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Simply put, Sales Enablement is equipping a sales organization or salesperson with the tools and information needed to perform their jobs effectively.
It is often a specific and specialized role in many organizations, a title or department often called “Sales Enablement” typically reporting into Sales Operations or the Marketing department. The Sales Enablement role itself focuses on sales processes and the customer journey, bringing together the often siloed sales, marketing, and customer support functions.
When we look at Sales Enablement Tools, they are often separated into two broad categories: Customer Relationship Management tools (CRMs), and communication tools or technologies. Most are probably familiar with the popular Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM systems – both which are cloud-based solutions. There are several other CRM offerings such as: SugarCRM, HubSpot, bpmOnline and others. CRM is traditionally focused on enabling the sales reps to track accounts and opportunities, as well as provide sales leadership the reporting they need to forecast revenue and track activities.
For communications technology, most companies enable their sales teams with point solutions, including web conferencing, screen sharing, audio (dialers and voice conferencing), video, and email tracking. Common point solution communication tools include: Webex, Zoom.us, GoToMeeting, and Yesware. A key Sales Enablement challenge is that many of these tools are single-purpose and disconnected. According to Aragon Research, the average sales rep uses between 5-8 different tools every day. Managing this complexity and the lack of integrated technologies is costly and impacts sales rep productivity.
Other functional responsibility for Sales Enablement include:
- Delivering sales effectiveness training
- Managing sales communication and content
- Selecting and deploying sales technology
- Onboarding sales reps
Nearly half the companies in its database (46 percent) have the sales enablement function reporting into sales, 32 percent into marketing and 18 percent into one or more business units. Sirius Decisions believes that Sales Enablement will increasingly report into Sales as the function broadens its roles and responsibilities – but with greater alignment with Marketing.
Although it can be characterized as both a process and role or function, Sales Enablement is an ever evolving term. It has largely morphed from solely a sales support role to include training, onboarding, and guided selling.
Sales Enablement is more than just a buzzword. Many of the leading analyst firms have research and consulting focus areas for Sales Enablement. While there are slight differences in their definitions, it is clear that Sales Enablement is increasing strategic to many organizations.
“Sales enablement’s goal is to ensure that every seller has the required knowledge, skills, processes and behaviors to optimize every interaction with buyers.”
“The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place, to assist moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”
“Sales enablement is 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.”
“The activities, systems, processes and information that support and promote knowledge-based sales interactions with client and prospects.”
“Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively. The foundation of sales enablement is to provide sales people with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.”
“A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training, and coaching services for salespeople and frontline sales managers along the entire customer’s journey powered by technology”
This broadening definition and addition of requirements is leading to a new term now making headway as Sales Engagement. While the Sales Enablement role remains, the separated point solution Sales Enablement tools are being combined into Sales Engagement Platforms which integrate the engagement aspects into reporting allowing for greater sales forecast accuracy.