Should Sales Enablement Roles Report to Marketing?

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Sales enablement is a rapidly growing discipline, with the market poised for remarkable growth over the next five years. As a result of today’s technological capabilities and a need to work better, faster, and smarter, many leading companies are beginning to adopt sales enablement as a part of their growth strategies. But with the success that the right sales enablement strategy inevitably brings to an organization, the challenge arises to build out the right roles and find their place in the overarching structure of the business. The biggest question many sales and marketing organizations have to answer is:

Should Sales Enablement report to Sales or Marketing?

To some, it might seem like a given that Sales Enablement would report to Sales. After all, “sales” is in the namesake of Sales Enablement! But there is valid reasoning behind an organization’s decision to have Sales Enablement roles report to Marketing, especially smaller organizations that are growing quickly. To learn more about how sales enablement succeeds as part of the larger marketing function, I spoke with Brian Whalley and Colin Fong from InsightSquared, who live and breathe sales enablement. Before becoming InsightSquared’s Sales Enablement Manager, Colin was on the sales team and quickly became one of the company’s top BDRs. Because of this experience and success, Colin has a deep understanding of the sales world, especially of how it operates at InsightSquared. Brian is the Director of Marketing at InsightSquared, and is responsible for the Inbound Marketing and Sales Enablement group. I dug in with Brian and Colin to learn how it can be beneficial to have Sales Enablement report to Marketing.

  1. What are the typical responsibilities and deliverables for a sales enablement individual at InsightSquared?

    Colin: There are three major areas that my role covers: delivering content to the sales team, developing training and selling processes, and aligning our sales, marketing and product teams. For this first area, it’s my responsibility to get the right sales support and tactical collateral to our sales reps. This includes battlecards, talk tracks, and email templates—essentially everything they need to communicate effectively with prospects—and I aim to get these assets to Sales as quickly and seamlessly as possible. My second priority, developing sales and training processes, involves working closely with our sales trainers and directors to determine in which key areas of selling (based on our product offerings and sales cycle stages) reps are most likely to succeed. Finally, I act as the conduit between the sales, marketing and product teams to ensure smooth communication and alignment.

  2. What do you view as the essential KPIs or metrics necessary for sales enablement?

    Brian: While we’re still formalizing these metrics as we roll out Seismic, we’re invested in getting a more granular look at how sales content is being accessed and used by reps. We’re planning on comparing conversion rates before and after implementing Seismic, since we’ll be able to see how reps are using Seismic to access and share hyper-relevant sales content with prospects. We’ll also measure how certain reps are performing based on their usage of Seismic and relevant collateral and increases in win rates over time. It’s difficult to attribute these metrics to sales enablement completely, but when Sales succeeds, so will Sales Enablement.

  3. Could you describe Sales Enablement’s relationship with Sales as a part of Marketing?

    Brian: We are moving more towards an account-based marketing approach to sales and marketing, so Sales Enablement is closely entwined with both teams. We found that it would benefit our sales team to reduce the number of people reps are required to interact with and ensure that every conversation is high quality and collaborative between Sales, Marketing and Sales Enablement. Because of this account-based approach, Marketing is responsible for creating a hyper-specific campaign, and Sales determines the target accounts reached by that campaign. Sales Enablement plays an integral part in this process, ensuring that reps are effectively communicating with accounts, staying on- message, and measuring the success of the campaign.

  4. What are the advantages of having Sales Enablement as part of Marketing?

    Colin: My experience as a part of Marketing is unique because I’ve been part of the sales organization in the past. As a result, I really understand the pains of sales and where processes can be improved. Having been on both sides, I can better serve as a liaison between the two teams and pinpoint what is necessary to improve success, communication and the overall relationship between the two.
    Brian: We fortunately had the right person in Colin to pioneer our sales enablement function, and were even luckier that he has the drive to improve our sales processes and strategies. Because of Colin’s background, we have the right liaison between Sales and Marketing to ensure consistent communication and alignment. As far as having Sales Enablement report to Marketing, it allows for you to determine what Sales needs and stick to that. Sometimes if Sales Enablement is reporting to Sales, it runs the risk of becoming a task rabbit for the sales organization—which is likely why you implemented sales enablement in the first place! The point of a sales enablement strategy is to eliminate random acts of sales support, and having Sales Enablement answer to Marketing gives Sales Enablement a “veil” of sorts to ensure agreed-upon goals of sales support are met without unnecessary distractions. Those one-offs inevitably still come up, but less often than if Sales Enablement reported directly to Sales.

Sales enablement means different things to different companies, so its roles, responsibilities, deliverables and metrics of success vary as well. Sales and Marketing continue to bleed into one another and work more cohesively, creating a real need for a liaison—whether an individual or an entire team—to seamlessly bind the two. It is clear that regardless of where Sales Enablement falls organizationally, it is integral to the success of both Sales and Marketing, and the company as a whole.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series, where we explore the benefits of Sales Enablement reporting to Sales!


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