, AI-powered conversation intelligence tools, all-in-one sales enablement platforms, and more.

These tools help sales enablers support reps more effectively at scale.

What is revenue enablement?

Essentially, organizations began realizing that the principles behind sales enablement were incredibly sound.

For that reason, they began to expand from solely empowering and supporting the sales team to looking at the entire customer-facing, revenue-driving part of the organization.

Now, you’ll often find more mature enablement organizations dropping the “sales” label and going by revenue enablement, taking the marketing and customer success teams under their wing.

This ensures that there’s total alignment between what the prospect is experiencing pre-sale, during the sales process, and post-sale in their interactions as a new customer.

What is revenue marketing? | Your complete guide
Revenue marketing is an important strategy for driving growth. This guide will provide an overview of its benefits and how to grow your business.

What about go-to-market enablement?

It’s the same story with go-to-market (GTM) enablement. Why stop with the customer-facing teams if enablement is so effective?

Organizations that employ go-to-market enablement extend that level of support to any department involved in that GTM process of launching a new product or service, including product and often engineering teams too – in addition to the teams covered by revenue enablement.

Where does buyer enablement fit into this?

Earlier, we mentioned that buyer behavior has changed and continues to change – while sales enablement is one part of the equation in adapting to this change, buyer enablement is also a part of this adaptation.

When buyers change, sellers have to adapt and change as well. Buyer enablement is part of a broader move towards buyer-centric tactics and strategies. 

You have to understand a buyer’s preferences before, during, and after they buy in order to provide them with the best experience possible.

What is sales enablement: Final thoughts

Sales enablement has rapidly evolved from an ill-defined concept to a crucial business function. At its core, it's about empowering sales teams with the knowledge, resources, and tools they need to excel as buyer expectations grow and transform.

By tightly aligning sales, marketing, and revenue-focused teams, enablement bridges gaps and breaks down silos. This paves the way for a seamless experience guiding buyers from initial interest through post-purchase success.

As buyer behavior continues to shift, sales enablement's role will only grow more vital and be essential to an organization’s competitive edge. Savvy companies recognize this and are investing in dedicated enablement teams, robust sales content, cutting-edge tools, and meticulous performance tracking.

Whether you're a sales leader, marketer, or an enabler yourself, a comprehensive enablement strategy is key. It's essential for unlocking your sales force's full potential, propelling revenue growth, and delivering an unmatched customer experience.

Want to get your hands on a free alignment-focused playbook?

Aligning sales and marketing departments can generate 208% more revenue from marketing campaigns.

But many companies feel their marketing and sales teams are yet to achieve alignment.

That’s why we’re delighted to bring you the Marketing and Sales Alignment Playbook!

With insights from expert contributors, actionable advice and guidance, and example frameworks, our playbook has everything you need to get your marketing and sales teams truly aligned.

Why you should align your marketing and sales teams

Getting marketing and sales aligned has a wealth of benefits. In fact, effective alignment has been cited as the number one factor attributed to achieving revenue goals.

When marketing and sales know how to work together, the results are:

🤑 Increased revenue

âś… Improved customer retention

🎯 Better win rates

đź’« Increased renewals

Need we say more? 👇

Written by:

Daniel O'Dowd

Daniel O'Dowd

Copywriter / Content @ SEC

Read More
The what, how, and why of sales enablement