What Is Sales Enablement: A Complete Guide

Marc Grewenig
January 12, 2024

If you’ve ever played sports, you understand how important having the right coach is for the overall efficiency and success of the team. 

Sales enablement can be defined as the coach for your sales team who can give them the tools and resources in the form of content, knowledge, and information on your products or services. Having sales enablement tactics as part of your go-to-market strategy gives your sales reps the edge when engaging with your prospects and buyers on their buyers’ journey.

Companies like yours have adopted sales enablement to drive their sales and marketing success. In this sales enablement guide, we’re going to be talking about what sales enablement does, sales enablement tactics, and how you can implement strategies to enable your sales team. 

The Evolution of Sales Enablement

The concept of sales enablement isn’t new, but the term 'sales enablement' itself has become more popular over the last few years. It gives businesses an advantage over their competitors by helping them better structure their sales processes. It also improves how sales collaborate and interact with their prospects and customers.

But what does sales enablement actually mean for businesses?

Sales Enablement Over Time

Classic sales focused mostly on selling products and services, and usually, there weren't many tools or training programs to help them out. But as B2B became increasingly competitive, organizations began seeing the need for a stronger sales approach.

Enter sales enablement, and its one simple goal: to equip sales teams with the skills, knowledge, and tools to be successful and ultimately increase revenue. Teams could finally move away from cold calling and face-to-face meetings and instead get support via training programs, new tools, and data-driven insights.

Today, sales enablement is a catch-all term that covers everything a sales team might need to perform their best. Sales enablement isn’t this static concept. It grows right alongside business so it can continue to help business reach their goals. And it's not just one team that owns sales enablement.

So what are some of the ways that sales enablement has become more relevant?

The growing importance of B2B sales enablement

  • Increased competition: 

As new businesses and products continue to enter the market, it makes it so much more difficult to stand out. Sales enablement can help sales teams to better understand their customers and create personalized sales pitches to help them stand out.

  • Customers are more informed:

Most B2B customers are already 57% - 70% done with their buying research before even speaking with a sales rep. That means they’ve researched and learned about your products. Sales enablement allows your team to be up-to-date so they can confidently resolve questions and concerns that prospects or customers might have. 

  • Technology is always changing:

New tools and technologies are being developed every day to help improve the sales process. Sales enablement ensures your team is taking full advantage of these tools, giving them an edge over competitors.

  • Sales teams need support:

It's not easy being a salesperson these days! It can be overwhelming with so much information and many tools at their disposal. Sales enablement helps provide the support and guidance sales teams need to stay on top of things. This can take the form of ongoing training and sales coaching assessments.

By understanding the evolution of sales enablement and its growing relevance, you can ensure that your business adapts and stays ahead of the curve. 

Unpacking B2B Sales Enablement 

Imagine sales enablement as a helpful supporter behind the scenes, making sure your sales team can do their best work. It's all about giving your salespeople what they need to shine and succeed in selling your products or services, especially when dealing with other businesses.

What does sales enablement consist of?

One big part of sales enablement is training. Think about it - a well-prepared salesperson can answer tough questions, handle tricky situations, and really explain why their product is the best fit for a potential customer. A well-trained team means more successful sales and happy customers. You need sales enablement leaders to direct the teams on the strategy and materials and who can provide ongoing training.

Another important thing sales enablement does is provide useful content for salespeople to use. This can be stuff like articles, videos, images, or documents that help explain your product or service. Having a collection of helpful resources will make your sales team more confident and ready to respond to different customer needs.

Sales enablement also focuses on using technology to make selling easier. There are tools and platforms that can help manage customer relationships, automate tasks, or even figure out the best way to approach a new lead. These tech solutions help keep your sales team organized and efficient. Then, you'll just need to be intentional when evaluating sales enablement tools for your teams.

Finally, sales enablement is about making sure your sales efforts match up with the big picture of your business. It helps you determine the best sales strategies and goals to ensure everyone is working together toward success.

When you put it all together, sales enablement is like a toolkit for your sales team, making sure they have the skills, resources, and strategies they need to do their best work. By caring for your sales team and making their job easier, you can expect more sales and a better experience for your potential customers.

Sales Enablement vs. Marketing Enablement:

While seemingly similar, sales and marketing enablement serve unique functions within an organization's strategic framework. Here's a detailed contrast and comparison between the two:

Sales enablement

Focused primarily on driving sales growth, sales enablement works to equip sales reps with the necessary tools, knowledge, and training to sell more effectively and efficiently. Its overarching goal is to improve sales effectiveness and productivity, leading to revenue growth.

Key components of sales enablement:

  1. Training and Development

Providing sales representatives with continuous learning opportunities to stay updated with the latest products, industry trends, sales methodologies, and negotiation strategies.

  1. Sales Content Provision

Curating and delivering insightful content such as case studies, pitch decks, and competitor analyses that help salespeople articulate the company's value proposition compellingly.

  1. Sales Tools Implementation

Integrating cutting-edge sales technology, like CRM and Sales Intelligence tools, to streamline the sales process and enable quicker deal closures.

Marketing enablement

On the other hand, marketing enablement concerns itself with ensuring brand messaging consistency across all marketing channels. It provides marketing teams with resources, training, and technology to enhance their marketing efforts.

The key components of marketing enablement:

  1. Brand Consistency

Ensuring that the brand's messaging, visuals, and tone are unified across all marketing channels to enhance brand recognition and trust.

  1. Marketing Tools and Analytics

Employing advanced marketing technology and analytics for better consumer understanding, marketing campaign effectiveness, and enhanced decision-making.

  1. Content Marketing Strategy

Streamlining the creation, distribution, and measurement of marketing content to engage audiences, drive leads, and position the brand effectively in the market.

The intersection: An aligned business growth strategy

While sales enablement and marketing enablement have distinctive goals, their paths cross several times. They are not isolated but interconnected, as both are integral to the buyer’s journey — from the initial attraction stage led by marketing to the final conversion managed by sales.

When these strategies are tightly connected, we talk about revenue enablement, which is part of the overall revenue growth. 

Organizations that marry these two strategies stand to benefit significantly. By fostering strong collaboration and alignment between marketing and sales, companies can create a more consistent buyer experience, streamline lead nurturing, and ultimately drive higher revenue.

While sales enablement and marketing enablement have unique roles, a successful growth strategy requires both functions to work harmoniously. Together, they serve as a powerful engine driving business success.

The 3 Pillars of Effective Sales Enablement

Sales teams that thrive typically have robust sales enablement practices underpinned by these pillars:

Pillar 1: Comprehensive training and skill development

This involves developing and delivering a holistic training program to enhance the team’s knowledge base, improve their selling skills, and help them stay on top of industry trends and changes in market demand.

Pillar 2: Aligning sales with organizational goals

Sales reps need to understand their role in meeting the organization's overall objectives and how their individual targets contribute to these broader goals.

Pillar 3: Efficient content management and utilization

In the age of information overload, having relevant and accessible content is paramount for a salesperson. To implement sales enablement, the sales team should have easy access to the right content at the right time.

emlen.io provides a shared content hub across your revenue team. Emlen ensures you can find and curate the right content at your fingertips, orchestrated swiftly for every situation. The platform facilitates effective sales content management, enabling you to harmonize your sales follow-up and delight your buyers.

How to Craft Your Winning Sales Enablement Strategy

You'll need a hearty strategy if you want to bring sales enablement into your business. It might seem daunting but don’t worry. The benefits of sales enablement far outweigh the effort needed to execute the strategy.

4 steps to a solid sales enablement strategy

  1. Write a clear plan: Start by sketching out a sales enablement plan that ties into your company's larger goals. Where do you want to be in one year? In five years? How can a successful sales team help you get there? These are important questions your plan should address.
  1. Create useful training and content: Equip your sales team with the right tools for their job. This could be informative articles, demo videos, presentation templates, or anything else that helps them sell better. Also, don’t forget to schedule regular training sessions to sharpen their skills!
  1. Tap into technology: Some snazzy sales enablement software can give your sales team superpowers. Explore sales enablement technologies that help manage customer relationships, provide insights on sales performance, or facilitate virtual meetings.
  1. Encourage everyone to jump on board: Finally, make sure that every department, not just sales, is in the loop. The marketing team can create content to support sales, product development can work closely with sales to understand customer needs, and customer service can share customer feedback with the sales team.

Remember, creating a sales enablement process isn’t just a sales thing; it’s a company-wide thing! With these steps, you’ll be off to a great start in integrating sales enablement strategies into your operation. You'll be amazed to see how things can change when everyone works together towards the same goal.

Measuring the success of your sales enablement strategy

Having all this information and now a strategy, how do you evaluate their effectiveness? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics are vital tools. These metrics help provide insights into what has or hasn’t worked in your sales enablement program.

Key indicators to track may include the sales cycle length, sales team engagement rates, content utilization, win rates, quota attainment, and deal size. The right combination of these metrics can offer a comprehensive view of the health of your sales enablement practices.

Overcoming Challenges in Sales Enablement

Moving towards a robust sales enablement culture has its hurdles. Organizations often face challenges such as resistance to change, poor (or nonexistent) sales and marketing alignment, inadequate training resources, or lack of accessibility and organization of sales content.

Overcoming these challenges requires commitment and the right approach. Here’s what you can do to make sure your team is running smoothly and effectively:

Encourage open communication

Schedule routine team meetings to foster transparency and open dialogues. This can help alleviate resistance and fuel a collaborative spirit.

Invest in professional development

Dedicate time, effort, and budget to creating or procuring quality training material. This can empower your sales team with needed skills and knowledge.

Adopt a sales enablement platform

Use technological advancements, like sales enablement platforms (emlen), to efficiently manage and organize sales content. This makes finding and using appropriate material effortlessly accessible for your sales team.

The right sales enablement tool that seamlessly aligns with what you're already using can help you achieve goals faster.

Building a sales enablement culture

Creating a successful sales enablement culture involves more than just handing over tools and resources to sales representatives. It requires a thorough culture shift within the entire organization. Key strategies that foster this culture include promoting continuous learning, encouraging cross-departmental collaboration, and incentivizing salespeople’s success.

Leadership buy-in can significantly impact the success of building a sales enablement culture. Leaders should not only approve the resources necessary to build sales enablement processes but also actively promote its benefits and lead by example.

Insights From emlen.io: How Mews Tamed its Resources

The challenge

Mews, a property management software (PMS) tech company based in Prague, needed help managing their sales content more effectively. They had sales content scattered across various platforms and faced the daunting task of effectively managing and using their resources. They needed a system to unify, organize, and distribute their content.

How emlen helped tackle the challenge

By embracing emlen’s sales content management solution, Mews was able to centralize all content in a single hub and put their content curation and orchestration on the fast track. The result was the clear-cut ability to instantly locate and provide the necessary content for each situation at the right time.

The Future of Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is set for exciting developments in the future. By taking advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning, sales enablement technology is becoming more sophisticated. They will continue to deliver more detailed insights and personalized content recommendations.

Also, the ongoing integration of sales enablement platforms with other sales tech stack components points to a future with seamlessly interconnected tools delivering an enhanced selling process.

Understanding and embracing sales enablement boosts the sales team's productivity and enhances the buyer's journey, ensuring a memorable and satisfying experience for prospective customers. Organizations can pave the way towards sustainable revenue growth and market leadership by fostering a culture of sales enablement and leveraging cutting-edge tools like emlen.

If your company needs help with sales enablement, book a demo today to discover how emlen can help boost your team's effectiveness and drive business growth.]

Marc Grewenig

at
emlen