SE Design Thinking Large.jpg
ATD Blog

How Sales Enablement Can Use the Talent Development Capability Model

Thursday, April 30, 2020

ATD released its new Talent Development Capability Model earlier this year. It focuses on what talent development professionals need to know and do to be successful in the current environment and in the future. While past talent frameworks have focused on competency models, the shift from competency to capability allows us to have a more holistic view of those skills and the ability to adapt to meet future needs.

With the release of the ATD’s new Capability Model, some may wonder if they should focus on the World-Class Sales Competency Model (WCSCM) since their main audience is sales focused, or about which model they should use, or about the difference between capability and competency.

ATD’s Sales Competency Model is a framework that focuses on three groups within the sales profession: reps, managers, and sales enablement, and the skills and knowledge each of those groups need to be successful. It is detailed and focuses through a sales lens on skills such as:

  • knowledge of CRM systems as it relates to pipeline management
  • using sales pipeline data to identify opportunities in the sales process
  • creating training materials on how to efficiently use the CRM.

While both models provide frameworks to aid in the development of talent development professionals, it might get confusing as to which one to use and when. Can these two models co-exist?

The answer is yes, they can. At its core the Capability Model is applicable to a broader audience of those who develop talent, whereas in the WCSCM we focus on a sales audience.

If you develop sales talent, you can benefit from both models. We worked on a project where we did cross-analysis work of the knowledge, skills, and actions that pertained to sales enablement professionals from the Sales Competency Model with the Capability Model.


We analyzed each of the knowledge, skills, and actions from Sales Enablement piece of WCSCM against the capability statements to see where there may be overlap or connections. We found that every statement is related to one or more underlying capability statements.

For example, “create sales onboarding programs,” which is a key skill needed of a sales enablement professional, ties back into several knowledge and skills statements under Training Delivery and Facilitation, which itself is under the professional capability area.

In our analysis we noticed that the capability statements are broad-sweeping and all-encompassing across roles, as they should be to highlight the fact that a job is not defined by one single capability. When we look at our knowledge areas needed for sales enablement, those are more granular and specific such as create sales onboarding programs or measuring the impact of sales strategies.


The two models are complimentary and can certainly co-exist. The Talent Development Capability Model should serve as a foundational piece to develop your baseline knowledge of those core foundational learning theories and principles of adult learning while the Sales Competency Model takes it one step further—from a sales perspective.

Both your organization and your role within it determine what your areas of focus are and what skills and expertise you might need to develop to support your audience. For example, if you are a one-person sales enablement department, you cover a broader range of responsibilities and more rests on your shoulders than if you were part of a larger sales enablement function where responsibilities are split among the team. Remember, these models were created with the intent to serve a broad audience. As such, individuals should use these models as a framework for their talent development goals and not as an end all, be all.

Interested in reading more about staying current with sales enablement? Check out "How Sales is Changing."

About the Author

Kim McAvoy is the senior manager for ATD's Sales Enablement and Management topic areas. In this role she focuses on creating content and resources around management development, leadership, and all aspects of sales enablement including sales coaching, training, technology, and processes. She has over a decade of experience in managing global sales reps and training sales teams as well as clients. Kim has held leadership roles at start ups as well as consulting firms including Gartner (formerly CEB). Kim earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.