There is a lot of industry buzz around the term “sales enablement.” This is terrific because the marketing department should always be concerned about how it can help the sales department achieve its revenue objectives. But truth be told, there is a lot of confusion about just what sales enablement is and how it benefits both sales and the entire organization.
In the late 1990s I was a Director of Field Marketing at one of the world’s largest software companies. And although I don’t recall using the term sales enablement at that time, there is no doubt that our primary mission was to support our sales counterparts in every way possible. Not only field marketing, but also sales operations, contains very important aspects of sales enablement. In other words, we in B2B marketing have been practicing sales enablement for a very long time – but it is now established as a separate function with a new set of technology tools.
A recent blog post by Nichole Auston of RO|Innovation points out why people are wondering how to describe this thing called sales enablement. Nichole reports that there are over 80,000 Google search results when you query the term “definition of sales enablement.” So how does her company define sales enablement? They believe it is critical for sales enablement to provide a salesperson with the ability to:
Easily search for the most relevant customer-related assets.
Activate the right customer assets at the right time in the sales cycle.
Track the usage of those customer assets to let salespeople know WHEN to follow up with their prospect and with WHAT message.
Provide the salesperson with the capacity to do everything mentioned above wherever and however they sell (i.e. desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet).
I would add a few additional features like social media integration, creation of dynamic/personalized content, team collaboration, and task creation and tracking. But regardless of the specific sales enablement functionality that you require, this list illustrates why B2B marketing and sales enablement are so tightly integrated. As B2B marketers, we set the table for sales success by creating a powerful messaging platform and by creating content assets that address the needs of the prospect at every stage of the sales process. We also utilize feedback (both qualitative and quantitative) from our sales counterparts to refine our outbound communications and create compelling offers that precisely target the most profitable audience segments.
Sales enablement is another important step in the march towards tightly aligned marketing and sales. We have a new eBook on this subject coming out in a few weeks. The title is Building the High-Powered Lead-to-Revenue (L2R) Machine and you can register for a free copy here.