What is the enablement definition?

Since you’ve come to this guide, you probably already know how to define sales enablement. To ensure that we’re all on the same page before we dive into all of the details, we think it’s important to share how we define enablement. Here at Seismic, we define sales enablement as the strategic approach to create and maintain sales and marketing alignment. This alignment helps ensure that organizations are providing sellers with the right resources, processes, and technology they need to engage with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey so they can sell effectively.

How has enablement evolved?

The enablement space has exploded over the last few years. According to our 2021 Annual Sales Enablement Benchmark Report, 95% of survey respondents have a dedicated enablement team at their company, and 79% say enablement is a strategic part of their business.

Enablement has quickly emerged in response to the evolution of buyers in the digital selling era.

Now, entire sales cycles are now taking place in a completely virtual environment. That’s because buyers are more informed about a company’s products and services without even speaking to a sales rep. They can easily access product info, reviews, and pricing information on their own. In fact, prospective customers are usually more than halfway through the buyer journey before they even reach out to a seller. By the time they do finally reach out, they expect reps to be experts who can provide a tailored and unique experience that addresses their needs. So while selling has never been an easy feat, the rise of the modern buyer has made it even more difficult. Consider these stats:

  • On average, there are 11 stakeholders and 17 engagements in a B2B sales cycle
  • 2 out of every 3 customers prefer digital interactions
  • 80% of customers have high expectations, and expect sales teams to be experts

Getting buyer engagement right is hard. If companies and sellers want to succeed, they have to reach buyers at the right time and deliver the most useful content. And while marketing teams are tasked with creating this content, much of it goes unused. All too often, sellers spend too much time looking for content and note that the content they do find isn’t useful. And because it’s difficult for sales and marketing teams to measure the impact of their content, it’s even harder to know what’s working and what isn’t. All of these scenarios factor into why enablement has evolved so quickly over the last few years.

Why is enablement important?

Even though enablement has become a popular strategic priority for organizations, many still struggle to implement an enablement program and follow best practices that drive lasting results. It’s not enough to build an enablement team or create more content for sellers to use. Instead, it takes a lot of time, dedication, and planning to get right.

If enablement isn’t done correctly, organizations run the risk of having disengaged sellers, lower productivity, higher turnover, and missed revenue goals. In fact, according to HubSpot, 40% of sales leaders didn’t meet their revenue goals in 2021 due to the remote selling climate, inability to enable their sellers, and difficulty to improve their sales process. Take a look at what else is at stake for organizations that don’t have an effective sales enablement strategy in place:

  • 5x lower revenue growth
  • $110,000 loss for every customer-facing rep who leaves
  • ½ the productivity among newer reps

At the end of the day, if reps aren’t engaging with buyers at the right time with the right message, they’ll tune your organization out or even go to one of your competitors. And, if your organization doesn’t have the tools and techniques necessary to build relationships with customers, sellers will also take their talents elsewhere. This is why getting enablement right is so important.

What does a successful sales enablement strategy look like?

First and foremost, organizations need to be able to enable reps faster and equip them with the right content for virtual selling. Then, they need to provide them with the tools and playbooks needed to navigate complex selling situations. This will also enable them to engage with buyers throughout the entire lifecycle and across multiple channels in a way that’s personalized and stands out from the competition. That’s why a sales enablement strategy should include the following elements:

1. Onboarding and continuous training

It’s extremely important for new sellers to reach productivity quickly. This means that organizations need to create an onboarding program that equips new sellers with training on its products, services, and processes.

Training isn’t done after sellers complete onboarding. While sellers have the knowledge they need around their audience, products, and competition, they may lack the skills to apply this knowledge or sell in the world of remote selling. The most successful companies deliver ongoing training to both new and seasoned sellers that allow them to learn and hone essential skills that will help them build relationships with buyers, overcome objections, and close more deals. 

2. Guidance and accessibility 

It’s important for sellers to come across as trustworthy experts who have their buyer’s best interest in mind instead of simply selling them a product or service. To do this, they need to build authentic relationships with helpful and engaging information. This means that they need to know what to do, say, and show a buyer at any given moment. An effective enablement strategy ensures that sellers know all of this, but can also access the materials they need quickly and easily. 

3. Unique and custom content 

Today’s buyers prefer visual, dynamic, and interactive content, so it’s also important that these pieces are also part of the mix. And while the marketing department says they create a ton of content for sellers, a good portion of that content often goes unused by sellers. While this is partially due to the fact that it’s hard to find, it’s also because this content isn’t created for customization. In reality, sellers need to be able to personalize pieces to a certain degree in order for it to be as relevant as possible. 

4. Personalized coaching 

While onboarding and training is vital to every sales enablement strategy, many organizations overlook the role sales coaching plays in optimizing that training. Coaching gives managers the opportunity to address specific skills or best practices that sellers need to improve for greater performance.

5. Data and metrics 

Finally, you need to understand the ROI and success of your enablement strategy. After all, no enablement strategy will be effective in the long run if companies don’t review results and make further improvements. Is content as useful as it should be? Do your reps have the right skills and knowledge? Is there a specific tool or resource that’s missing from the equation? Asking yourself these questions and reviewing data will likely uncover room for improvements and changes. 

Enablement tools to use

None of this can be done without equipping your sales team with the technology and sales enablement tools that help them adapt and win. Over the past few decades we’ve seen the rise of a number of tools that help teams create scalable processes, manage content, deliver training, and so much more. Here are just a few sales enablement platforms you should consider adding to your tech stack.

Content management: Content management tools enable sellers to find, personalize, and share content with prospects and customers quickly and efficiently. A CMS manages your organization’s content all in one spot and gives reps the ability to customize it so it’s relevant and unique for each prospect.

Content automation: As we’ve mentioned, content is only helpful when it’s customized and personalized to each and every buyer. Instead of reps spending too much time creating this content from scratch, content automation tools make it easy to develop personalized pitch decks, proposals, and other collateral. This also keeps content and messaging compliant and on-brand.

Training and coaching: Organizations also need a tool that allows them to create interactive sales training content that focuses on essential knowledge and skills. It’s also important to incorporate interactive practice and coaching sessions so sales reps will ramp quickly and keep their skills sharp for any selling situation.

Conversational intelligence: Conversational intelligence tools use AI to analyze calls or email messages between sellers and buyers. This produces data-driven insights that teams can review to measure performance for every seller. By reviewing this data, managers and trainers can also provide reps with additional training and coaching that targets a certain skill.

Sales engagement: Also known as buyer engagement, this tool helps your sellers engage with buyers and customers across various channels when the time is right. These tools also help reps deliver interactive, personalized experiences that can speed up the sales cycle.

How to measure sales enablement success

Companies that put a sales enablement process in place need to measure their efforts for overall effectiveness. This includes auditing content, identifying helpful and underperforming content, reviewing seller performance, and quickly adapting for even better results. While this step is extremely important to measuring sales enablement success, only 68% of companies express confidence in the data they use to track their efforts. Here some useful sales enablement metrics and KPIs your team should consider tracking:

Sales enablement content metrics

  • Content accessed by buyers
  • Content accessed by sellers
  • Revenue and opportunities influenced by content

Sales enablement training metrics

  • Lesson completion rates
  • Number of times content is revisited
  • Quiz and practice scores
  • Learner satisfaction ratings

Sales pipeline and performance metrics

  • Average ramp time of new reps
  • Win rates
  • Lost deals
  • Sales cycle length
  • Average deal size

What are the benefits of implementing an enablement framework?

The ultimate goal of effective enablement is to drive sales growth and accelerate revenue. We’ve found that high enablement maturity directly correlates with positive business outcomes. In fact, our study shows that companies with best-in-class enablement practices outperform on a number of business outcomes including quota attainment, customer satisfaction, and engagement. Here are a few other benefits that sales enablement has on organizations:

  1. The Aberdeen Group found that companies with successful enablement programs have 32% higher sales team quota attainment, 24% better individual rep quota attainment, and 23% higher lead conversion rates.
  2. CSO Insights found that effective enablement can help new reps meet quota up to seven weeks faster than the industry average.
  3. Sales Readiness Group found that companies with great enablement have the lowest annual sales rep turnover at just 11.9%, compared to a rate of 19.5% for organizations with less than satisfactory sales training.

Take enablement to the next level

Creating a winning sales enablement framework for your organization is no small feat. But that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. As the global leader in enablement, Seismic has the tools and resources to help you succeed in this new era of selling. The Seismic Enablement Cloud™ helps organizations like yours empower customer-facing teams with the right skills, content, and insights to engage customers like never before. In fact, Seismic has customers who have experienced a 350% increase in content usage, 87% increase in time savings, and a 32% increase in leads after implementing our sales enablement platform.

Ready to learn more? Click here to check out all of the benefits and capabilities of the Seismic Enablement Cloud.