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What is Sales Enablement and Do You Really Need It? A Definitive Guide

Vy Dang
9/10/19 10:00 AM

Despite the great importance assigned to sales enablement in the sales arena these days, there’s still a lot of confusion around it. What does sales enablement entail? Is it just another buzzword with bells and whistles?

What is sales enablement, really?

The general understanding spotted in countless online articles is that the aim of sales enablement is to give sales reps what they need to succeed. Still too vague? Fortunately, although there’s no consensus on its exact definition, experts and sales specialists have agreed upon these key defining elements of sales enablement:

The utilization of processes, content and  technologies to build scalable and repeatable practices that increase revenue in an efficient manner at a higher pace.

Of course sales directors and sales team leaders can always argue that if it’s only for the money-making business, why not just find and hire another sales superstar?

Well, hold that thought.

The further you go, the higher quotas you’ve got to beat and the more metrics to exceed. According to a Salesforce study, 57% of sales reps expect to miss quota and the top 20% of reps account for 53.6% of company total revenue in another research. That means that there lies a huge amount of unlocked potential within your team.

So in simpler words, sales enablement seeks to bridge the gaps between the exceptional and the average performances in the sales team, making revenue acceleration easier for everyone in the team.

But how?

It’s not only about sales training: the main areas of sales enablement

As said earlier, sales enablement entails optimization in technologies, processes and content. The main areas of sales enablement process generally are:

1. Tech optimization

This could mean better utilization of the current CRM systems in terms of email sequences, automated workflows, document management and so on. 

Sales enablement tools come in many shapes and sizes - grab a full list of prices and reviews of sales enablement software in 2019

There is no doubt that B2B buyers have become more tech-savvy and sophisticated. They appreciate the magic of digital technologies but demand authenticity at the same time. They want emails that are personal and friendly - not mass generated. 

Vendors as well as sales reps can only match that by using their tech stack to their advantage - instead of alienating prospects in the sales process.

2. Content development

“I have to write my own emails”

“Nobody uses the presentation template ever”

You may either have heard this before or found yourself in the exact position as a sales rep. In fact, according to a Hubspot study, salespeople spend 21% of their time writing emails - which could be more time spent selling.

Enabling sales to have more say in content production - which is usually owned by the marketing department and giving the designers and writers more practical insights mean two things: synchronized messages (from marketing and sales) to the buyers and more time closing deals for sales reps.

3. Buyer - seller process alignment

Data shows that buyers want to access online information as much as they can before being in touch with sales reps. Most of the times, they prefer to be the one to initiate contact with the seller.

Wise use of tracking and analytics systems would help sellers to create effective touchpoints that contribute to a frictionless buyer journey.

4. Talent management

“Fine-tuning your process is one thing. Aligning your people is another.”

It has been found in a Spatio survey that it would take around 10 months or even longer for a sales rep to be fully productive and profitable. Giving salespeople the tools they need, without training them how to use them effectively, is not enough. The use of modern technologies in on-boarding process, performance management are diverse, from gamification to AI-powered analytics.

Download our infographic

sales enablement guide infographic


4 signs you need sales enablement

Now we’ve got to the fundamental question: How do you know that it’s time for sales enablement? And what should be your sales enablement strategy? Obviously, there are no one-size-fits-all answers since every market, company size and team structure is different.

However, look out for these signs of a huge unlocked potential for more growth in your team performance - and revenue:

  • Customers reporting unsynchronized information
  • Only a few sales reps of the team hitting the numbers or there are notable differences in performance
  • Sales training process is ad hoc or ill-structured
  • High percentage of lost opportunities in the pipeline

The bottom line

It’s easy to be confused by the term and back away from its complexity in the processes and technologies.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that the main thing is about people empowerment, giving sellers what they need to sell more effectively, be it structure, sales content or modern technologies.

As with any organization, if you want to keep growing, your people should grow too.

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