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Sales Enablement vs. Sales Training

All systems are go. Your marketing efforts along with an eager sales team successfully launch your business, but the likelihood your business stays on course without completely combusting is largely dependent on the continual alignment of your sales and marketing departments. Sales should be utilizing the resources that marketing provides, and in turn should be transmitting back how these resources are performing. So, how can you determine if the two are in sync? Traditionally, the solution has been to implement periodic sales training; however, in the fluid digital landscape that your business is competing in, you need a more sustainable syncing solution. That solution is sales enablement. 

A sales enablement strategy is more so an upgrade from sales training as opposed to an entirely separate entity. Bridging the gap between sales and marketing, sales enablement will empower your sales reps by equipping them with essential tools and strategy. To demonstrate why I would recommend implementing sales enablement and how this differs from traditional sales training, I find it easiest to start out by defining the two.

What is Sales Training?

Sales training is typically broken down into product training and process training as outlined below:

  • Product Training: You want your sales reps to be experts on your product or service. Training will provide your reps with a wealth of product based knowledge and ensure they’re familiar enough with the product to confidently drive their pitch. To assist with the copious amounts of detailed information that is thrown at them in these sessions, marketing assets like battle cards, overview sheets, and product videos provide a gateway for quick reference. The problem with this approach is your marketing materials are likely ever-evolving, but if they're not easily accessible or effectively transitioned over to your sales team outside of annual or even one-off on-boarding training, they’re probably not going to be used.
  • Process Training: Once your sales team has an understanding of your product or service and has familiarized themselves with the provided marketing content, the flip side of the coin is understanding the market and learning how to navigate through the current systems set in place. If you’re working out of a CRM or have multiple system integrations, it’s crucial that your processes are streamlined and properly communicated to new users. Major disconnects between sales and marketing arise when these systems aren’t adopted and implemented.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is a far more evolved hybrid that roots back to traditional sales training. While sales training is a component of sales enablement, it really is just a single piece of the pie and differs in that it is perpetually reinforced rather than presented in one-and-done training courses. Simply put, sales enablement is a systematic approach to increase productivity through sales adoption, implementation, and optimization. The desired result is that your sales team operates both efficiently and effectively which results in a positive buyer experience. To get there, sales enablement will focus on the following:

  1. Sales system performance: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it? Incorrect. It may be broken, but even if it’s not, let’s optimize it. A full audit of your current CRM or other sales management platform will likely expose some holes or defunct processes that may need a little tweaking or perhaps even a full rebuild. This is key for establishing a healthy and synergistic sales-marketing ecosystem. According to HubSpot, 40% of marketers say proving the ROI of marketing is their top marketing challenge. Marketing should have eyes on the sales lifecycle so they can both quantify and boost marketing ROI.
  2. Adoption of technology: Outside of your CRM there may be other valuable sources of technology that you likely haven’t had the time or resources to investigate and integrate. As the demand to measure the cohesiveness of sales and marketing increases, there has been an explosion of analytical tools and applications on the market worth investing in.
  3. Sales Training: Is your sales team even using the aforementioned CRM or sales technology? Are they focused on the buyer’s journey? If not, let’s get them on board and continue to reinforce their training. A simple solution to avoiding costly and time consuming scheduled training is to provide learning resources like training videos or on-demand webinars that can be easily accessed. Keep in mind, the best sales enablement programs track and enforce whether resources are being used across the sales organization. Most importantly, they optimize future sales enablement efforts based on what is or is not utilized.
  4. Implementation of central content library: A major pain-point for marketing is that content being created for sales is not being used. This is likely because either the content is not easily accessible and discoverable, or the reps simply haven’t been educated on it and may not know the most appropriate time to use which content. Sales enablement should make sure the right content is being created and reps can find and use said content. A strategic alignment of resources and actions will produce effective and efficient sales opportunities.
  5. Data analytics: If you build it, they will come. That’s the goal, anyway. An effective sales system will produce data that should give some insight on what’s working and what needs some extra attention. Is sales receiving high quality leads and are they converting? Sales enablement will then analyze the data and find a way to make it user friendly. This is ideally demonstrated through data boards that illustrate your KPIs. 

Which is best for you?

Perhaps I’m shedding sales training in an antique, sepia filtered light. By all means, sales training has clearly done the job and continues to implement modern sales tactics where it can. But, these days it’s just not enough. It’s time to kick it up a notch, and you’ll find that most competitive companies out there already have. In fact, according to Aberdeen Group, 77% of organizations practice some form of sales enablement. At its core, sales enablement will add value to your business by boosting productivity and improving sales performance, ultimately increasing revenue. Sales enablement may seem complex and time consuming, but it doesn't have to be. Above all, I can assure you that the ROI is well worth the effort.

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Katie Massey

Katie Massey

A California native who spent five years in Austin, Texas before settling down in Denver, Katie believes the foundation of her marketing career is built upon the relationships she forms. Professionally speaking, the best of both worlds for Katie is melding her analytical prowess with her love of the people. When she’s not working, Katie is likely running or hiking out on the trails, camping, or planning future travels to see more this beautiful world we live in.

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