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Should Sales Enablement Roles Report to Sales?

Sales forceLast week, we featured a blog post that interviewed Seismic customer InsightSquared and how their organization benefits from having its sales enablement roles answer to Marketing. Today, we explore the Sales side, and how companies succeed when Sales Enablement reports to Sales. Angie Temple, Global Sales Enablement leader at Applied Systems, shared with Seismic how having Sales Enablement as a part of Sales has benefitted her company as well as her individual role.

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

Angie: I’m responsible for onboarding, new hire training for our sales organization, and all of the content that supports these processes. In terms of deliverables, I am responsible for creating and distributing all content that isn’t client-facing (Marketing is in charge of that). I work with Marketing to create internal sales reference guides to ensure messaging is consistent during rep training.

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

Angie: Now that we have Seismic, we’re measuring the usage of content: how reps are accessing it and sharing it with external audiences. But this is a fairly new metric, so it’s still hard to equate content usage to effectiveness. Because we have so many sales reps, it can be difficult to assess what content, and how, it’s affecting sales cycles.

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

Angie: Sales Enablement works very closely with Product Marketing at Applied to help plan and execute our sales kickoff and to create customer reference collateral. Because Applied Systems is such a large company, it’s difficult for our entire Sales and Marketing teams to have formal, recurring meetings. There are a few marketing individuals in our Chicago office that I work closely with to foster sales and marketing communication.

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

Angie: From my own experience, it’s important to have someone that understands firsthand the needs of sales, someone who is completely dedicated to and working for Sales. Sometimes marketing can get very campaign- and branding-focused, instead of focusing on what sales needs to be successful. Having Sales Enablement report to Sales means that someone is on the front lines with reps and knows firsthand what’s going on and what projects are necessary to help Sales. Marketing is typically pulled in so many directions that it can be hard to incorporate sales enablement into that mix. Ultimately I believe the advantage lies in a cross-functional sales enablement team that can help sales and marketing work together. To achieve this, there must be total buy-in with senior leadership: sales and marketing sometimes have competing demands and it’s easy to forget that we’re on the same team with the same goals.

5.    Have you experienced any disadvantages?

Angie: One disadvantage, especially for large companies, is a lack of resources. Because sales enablement includes sales onboarding and reporting, we’re often pulled in many different directions. It’s very common for sales reps or leaders to ask for help with things that aren’t truly “sales enablement,” but that do help support sales. For this type of situation, I think it’s important to get marketing involved and tackle sales support—especially when it comes to collateral—collaboratively. This also helps by giving marketing a more holistic view of sales activities and better aligning the two teams’ metrics and goals.

6.    Any advice for other sales enablement leaders?

Angie: I can’t stress enough the importance of collaboration between sales and marketing, especially at large companies like Applied Systems. No matter where sales enablement reports organizationally, both sales and marketing should “own” sales enablement. This is how Applied approaches sales enablement, and is why it’s been successful for us thus far.

Regardless of where your organization determines sales enablement should report, one thing is clear: sales and marketing need to work closely and cohesively in order for sales enablement to work. As Angie said, there is no right answer to whether sales or marketing should “own” sales enablement. But as the lines between the two continue to blur, it’s imperative that sales and marketing align their goals, metrics and communication strategies to foster shared success.

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