The ultimate goal of sales enablement is to optimize your marketing and sales processes, making sellers both more effective and more efficient. Still, companies won’t be able to “fix” their processes with a one-time initiative—this kind of change happens in stages, each of which can yield direct and tangible benefits.

Every company will differ somewhat in the journey they follow, and the state of sales enablement can be uneven within each organization (for example: you can have a good onboarding program in place even if your sales content management system is in disarray). However, we’ve found there’s a great deal of similarity among the sales enablement stages most companies pass through on their way to full maturity.

We’ve created the following guide to help break down our industry-leading maturity model and give you a better sense of your progress. We’ve also included a detailed framework for understanding where your sales enablement team stands now, so you’ll be ready to expand and improve your unique enablement program moving forward.

What Is a Sales Enablement Maturity Model?

Sales enablement maturity represents a critical path on the road to sales success. To locate themselves on this path, businesses need a prescribed sales enablement maturity model to help identify their current “stage” of enablement development.

Not to be confused with sales enablement best practices, a sales enablement maturity model offers a comprehensive profile for each stage of enablement, from “first steps” on through to a fully optimized program. Ideally, these profiles provide a roadmap for maximizing results at each stage, while simultaneously offering a rubric for advancing to the next level.

Our Strategic Enablement Maturity Model

Thanks to some in-depth research from the Highspot team, we’ve built a streamlined Strategic Enablement Maturity Model outlining the five typical stages* of enablement development across a variety of industries, from tech to manufacturing.

Here’s a brief overview each stage:

Highspot's Strategic Enablement Maturity Model
  • Stage 1: First Steps. The company is new to sales enablement and ad hoc in terms of surfacing resources to sellers without a definitive procedure in place.
  • Stage 2: Structured. The company has a designated sales enablement function that lays the groundwork for basic processes and employs essential tools to support sales activity.
  • Stage 3: Rigorous. The enablement team carefully manages a foundational sales training and enablement program.
  • Stage 4: Action-Based. The enablement team is a proven driver of systemic change and a trusted partner in business leadership.
  • Stage 5: Value-Driven. The enablement team leverages data to fine-tune processes and assist sellers in delivering targeted business outcomes.

A research survey conducted by Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) revealed that 19% of survey respondents are at the First Steps level of maturity, 45% are Structured, 16% are Rigorous, 12% are Action-Driven, and 8% are Value-Driven.

*Note: Names of stages can vary depending on who you’re talking to. Still, the concepts behind most sales enablement maturity models are similar marketwide. If our terminology doesn’t match what you’ve heard before, that’s completely okay. The objective remains the same.

To see these stages in more detail, download Part 1 of our Enablement Maturity Series: The Value of Strategic Enablement.

The Strategic Enablement Framework

Having a sales enablement maturity model for quick and easy reference is great. But having a set of directions to make the model work for you is better.

No matter which enablement stage you occupy, you’ll have to delve deeper if you want your business to move forward. Enter the Strategic Enablement Framework: the industry’s first-ever step-by-step enablement methodology, designed to help you climb to higher levels of maturity at scale, regardless of where you are on your enablement journey.

Strategic Enablement Framework
A look at how the Strategic Enablement Framework fits into everyday operations

Our framework looks at each stage of maturity through the lens of four essential “pillars” of advancement. It prompts you to evaluate where you are, establish goals for the future, and uncover all the skills, knowledge, and tools your sales team needs to engage prospects and customers more efficiently throughout the sales process.

The four pillars are:

  1. Define your call to action – Align with leadership to decide which outcomes you want to drive and which processes and materials your sellers will need to be successful.
  2. Equip your team – Gather resources and establish procedures to support sellers as they work toward each new goal.
  3. Train your team – Provide safe spaces for sellers to learn, practice, and implement new ideas in an organized and measurable way.
  4. Coach your team – Ensure sellers have access to ongoing guidance from their managers to reinforce “good” revenue-driving behaviors.

A strategic sales enablement framework like this one can boost team productivity and effectiveness by providing a comprehensive, structured approach that aligns sales strategies and resources with overall business objectives.

How Can a Maturity Model Benefit Your Sales Enablement Team?

In today’s challenging selling environment, it’s not enough for your sales reps to perform. They have to perform exceptionally. This requires a detailed and scalable strategy.

Luckily, a sales enablement maturity model affords your company a wealth of benefits that can help maximize sales team efficiency, including:

  • Serving as a litmus test for your organization, letting you gauge where you rank among your competitors.
  • Providing a clear vision for your enablement program, complete with projected value as well as a timeline for delivery. This can strengthen leadership buy-in and funding.
  • Formalizing realistic sales enablement strategies and establishing measurable goals in the short term, which can build team confidence and momentum.
  • Codifying a set of rules and procedures to refer to in the event of unexpected challenges during the sales process.

Steps to Assessing and Evolving Your Sales Enablement Program

Now that you have a better grasp of the sales enablement maturity model and its functions, let’s take a closer look at how to apply it to your company specifically. The following explores the five stages of the Highspot Strategic Enablement Maturity Model according to the four pillars of our Strategic Enablement Framework.

Let’s start with “First Steps”:

First Steps → Structured: New Beginnings

When your sales enablement efforts are just getting off the ground, your two biggest objectives should be:

  1. Removing any barriers that prevent your sellers from doing their jobs, and
  2. Making sure reps have all the resources they require to do their jobs well.

Here’s how you can check these goals against the four pillars:

Align with leadership to ensure 100% agreement on how sellers should perform (and what might be standing in their way)Collect relevant content and establish a “single source of truth” for seller resources that’s accessible, intuitive, and easy to search by context/sales scenario.Establish standardized goals for all learning modules and sales enablement tools. Ask yourself: What should sellers take away from each training lesson?

Utilize e-learning where appropriate to help measure and monitor seller progress. Many sales training platforms even allow you to build customized courses!
Empower sales managers by encouraging them to take part in live learning sessions, scoring exercises, and rep onboarding activities.
Provide guidelines for what “good” selling should look like so coaching advice and messaging are always consistent.

Structured → Rigorous: Nail the Basics

To transition from “Structured” to “Rigorous” maturity, focus on elevating your execution technique. In other words: The stage has been set. It’s time to get to work.

Refine your execution process by approaching the four pillars this way:

Hone objectives by aligning with leadership even more closely on mission-critical outcomes. Work to establish a culture that promotes business initiatives.Bolster your content governance by assigning roles and responsibilities for tracing, monitoring, and storing all content assets.

Increase seller confidence by building comprehensive sales kits and playbooks designed to facilitate easy awareness, digestion, and adoption of new materials.

Help spark customer interest by emphasizing content that’s well-suited to pitch activity, such as pitch templates or digital sales rooms.
Increase opportunities for seller practice and implement guidelines for tracking rep progress and retention metrics.

Expand learning options beyond the basics to cover skills, tips, and tricks geared toward long-haul success.
Encourage accountability by inviting sellers to evaluate sales leaders’ coaching skills.

Frame coaching efforts around a single methodology or format to encourage consistency across all departments and levels of management.

Rigorous → Action-Based: Get Intentional about Changing Specific Behaviors

This transition is all about driving business impact. At this juncture, your foundation is in place, and your procedures for execution have been optimized up to a point. So it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.

Raise the bar on your ability to shape seller behavior and improve company growth with this revised take on the four pillars:

Drill down on specific long- and short-term calls to action for your sales and enablement teams. Aim to be as detailed as possible with each task.

Identify seller activities to measure over time and be clear about the measuring process.
Use sales kits to build itemized sales plays, featuring links to key assets and training content along with hypothetical customer conversations.

Drive seller traffic to crucial sales plays with advanced tools for content navigation and CRM targeting. Aim to surface plays and other critical resources that correspond to specific sales scenarios.
Tie training lessons to direct actions so sellers understand when and where to apply their learning.Opt for specialized coaching over general guidance. Sync coaching plays with definitive programs and initiatives so coaches know exactly what they’re coaching toward.

Establish coaching priorities so managers understand where to direct their efforts at any given time.

Action-Based → Value-Driven: Optimize and Maximize Value

This final phase involves harnessing data and analytics to promote a value-driven program (that is, a proactive instead of a reactive system). Stay one step ahead of engagement trends by putting these finishing touches on your four pillars:

Regroup with leadership to establish essential sales enablement metrics to track and align on how to measure them.Trace asset engagement for both sellers and prospects. (e.g., “Who’s reading what?”)

Use findings to inform sales plays, resource creation, and content investment decisions.
Map training metrics to seller performance in the field.

Narrow down which training programs (LMSs, lessons, etc.) haven’t contributed enough performance value and get rid of them.
Gather feedback from frontline staff regarding manager engagement in the coaching process.

Uncover which managers have the greatest effect on seller success and why.

Look to high-performing managers as coaching models. Let their processes and behaviors shape efforts to refine coaching programs moving forward.

For more on navigating your enablement processes toward maximum maturity, refer to Part 2 of our Enablement Maturity Series: Assess and Evolve the Maturity of Your Sales Enablement Program.

How Organizations See Results with a Strategic Sales Enablement Maturity Model

Creating an enablement system that encourages the right seller behaviors results in improved sales productivity and consistent high-level sales performance, leading to more deals won. Below, we highlight how organizations that use Highspot have reached the “mature stage” of enablement and how our customers are able to prepare, educate, and guide their teams to better business results:

Content and engagement

  • Enablement programs that centralize and organize their sales content can see as much as a 26% uptick in sales rep efficiency.
  • Companies who manage and surface content using a robust sales enablement platform like Highspot are 59% more likely to monitor buyer engagement, leading to smarter business decisions and a potential 15-point increase in quota attainment.

Training and coaching

  • Enablement programs that take advantage of e-learning courses (backed by live learning sessions) are 20% more likely to agree their reps have access to the right training.
  • Similarly, programs that embed onboarding and learning systems into a unified platform (alongside sales content and engagement analytics) can see an average 19% decrease in seller ramp-up time.
  • Businesses that employ a platform like Highspot to help optimize learning and coaching capabilities (such as real-life-scenario practice) are 73% more likely to say their reps can effectively translate learning into action.

ROI and performance

  • Companies who successfully leverage data-driven systems for ongoing guidance and coaching can achieve a 16% increase in win rates.
  • Businesses that enhance training and coaching capabilities through an enablement solution like Highspot average a 22% larger deal size.

For more tangible results you can achieve when using our enablement maturity model and framework, check out Part 3 of our Enablement Maturity Series: Accelerate Business Impact by Maturing Your Enablement Function.

Where Does Your Maturity Program Stand Today?

Curious to know where your sales organization sits on the maturity scale at this exact moment? Highspot has two ways to help you find out:

  1. Take our Strategic Enablement Maturity Assessment quiz. It’ll only take five minutes of your time to get a clear diagnosis.
  2. Get a Custom Strategic Enablement Assessment from our team. We’ll interview your key internal stakeholders and analyze your enablement progress as compared to a large sampling of other enablement programs.

Want to see what a streamlined enablement solution with in-built functions for training, coaching, and content management can do for your company culture and revenue growth? Request a Highspot demo today.