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Table of Contents

What Is Sales Enablement?
Why Your Organization Needs Sales Enablement
Benefits of Sales Enablement
A Model for Sales Enablement
Essential Sales Enablement Services
Sales Enablement Best Practices
Sales Enablement FAQs

What Is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is a strategic, collaborative discipline designed to increase predictable sales results by providing consistent, scalable enablement services that allow customer-facing professionals and their managers to add value in every customer interaction.

As a strategic and collaborative company initiative, enablement brings together the people and resources necessary to provide content, training and coaching services to internal customer-facing audiences in a way that aligns with the customer journey.

Enablement is not a one-off initiative. It must be applied consistently and collaboratively to achieve results. Although enablement impacts revenue indirectly, organizations with mature enablement disciplines report better performance metrics than organizations that lack an enablement practice.

Additionally, enablement services must align to each other as well as the organization’s marketing and product messages. Organizations achieve alignment by developing overarching value messaging that covers the entire customer journey, as well as enablement services, including content, training and coaching.

The goal of sales enablement is to add value to the sales process by providing sellers and other customer-facing employees relevant insights whenever the customer interacts with the organization. These employees directly benefit from sales enablement, while managers benefit from improvements in the coaching process.

Why Your Organization Needs Sales Enablement

Sales organizations find themselves in a changing global business climate. It’s getting more and more difficult for sales reps to meet their quotas, and companies are falling short in meeting revenue plan targets.

Because sales enablement plays an important role in reversing these trends, it is rapidly becoming a fundamental part of the selling process for successful sales organizations. A recent study from CSO Insights, the research division of the Miller Heiman Group, shows that nearly two-thirds of sales organizations (60%) currently have a dedicated person, program or function for sales enablement – almost double the percentage from just two years ago.

From a competitive standpoint, organizations without a sales enablement practice or function will struggle to keep pace with the rest of the industry. But that’s not the only reason sales enablement is critical.

Today’s B2B customers are more informed and empowered than ever before, and often wait to engage sales teams until after they identify a solution. Combined with other changes in the marketplace, this makes it difficult for sellers to make a lasting impact with buyers.

Enablement services equip sales teams with the information and tools they need to provide real value to buyers. Supported by a range of sales enablement services, the most effective sales teams bring added perspective to the process though a deep knowledge of customers and their challenges, as well as data-based insights about the sales process.

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The Benefits of Sales Enablement

Sales enablement eliminates guesswork by helping sales teams identify specific actions that increase the likelihood of a sale and empowering them to provide added value to buyers.

Organizations that embrace sales enablement receive a range of benefits from their investments, including:

  • Increased Revenue – Increased revenue is the primary performance-related goal of sales enablement. However, because enablement impacts revenue indirectly, the success of your enablement practice is measured by leading indicators like conversation rates (value, volume, velocity) that demonstrate performance trends.
  • Improved Client Acquisition – By orchestrating the efforts of multiple collaborators in the sales process, sales enablement provides the consistency and effectiveness organizations need to acquire new clients.
  • More Selling Time for Sales Reps – When supported by a robust sales enablement practice, sales reps have more time for core selling activities, which translates to increased win rates and deeper relationships with customers.

The most important benefit of sales enablement is that it empowers customer-facing professionals to add value every time they interact with a customer, along the entire customer journey. By transitioning from vendors to trusted partners, sales organizations perform at much higher levels.

A Model for Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is a multi-faceted discipline that can be confusing to leaders and customer-facing sales teams. To demystify sales enablement, Miller Heiman Group has developed something we call the Sales Force Enablement Clarity Model.

The Sales Force Enablement Clarity Model is designed to help organizations achieve greater focus in their sales enablement practices. Represented by the shape of a diamond, our model illustrates the facets associated with an effective sales enablement discipline.

At the top of the model, we find the customer. Customers don’t care about your enablement practice – they are only concerned about whether your sales team understands their industry, challenges and goals. As a result, every enablement service your organization provides must reflect the customer and the customer path.

Below the customer, the clarity model identifies customer-facing professionals and their managers as a vital part of the sales enablement discipline. Sales representatives and managers are enablement’s primary audience. In essence, they are the customers of your organization’s sales enablement practice.

Next, the clarity model includes four facets that describe the mechanics of sales enablement:

  • Formalized Collaboration – Successful enablement practices orchestrate the creation and delivery of enablement services by tapping into the resources and expertise of various functions across the organization.
  • Integrated Enablement Technology – Sales enablement involves much more than technology or a piece of software. But the right enablement technologies go a long way toward giving your organization a competitive advantage.
  • Effective Enablement Services – Enablement services equip the organization with tools and insights to achieve desired outcomes. In a mature sales enablement practice, enablement services include content, training and coaching.
  • Efficient Enablement Operations – An enablement governance model and production process are essential for building sales enablement into a strategic discipline within your organization.

Finally, the Sales Enablement Clarity Model includes sponsorship, strategy and charter. Every sales enablement initiative must begin with a strategy. But to succeed, it must also have the continued support of executive sponsors.

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Essential Sales Enablement Services

Sales enablement makes it possible for customer-facing professionals to bring valuable perspectives to every interaction with customers and prospects. Sales enablement services represent the activities or tools that the sales enablement practice provides for sales representatives and managers in the organization.

In general, sales enablement services fall into three categories: content, training and coaching. In a mature sales enablement practice, none of these services exists in isolation. For example, if the content services team creates a playbook, the sales team will require training to learn how to use it effectively. And both content and training services will require coaching to ensure the playbook is used appropriately.

Most organizations focus on one or two services when they launch their enablement practices (e.g., content or training). However, mature sales enablement practices require all three categories of services.

Sales Enablement Best Practices

A dedicated sales enablement practice is a hallmark of high-performing sales organizations. Whether your organization wants to launch a sales enablement function or further develop your existing discipline, there are several sales enablement best practices to consider:

Getting started in sales enablement

  1. Create an enablement charter – The path to sales enablement maturity begins with the creation of an enablement charter. Your charter documents the expectations of senior executives and its anticipated impact on business and sales strategies. It also identifies sales force challenges you expect to encounter as you develop your enablement practice.
  2. Evaluate your current state – The determination of your current state establishes the starting point for the sales enablement process. From there, you can begin to create a roadmap for sales enablement transformation in your organization.
  3. Align to the customer journey – Sales enablement processes must be closely aligned with the customer journey. They must also take into the decisions that occur at each stage of the journey so content, training and coaching can be tailored to the challenges the sales force encounters at each stage.
  4. Inventory existing content and training services – Evaluate your existing content and discard anything that is not relevant to the stages of the customer journey, buyer roles and other priorities. Similarly, assess your training services to ensure consistency with content and the skill profile of your sales force.

Developing an existing sales enablement practice

  1. Align your enablement services – Your organization’s sales enablement services must closely align to each other and other areas of the organization. Start by making sure that your enablement and customer-facing content are consistent with training. To maintain consistency going forward, standardize collaboration by defining the various roles in the process and the sequence of activities these roles perform.
  2. Further improve your enablement operations – For your enablement practice to succeed, you must demonstrate impact and scalability to executive leaders in the organization. Advisory boards and clearly defined measures of success are critical for improving your practice and communicating your success.

Sales Enablement FAQs

Is sales enablement simply about implementing a new technology?

Sales enablement is about much more than technology. Although technology plays a critical role in a mature enablement practice, at its most fundamental level, sales enablement provides content, training and coaching to customer-facing employees that allow the organization to increase predictable sales.

Is sales enablement really just another word for sales training?

Sales enablement exists as its own function and touches multiple aspects of the organization. Training is one of the services that your sales enablement practice provides, but a mature enablement practice also requires content and coaching services.

Who benefits from sales enablement?

Sales enablement directly benefits reps and other customer-facing employees by allowing them to bring added perspectives to interactions. But enablement really benefits your entire sales force because it also gives managers and coaches the information they need to supervise and train reps more effectively.

Who owns sales enablement?

The sales enablement function exists independently from other parts of the organization. In many cases, the enablement practice reports directly to executive leadership. But rather than generating content, training and coaching on its own, the sales enablement function orchestrates the creation and delivery of enablement services by various other functions across the organization.

How do I implement sales enablement?

The implementation of a sales enablement discipline is understandably a high priority for many organizations. The first step of the process involves the creation of a strategy and an enablement charter that describes the path your organization will take to enablement maturity.

If you’re not sure how to get started, Miller Heiman Group can work with you to develop a strategy and identify an implementation process that makes sense for your organization.

Contact us today using the form below to learn more about sales enablement and how Miller Heiman Group can help launch or improve your organization’s sales enablement practice.

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