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 personnel). 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 more than 79% 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 buying process 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
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. 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 personnel. All of these teams need to have effective customer conversations and, as sales enablement has gained greater mindshare across organizations, it makes sense to consider their needs in the process.
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 relationship, from the first discovery call to 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, the goal isn’t revenue at any cost; 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 2019 State of Sales Enablement report.