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Defining Sales Enablement

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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There are lots of terms that get tossed around by sales forces, such as “sales process” and “sales coaching,” and many of these have very vague meanings. Another term that we frequently hear used in various ways is “sales enablement.” Sometimes this is a code word for a sales operations group, and other times it is code for sales training. But what does it really mean?

Research that led to the book, Cracking the Sales Management Code, uncovered the real breadth of how people use this term. Essentially, data found that “sales enablement” is a collection of tasks and tools that are intended to improve the execution of key sales activities, such as making sales calls, pursuing opportunities, managing major accounts, and targeting top prospects.

Research also revealed that these tasks and tools fall into four categories:

  1. Recruiting and hiring. The goal is clear: hire the right number of the right folks. These activities can be owned by sales, HR, consultants, or others such as the product line.

  2. Training and coaching. The goal is focused on improving skills and knowledge to enable better execution of the sellers’ key activities. These activities can be distributed across organizational boundaries.

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  3. Equipping with supporting tools. The goal is to equip sellers with the tools to collect, structure, process, and report information that enables better selling—whether CRM, Internet portals, or other selling aids.

  4. Assessment. The goal is to determine how well the salespeople and sales managers are performing their respective duties. Are the sellers skilled? Are they effective in their roles? Are they producing at their anticipated levels?

Putting such clear definitions around sales enablement activities helps leaders think more strategically. When looking across this sales enablement continuum, you might find holes in what your own company is currently doing to support your sales force. That’s a good thing, because then you know where to focus your sales enablement efforts.
To gain more insight from the research, check out the infographic below.

Sales_Enablement_Infographic.jpg

This post is adapted from the Vantage Point Performance blog: "Sales Enablement…What Is That, Anyway?"

About the Author
Jason Jordan is a partner of Vantage Point Performance, a sales management training and development firm. He is a recognized thought leader in business-to-business selling and conducts ongoing research into management best practices in hiring, developing, measuring, and managing world-class sales organizations. He is co-author of Cracking the Sales Management Code.
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