Sales enablement is a strategic, collaborative discipline designed to increase predictable sales results. While the sales team is the focus of “sales enablement,” the discipline is cross-functional and typically involves stakeholders from human resources, marketing, sales, partner sales, and customer success.
The key tenets of sales enablement typically include:
- Collaboration across customer-facing teams
- Cross-functional strategies to provide consistent sales enablement support and services
- The automation of manual or repetitive sales enablement tasks to create repeatable processes
- The development of sales skills (prospecting, communications, relationship building, active listening, negotiation, etc.)
- The creation of content and tools that add value to every customer interaction
While most B2B organizations have a focus on sales enablement, each is at a different stage of maturity. For some, sales enablement is simply the production of sales collateral by the marketing team to support the buyer journey. For others, sales enablement is an official function — with headcount and budget — that sits somewhere between sales, marketing, and human resources.
Sales Enablement Maturity Scale
- Marketing supports sales teams with some content but there are no shared sales enablement processes, technologies, or goals.
- Marketing and sales teams have an official lead generation program and some shared sales enablement processes, technologies, and goals.
- Sales enablement is a distinct function that sits alongside marketing, sales, and customer success and is supported by human resources. Sales enablement processes, technologies, and goals are clearly defined and engrained in the culture.
Building a Sales Enablement Framework
Sales enablement strategies will evolve to fit each organization’s unique goals. There are several areas that any organization should keep in mind when building own sales enablement strategies:
Teams and third-party agencies required to support the strategy.
The shared processes required to align sales and marketing teams, create accountability, and set goals to measure the success of the strategy.
The technologies that can support the processes, automate manual work, and free up time to spend on high-value sales enablement activities.
Sales enablement framework: People involved
Sales enablement is most successful when informed by people from cross-functional teams. Each team has complementary skills and knowledge to impart. Some examples include:
1. Human resources / people teams
People from human resources are the first face a new sales or marketing person sees. From candidate screening and recruitment to onboarding and training, these people play a key role in creating a good first experience for new employees.
In low-maturity organizations, human resource and people teams may be responsible for ongoing training and development of sales and marketing employees. In medium to high-maturity organizations, they may provide training expertise or recommend training technology platforms to support sales enablement efforts.
2. Sales / sales operations teams
Sales teams — and in medium to high maturity organizations, sales operations teams— set shared goals for everyone involved in sales enablement.
These teams are ultimately responsible for monitoring sales training and enablement performance and overseeing processes to remove roadblocks, address knowledge gaps, and help sales teams be effective.
3. Marketing teams
Marketing teams play a critical role in sales enablement, regardless of the stage of maturity of your organization.
Not only are marketers a key cog in the lead generation process, they also work closely with sales teams and take part in customer events to gain a deep understanding of the various buyers the sales team will meet along the buyer journey. They then create content that addresses key concerns or questions at various stages of that journey.
Sample B2B Buyer Journey Content Map
4. Third-party agencies
Organizations will often outsource the development of sales enablement content creation to expert third-party agencies like Total Product Marketing.
This frees up marketing teams to focus on lead generation or other revenue generating tasks. It also brings a fresh perspective from specialists in creating and testing buyer personas, buyer journeys, content mapping, and sales enablement.
Our team works with organizations of all sizes to help them shore up their sales enablement processes.
Organizations like PayPal, for example, work closely with Total Product Marketing to build creative sales enablement materials that are aligned with the organizations sales framework and methodology. Total Product Marketing builds everything from interactive sales playbooks and presentations and sales sheets and FAQs for product launches and updates to internal and external communications.
Maturity sales of sales enablement resources (people)
- Marketing works with sales teams to create materials that support sales people.
- Sales or marketing team hires an agency to help build sales enablement materials.
- Marketing team members run lead generation programs and hand marketing qualified leads to business development or salespeople to qualify further.
- Sales or marketing team hires an agency to help build or run lead generation programs.
- Organization hires and develops sales enablement professionals to work closely with marketing, sales, and customer success, and human resources to build end-to-end enablement programs.
- Sales enablement team hires an agency to support content creation or help refine programs.
Sales enablement framework: Key processes
Sales enablement processes are critical to ensure roles and responsibilities are clear — especially since sales enablement crosses multiple teams. Processes are especially important for:
Technically, lead generation and sales enablement are separate processes of an overarching inbound strategy. However, it could be argued that lead generation is also a form of sales enablement because it is fundamentally a set of processes that create leads that ultimately enable salespeople to close deals.
Lead scoring and qualification
In today’s digital world, salespeople can be overwhelmed with information from contacts that are actually a poor fit for their business. This is why qualifying leads is such a valuable sales enablement process.
Marketing, sales, or dedicated sales enablement professionals implement lead scoring systems that assign positive or negative weighting numbers to contacts and companies based on data gathered from form fills or databases. The total “lead score” indicates how good a fit a given lead is.
For example, a company that sells exclusively to regulated industries will give a negative weight to a lead that comes in from a retail brand. Similarly, a company that sells only to enterprise businesses will assign positive weight to a company with over 10,000 employees.
Lead scoring and qualification are iterative processes — and they’re much easier with the right people and technology in place.
Metrics and KPIs
Modern sales are driven by data. But too much data can be counterproductive — especially if you don’t have the skills and tools to turn the data into real insights.
Sales teams often have a high-level understanding of what reports are relevant to their business but they might lack the technical ability or time to create and manage these reports.
Sales enablement professionals can bridge this gap, creating systems to turn data into a true asset for their sales teams. They can create standardized reporting to help salespeople and managers gain holistic and granular views of their progress.
Reports can include:
- Activities logged by salespeople (emails sent, demos provided, enablement training completed, etc.)
- Win/loss analysis
- Leads generated (and who created or influenced them)
- Pipeline (and who created or influenced it)
According to sales enablement platform developer, Seismic, sales enablement teams can add value to account-based marketing initiatives in three ways:
- Training salespeople on how to communicate and deliver on-brand messaging and content
- Recommending tailored content and messaging based on each individual buyer
- Increasing an organization’s ability to target prospective customers by using real-time data to determine content that will advance the sales cycle
Maturity sales of sales enablement resources (processes)
- Marketing and sales work together to build a lead generation strategy and define marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads.
- Basic sales reporting is established.
- Marketing and sales work together to build and refine lead scoring models.
- More advanced reporting is put in place to track leads through the sales funnel.
- Sales enablement teams manage the entire lead generation, scoring, and reporting functions and enable sales people with content for each stage of the buyer journey.
Sales enablement framework: Technology
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in sales — especially since the COVID-19 pandemic when sales teams needed to abandon traditional in-person sales channels and move online. Some of the key technologies include:
Sales enablement is all about empowering your sellers with the support, resources, and systems they need to find and sell to the right buyers. Most companies turn to their customer relationship management (CRM) software for this purpose.
CRM software like Salesforce, Hubspot, and Microsoft Dynamics can help track customer interactions, shorten the sales cycle, and provide data and insights to continue improving your sales process. The CRM you implement should be robust, simple to use, and scalable so it can handle the growth of your company and maturity of your sales enablement processes.
Arguably the most critical yet time-consuming task in the sales cycle is that of reaching out to new prospects and leads. Tools like Salesloft, Hubspot Sales Hub, Outreach alleviate most of the manual, repetitive work associated with sales outreach so sales people can focus more on higher value tasks.
In medium to high maturity organizations, sales enablement teams provide content like email templates and marketing materials for sales people to customize and schedule through these tools. They also help sales people fulfill their responsibilities in account-based marketing campaigns.
Sales enablement technology
Low to medium maturity organizations often use intranets or file shares to coordinate sales enablement material whereas high maturity organizations teams have specific sales enablement technology to enable their teams.
Platforms like Highspot and Seismic provide visibility across the sales content lifecycle. They typically have powerful search, scoring, and syncing capabilities that keeps marketing and sales organized and on-brand.
Maturity sales of sales enablement resources (technology)
- Basic CRM is in place for tracking leads and pipeline.
- CRM is integrated with sales outreach tools.
- Marketing enables sales teams with content and email templates for their sales outreach tools.
- Marketing and sales use shared drives or intranet pages to share sales enablement content.
- Sales enablement teams have dedicated technology to enable sales people with content for each stage of the buyer journey.
- CRM is integrated with sales enablement technology to report on the success of enablement efforts.
Building a Sales Enablement Culture
A sales enablement framework will help you make the business case for the resources you need to develop a sales enablement culture.
This is critical as one-off training efforts are not effective by themselves. While 95% of companies invest in sales training, only 9% see meaningful results.
Sales enablement is not a one-off initiative. It must be applied consistently and collaboratively — and have support from leadership teams — to see the best results. Although enablement impacts revenue indirectly, organizations with mature enablement disciplines have better performance metrics than organizations that lack an enablement practice.
Ready to build your sales enablement framework? Talk to the experts at Total Product Marketing.