April 20th, 2021

If you’re on the market for a solution to train your sales teams to peak productivity, there are probably a few different options that keep coming up in your searches: sales enablement platform, sales readiness platform and learning management system (LMS).

Before diving into what these platforms do and how to assess which works best for your needs, it’s important to first define sales enablement. According to Gartner, it’s “the activities, systems, processes and information that support and promote knowledge-based sales interactions with clients and prospects.” Under the bigger umbrella of sales enablement, some vendors offer readiness platforms while others offer a sales content management solution. An LMS frequently joins the conversation as the de facto platform for corporate education and training activities.

While each of these technologies exists to empower your team in some way, there are several core differences between them — some of which are more focused on addressing the unique needs of sales teams than others. Let’s dig into what each platform does, how each differs and which one fits your needs.

The sales productivity landscape

Historically, the idea of empowering your sales team to succeed started with a one-time sales onboarding program and over time was supported by content (datasheets, recorded demos, whitepapers, etc.) to help reps sell more effectively.

However, as sales processes have evolved and become more complex, the expectation for how to best equip sellers has changed too. It’s not just about one-time training or content anymore — 73% of companies that TOPO recently surveyed have dedicated people within their sales teams focused on training, coaching, content, communications and more. One-time training and opportunistic, deal-focused coaching isn’t enough. Successful sales leaders realize that for reps to reach their full potential, they must be supported with always-on, personalized and data-driven programs.

If you’re searching for a solution to drive sales productivity, invest in a tool that’s fit to handle the needs of a modern (and increasingly complex) selling environment.

In addition to providing ongoing support and training, some other considerations that may influence your needs include:

  • Keeping an increasingly remote workforce on the same page and regularly updated
  • Approaching learning in the context and in the moment of need
  • Retraining, certifying and ramping up sales and customer-facing teams
  • Delivering easy-to-consume content in customizable, bite-sized chunks
  • Enabling safe practice and certifications before money is on the line
  • Providing insights that tie training to business outcomes

With these things in mind, how do you go about choosing the right solution?

Finding a solution that suits your needs

The biggest difference between a traditional LMS and the other sales-specific solutions is that an LMS wasn’t built with the unique needs of a constantly evolving sales team in mind.

While an LMS is an ideal solution for HR-led corporate training, its typical focus is on compliance, policies and procedures, and other generalized corporate programs. Individual sellers may have an array of unique needs, but an LMS is not typically equipped to facilitate the nuanced training or coaching required for most salespeople, nor can an LMS map skill development to business outcomes.

When comparing sales enablement platforms and sales readiness platforms, some significant differences set them apart. For one, a sales enablement platform’s primary purpose is to act as a hub or repository of marketing content for the sales team. In some cases, organizations may use this content to coach, train or onboard new sales hires, but like an LMS, it has no ability to help sales teams assess the skills and behaviors necessary to succeed — or provide sellers a platform to practice, apply and consistently improve knowledge.

A sales readiness platform includes sales enablement capabilities but also incorporates outcome-focused training programs to increase customer-facing teams’ ability to sell through initial onboarding, continuous personalized coaching, knowledge assessments and evaluating selling efficiency. These systems are designed to deliver a mix of virtual learning experiences such as:

  • Videos
  • Presentations
  • Role-play tools
  • Assessments
  • Certifications

Rather than taking a one-time approach to training, a sales readiness platform gives sales reps access to video training, peer observation, practice modules and structured coaching feedback — all without pulling reps away from their core selling activities.

In the chart below, we’ve highlighted some key areas that differentiate a sales enablement platform from an LMS from a sales readiness platform.

Selecting the right software

Each of these solutions shares some core functionality, but there are essential features that differentiate them.

  • If you’re looking for a generalized, corporate onboarding, compliance training or recertification tool, an LMS may be a good option for your needs.
  • A team that’s more focused on making collateral available and isn’t necessarily focused on assessing sellers’ knowledge or mapping actual seller readiness to their performance may choose to explore a sales enablement management platform.
  • Anyone who is looking for a platform that encompasses the best of both worlds may choose to explore a sales readiness platform, which comprehensively combines ongoing onboarding, training, coaching, assessments, and personalized development that is specifically designed for sales and customer-facing teams.

Pro tip: You don’t necessarily have to choose one solution over the other. In fact, many sales enablement and L&D leaders may choose to invest in one or more sales productivity solutions from among LMS, sales enablement and sales readiness platforms. These solutions naturally complement each other and can be used in tandem to develop a highly educated, empowered salesforce.

Get teams sales-ready with MindTickle’s Enablement Suite

And now entire enablement suites like MindTickle have emerged onto the market. These solutions help companies achieve revenue objectives by engaging and developing their teams at scale, ensuring sellers are ready to perform their best every time and close more business. An enablement suite includes the following:

  • Training and reinforcement to equip salespeople with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed
  • Practice and role-play exercises to ensure that they’re prepared before money is on the line
  • Conversation intelligence to capture and analyze real-world conversations
  • On-the-job coaching aids to help managers and sellers focus on improving the skills that drive productivity
  • Detailed analytics that scores competencies and exposes individual and team skill gaps, tying readiness activities to business outcomes

The result? Shorter ramp times, productive and engaged sellers, and higher win rates. See MindTickle in action today.