Who and HowThe Series:

Last week, we defined sales enablement. More specifically, we defined what it might look like at a medical device or pharmaceutical company. Now that we know what it is, let’s talk about who uses it and how to know if you should be, too.

Who is Using Sales Enablement?

When the 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study participants were asked to identify the user communities that they are focusing on this year, an overwhelming 94.3% responded “Salespeople/Account Managers.” Okay—if these companies highly prioritize their salesforce, they must all have a sales enablement function…right?

Not necessarily. Only 32.7% of those respondents work at a company with a dedicated sales enablement function. That being said, in 2013 the number was a mere 19.3%.

The fact is that more and more companies are adopting sales enablement every single day—but who are they?

Business Sizes


When first glancing at the data from Demand Metric’s Sales Enablement Benchmark Report, it’s evident that more large companies report having a sales enablement function than medium or small ones.

But after a second look, it’s clear that companies of all sizes recognize the importance of this practice. Over half of the medium-sized businesses and almost 40% of the small businesses still reported having an entire function dedicated to sales enablement.

Large life sciences companies like Elekta and Illumina develop innovative—yet complex—devices and tools. Add to that diverse product portfolios, various indications/uses and countless regions across the globe, and it’s easy to imagine how critical it is to set their sales force up for success. By prioritizing strategic sales enablement efforts, the marketing team is able to:

  • Produce and manage thousands of pieces of content from a singular, controlled repository
  • Ensure every single piece of content meets regulatory and FDA standards
  • Track and analyze how their sales force uses content, and how customers engage with it
  • Optimize that content based on real data

The sentiment that sales enablement is growing, evolving and becoming more widely adopted every day is more than, well, a sentiment. In their report No Longer a Luxury: Why the Best-in-Class View Sales Enablement as a Must-Have,the Aberdeen Group goes as far to say:

“Those who can (have a dedicated sales enablement function) are able to speed deal closures up by connecting content with conversations, track content engagement, create actionable business development insights, and continuously fine-tune their messaging to achieve Best-in-Class results. As for those who can’t, the cost of doing nothing may end up being their cross to bear.”

How do I Know if I Need Sales Enablement?

After getting an idea of who is using sales enablement, you might be wondering where your company stands. Some organizations are under the impression that they have enough sales support in place, and there isn’t an overwhelming demand to elevate or restructure their selling system. However, a good way to determine whether or not your company needs to take a closer look at sales enablement is to identify which of the following four stages your organization falls into:

Stage 1: Undefined

  • No CRM or Marketing Automation System in place
  • Product collateral distributed via email, inundating reps’ inboxes
  • New reps and specialists are at full productivity in 9 months
  • Neither sales process nor buying process are defined
  • Success metrics are unknown and not tracked
  • Win rate is >10%

If you closely relate to the “Undefined” stage, it is likely that your company needs to start thinking about how sales enablement can help enhance and elevate long-term strategic goals.

Stage 2: Progressive

  • CRM in place with reasonable adoption
  • Product collateral distributed via a portal or intranet
  • New reps and specialists are at full productivity in 6 months
  • Sales process defined but not mapped to the buying process
  • Success metrics for top performing reps are known
  • Win rate is between 10-20%

If you fall into the “Progressive” stage, you’re getting closer to a more focused, strategic sales enablement effort. The foundation is there, but it’s time to start building the framework with content mapping, mobility and more actionable analytics.

Stage 3: Mature

  • CRM, Marketing Automation and Sales Enablement systems are in place
  • Product collateral is distributed via a Sales Enablement Platform
  • New reps and specialists are at full productivity in 4 months
  • Sales process is mapped to the be buying process
  • Success metrics tracked
  • Win rate is 20% or greater

If you identify with the “Mature” stage, odds are your company has worked hard to make sales enablement a top priority. You’ve got all of the right people, processes and tools in place—but there’s still opportunity to optimize your efforts even further.

Stage 4: World Class

  • All systems are available on mobile devices
  • Product collateral is rated for optimal use
  • New reps and specialists are at full productivity in 3 months
  • Case studies, sales aids and clinical data are mapped to the buying and sales process by persona
  • Success metrics are managed closely to incentivize reps

If you check all of the boxes above, your company’s sales enablement efforts are on-point. You understand the need for a holistic function that revolves entirely around ensuring your sales team is set up for success—and you have reaped the benefits. While it’s hard to beat “World Class,” you can take it to the next level by aligning yourself with sales enablement experts to ensure that your organization is staying on top of this always-evolving practice.

What’s next?

If you fall into any of the first three stages above, it’s time to either revisit your company’s current sales enablement initiatives or start having the sales enablement conversation.

But why do life sciences companies need to be thinking strategically about sales enablement, anyways?

For the answer to that question and more, take a look at the brief below: