You’ve heard about sales enablement—the term’s been around for a few years now. But what do you know about it? Are you using best practices? Does any of this matter?
You bet. It matters because the sales and marketing world we all know has changed.
Variations on Sales Enablement: Different Definitions and Points of View
When you try to define sales enablement, one thing becomes obvious. Everyone—sales managers, executives, marketers and analysts—has their own point of view. And no one is shy about sharing it. Boiled down to the essentials, these definitions reflect four slightly differing points of view on what “sales enablement” means:
Forrester Research defines sales enablement as a strategic, ongoing process. It helps all client-facing employees focus on target customers and communicate with them in ways that these prospects value and trust. This approach also focuses on the connection between developing sales goals that support company-wide business goals.
At the Pedowitz Group marketing and sales staff members work together to achieve business goals. Sales enablement makes sure that marketing processes help achieve these goals and give sales pros the tools they need to achieve them. A good example of this partnership is the use of customer discovery (a marketing function) to support customer-centered selling.
Sales enablement gives sales teams the tools they need to close more deals – faster. For example, customer discovery software and the training can cut the time and effort of finding and qualifying prospects.
To IDC, sales enablement gets specific content types and formats to sales reps at different stages in the sales cycle. A white paper that interests prospects in the product research stage might not provide detailed information to make a customer close the deal. But a video might do the trick.
A careful look at these points of view reveal several themes, which appear again and again.
Definitions of Sales Enablement Prove that Times Are Changing
Many of these themes prove that times are changing. They emphasize how sales enablement:
Crosses roles, departments, information silos and reporting levels
The notion that sales enablement involves only sales and marketing pros is long gone. These days, sales asset managers, trainers, data analysts and stakeholders at all levels of a company have roles to play in the overall process.
Focuses more on insight, less on leads.
It’s no longer enough for marketers to deliver a steady flow of qualified leads to sales pros. Marketing teams now use data analytics, Big Data management and other methods to provide insight into territories, accounts, and buyers. In fact insight selling has become a new niche in the sales profession.
Focuses more on customers, less on products and services
Increasingly, discussions of sales enablement mention customer-facing employees and customer-centered selling. Sales enablement is about using information, tools, and people to give prospects the information they want, not what sellers want to talk about.
Benefits from automated solutions
Software assets that accomplish sales enablement tasks have hit the market. They:
- Use business intelligence and data analytics tools to get a fast, accurate read on market trends, core audience members and customer business problems that must be solved.
- Improve sales productivity by helping sales reps find and analyze data more quickly. For example, the Daily Vista sales enablement resource gives agency, media sales and advertising professionals the information they can use to discover up-and-coming business opportunities.
- Provide a quick and easy way for business users to find, choose and present intelligence that’s useful and relevant to each customer. Data analytics and visualization solutions such as TIBCO Spotfire cut the time and effort needed to do this.