MarTech Primer: Sales Enablement Definitions, Tools, and Techniques- Part 1
Today, we have over 75+ Sales Enablement vendors and enablers who help B2B Sales companies better manage their Sales operations. In this MarTech primer on Sales Enablement definitions, we have tried to provide the current context of enabling every B2B Marketing team with the relevant tools and information.
What is Sales Enablement?
Various departments in the company could use Enablement techniques for a wide array of purposes to sell its ideas, insights, services, and products. In a purely SaaS or Cloud economy, we would restrict the definition to the process, content, skills needed to manage these, and the groups enabled.
In the high-impact Salesforce economy, we delved into what the No.1 CRM company in the world thinks about Sales Enablement!
In joint research with the Florida State University, Salesforce had reported that there are multiple Sales approaches and solutions available for the same set of solutions sold. However, only 25% of these Sales approaches are actually effective in the long-run. In a Salesforce economy where no two Sales companies can compete with the same set of tools and tactics, it is an onus on Sales leaders to qualitatively quantify their objectives and strategies for sustained revenue generation from Sales.
Hence, Sales Enablement becomes so important.
Here are the top 5 Sales Enablement definitions that you should retain on your lips.
Forrester was among the first to actually identify and define this unique sales-enabling process. Way back in 2008, it had convened the first-ever discussion on sales analytics for B2B economy, letting participants unravel a new sales term – Sales Enablement.
In the first Sales Enablement Executive roundtable, a cross-functional team of VP-level executives from Sales and Marketing roles from Accenture, CSC, IBM, CA, Siemens, BMC, etc. “painfully” debated and mostly disagreed on the sales enablement definitions. The group discussed how people define their customers differently, and what tools impact their “cost of sales.”
Finally, in 2010, it published the definition –
Sales Enablement is an emerging, cross-functional discipline designed to bridge the gap between strategy and execution and to accelerate the transformation into a new selling model.
Today, we can safely take out the ’emerging’ part out of the definition; and, replace it with ‘established’.
This is the current Forrester definition –
Sales Enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.
Gartner has defined Sales Enablement as a group of “activities, systems, processes, and information” to support and promote knowledge-based Sales interactions between a client and prospects. These activities are triggered through Sales Performance Management activities.
Sales Enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals. These resources may include content, tools, knowledge, and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.
Sales Enablement enables the company to leverage its personnel and marketing tools effectively. These include training with top-tier technologies, including the ones offered by Salesforce, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Adobe Experience Cloud, Zendesk, Conversant, Zoho, Lattice Engines and so on.
Seismic Sales Enablement
Sales Enablement is about people and technology, and strategically aligning them both behind a common goal: Sales successes.
According to Seismic, which provides a combination of Marketing and Sales technology tools including Sales analytics and enablement analytics, any tool that helps organizations streamline and shorten Sales cycles could be part of Sales Enablement.
Seismic’s co-founder and CRO, Ed Calnan spoke to us on how do sales enablement activities help sellers understand the differences between outbound sales and inbound sales?
Ed said, “Sales enablement can be an incredibly powerful tool in training and education. Acting as a central hub for sales and marketing teams, sales enablement offers ways for inside and outside sellers to track the success of their conversations with prospects and the marketing materials that were used. From there, automation tools can inform sellers on next steps, and also arm marketers with analytics that tell them which content is needed throughout the sales process based on what’s worked in the past.
All up-to-date sales playbooks, education and training materials can be housed and easily accessible in a sales enablement platform. Having marketing and sales content housed in one central source that’s accessible from anywhere on any device makes it easier for them to tailor assets on-the-go for each buyer conversation.”
Sales enablement is the linchpin that will allow today’s sellers to meet B2B buyer expectations.
Putting in a B2B context, Sales Enablement could be achieved by continuously creating content, by sharing it with customers and by measuring the impact of content on time spent selling, win rates, and deal size.
Showpad takes an organization-level approach to define enablement tools for Sales. It states –
Sales Enablement is the strategic process of equipping Sales organizations with the right tools, content, and information to sell successfully. It empowers Sales reps to deliver engaging experiences for modern buyers who expect personalization, automation, and overall innovation.
Sales organizations can bridge their gaps across customer journeys by forging a better alignment with their Marketing counterparts. Companies like Showpad., Seismic, Highspot, Mediafly, and others help both Marketing and Sales team to tie enablement tactics using customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation systems (MAS), and other essential technologies that help win customers.
According to Bigtincan, the makers of Bigtincan Hub and Bigtincan Catalog, Sales Enablement defined as “a strategic approach, involving not just Sales and Marketing but also people from other functional areas like Customer support and Field Services.”
Bigtincan recommends applying Sales Enablement tactics to equip an organization’s sellers with the necessary tools and resources, especially informative and educational content, to engage buyers.
It not only creates an enjoyable working model for sales reps but also helps to attract customers and extend their LTV.
To succeed with Sales enabling mechanisms, B2B leaders should focus on building a highly-efficient and tech-savvy team. According to SiriusDecisions, “the job of Sales Enablement is to ensure that salespeople possess the skills, knowledge, assets, and processes to maximize every buyer interaction.”
At the Summit 2017 in Las Vegas, Nancy Maluso was quoted as saying –“The end goal is to make sure sales reps have the right knowledge, skills and process expertise with access to the best assets to maximize every buyer interaction.”
SiriusDecisions is the pioneering force in this ecosystem by virtue of its “Sales Enablement Range of Responsibilities Model”.
Sales enablement must improve the lifetime revenue contribution of reps, which means improving time to competency, optimizing execution, minimizing distractions so reps can focus on selling, and ensuring that reps stay with the organization longer.
Sales Enablement is a knowledge center that benefits all customer-facing departments, says Apttus. It plays an assistive role in improving sales productivity and driving revenue.
According to Apttus,
Sales enablement is a business function carried out by a number of departments to help sales teams be successful in their selling efforts to potential buyers. Sales enablement allows sales reps to have the proper knowledge, tools, processes, and behaviors to maximize every sales opportunity.
In the modern buying cycle, sales reps should be aware of what tools and techniques their organization leverage to turn prospects into customers. And, how to work with these tools, including managing Automation, Chatbots, Call Analytics, Meting and Conferences, Cloud Contact Centers and so on.
Highspot equates sales enablement with ‘sales engagement.’ It states that sales enablement creates the perfect ambiance for sales reps “to create consistently effective engagements with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey.”
It states –
“Sales Enablement is the process of providing your sales team with the right set of information, tools, and content that will help them communicate and sell efficiently. Both Marketing and Sales teams are equally responsible and accountable for succeeding in this process.”
What is the Role of A Sales Enablement Manager or Team?
The role of a Sales Enablement department can be categorized depending on the activities they perform and the end-results achieved.
These can be broken down into seven categories—
Create. The team will identify new content and personalization techniques to evoke interest in customers, across the Sales journey.
Own. Accountability to generate sales and retain customers is fixed on the team.
Collaborate. Sales enablement department co-exists with the Marketing team and co-executes enablement tactics with other departments in the organization, including Branding, Social Media, Events and Communications teams.
Analyze. The performance of every Sales operation, including that of hiring, coaching and training of sales reps has to be measured. Sales Enablement department shall coordinate these with the Human Resources and Business Intelligence teams to fix gaps in the processes.
Risk Assessment. Business Intelligence to forecast the future and better prepare for short-term and long-term challenges and obstacles.
Orchestrate. Connect with ABM and Intent of a customer with CRM, using marketing insights and sales intelligence.
Source. Liaise with third-party Marketing or data companies to continuously improve customer targeting and sales campaigns.
With this set of fixed accountabilities, a Marketing and Sales team can build an effective Sales Enablement model to stir interaction with modern buyers.
A Peek into the Calendar of a Sales Enablement Department
No two companies can share the same set of activities in their sales enablement. However, I have tried to provide what an average day looks like for a Sales Enablement team in a high-profile B2B Marketing organization.
These activities include –
- Building and learning Sales Technology tools, and how they align with Marketing technology
- Hiring and Onboarding manual for Sales teams
- Continuous creation of sales coaching guide for training, learning, and development
- Establishing an internal sales coaching strategy for sales reps and partners
- Sales communications
- Identifying best sales content and online events to enhance knowledge
- Reporting to Sales Head with a daily assessment of Sales analytics and intelligence
- Measuring the Sales Readiness quotient on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis
Leading Marketing and Sales organizations like Engagio, Marketo, Demandbase, Salesforce, SAP, TOPO, HubSpot and Brainshark have a benchmark Sales Enablement model. They all recommend applying Sales best practices through the creation and promotion of their ideas via training, playbooks, and webinars.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of 150+ sales enablement software to help sales and marketing teams increase their efficiency and productivity.