Making the decision to invest in sales enablement is a huge step towards truly accelerating your customer acquisition efforts, but how do you structure this organization? What are their core objectives and responsibilities?
Sales enablement is different than sales operations. According to SiriusDecisions, the difference is as follows:
Generally, sales enablement focuses on onboarding and certification, sales asset management, sales communications, and coaching and training skills. Sales operations, on the other hand, handles planning, territory optimization, compensation, sales analytics, and technology.
With this in mind, the following three core areas of responsibility lay the foundation for how to structure and staff your sales enablement group. The roles and responsibilities will vary based on the size of company, sales and distribution model, and markets served, but these three areas will remain constant.
1. Optimize Each Sales Interaction
This includes having the right type and quality of sales lead delivered by marketing as well as the tools and techniques to make the most of every sales interaction. Having defined sales qualification criteria agreed upon by both sales and marketing sets the sales team up for success in their interactions.
Using information to better prepare for and execute sales calls also falls in this category. This includes access to sales tools that provide company and prospect insights, details on triggering events like the opening of an email or the viewing of a presentation, as well as ensuring that the actual engagement with a prospect unfolds without obstacle or interruption. Having a seamless interaction from email to phone to screen sharing of a presentation keeps prospects engaged and demonstrates that your own operations are running smoothly.
2. Facilitate Access to Sales Content Needed to Move Opportunities Through the Sales Cycle
The work is not done when marketing creates new content and places it in a sales portal for the sales team to access. The constant flow of new information, copy revisions, document versions, and the day-in-the-life realities of sales representatives create situations where the latest and greatest never gets in the hands of the field and where personal versions on hard drives and cloud storage options become the go to sales content.
Sales enablement teams not only facilitate the flow of information from marketing to sales, but work to map that content to the various deal stages in the sales cycle. By understanding what content works the best at each deal stage, prospects move through the sales cycle faster and sales teams are much more productive.
3. Train the Sales Team on Buyer Needs and Their Desired Outcomes
While it’s important to understand the features of the product or capabilities of the service the sales team is selling, understanding the buyer’s needs in detail is essential. Demonstrating expertise in the challenge faced by the prospect and then mapping that directly to the outcomes they are seeking makes introducing the product or service being sold much more compelling. Becoming a trusted advisor vs. a salesperson is the goal for training, so making sure that the sales team is not just confident in the latest release and how to explain it, but in truly understanding the buyer, their needs, and how they buy, is core to the sales enablement function.
For more perspectives on how to structure and staff a sales enablement team, check out this great LinkedIn discussion in the Sales Enablement Leaders group, where a question was asked about the optimal way to design a sales enablement organization including structure, roles, and responsibilities. Robert Racine, Vice President and Global Head of Sales Enablement at Wipro Technologies, shared details on the six teams that make up his organizational structure, which include:
- Sales Systems and Data Management
- Sales Process Excellence and Sales Coaching
- Sales Training and Talent Management
- Sales Report Design and Analytics
- Sales Knowledge Management
- Sales Process and Operations Deployment
We previously covered the difference between sales enablement and sales engagement here on the Highspot blog, and a sales enablement platform is a crucial building block for any sales enablement team to meet the three objectives above.