April 23, 2021

Sales Readiness vs. Sales Enablement: What’s the Difference?

It can be easy to get lost in the world of sales terminology. As with any field, when you’re first introduced to the lingo, it can feel like learning a new language. Understanding the key differences between similar terms can be a challenge in its own right.

That’s where sales readiness and sales enablement come in. At first, “readiness” and “enablement” seem like they’re nearly synonyms, and adding the word “sales” in front of both may make it seem like the two phrases are entirely interchangeable. To make matters even trickier, the two phrases are used to describe highly connected and interdependent concepts, tools and strategies.

In this post, we’ll explore sales readiness and sales enablement in-depth to determine their distinct features as well as how they’re related to each other.

Defining sales readiness and sales enablement

Both sales enablement and sales readiness are crucial for driving successful outcomes and encouraging sellers. Here, we’ll define both of these key terms and explore strategies for promoting sales readiness and enablement.

What is sales enablement?

Some people have an outdated image of what the sales profession looks like. There’s a notion that the right rep could sell anything to anybody, but often, that’s a waste of the seller’s time.

Sales enablement focuses on granting sales agents easy, instantaneous access to the tools they need in order to have meaningful interactions with their prospects while remaining grounded in a firm understanding of pain points, product offerings and general subject matter expertise.

In particular, sales enablement facilitates ongoing access to the following types of supports for all phases of the buyer journey:

  • Tools: Customer relationship management (CRM) systems and social media platforms empower sales reps to effectively and seamlessly manage interactions with customers and prospects and to practice social selling techniques. Reps should also know where to turn for training materials that support their outreach efforts and how to gain knowledge of the company’s products and services.
  • Content: Streamlined access to assets created by the marketing team and stored in a content management system (CMS) allows reps to leverage these informative pieces for ongoing conversations with qualified leads and active prospects.
  • Information: Sales enablement also means sharing metrics and high-level reports about activities conducted by individual sellers so management can make strategic decisions about how to better support and empower their staff.

Showpad client data reveals that sales enablement strategies executed with our platform have led to improvements like:

  • A 60% decrease in ramp time for newly hired sales reps
  • A 30% reduction in time spent on sales preparation and administrative functions
  • A 40% boost in upselling and cross-selling

At its core, sales enablement is all about providing reps with the content, coaching and training they need to succeed. In this way, enablement promotes overall sales readiness.

What is sales readiness?

In a sense, readiness is the realization of sales enablement. Enablement is about providing reps with everything they need to go out into the field and sell. Readiness is the process of making sure they’re prepared for real-world interactions.

In fact, in a Forrester blog post, the author cited the organization’s official definition for sales readiness, in part, as being “digital tools that increase sellers’ and managers’ effectiveness through practice, coaching and collaboration.”

In essence, sales readiness is the act of taking the potential made possible by enablement and turning it into action.

Examples of sales readiness and sales enablement

Let’s explore a couple of examples to clarify the differences between sales readiness and sales enablement.

  • Launching a new product or service: From a sales enablement perspective, the most important action is to ensure sales agents have access to content about the new offering as well as training materials for how to explain the various benefits to different customer segments. Reps will also need explainers related to the various features of the new product or service. On the other hand, sales readiness emphasizes the importance of promoting preparedness among sellers so they can truly engage with potential buyers during calls, meetings and other interactions. This could be accomplished through coaching sessions or by gamifying training materials to encourage reps as they actively participate and strive to retain information.
  • Initiating a sales campaign for a new target audience: Imagine that the marketing team has identified a new potential customer segment for an existing product or service. Sales enablement tools will ensure that sellers can easily find the new buyer persona and any digital content created specifically with the new demographic in mind. Sales readiness will entail cross-departmental collaboration with the marketing team or mock meetings conducted within the sales department to practice the new approach.

How sales readiness and sales enablement work together

It should be noted that sales readiness and sales enablement are not opposing forces. They share a common goal, and one leads neatly into the other on the road to successful sales interactions. 

To support both enablement and readiness, a dedicated, comprehensive sales enablement platform like Showpad can provide you with the technology you need in order to achieve enablement and, in turn, fuel readiness.

Sales enablement and the Showpad platform

The Showpad sales enablement platform includes:

  • Capabilities for communication between sales and marketing teams to ensure consistent messaging across departments
  • Accessibility for all content housed in your company’s CMS
  • Personalization and customization tools for updating content and appealing directly to the intended recipient
  • Insightful analytics that inform managers about where to allocate resources to best support reps

In particular, Showpad Content is an essential solution for sales enablement.

All too frequently, valuable assets like one-pagers, sales decks and ebooks are stored and shared in an ad-hoc fashion, which can make it difficult for sales reps to locate the most recent versions of relevant content in a timely and efficient fashion. As a result, sellers could be left empty-handed or scrambling to build new collateral from scratch.

Showpad Content can connect with your business’s existing digital asset management (DAM) solution or CMS. Alternatively, you can use the Showpad CMS for enhanced functionality.

With Showpad Content, teams can seamlessly tag, distribute and manage digital assets in a way that’s centralized and accessible. Search recommendations empowered by artificial intelligence make it easier for sales reps to quickly find what they need. Sellers can craft engaging content experiences and microsites as well as review assets from a variety of different devices and applications. Internal analytics related to content usage and results can propel future sales and marketing decisions.

How a sales enablement platform like Showpad supports sales readiness

Sales readiness relies on top-tier coaching. Showpad Coach provides onboarding, training and ongoing support for dedicated sales professionals. 

Showpad Coach’s overall goal is to help sales reps go from unknown visitors to seasoned, consultative contacts for their prospects, leads and customers. Ultimately, the tool is designed to help sales agents consistently outdo themselves.

In addition to training materials, the solution provides opportunities for sales reps to practice as they learn, leveraging recorded sessions and peer feedback.

As agents act out a scenario, like a practice pitch session, they can review footage from the exercise with colleagues and managers. This will expose agents to a variety of possible outcomes, leading to increased sales readiness as they leave training modules behind and embark on real-world outreach efforts.

Through Showpad Coach, managers can assess the retention of team members and review analytics to inform future training needs. The tool’s coaching features empower sales readiness by:

  • Consolidating training materials and insights for supervisors in the Manager Hub
  • Providing scalable approaches to creating, rolling out and maintaining new sales training programs
  • Granting a first-rate user experience that encourages reps to remain highly engaged during training processes and practice exercises
  • Connecting with Showpad Content through a unified interface so sellers can move from training to action right away
  • Storing recorded and transcribed meetings for later review

Altogether, Showpad Coach’s functionality is designed to get sellers ramped up quickly and to promote continued progress and development for senior sales agents throughout their careers.

Artificial intelligence, smart sales enablement and next-generation sales readiness

As an emerging technology, the full potential of artificial intelligence (AI) is beyond what we can currently predict. What is certain is that adopting various AI tools and techniques today will provide organizations with a competitive advantage compared to businesses that are not currently exploring avenues for deploying the technology.

A recent McKinsey survey published in November 2020 found that 50% of respondents said their business had incorporated AI into at least one department. For sales enablement and sales readiness, AI can mean the difference between agents instantly finding quality content that can help convert prospects into customers on the one hand and sifting through an expansive digital database with no end in sight on the other.

Showpad Content serves up intelligent recommendations for users. The platform can identify the most effective content available for a given scenario based on a wide variety of factors, such as:

  • The industry in which the business operates
  • Products that are being discussed
  • The location of the company and its customers

Sales agents can also offer feedback to help improve search results in the future. Based on where they are in the sales cycle, Showpad Content can recommend external resources for agents to share with prospects as well as internal training materials that keep reps up to speed. 

With certain integrations, Showpad Content can also display data related to how prospects and customers have interacted with content, providing additional information that sellers can use to move the conversation forward. Sales managers also have the option to highlight specific assets for their assigned agents on those sellers’ home screens, pushing important content to the front of the line.

With AI-powered content recommendations, Showpad Content can transform sales enablement into sales readiness.

Showpad Content and Showpad Coach: Your ticket to sales enablement and sales readiness

Showpad offers one unified view for supporting agents as they leverage tools like Showpad Content — ideal for sales enablement — and integrate it with what they’ve learned using Showpad Coach — the perfect solution for driving sales readiness. With high-level coaching support and intelligent recommendations, your agents will be prepared to exceed their quotas in no time.

Want to discover how the Showpad sales enablement platform can help your agents ramp up faster while promoting overall sales readiness? Request a product demo today to learn more.