The goal of sales enablement is to increase the productivity of market-facing teams by providing ongoing and strategic resources throughout the buyer journey to drive business impact. It encompasses sales training, coaching, content creation, process improvement, talent development, and compensation, among other areas.
While people have been doing sales enablement—or parts of it—for years under different names, sales enablement as a function and title has seen explosive growth in recent years.
There are many reasons for the growth and need for sales enablement as a function, team, and its best practices. The selling landscape has changed with prospects having more access to information than before and sellers having to approach the sale in different ways. The need to better prepare sales reps in addition to the increase of technologies to help these reps at every stage of the sale has led to an increase of sales enablement roles and the integral role they play in organizations.
Because it’s an evolving discipline, experts find it difficult to agree on a common definition for sales enablement, though most agree that it spans sales strategy, sales training, coaching, content creation, process improvement, sales career development, and sales compensation, among other areas. An effective sales enablement strategy includes closely aligning sales efforts to those of sales and marketing teams, human resources, finance, and product. While sales enablement most commonly reports to the head of sales, the function can also report to operations, marketing, or, more rarely, human resources.
Sales enablement professionals may manage or work on a number of projects at any given time.
Change management is also a significant focus for sales enablement professionals, who are responsible for ensuring that new initiatives and projects are rolled out smoothly.
Examples of projects or initiatives within sales enablement are:
In some organizations, the duties of sales enablement are owned by sales managers. In others, the role of sales operations or product marketing may handle the responsibilities of sales enablement.
The responsibilities of a sales enablement professional span a wide range of areas. What do all these areas have in common? They directly contribute to a sales team’s ability to meet and exceed its revenue goals. Here are some important ones to know: sales force support, sales management and leadership, sales technology, and sales content.
Sales Force Support
Sales enablement professionals can help drive success within the field by defining, documenting, and providing ongoing development. They can do so with a focus on strengthening and maximizing core selling behaviors such as acquiring new accounts, expanding existing business, and developing solutions according to the needs of the customer. These efforts enhance the sellers’ knowledge, skills, and process to drive more closed deals.
Sales Management and Leadership
Sales enablement acts as a partner to sales leaders by creating an integrated strategy to ensure accurate forecasting, effective coaching, and management activities that make an impact with their sales teams. By working closely with managers, sales enablement can effectively deploy tools and resources in the right way at the right time to shorten sales cycles and increase win rates.
Sales Enablement Technology
There is an increasing amount of technology available to assist sales teams with closing more deals. Common functions of these technologies include learning management, forecasting, content management, coaching tools, sales intelligence tools, and sales process automation. Sales enablement professionals are responsible for evaluating these platforms and software to determine which tools will produce the greatest ROI.
This includes materials and decks that the sales teams use to prepare for and utilize during interactions with the prospect. Sales content includes slide decks, sell sheets, whitepapers, and battle cards. Sometimes the marketing team creates these or works with sales enablement to create them for the sales teams.
Sales enablement has significantly evolved in the past decade, yet there are still many exciting possibilities on the horizon. While the full impact of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, on the sales function is still unknown, sellers and managers will need to continue adapting and expanding their skill sets to achieve greater levels of success. As a strategic, forward-thinking partner, sales enablement will be the function to which organizations look to lead in growth areas and prepare sales teams to compete in the new landscape.
If sales is an engine of the business, then it follows that sales enablement is the fuel that keeps it performing at a high level. These practitioners can and should be leveraged as invaluable problem solvers, committed to executing on the company’s strategic vision and priorities.
Since our founding in 1943, ATD’s focus has been helping talent development professionals succeed in their roles, applying best practices, and improving organizational outcomes. In sales enablement, ATD curates the best content from the world’s leading experts in the field, providing opportunities for sales enablement professionals to learn the latest techniques using the latest technologies. Because we look at talent development holistically, our sales enablement content and resources focus on the leadership and learning aspects of the field.
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