Cutting Through the Buzz: Defining Sales Enablement

Updated: March 31, 2011

Sales Enablement

Sales Enablement in its simplest terms refers to arming your sales force with everything they need to make a sale. It is all about "enabling" the act of selling and helping sales professionals to be more effective and efficient in your organization.

At the heart of sales enablement are processes. Those sales enablement processes are designed to improve sales productivity and increase sales effectiveness - all driven by the key elements of technology, data, tools and training.

Sales Enablement Processes

Sales enablement processes are step-by-step workflows created for sales to be supremely efficient and effective at finding, developing, qualifying, quoting and closing opportunities. Processes should be simple, tied to compensation, reward-driven, logical and automated (where applicable). Processes make up the very foundation of sales enablement, because without them, sales adoption would be a struggle.

There are other elements that go into sales enablement as well, and without them true sales enablement would not be possible.

Technology - this facilitates process-driven and administrative activities, and often spans both sales and marketing departments. One of the overriding benefits of employing sales enablement technology is to align sales and marketing more closely to increase efficiency and effectiveness across the organization. Areas that technology aids organizations:

  • Searching for documents and marketing materials
  • Compiling collateral in a central location
  • Mapping assets to the sales cycle
  • Sending communications
  • Collecting prospect opinions and ratings on effectiveness of assets
  • Tracking effectiveness and usage of assets
  • Timing follow up

Data - in sales enablement, data refers to information used by sales in the course of developing and opportunity during the sales cycle. Data can be manually sourced, or compiled & organized much faster by data technology platforms. Sales enablement data can include:

  • Prospect intelligence (contact information, needs, timing, criteria, background)
  • Competitive intelligence (selling points & style, advantages & disadvantages, guarantees & promises)
  • Quantifiable solution differentiation (success stories, demonstrated ROI, expense reduction)

Tools - probably the most convoluted and confusing word used in sales enablement, these are any supporting marketing assets sales can use to engage a prospect, promote discussion, answer their questions, follow their RFP procedures, etc. Examples include:

  • Collateral (data sheets, sales slicks, brochures, handouts, etc.)
  • Videos and audio (such as podcasts)
  • Emails
  • Press releases
  • Social media mentions/visibility
  • LinkedIn profiles
  • Customer references

Training - this refers to the ongoing education of sales to enable them to perform at peak levels. Peak performance translates into greater success for the sales team member, increased revenue for the company, and - most importantly - more fulfilling and satisfied prospects that become happy customers.

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