Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sellers sell more effectively. The foundation of sales enablement is to provide sellers with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.
The concept of sales enablement originated in 2013 and caught on quickly when companies realized the impact it can have on business outcomes. Consider the following from research from Heinz Marketing and Mindtickle:
- Of the teams who hit 100% of their sales goals, 32% have a dedicated sales enablement program
- 78.6% of companies who have an effective training program meet 100% of their selling quota
- 8 out of 10 teams who have effective coaching practices hit greater than 75% of sales quotas
Sales enablement is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. This guide will explore everything you need to know about sales enablement, including:
- The benefits of sales enablement
- Who is responsible for sales enablement
- How to measure sales enablement
- How sales enablement drives revenue
- Sales enablement vs. sales readiness
The benefits of sales enablement
Sales and marketing have traditionally been siloed, with little interaction or collaboration between the two departments. Considering that companies are better at closing deals when their sales and marketing departments are aligned, any chasm between them poses a significant problem.
Although organizations have known about this siloing for many years, bridging the gap has always been easier said than done. Until now.
Sales enablement is the solution for marketing-sales alignment. It paves the way to wider communication channels and frequent collaboration. By adopting an advanced data driven sales enablement platform and following some best practices, alignment is possible at your organization.
Here are some of the most prominent benefits of sales enablement.
Improved communication and teamwork
Communication between sales and marketing teams is a challenge for many organizations. Sales enablement helps address this challenge with a better system for managing sales content. This content management system (CMS) is a centralized database that houses sales resources for all departments and promotes marketing and sales collaboration during the creation of sales content.
Further, when both departments share the same sales enablement tools, CRM data, and business processes, marketing and sales teams can operate with combined insights of the target market and the sales funnel. The two teams collaborate to better define buyer personas and improve lead-scoring processes.
With open collaboration, content can be fine-tuned using the sales team’s knowledge of buyers and marketing’s knowledge of leads. This highly-optimized content moves prospects through the buyer journey faster.
Marketing and sales can also work together to create customizable content that reps can tailor to match the needs of any prospect. The result is highly-relevant content created for any circumstance “on the fly.”
Also, with both departments sharing the same content management system, marketing can purge outdated versions of a piece of content to make sure a sales rep doesn’t accidentally present it to a buyer. Or, reps and marketers can make small adjustments to bring the content back up to date for continued use.
Marketing and sales transparency
Sales enablement provides visibility into the effectiveness of sales and marketing processes. Transparency ensures that both marketing and sales can see which tactics and content are working and which ones aren’t. Both departments can therefore pinpoint inefficiencies and correct them quickly.
For example, with the right sales enablement technology, marketing and sales have access to a dashboard that reveals how buyers are engaging with sales materials. Both departments can see which materials are being ignored and which content is bringing prospects closer to a buying decision.
Bottom-line performance is obviously the most important benefit of sales enablement. With optimized and customizable content, better customer insight, and full visibility into sales processes, reps close more deals and generate more revenue.
How sales enablement technology transforms the selling process
Sales enablement technology does more than create marketing-sales alignment and boost content effectiveness. It enhances the entire sales process by improving efficiency, providing detailed analytics on sales activities, and improving training and development processes.
Enhanced onboarding: Efficient, simplified onboarding leads to faster quota attainment. The most advanced sales enablement technology helps sales trainers identify their reps’ knowledge gaps and adjust training accordingly. Trainers can automatically assign learning paths based on their sales reps’ roles and monitor their progress with milestones and certifications.
Continuous growth and skill development: Training is only effective when it’s ongoing—in fact, 80% of what is learned in sales training is forgotten within 3 months. With the right sales enablement tool, you can develop a more structured and interactive approach to ongoing training. Sales enablement tools provide virtual role-playing exercises, simulated selling scenarios, and personalized feedback for growth and improvement to help sales reps continually sharpen their skills.
- Micro-learning capabilities: Micro-learning presents sales training information in short and engaging training modules to promote knowledge retention. Highly-specific learning objectives, interactive gamification elements, and spaced reinforcements help reps fill their knowledge gaps right from their computers or smartphones.
- Coaching: With sales enablement technology, coaching can be designed around the unique needs of each sales rep. Sales coaches can create personalized learning paths based on competency maps. Coaches can also assign the exact micro-learning modules a rep needs to reinforce specific concepts.
- Analytics: Sales enablement gives you visibility into your reps’ understanding of their training. Analytics dashboards help sales coaches track, measure, and improve their teams’ capabilities.
Getting started with sales enablement
Wondering where to begin your sales enablement journey?
For marketing-sales alignment and a more competitive salesforce, many companies around the world turn to Mindtickle. With innovative training capabilities, as well as advanced micro-learning, analytics, and the ability to integrate a wide range of sales tools, Mindtickle offers a 360-degree solution for sales organizations.
Who is responsible for sales enablement
Ownership of sales enablement varies by organization. According to CSO Insights, just under half (49.2%) of sales enablement teams report to sales leadership, and just over one in five (22.6%) report to another C-level function, such as the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, or Chief Growth Officer, among others. The remaining sales enablement teams report to sales operations, marketing, customer, experience, or another team.
Sometimes, sales enablement teams work in silos without additional engagement or external guidance. However, the most successful programs are those that include cross-functional collaboration across key teams including:
- Sales leadership
- Sales or revenue operations
- Dedicated sales enablement team
- Customer success
Cross-functional collaboration ensures each area of the organization is in agreement and working toward the same goals.
How to measure sales enablement
Continuous measurement is essential to determining the success of sales enablement – and pinpointing opportunities for improvement. Yet, per CSO Insights, less than a quarter of organizations consistently measure the impact of their sales enablement efforts with productivity metrics, milestones, or leading and lagging indicators.
Of course, measuring revenue and number of units sold is important. However, measuring sales enablement also involves correlating sales activities with tangible business outcomes to determine what works and what doesn’t.
There are many many metrics to track to gauge the impact of sales enablement initiatives. Here are 13 of the most common.
1. Lead-to-opportunity conversion rate
As the name suggests, this metric tracks the percentage of leads that are converted to opportunities. This metric is calculated by dividing the number of opportunities by the total number of leads.
A high lead-to-opportunity conversion rate indicates sellers have the skills and knowledge needed to convince buyers to learn more and consider making a purchase.
2. Win rate
The win rate is the percentage of opportunities that end up as signed deals. Win rate is calculated by dividing the number of closed won deals by the total number of opportunities.
A high win rate indicates sellers have what it takes to carry opportunities across the finish line.
3. Competitive win rate
Competitive win rate specifically measures the rate of closed deals where prospects are also considering one of your competitors. The competitive win rate is calculated by dividing the total number of wins over a competitor by the total number of opportunities who considered a competitor.
Competitive win rate can be more challenging to track than win rate. That’s because accurate calculation depends on whether or not prospects inform you that they’re considering a competitor.
4. Average deal size
This metric is the average amount a customer spends on your product or service. It’s calculated by dividing the total amount of money from all customer orders in a specific time frame by the number of deals in that same time frame.
5. Quota attainment
Quota attainment is a measure of how your sales reps are (or aren’t) achieving their goals during each sales cycle. To calculate the quota for a seller, divide their sales during a set time period by their quota for the same period.
If a seller is consistently missing quota, there may be opportunities to provide them with additional training and coaching.
6. Adherence to sales process
This metric tracks how well your sales reps follow your established sales process. In order to track this metric, it’s important to establish a standard way for sellers to follow and document the sales process.
If a seller isn’t adhering to the sales process – and also isn’t meeting quota – there may be a need for additional training or coaching.
7. Ramp-up time
Ramp-up time, also referred to as time to productivity, is the measure of how quickly it takes a new sales rep to reach full productivity. To calculate ramp-up time, take the total amount of time to productivity for all reps who ramped up in a given quarter and divide it by the number of reps.
It’s important to determine how your organization defines productivity. For example, an organization might define it as reaching a certain percentage of quota or making a certain number of calls per day.
8. Time to quota
This is the amount of time it takes new reps to meet their quota for the first time. It’s measured by adding the number of sales cycles it takes each new rep to meet their quota – and then dividing that sum by the number of reps being measured.
If it’s taking a long time for new reps to meet their quota, there may be opportunities to optimize the onboarding process.
9. Seller turnover rate
Turnover rate measures how often sales reps voluntarily leave the company. It’s calculated by dividing the number of reps that voluntarily leave the company within a certain period of time by the total number of reps.
A high rep turnover rate suggests there’s a problem. One way to get to the bottom of the problem is by asking reps for feedback about the effectiveness of the sales enablement program.
10. Rep net promoter score
This measures your reps’ satisfaction with your company. Typically, employees are asked to complete a survey with questions related to their experience. A high net promoter score indicates an employee is satisfied and likely to stay with the company. A low net promoter score indicates the employee is dissatisfied and unlikely to recommend the company to others.
11. Knowledge retention
Reps must learn certain things to be successful. But more importantly, they must retain this knowledge so they can apply it in the field. There are a number of ways organizations can measure knowledge retention, including post-training assessments, role-plays, and listening to conversations between sales reps and customers.
12. Content use and adoption
Most sales enablements invest time and resources into creating both internal and external content. Yet, 65% of B2B content is never used.
It’s important to track how both sellers and buyers are using this content – if they’re using it at all. Key content-related metrics include number of views, time spent on a piece, and how often a piece of content is opened, used, or shared. These insights can help you refine your content strategy.
This metric tracks how often a prospective customer takes action on content – which might include ads, blogs, or emails – among others. The most effective content is that which generates the highest number of clicks.
How sales enablement drives revenue
Today, a mere 43% of sellers meet their quotas. Sales enablement, when done right, can have a dramatic impact on a seller’s ability to close deals – and an organization’s ability to drive revenue. Here are some of the key reasons why.
1. Sales enablement is a key component of sales readiness
Sales readiness is defined as “a continuous state of excellence to grow revenue by utilizing a suite of tools and processes to increase knowledge, enhance performance, and adapt to change. Sellers who are ready are able to close more deals.
A complete sales readiness strategy includes many components, one of which is sales enablement. Sales enablement initiatives help ensure the sales team gets (and stays) in that state of excellence.
2. Sales enablement provides sellers with a single source of truth
Sellers need on-demand access to information in order to move deals forward. For example, sellers often leverage:
- Talk tracks
- Training modules
- Customer content
Oftentimes, the information a seller needs is housed in different locations, such as the CRM, multiple drives, and a company wiki. In those circumstances, it’s challenging for a seller to find what they need when they need it. However, a solid sales enablement program provides sellers with one, single knowledge base. That way, they can always access the knowledge they need, whenever they need it. That means they can more easily move deals through the funnel – and across the finish line.
3. Sales enablement provides ongoing training
Sales training is a key component of sales enablement. Of course, it all starts with sales onboarding. But that’s not enough.
In the world of sales, change is inevitable. New products are released and existing products updated. New tools are introduced. New competitors enter the market. Sales enablement teams provide sellers with the ongoing training they need to build their skills and knowledge so they can overcome challenges and close more deals.
4. Sales enablement can help create a culture of coaching
Continuous coaching is essential to sales success. Research tells us that 8 out of 10 teams with effective coaching practices hit greater than 75% of their sales quotas.
A successful sales enablement strategy includes a strong coaching component. Deal coaching is the most common type of coaching. According to the 2022 State of Sales Readiness report, 85% of sales reps are coached on open deals. However, sales managers must also incorporate skill coaching to drive behavior change. On average, top managers deliver 12 coaching sessions per month.
5. Sales enablement can improve sales and marketing collaboration
Oftentimes, marketing and sales teams work in silos, with each focused on different goals. This negatively affects overall productivity. However, sales enablement can remove these silos and encourage better collaboration between the two teams. When sales and marketing are working towards the same goals, companies are better able to attract and close leads.
6. Sales enablement can speed up onboarding
Onboarding is an important way to orient new sellers and help them understand the company, its goals, and the role they play. Sales enablement can help accelerate onboarding – without sacrificing quality.
Per our 2022 State of Sales Readiness report, sellers at winning organizations take just four weeks to complete the onboarding program – and are fully ramped within four to five months. That’s 40-50% less than the industry average. When onboarding time is streamlined, reps are able to achieve their revenue targets more quickly.
7. Sales enablement can improve rep retention
Sales enablement can increase seller engagement – which can in turn increase satisfaction. Engaged, satisfied reps are more likely to stick around and be productive.
8. Sales enablement leads to informed, engaged buyers
Sales enablement helps ensure reps are always prepared for any interaction with a potential buyer. When reps have the knowledge and content they need to keep buyers informed and engaged, those buyers are more likely to end up as customers.
Sales enablement vs. sales readiness
In the world of business, some people use the phrases “sales enablement” and “sales readiness” interchangeably. Others position the two as separate options to choose from: sales enablement vs. sales readiness. However, neither is correct. The reality is, sales enablement is a component of sales readiness.
Sales readiness aims to ensure sellers have all the information, tools, sales skills, and behaviors to confidently enter any conversation with any prospect, fully prepared. A sales readiness framework includes five steps:
- Define excellence
- Build knowledge
- Align content
- Analyze performance
- Optimize behavior
On the other hand, sales enablement describes the training, reinforcement, and practice that helps sellers successfully engage with prospects so they can close more deals and hit quota. Sales enablement fits into multiple stages of the sales readiness framework by ensuring sales reps have the knowledge, skills, and competencies to be ready for any interaction with prospects. A successful sales enablement program helps reps build knowledge, align content with the sales process, and optimize behavior for better results – and greater revenue growth.
This post originally published in January 2020 and was updated in September 2022.