The Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement.

Veronika Traublinger
November 18, 2020

Get a complete overview of sales enablement - from what sales enablement means to what sales enablement strategies your company should use.

According to Brainsharks Annual Sales Enablement Study, companies with sales enablement see 15% better win rates than those without. Sounds great, right? But what does sales enablement mean, and what does successful sales enablement look like?


This guide will give you a complete overview of sales enablement. We are starting by explaining what sales enablement means and will move on to what sales enablement strategies your company can use to drive sales success.


So, let’s start with the basics.


What is Sales Enablement?


Sales Enablement is all about increasing sales results by providing content and training for sales professionals for the entire sales cycle. CSO insights created the following definition:


“Sales Force Enablement — A strategic, collaborative discipline

designed to increase predictable sales results

by providing consistent, scalable enablement services

that allow customer-facing professionals and their managers

to add value in every customer interaction.”


Of course, how exactly you define sales enablement often depends on who you’re talking to. But the general idea of empowering people in customer-facing roles to have more effective customer interactions is what these definitions have in common and is what you should keep in mind when continuing reading. 


Before digging deeper into the advantages of sales enablement and how a successful sales enablement strategy looks, let’s discuss what sales enablement teams do all day.



What are the Daily Activities of Sales Enablement Teams?


Sales Enablement teams have a wide variety of tasks, including:


  • Design the sales onboarding process as well as continuous learning programs
  • Creating sales and customer success assets and training content
  • Developing and implementing a sales coaching strategy
  • Supporting the development of sales playbook and communication
  • Managing sales tools (together with sales operations)


The exact responsibilities of sales enablement teams and whom they report vary depending on the company size and industry. The team’s size can also range from one person overseeing everything up to a group of 10 or more people, including a dedicated sales coach.


Ultimately, every sales enablement team exists to support sellers in their customer interactions. How exactly they do this looks different in each organization.

 


Why does your business need Sales Enablement?


Ok, by now, you know what sales enablement is and what the job of a sales enablement team involves. But why exactly does your company need sales enablement? Fair question. Let’s look at some sales enablement stats:


  • By now, over 60% of organizations say they have a sales enablement function in place.
  • Organizations with clearly defined sales enablement vision, goals, and strategies saw win rates 8.7 points higher than the study’s average.*


*Download the CSO Insights Annual Sales Enablement Study for more exciting insights and stats on the sales enablement status quo.


So it seems that a good sales enablement strategy directly impacts the sales success of a company. But why is this?

There are many reasons why a good sales enablement strategy has a positive impact on win rates. A few big ones are:


1. Sales Readiness

Sales enablement ensures that every sales rep has the knowledge they need to have valuable customer interactions: product details, competitive positioning, and much more. It significantly reduces ramp time and allows maximum efficiency for customer-facing activities. More informed customer interactions lead to a better buying experience, happier prospects, and more deals.


2. Aligned messaging

Good sales enablement content provides a clear guideline for sellers on the messaging. It contains product value, competitive positioning, and objection handling responses. An aligned sales force has an easy task moving prospects through the buyer’s journey. 


3. Effective Usage of tools

A well thought-through sales enablement strategy also contains an overview of the organization’s tech stack, including what tools need to be used by whom, for what, and how. The right tech stack used correctly leads to higher productivity and more aligned sales processes. Meaning people in a customer-facing role have more time to focus on what’s important: talking to their customers.  



How to develop a winning Sales Enablement strategy


Before you start working on your sales enablement strategy you should think about who to involve in the process. We suggest that you include representatives from the sales leadership, the marketing leadership, and executive leadership team. Once you’ve done that you can create a strategy by answering five questions step by step.


1. Why do you need a sales enablement strategy?

A good way to start is to define your goal and align everyone to it. Also your sellers must understand the value of sales enablement for their success. Explain to them why and which content is important for each persona in every stage of your sales cycle. They shouldn’t have the feeling that it’s just another process they have to follow because someone says so. Only when everyone is working together you will see a positive result in the end.

2. What type of content do we need?

The first step in the strategy process is to define the content that’s needed. To find this out you should first conduct a content audit with your marketing and sales team: so go through all your shared drives and systematically document what you already have. Ideally also for what persona and stage of the buying process each content piece relates to. This way you can identify gaps and define what’s missing. 

3. How do we make the content available to our sales reps?

The next big question is how can your sellers access the content. Depending on how mature your sales organization is, there are different ways. Sometimes a well structured shared drive (e.g., Google Drive) or workspace (e.g., Notion) might be sufficient. The more complex your buying process and bigger your product portfolio is, the more important it might be to implement a real content management system. No matter what you’re choosing, always keep in mind that your sellers need to be able to find and use the right content for their persona and stage quickly and easily. 

4. Who will be the owner of the sales enablement process?

It’s important to set a clear understanding of which team or person is responsible for the sales enablement process. They need to ensure that the process is followed, the content is always up to date, and measure the outcome of the sales enablement strategy. 


5. How will you measure success?

In order to be able to track your goals you need to set KPIs to determine whether or not your sales enablement strategy was successful. This will allow you to continuously improve the process. Metrics to track sales enablement success could include ramp time, quote-to-close rate, or number of participants in sales training. Of course, the metrics can vary depending on the focus of your strategy. 



Sales Enablement tools


As sales enablement includes a wide range of activities, the landscape of sales enablement software is equally diverse. Here is a list of the most relevant sales enablement tool categories to give you a quick overview of the market.


Content management

Sales enablement tools focusing on content management function as the repository of marketing content used by sales representatives for their customer interactions. Often they allow collaborative content creation directly in the tool and analyze the usage and engagement of individual content pieces.


Training and coaching

Sales training and coaching software provides structured learning materials, practice modules, and progress tracking regarding sales-readiness. It is used to onboard new hires and train existing reps to ramp up their selling abilities.


In-call assistants and Conversation Intelligence

In-call assistants and conversation intelligence (CI) are a relatively new type of sales enablement tech. CI records, transcribes, and analyzes sales conversations giving insights into weaknesses and opportunities in customer communications. In-call assistants are the next evolution of CI. They combine the recording and analysis functionalities with contextual support directly in the call and productivity features such as automated conversation summaries and CRM updates. You can learn everything about Conversation Intelligence here.

Ciara - Conversation Intelligence. Everything you need to know.


Although each sales tool mainly belongs to one dedicated category, the functionalities of software in different categories often overlap. This is why it’s essential to develop a strategy beforehand and evaluate the tools in detail. If you’re in the middle of building or updating your sales enablement tech stack check out our must-have sales enablement tools to boost sales success. It provides you with an example set up for your sales tech stack to enable your sales team to close more deals.



What is the difference between Sales Enablement and Sales Operations?


Sales enablement and sales operations are often used as synonyms. However, there is a clear difference between those two, and both serve a crucial role in every mature sales organization. Here’s a quick overview of the difference between sales enablement and sales operations.


As you’ve learned in this guide, sales enablement is a strategic, overarching role with the aim to equip sellers with the content they need to have valuable customer interactions. Its activities include designing onboarding and training processes, creating sales content, and improving sales-readiness.


However, sales operations focus on helping the sales organization run smoothly and efficiently. Core activities include managing the sales tech stack and administering the CRM tool always with the goal to increase sales productivity. Get more details on sales operations and sales ops best practices here.

Ciara - Your Complete Guide to Sales Operations

Conclusion


Sales enablement can be a success driver for every organization. It follows the objective of building a completely informed and well-trained sales force to provide the best customer experience possible. There are many ways to set up a sales enablement team and strategy, depending on the organization’s structure and needs. It’s never too early to think about a sales enablement strategy. But to see a positive effect of sales enablement on win rates, it’s essential to create a clear strategy and goal. It’s important to keep in mind that sales enablement is an overarching role and must involve marketing and sales equally.