This Week’s Big Deal: Should You Have a Sales Enablement Department?

November 30, 2018

Helping someone up

Last week, Matt Ellis of Seismic Software posed a good question over at Business 2 Community: Who owns sales enablement?

It’s clearer than ever that sales enablement, which we define as “the process of providing the people in your sales organization with information and tools they need to sell more effectively,” is becoming a vital component in any B2B sales strategy. For companies large and small, across all industries, it is essential to implement technologies and collaborative resources that can make teams more efficient and effective.

Adoption of sales enablement solutions has been strikingly swift. The latest CSO Insights Sales Operations Optimization Study found that 59.2% of companies now have a formal sales enablement person, program, or function in place, compared to just 19.2% in 2013.

Falling behind on sales enablement means falling behind the pack. There’s no question that it should be an ongoing organizational priority. The question, as Ellis points out, is who should be in charge of this directive. “In reality,” he writes, “the decision of who owns sales enablement shapes the way your strategy will coalesce and operate.”

Building Structure Around Sales Enablement

Ellis calls out three main players that tend to have responsibility for managing sales enablement. The first two are obvious enough: sales and marketing. The third might catch you off-guard: sales enablement.

“Sales enablement has now reached a point in its development that some organizations are starting to build departments strictly geared towards sales enablement, as well as hire people with titles related to sales enablement,” says Ellis.

Last year on the Salesforce blog, Brian Fravel suggested the rise in sales enablement roles is driven by a trio of factors:

  • Buyers approaching purchases in a new way
  • Content taking center stage
  • Need for sales and marketing alignment

In smaller companies with leaner workforces, hiring someone (or a department of people) to specifically focus on sales enablement may not be feasible. In larger companies with high-volume sales teams and siloed functions, it ought to be a real consideration (if not already a reality).

In either case, it’s worth reflecting on our sales enablement strategies as we forge ahead into 2019.

Achieving Buyer-centric Sales Enablement

As TOPO CEO Scott Albro says, sales enablement comes down to one simple tenet: provide sales with resources the buyer wants. Jim Ninivaggi of Brainshark recently echoed this sentiment at Forbes:

“I believe it's sales enablement’s job to ensure each interaction leaves a positive impression on each individual buyer by addressing that buyer’s unique needs, challenges, role, industry and more,” Ninivaggi wrote.

Regardless of which manager or department is “owning” sales enablement, achieving this kind of consistent buyer-centricity requires collaborative planning and strategizing from many different business units. Marketing does the research and provides the content to help guide buyers through the purchase journey. Customer success or customer service acutely understands the challenges or pains of existing customers. And of course, the sales team regularly interacts with prospects and customers on the frontlines, gaining unique perspective.

All of these voices and more should be present in the sales enablement conversation. One could argue that the “sales enablement department” should really be the entire organization, continually aligning around new ways to deliver value for buyers and innovatively propel business development.

If you’re looking for a way to step up your B2B sales strategy in 2019, we invite you to check out our flagship sales enablement software: Sales Navigator. Our solution features robust functionality for streamlining and synchronizing your sales process.

Whether sales enablement lives with sales, marketing, a combination, or its own department, it’s worth investing in the practice sooner rather than later. Make sales enablement a focal point for 2019 and boost the effectiveness of both your sales and marketing teams.

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