What is Sales Enablement?

two people talking about sales enablement

If you work in sales, or anywhere near a salesperson, then you’ve probably picked up on the crazy mess of technology companies, buzzwords, and business news outlets seeking to best capture the moment of massive change going on in the world of sales today. 

You may have also heard the term ‘sales enablement’ tossed around quite a bit, maybe you’ve pinned it as a buzzword. Turns out, buzzword or not, it’s at the center of this whole mess in sales. 

Most people feel like sales enablement is this big nebulous term that’s difficult to define much less have a candid conversation about. 

So, we decided to create this guide to bring sales enablement down to earth and unpack what sales enablement is and why it’s so important to businesses today. 

What is sales enablement?

  • Sales enablement is the practice of better aligning people, systems, and technology to deliver buyer-centric sales strategies for more profitable growth.

If I’m being blunt, sales enablement is simply getting your ducks in a row so that your business is able to focus more on the customer experience and therefore find better growth opportunities. Maybe it easier when it’s put that way, but it can be a massive undertaking for most businesses.

Delivering on customer-centricity and giving buyers that Amazon-like experience is actually really hard.

In case you’re not within the 82% of American households who subscribe to Amazon Prime or you’ve never considered signing up for a streaming service like Netflix or Disney+, you should know something. 

The best experience wins

The companies that have figured out how to leverage recent innovations in technology to deliver great customer experiences have totally disrupted what customers expect. This has sent waves that have reached B2B.

We need to rethink the way we position B2B vs. all others because, in reality, today’s B2B buyer is the business consumer.

This means they expect to consume B2B services and products just like they do at home with their favorite brands.

If you’re worried that you’ll always be compared to a monster company like Amazon you should know that you’re really being compared on two fronts: personalization and consistency throughout the customer’s interaction with your business.  

The economics of customer experience is impressive. Brands that have superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors.

Getting started with a sales enablement strategy

Sales enablement should empower anyone who’s in a customer-facing role to show up to work with the ability to have more effective and more efficient engagements with customers.

A strategy like that generally has a few outcomes.

Outcomes of a great sales enablement strategy

  • higher customer satisfaction
  • increased customer retention rates (lower churn)
  • additional revenue
  • increased employee retention and engagement

At the core of a sales enablement strategy should be a measurable goal that aligns incentives across marketing, sales, and customer service teams to deliver on more customer-centricity and buyer-centric sales strategies. How you define those opportunities is tends to be pretty specific to your business.

A key component of a modern sales enablement strategy is to align teams upon incentives.

If it’s working your customers will stick around, buy more, and tell their friends about your business. 

The truth is, sales enablement is hard to get right and sales leaders all across the globe are struggling with how to best set their sellers up for success, how to keep up with the constantly changing expectations of customers, and what the role of the modern salesperson is. 

Imagine the boardroom meeting where some big honcho types are debating the role of the salesperson.

I’d bet that in that room they’re all talking about sales enablement but the funny thing about sales enablement is if you’ve ever asked a handful of people to define sales enablement you’d probably walk away with a different answer each time. 

Why is sales enablement difficult to define?

Give it a Google search and you’ll see that there are so many different definitions of the same term. It can be frustrating when everyone is speaking a different language. 

So you might go around the office and ask a few people. 

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different definition of sales enablement too because it’s meant something different over time and in different roles. 

Ask a marketer and they might tell you that sales enablement is about giving the sales team the best content to close deals. 

A sales manager might tell you sales enablement is about getting marketing to see their role in the pipeline.

Well, now you’re out of luck.

Defining sales enablement is kind of like trying to hit a moving target. There are going to be a bunch of misses because things are changing really fast.

It probably not that important to nail a consistent answer though because at the rate the market is changing, it’s more valuable to be flexible than pinned down. 

Sales enablement is about helping sellers meet the needs of customers. The needs of both are changing all the time, so, why would the way we help them stay the same? The definition needs to open.

There is a common thread here. It’s interesting that one word keeps coming up, that word is content.

This is a red flag. If a sales enablement strategy focuses too much on content, which is generally created in marketing departments, companies run the risk of missing out on a huge opportunity.

The path towards more profitable growth from enablement technology arrives when the company is able to deliver the best experience to the customer.

That might include content but it’s not the only component because today’s buyer likely has enough content.

90% of B2B buyers told Gartner that they struggled to make sense of information gathered from vendor and 50% said the amount of trustworthy information was overwhelming

Ways sales enablement helps businesses: 

  • On the job coaching and immediate context-based training 
  • Time-saving practices to transfer efficiencies to the customer experience 
  • Flexible communication tools to meet customers on their terms
  • A strategy to deliver tailored experiences to buyers at scale

It seems with each year there’s talk of more pressure on the seller to meet an ever-rising bar of customer expectations.

It’s not that pressure isn’t something salespeople are used to, most salespeople know exactly what it’s like to hustle under grueling conditions, rather, most organizations are simply missing an opportunity to really set their salespeople up for success.

Sales enablement is about building bridges between all of the teams that interface with the customer to ensure they’re all delivering a consistent and personalized experience that translates to value for the customer. Deliver a great experience to your customer and revenue will follow.