While you can trace the roots to the dawn of the digital age in the 1970’s, the term sales enablement was born in 2008. Forrester researched the topic and defined it as 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.” Wow, that’s a mouth-full! You may have heard it condensed to getting sellers the right content, at the right time, but what does that look like in practice?
Most sales enablement practitioners say it comes from training alone. The problem with that approach is that it assumes the content is great, so all that needs addressed is a lack of seller awareness and understanding of how to use it. Somehow, in just ten years, we got off track. Sales enablement is much more comprehensive than a sales training program. It should be a central role in every organization, positioning the Sales Enablement Manager or team as the bridge between sales and marketing.
Today’s Sales Enablement Manager must create efficiencies that increase the productivity of sales and marketing, which is why the term “Marketing Enablement” has joined the conversation as well. Sales administration involves metadata management, system connectivity, and infrastructure. They must also streamline content creation, management, and deletion to minimize wasted space in libraries and ensure consistent messaging. Content governance stems from policy creation, auditing content through outcome analytics, and regular reporting for accountability and reinforcement.
Perhaps most importantly, they must take the VOS, or voice of sales, and steer the rest of the organization toward giving them what they need to close deals. This role of engaging in sales advocacy requires a level of insight into both sales and marketing to identify gaps, and the results of this analysis must be communicated throughout the organization. Today’s Sales Enablement Manager must extract best practices, top performing content, and the most important information for their sellers to know.
Their sales training efforts must ensure a minimized ramp time and continuous education through regular updates on new content, products/services offered, and the company and industry in which they operate.
When the Sales Enablement function of your organization is reaching its full potential, you will see shorter deal cycles, an activated sales force with decreased time to money onboarding reps, better customer engagement, and improved efficiency between Marketing and Sales. That’s the new sales enablement.