The term ‘revenue enablement’ has recently surfaced in our industry conversation, which may raise an eyebrow given the rapidly evolving sales enablement category itself is still emerging. This article offers a perspective on this new term’s definition and aims to establish clarity about its place in our larger category dialogue.
Let’s begin with perspective from our friends at SiriusDecisions:
“An increasing number of sales enablement functions are responsible for supporting not only quota-bearing sales reps, but also additional buyer-facing roles (e.g. customer success, channel sellers, sales engineers, marketing team members). The common thread among these roles is that they are all part of the organization’s revenue engine — the go-to-market functions responsible for revenue growth. Businesses are starting to recognize new terminology — e.g. “revenue operations” and “revenue enablement” — to align goals, practices, and initiatives among these interlocked buyer- and customer-facing employees.”
–Sales Enablement: Planning Assumptions 2020, August 2019
The sales enablement category is already full of unique vocabulary that can potentially disorient the very people most likely to benefit from enablement technology itself. So, before we examine yet another new term, let’s establish context.
Sales Enablement Is a Hot Topic
Sales enablement — the strategic, ongoing process of equipping sales teams with the content, guidance, and training they need to effectively engage buyers — has become table stakes for companies everywhere.
This year’s State of Sales Enablement report found that 90% of respondents have a sales enablement practice in place, or are planning to by year’s end. Why? A major factor is that sales success and high customer retention are increasingly difficult to achieve in a hyper-competitive global marketplace.
In fact, Gartner recently reported that the “B2B customer journey is markedly nonlinear and has increased in complexity. An average buying team consists of seven to 13 active participants, depending on deal size, plus additional occasional stakeholders” (“Use Buyer Enablement Content to Increase Deal Velocity and Shorten Sales Cycles,” August 2019).
As sales enablement has gained widespread popularity, the broadening conversation has evolved to include many more voices. This, of course, introduces new perspectives that advance the dialogue but also introduces different terms and definitions as the category matures.
Revenue Enablement Enters the Conversation
Although sales enablement only involves the sales teams, revenue enablement is about making things smoother for all customer-facing teams. It’s about giving everyone involved in the revenue life cycle the content, training, and tools to succeed.
SiriusDecisions’ examination of revenue enablement is worth considering:
“The core competencies addressed by the traditional sales enablement function – supporting the effectiveness of talent, assets, and communications in buyer-facing interactions – naturally overlap among all staff who deal directly with prospects and customers; these groups can benefit from the same types of empowerment.”
Put simply, there are many roles in your company that talk to customers and can benefit from the guidance, content, and training that are core to successful enablement efforts. SiriusDecisions identifies a number of revenue-generating or revenue-associated roles in their definition of revenue enablement, including customer success, channel sellers, sales engineers, and marketing teams.
All of these teams need to have effective customer conversations, as well as aligned technology, data, KPIs, and workflows to help deal with the complexity of the modern buyer journey. As sales enablement has gained greater mindshare across organizations, it makes sense to consider their needs in the process.
How to Start Implementing Revenue Enablement Strategies
The right revenue enablement strategies will help you optimize the sales process, helping teams close deals more quickly and trim down customer acquisition costs. This, in turn, results in better sales performance and higher profitability.
Here are some revenue enablement best practices:
1. Customer-Centric Approach
The first step is to deeply understand your customers. Who are they, and how can your products or services solve their problems? Take the time to research your customer base and listen to their feedback. When you understand customer needs, expectations, and pain points, you can gear your sales and marketing efforts toward providing solutions and value.
2. Improving Your Sales Process
Have one-on-one discussions with customer-facing and enablement teams, asking about:
- How each team handles the new launch of new products or services
- Their procedure when a product or service receives updates
- How do they gauge the cost and value of these activities
- The challenges the team faces in these processes
- The tasks the team believes it should or shouldn’t be handling
Then, map out your workflow that illustrates all the steps from when you launch or update a product until the end of the buyer journey. It should cover aspects like how customers learn about your product, how they buy it, how they get started using it, and when they stop using it. The goal is to map out the entire process that brings in more revenue and higher win rates.
After getting a big picture, you can now determine obstacles and inefficiencies. Perhaps your team fails to engage with all the decision-makers, or the entire customer journey is too complicated, leading to a higher churn rate. Address these problems to ensure top-notch customer interactions and consistent messaging, allowing you to guide people toward buying your solutions and encourage renewals.
3. Leveraging Technology and Automation
Support your revenue enablement efforts with the right technology. This includes data-driven enablement platforms, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and content management systems. These tools should provide practical insights, track key metrics, automate repetitive tasks, and help your revenue team spot and fix any issues. Furthermore, these tools should be user-friendly and seamlessly integrate with what you’re already using to drive adoption.
4. Investing in Continuous Training and Coaching
Always boost your team’s skills and know-how with sales training and coaching. Figure out what your team members are good at and where they might need help. Then, create training programs tailored to each person and ensure they’re in roles that match their strengths.
Sales leaders should also develop customized sales onboarding programs for new hires and keep everyone up-to-date on the latest industry trends.
5. Fostering Collaboration Alignment
Your marketing, sales, customer success, and enablement teams should be on the same page. They must collaborate effectively to generate leads, nurture them, and convert them into new customers. Encourage them to share knowledge using a single source of truth for data. More importantly, keep the communication going with meetings and workshops to discuss wins, roadblocks, and best practices.
Terms Aside, the Goal is Strategic Growth
The current thinking about revenue enablement is interesting, but still doesn’t encompass all of the roles that need to effectively communicate with customers. For example, support and services are two major groups that frequently play important roles in delivering world-class customer experience. However, these groups are less associated with directly generating revenue and are more often focused on high customer satisfaction and retention. In our view, these outcomes, combined with growing revenue, make up what we call strategic growth — sustainable growth across revenue, customer satisfaction, and retention.
For everyone who talks to a customer at any stage of the buying journey, from the first discovery call to onboarding and troubleshooting a deployment issue, a positive and effective engagement boils down to what they know, what they say, and what they show. As the enablement category continues to evolve and play an increasingly larger role in overarching customer experience initiatives, we can expect to see multiple terms arise to describe the basic concept of giving customer-facing roles what they need, when and where they need it, to elevate customer conversations. Regardless of the terminology, it isn’t just about revenue goals; it’s strategic growth, which, at its core, is driven by delighting customers at every turn.
Interested in learning more about the evolving enablement conversation? Read the 2023 State of Sales Enablement report.