What is Sales Enablement? Breaking Down Barriers Between Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success

what is sales enablement

What is sales enablement? Ask 10 people and get 12 different answers.

In short, great sales enablement should help break down barriers within your organization, allowing sales and marketing to align against shared KPIs.

In theory, that sounds great, but in practice, it doesn’t always happen. At least not as smoothly as we’d like. 

To get some insights into what successful sales enablement does – and doesn’t – look like in business, I spoke to Roderick Jefferson, CEO of Roderick Jefferson & Associate, a global sales enablement consulting firm.

You can listen to our discussion at the top of this post. But here’s what I learned from our discussion.

What is sales enablement, and how does it help your company? 

To define sales enablement, you must first understand what it is NOT.

A sales enablement team is not the IT department. But they don’t report to the sales department, either. 

Sales enablement teams work for the customer and with sales to ensure that the voice of the customer is heard.

Think of it like this: in order to make a beautiful piece of music, an orchestra needs a conductor. 

Sales enablement is like the conductor of your company. 

They talk to marketing, HR, sales — anyone who controls a touchpoint in the customer journey — and make sure everyone is on the same page so they come together in harmony

So what does it look like when the instruments are out of synch?

The most common scenario is when your marketing team is bringing in lots of leads, but your sales team can’t close them.

There is a disconnect. 

More likely than not, that disconnect is happening because the individual teams at your organization aren’t aligned on the KPIs.

Marketing is measuring leads in, while sales is measuring deals done. Both need to be focused on the same metrics. That’s called alignment.

This is a common problem that sales enablement teams can help solve by uniting teams against common goals.

3 ways sales and marketing teams can put the customer first

When engaging potential customers, we normally focus on three things: key differentiation, competitive advantage, and business value. 

Companies are usually great at the first two.

But customers really only care about the last one: business value. 

In order to (re)connect with your customer, your sales enablement people work to inspire your sales and marketing teams to remember these three things: 

  1. Be genuinely curious – During the discovering qualification phase, you are laying the foundation for your relationship with the customer. Make that foundation rock solid.
  1. Understand what is important to the individual – You can help move your customer’s career forward. Understand your impact on the person you are speaking to, not just their business. And use deep empathy to show them you understand their problems.
  1. Articulate how you will help them – You must help your customer do one of two things – increase productivity or decrease pain. At the end of the day, it all boils down to one of these two things.

Conclusion

It’s time for your sales and marketing teams to align on goals and focus on how they can help the customer. 

For those engaged in complex sales with extended sales cycles, examine the B2B customer journey.

Map out the areas where folks drop out of the funnel. How can you decrease their pain and/or increase their efficiency? 

Focus on how you can make your customer and their business more successful. 

Then, create a streamlined process between all the teams in your company – HR, sales, marketing, etc. – to make sure the entire buyer journey is seamless, frictionless, and has your future customer at its core.

We all want a seamless customer experience. Yet our companies are full of interdepartmental seams. If you want to know how to improve the customer experience, stop handing leads off from one department to another.

To dig into these ideas a bit more, give this full podcast a listen. And don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast for more B2B marketing insights from industry leaders.

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