Since the beginning of time (or shortly thereafter), organizations have almost always led with initiatives and tools that enable the sales team to do the very best job they can do. So why is everybody abuzz about “Sales Enablement” now?
While it’s not a new concept by any means, the need for a structured approach has grown radically. Is it vertical-specific or B2X-specific? Is it just for the big guns? Absolutely not. From startups to star enterprises, anybody with something to sell should understand how consumer behavior has changed the way businesses should be marketing and selling solutions. Achieving sales and marketing alignment can be a gateway drug for sales enablement, giving organizations the vision of what can be achieved when these two critical teams work towards the same goals within a connected strategy.
While many organizations may be making hefty investments into Sales Enablement resources, significantly fewer can actually define it. In fact, take a look at the variance across definitions from some of today’s most reputable sources:
“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.”
“The activities, systems, processes and information that support and promote knowledge-based sales interactions with client and prospects.”
“Sales enablement’s goal is to ensure that every seller has the required knowledge, skills, processes and behaviors to optimize every interaction with buyers.”
Now, I’m not going to pretend like I can come up with the ultimate definition that will end the discussion once and for all. I don’t even think that is something worth aspiring to since it would be incredibly detrimental considering how agile and dynamic the field needs to be.
However, out of all the descriptions scattered across the web, I think that CSO Insights nails it on the head with theirs:
“A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training, and coaching services for salespeople and frontline sales managers along the entire customer’s journey powered by technology.”
The reason I think theirs most aptly defines the term? Two words: “cross-functional” and “discipline.” While the other definitions do an adequate job describing the objectives and elements of sales enablement as a process, they fail to articulate that sales enablement is both more than just a decision-making principle AND more than the thought output of a singular source.
The Critical Distinction You Need to Understand
The difference between sales enablement (the principle approach) and Sales Enablement (the discipline approach) has the potential to make or break your success in today’s marketplace. Here’s why: the complex combination of tech applications, advanced business intelligence tools, and consumer access to information has transformed customers’ expectations of engagement. If your organization’s sole compass question for determining direction is still: “Will it make our salespeople’s jobs easier?” – your prospects will notice and your competitors will have a chance to gain the upper hand when it comes to the buyer’s experience.
Instead, your organization leaders should be focused on pursuing initiatives that make the buyer’s job easier, all the way from the earliest stages of product/service research to purchase and implementation. By my best count, that involves at least six different fields of expertise: Development, Marketing, Sales, Accounting, Operations, and HR. By strategically aligning the objectives and tools of each area with the corresponding point in the buyer’s journey, you will:
- Enhance your prospect’s experience resulting in more wins and shorter sales cycles
- Optimize productivity across your organization, freeing up folks to engage in more lead generating, selling, and customer-retaining activity
Is It Time to Get Started on Sales Enablement?
Between the revenue increase itself and the productivity gains, I suspect the impact on your bottom line could be substantial enough to consider Sales Enablement as a need-to-have rather than a nice-to-have. If that’s the case, you need to understand the structure of a sound Sales Enablement program. We’d be happy to have a conversation with you to see how your team could benefit from Sales Enablement.