Sales enablement can make or break your organization, but way too often it’s completely misunderstood, or completely off-base when it comes to implementation. So many organizations are left with questions like:
- What does sales enablement really mean?
- How does it affect sales teams?
- What needs to happen for it to work?
To get the sales enablement story straight, we got the perspectives of LearnCore’s VP of Sales, Director of Sales, and Sales Manager.
What Exactly is Sales Enablement?
Anyone can google an over-played definition of the term and think they’re on the right track. But what do real sales professionals out in the field think of sales enablement, and how does the definition change across different levels in an organization?
Here are three unique takes on what is really means:
“Sales Enablement focuses on improving the skill set of a sales team and providing a clearer direction of how to have valuable conversations with customers/prospects on a consistent basis. This is done through the creation, and implementation, of different tools/processes.” – Mike Hyatt, LearnCore Northeast Sales Manager
“It is probably much easier to define the goal of sales enablement rather than “what is sales enablement”. The goal of sales enablement is to ensure that every single sales person is armed with the most up to date knowledge, skills, and tools, to generate the highest amount of revenue possible.
The goal of sales enablement is to ensure that every single sales person is armed with the most up to date knowledge, skills, and tools to generate the highest amount of revenue possible.
The reason it is difficult to define sales enablement is due to each organization’s use of the role in practice. It is a consolidation of product marketing, sales training, sales operations, coaching, strategy, and in some cases IT through the acquisition of tools. Thus creating a very loosely defined role and an insane amount of responsibilities being tossed at the individuals taking on the challenges of an entire sales organization.” – Patrick Rodgers, LearnCore Vice President of Sales
“Sales Enablement is a function designed to service the sales function with an overall goal of increasing sales performance by making individual sellers both more efficient as well as more effective.” – Brian Collins, LearnCore Regional Sales Director, West
As Rodgers points out, sales enablement is an incredibly important role, yet almost impossible to define across the board. The only definition you really need to worry about is the one that works for your organization. Determine your goals, and then back track into who needs to be involved, what deliverables you have, and how to track progress.
How Does Sales Enablement Actually Influence Sales?
Many sales leaders go to sleep at night with dreams of sales enablement initiatives dancing through their heads. But at the end of the day, the actual sales reps in the field need to be on board. What do real sales professionals have to say about the impact sales enablement has had on their careers? Let’s find out:
“Sales enablement has served as an outlet for accessing the best information to perform my sales duties at the highest level. I believe that ability for sales enablement to point reps in the right direction towards having valuable conversations has been extremely helpful during my young career in sales.” – Mike Hyatt, LearnCore Northeast Sales Manager
“When I first began my career in sales, sales enablement was not a widely known role. It was covered by sales managers and sales operations teams. The inflection point was when technology enabled our buyers to have significantly greater access to information. This led to needing a way to upskill and arm our sales teams with more information than ever before. For me, sales enablement has allowed me to focus on the bigger picture and rely on both sales enablement professionals and sales enablement technology to increase the skills and productivity of our sales teams.” – Patrick Rodgers, LearnCore Vice President of Sales
“In a way, I view sales enablement in the same way that most people view referees in a football/basketball game…if it’s really good, you don’t even notice it’s there.
…if it’s really good, you don’t even notice it’s there.
As a result, I’ve barely even noticed the really great experiences I’ve had with sales enablement because I was able to focus on my day-to-day and the task at hand. I was able to focus the majority of my time on two things: selling and getting better at selling. All of the nuance and administrative work was essentially removed from my plate.
Bad sales enablement has impacted my life in a negative way quite a bit. I generally believe this happens when there is a disconnect between sales and sales enablement, and typically results in increased work/hoops you have to jump through as a sales rep. It’s a little counterintuitive in that bad sales enablement results in the exact opposite of what the function’s goal is.” – Brian Collins, LearnCore Regional Sales Director, West
As our rockstars point out, just like a rocky relationship, when sales enablement is good, it’s good, and when it’s bad, it’s really bad. If sales enablement initiatives are implemented successfully it can mean huge opportunities for sales professionals. From freeing up valuable sales time to focus on the big picture, to actually having the materials the new waves of educated buyers expect to see, sales enablement can be huge.
As Collins said, good sales enablement strategies allow sales reps to sell, and get better at selling. What sales leader doesn’t want that?
How Can You Improve Your Sales Enablement Game?
We get it, sales enablement is critical. So how can you go from just dipping your toe in, to becoming an all-star? Our sales enablement pros weighed in with their best advice:
“Focus on reinforcement. Many Heads of Sales Enablements create great programs/tools for their team, but the reps are not actually applying these items into their day-to-day. At the end of the day, the success of any sales enablement program is measured by a rep’s ability to communicate what they’ve been taught when facing customers.” – Mike Hyatt, LearnCore Northeast Sales Manager
At the end of the day, the success of any sales enablement program is measured by a rep’s ability to communicate what they’ve been taught when facing customers.
“Get buy-in early and often. Involve your sales leaders, sales reps, and marketing teams in decisions. Without buy-in from leadership any attempt at a new program or initiative will fall flat on its face. Additionally, always begin with what’s in it for them. It sounds selfish but as sales leaders we are graded on a “what have you done for me lately” scale. Thus we expect the same out of those around us. By involving sales leadership in decisions, understanding what the field is feeling, and then executing on your objective you will see significantly higher results. Lastly, leverage sellers as examples and subject matter experts. Sales people trust those that are currently doing the same tasks and being graded on the same outcomes more than anything else. Leverage your top performers to provide the examples and be guinea pigs for new initiatives.” – Patrick Rodgers, LearnCore Vice President of Sales
“My advice would be to spend a significant amount of time upfront understanding your sellers, where those main points of friction are for them and how you can help them.” – Brian Collins, LearnCore Regional Sales Director, West
In a nutshell, it pays to plan. Our experts recommend spending time to understand your sellers and their environment up front, get buy in, and plan for major reinforcement, and we can’t agree more. Your sales enablement initiative starts at understanding what it is, and what your goals are, and ends with continuous reinforcement. There’s an entire spectrum of work that falls between those two points, and it’s up to you to rock out your efforts, and maximize the results.
Want more on sales enablement?
- 3 Toughest Sales Enablement Challenges of 2016
- Is it Time to Hire a Sales Enablement Leader?
- What is Sales Force Enablement?