Sales enablement is the next generation of sales strategy. That’s why you’ve heard about it. You might even be a little excited about it. But exactly what is sales enablement?
Is it really as necessary as some people claim? How does it work with your marketing strategies and help your sales teams succeed?
If you’re curious about how sales enablement strategies might fit into your company, this guide is for you. We’ll answer your questions about what sales enablement is, why it matters, and how it works in practice.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is the process of supplying sales teams with the training and resources they need to make more sales and hit sales targets. It’s a support role that works behind the scenes to boost the performance of the sales team.
If sales is a matter of communicating with customers, sales enablement is largely a matter of communicating with sales teams.
In practical terms, sales enablement is like a communications hub. A good sales enablement manager makes sure critical information flows to and from the sales team so they have everything they need to do their jobs well.
We’ll dig more into this process in a minute. But first, it’s important to understand the difference between sales enablement and marketing.
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Sales enablement vs. marketing
You’re probably already familiar with the sales funnel. Broadly speaking, marketing is at the top of the funnel and sales is at the bottom of the funnel.
Sales enablement is a cyclical process, distinct from marketing. It’s a support strategy that focuses on the bottom of the funnel, near the sale, to improve the competency of your sales teams and maximize the efficiency of the sales tactics your company uses.
Marketing automation performs a similar function at the top of the funnel by making it easier and less resource-intensive to deploy specific marketing tactics.
Marketing automation brings more leads to your sales teams. And sales enablement gives your sales teams the skills and resources to turn more of those leads into sales.
Why does sales enablement matter?
Sales enablement increases sales performance on two levels.
First, a good sales enablement strategy delivers initial and ongoing training, which helps companies leverage their entire sales team. Consistent sales training raises the performance of your already high-performing sales pros, and it helps average and even struggling sales reps sell more.
This in turn decreases dependence on a small number of high-performing sales reps, reduces turnover, and produces consistently higher sales revenue, month over month.
And it shows in the numbers.
Companies with good sales training programs close 54 percent of forecasted deals, compared to 44 percent of forecasted deals for companies without ongoing training.
Sales enablement also improves marketing and sales alignment, which delivers a better buyer experience.
Good marketing and sales alignment promotes information sharing between the two teams around buyer pain points, goals, and key benefits. Prospects see more consistent messaging throughout the buying process, and the sales team can be prepared to address objections and develop more efficient sales arguments.
According to HubSpot, companies that use sales enablement to achieve good marketing and sales alignment see 27% faster profit growth over three years and close 38% more deals.
What does a sales enablement manager do?
If a sales enablement manager isn’t a sales rep, and they don’t do marketing, what exactly does a sales enablement manager do?
The short answer is that a sales enablement manager is primarily a communication specialist.
Yes, a sales enablement manager must understand what it takes to be a successful salesperson. But sales enablement responsibilities focus on communicating with everyone involved in the sales process, which often means working with every department in the company.
To be effective, a sales enablement manager must know how to gather a lot of information, including customer feedback and feedback from various internal departments.
But this raw data isn’t enough. They must be skilled at filtering that information and packaging up the most useful pieces in a way that the sales team can easily absorb and retain.
It’s a tall order.
This is why the most successful sales enablement managers rely heavily on communications best practices and sales enablement tools — like strategically using video templates to pass on regular product updates and customer feedback information to their sales teams.
Sales enablement responsibilities and processes
The sales enablement process is part research and part communication. As we mentioned earlier, it’s all about discovering information that helps sales teams perform better and delivering that information in a way that’s easy to understand and put into practice.
Sales enablement is a cycle that starts and ends with feedback from customers:
Customer feedback → Sales team feedback → Product and service info and updates → Create training and sales resources → Distribute training and resources → Customer feedback
Of course, each stage of this process involves a subset of activities.
Every sales framework is built around the target customer.
Yes, each customer is unique and has unique questions, objections, and values. The art of sales is about discovering these unique factors and addressing them to help customers arrive at a purchase decision.
However, for any product or service, there are certain pieces of information that every customer needs to know. And building consistent sales revenue requires a repeatable sales process.
A sales enablement professional must get feedback from customers to discover what information every customer needs to know, and use the information to build that repeatable sales process.
These are some tactics that work for getting quality customer feedback:
- Post-sale customer surveys
- Customer interviews
- Review recorded sales calls
- Mine reviews (positive and negative)
Even though customer feedback is a gold mine of information for developing and selecting sales packages, it’s only one side of the coin.
Sales team feedback
Your sales team understands what’s working and what’s not working in your sales process. And many salespeople will make their own modifications to the sales process to close more deals, especially if they work on commission.
Through iteration, your sales team has gathered a lot of intelligence for optimizing your sales process.
But this information doesn’t always get shared around the entire team. And informal changes to the sales process are slow to be shared with new team members since it’s not part of your onboarding and training.
Unless, that is, the sales enablement manager gets feedback from the sales team and systematically implements these informal improvements to the sales framework.
These are some of the things a sales enablement professional does at this stage:
- Interview sales team members to collect intelligence about sales tactics.
- Get feedback about sales tools.
- Map sales processes to customer buying processes.
- Identify key metrics for evaluating sales processes
Gathering this information feeds into the next stage of the process.
Product and service info and updates
At the other end of the production process, the development team makes updates to products and services (also based on customer feedback). It’s important to communicate these changes to the sales team so they can present the new features and capabilities to customers.
At this stage, the sales enablement manager acts as a sort of liaison between the development team and the sales team:
- Collect information about new product developments.
- Identify key benefits and develop sales points for sales teams.
- Curate information about product developments and new products.
These first three stages are largely investigative. The last stage is where it all comes together.
Create training and sales resources
The last stop is to package up all the information and push it out to the sales teams in the field. In most cases, sales enablement professionals collaborate with first-line sales managers and HR to deliver all this information because it’s a combination of training for sales reps, performance analysis, and strategies. So sales enablement has to be applied at multiple levels.
These are some of the typical duties at this stage:
- Build and distribute sales frameworks and playbooks.
- Create onboarding and sales training programs.
- Establish sales metrics and targets.
- Create incentive and recognition programs.
- Publish regular sales performance reports and team member recognition.
Then the cycle starts again with customer feedback to discover what changes worked and which ones weren’t so good.
Pro tip: Turn your sales enablement content into videos for maximum engagement and trackable viewing metrics.
Add video to your sales enablement with Biteable Teams
Sales enablement is the future of sales optimization. But it requires capable communication tools to make it happen. And video is the most powerful communication tool out there.
Biteable Teams gives you the power to tackle every sales enablement task with video, from training packages to annual sales reports and everything in between. It’s the quickest, easiest way to take your communication to the next level.