Why Sales Enablement Must Operate as a Business Within a Business

Over the last few months, the Sales Enablement Society has been growing to new heights, bringing together sales enablement practitioners all over the country to better define their roles and goals in a more strategic manner. At the first few meet-ups I attended this past summer, it was clear that the attendees were all so passionate about elevating and formalizing sales enablement as a strategic role and process—and uniting around a set of principles created for the group, by the group. These visions have now come to fruition, as the Society will have a number of regional meet-ups before its first national meeting on November 18.

The national meeting will highlight a number of accomplishments the Sales Enablement Society has achieved thus far, including the designation of the four main areas of enablement, the services enablement should provide, and the operating model of “enablement as a business within a business.” These tenets (and many more) will be discussed and explored at the national meeting in November, but we recently spoke with Jen Marie Jacober, a founding member of the Society, on the Sales Enablement Shift podcast about what a business within a business entails, and why it is so important to enablement’s success.

Jen Marie is a Founding Director of the Sales Enablement Society, as well as an independent consultant for organizations that are building or revamping their sales enablement strategies. Prior to this experience, she was the Senior Director of Sales Enablement at ViON. Jen Marie’s consulting background lends a valuable mindset to the business within a business operating model, and she shared some best practices with us on this week’s episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast.

In our last episode, Tamara Schenk shared best practices for building the internal business case for enablement, but it can’t stop there. Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process, so it’s imperative to set incremental goals with quantitative metrics that serve your internal customer.

Jen Marie offered a number of ways that practitioners can run enablement as a business within a business:

  • Identify the internal customer: in most cases, this is the entire sales force, but there is much value derived from starting with a small group and rolling out enablement incrementally
  • Identify the business needs your organization would derive from enablement: these will differ from one organization to the next, but could include aligning sales and customers, providing knowledge, skills and tools, fostering a smooth customer experience, removing obstacles to sales outcomes, facilitating collaboration cross-functionally, and more.
  • Determine how enablement impacts the bottom line: if sales enablement is unsure how it is affecting business goals, it will not succeed. Jen Marie recommends focusing on one or more strategic imperatives, such as shortening the sales cycle, accelerating time to productivity, optimizing deal size and type, increasing win rates, and more.

Operating a business within a business is ultimately viewed as a cost center for an organization, so this last tip is imperative. By tying enablement goals to the strategic goals of the entire organization, enablement is able to label itself as a revenue generator rather than a cost center. Sales enablement will be a unique entity at any company, so it’s important to define your customer, gain executive buy-in, and build your services in relation to organizational goals.

Jen Marie shares more best practices for running enablement as a business within a business in this week’s episode, which you can listen to in full here. You can also learn more about the Sales Enablement Society (and our national meeting) on the website.


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