October 31, 2019
Updated: March 22, 2021

What Does Sales Enablement Do?

A productive sales rep is a prepared sales rep. However, all the legwork that must be completed to facilitate that productivity and effectiveness is a challenge that sales organizations struggle with. 

Often, sales professionals are laden with duties like lead prospecting, presentation deck creation, cold calling, and other day-to-day responsibilities that prevent them from finding more valuable uses for their time, like personalizing client interactions.

Enter sales enablement — a strategy for providing your sales reps with everything they need to succeed. 

Far from a vague industry buzzphrase, sales enablement is a strategy that can generate efficiency and tangible gains along every point of the sales process, making for a more streamlined and impactful experience.

Sales enablement is all about making sure reps have access to marketing materials and other content at their fingertips without having to dig through months of emails searching for a specific PDF. The right sales enablement platform empowers your reps and aligns your sales and Marketing departments, making it an indispensable part of the modern sales organization stack. 

Here’s more information about implementing a sales enablement strategy, the benefits of sales enablement tools and how to find the right enablement software.

What is sales enablement?

While it can be somewhat hard to pin down an exact definition of sales enablement, the overarching mission of a sales enablement strategy is to equip your employees with all the resources, materials, and support they need — without requiring them to jump through various hoops. Whatever your teams need to sell should be laid out and accessible to them well before they pick up a phone or fire off an email.

This sounds like a no-brainer in theory, right? 

But in the practical application of a sales enablement strategy, few can say they get it right. Too often, salespeople are left to their own devices to gather and organize marketing collateral, or are bogged down in time-consuming prospecting. Every minute spent trawling the inbox for one piece of collateral or a prospect pool of a thousand names deep is valuable time spent not selling or furthering a client relationship. As a result of this logjam, the sales process may suffer.

Sales enablement solutions are used for much more than process-level preparation. They are also widely leveraged to deliver training and coaching to sales reps — a key fulfillment of a true sales enablement strategy. Beyond equipping reps with the tools needed to do their jobs, sales enablement is focused on building and refining skills. 

Ultimately, such strategies are used not only to empower reps, but also Sales enablement managers, Sales leaders, Marketing decision-makers, and other stakeholders. A well-oiled machine, for instance, gives managers time to assess the training needs of Sales professionals, while enablement software can be used to deliver personalized modules.

Examples of Sales enablement

To further drill into how an enablement strategy is realized in the office, let’s examine some examples of the Sales enablement process in motion, as well as the benefits they generate. 

Sales enablement technology can be used as:

  • A centralized repository for content: Sales and Marketing content tends to be stored all over the place: in email, PDFs, shared documents, and spreadsheets, just to name a few. Such disorganization weighs on reps, as searching for the right content will take time and attention away from more valuable tasks. A Sales enablement platform simplifies and improves access by collecting all content in one place, making it actionable for the rep right when they need it.
  • An engine for Sales productivity: When reps are enabled with the tools to succeed, they can sell quickly and effectively. What’s more, a Sales enablement manager has the data and means to address the unique needs of their teams.
  • A collaborative tool: Sales and Marketing alignment is an oft-prioritized goal, but quite difficult to achieve in reality. Teams often work within disparate solutions or workflows, but enablement solutions can unite teams and encourage collaboration. For instance, whenever Marketing updates a particular content piece, the new version is automatically pushed through to Sales users. The two departments can work in lockstep to ensure the Sales process is as smooth as possible.
  • An instrument for Sales onboarding: Getting new reps up to speed on policies, content, and other specifics takes time. Sales enablement solutions ensure that professionals are thoroughly and quickly ramped up so they can begin seizing revenue opportunities without all the handholding and steep learning curves. Instituting a Sales enablement program for Sales onboarding means easy access to content and coaching for new hires, as well as mitigated rehiring and retraining costs for companies.
  • A beneficial Sales experience driver: While there are many other examples to fit in here, ultimately, the Sales enablement process is aimed at producing a high-quality experience for the buyer. Seamless communication, actionable content, and personalized interactions are all byproducts of a Sales enablement strategy. This pays off in finalizing deals, as well as nurturing existing client relationships and extracting further lifetime value.

What are Sales enablement best practices?

Before fully realizing the potential of a Sales enablement program, leaders must first be aware of the best practices they need to adhere to in order to generate Sales process efficiencies and Sales enablement ROI. 

Some of the core Sales enablement best practices to pursue include:

  • Planning for the implementation. The implementation of a Sales enablement tool needs to be carefully planned for, just as any other software addition. IT staff and strategy leaders need to be in close coordination to lay the foundation for a smooth implementation that gets the Sales enablement solution up and running with as few hiccups as possible.
  • Getting buy-in from top to bottom: Everyone has to embrace the Sales enablement strategy and platform to make it a worthwhile investment. As you’re planning the implementation, try to put together a rollout sequence that introduces reps to the tool they’ll be using, as well as leaders to the enablement strategy designed to improve productivity and sales. This also helps promote Marketing and Sales cohesion that’s needed for a soft landing.
  • Ensuring you can scale with your solution: Sales enablement is meant to advance deal-making into the next gear — and beyond. Your Sales enablement app has to be able to handle and stimulate that growth, which impacts how you go about procuring the best Sales enablement tools.

Resource: Discover 35 sales enablement statistics that prove the value of investing in enablement.

Finding the right Sales enablement technology

The key to making the most of a Sales enablement program is implementing the right platform. First and foremost, you need to look for a solution that can actualize the core functions of an enablement strategy (e.g. creating a central repository for content, aligning Sales and Marketing, improving access to coaching).

But beyond those core considerations, assess your own organizational needs and wants as well. Start by asking questions like:

  • What analytics and data reporting does this tool offer? Data is crucial to modern businesses, and your enablement solution should deliver robust data reporting that can then be leveraged in strategic decision-making. Consider the Sales enablement metrics you want to track (like client time spent with a content type) and ensure your target implementation lines up with what it can offer.
  • Can I get everything in this solution? The best Sales enablement tools combine everything you need in one solution. Be careful of options that offer content, but not coaching, or vice versa. Combining enablement solutions piecemeal is costly and a hindrance to Marketing alignment, rather than a help.
  • Is the solution intuitive and easy to use? Even the most feature-laden platform won’t go for much if no one can use it. Reps need an easily navigable interface to effortlessly switch between content and coaching, as well as tasks inside those larger categories. A Sales enablement manager similarly needs a simplified way to organize, assess, and act on employee data, which your ideal sales enablement platform should provide.

Talk to Showpad for more information on Sales enablement

Want to learn more about what a Sales enablement strategy is and how you can find a solution that fits? Contact Showpad today so we can explain more about Sales enablement and how our all-in-one platform helps your business close more deals, improve the buyer experience, and empower your Sales staff.