Over the last decade, sales enablement has been a rapidly-growing part of the sales world.
According to research, sales enablement teams are growing and becoming more established year over year. Sales enablement started becoming a buzzword in the 2010s, when B2B and SaaS sales organizations began to adopt enablement as a way of supporting their sales teams.
Now it’s a best practice; a report from Sales Enablement Pro finds many companies have increasingly mature sales enablement functions: 80% of organizations have had their sales enablement teams in place for over two years.
What is sales enablement?
While the practice of sales enablement has been around since 1999, the term was first formally defined in 2008 by Forrester:
“Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”
More broadly, sales enablement is the practice of giving your sales representatives the training, content, tools, and resources they need to sell more effectively. Sales enablement is about investing in your reps, improving their skills, and helping them provide a first-class experience to the buyer.
The benefits of sales enablement
Sales is a tough job, especially in a world where buyers expect high-quality, personal interactions with salespeople.
Sales professionals are expected to personalize the buying experience, answer any question quickly and accurately and be pleasant in the face of any obstacles. The sales world is also shifting; the pandemic has created new roles and permanently changed the way many sales teams function. According to a recent Salesforce survey, 73% of sales pros say that their jobs have become more consultative and less transactional since the start of the pandemic.
The same study found that sales professionals feel like they’ve been set adrift in a hybrid world; 58% of reps say it’s harder to sell virtually than in an office. Forty percent say they’re not trained to sell virtually.
All of this can be difficult, and burnout in sales is a common problem. Turnover for sales reps is always a big problem, but in the current job market turnover rates appear to be 58% higher than in 2020.
Sales enablement is a key part of helping overwhelmed and overworked sales reps. By making sales professionals’ jobs easier and empowering them to help customers, organizations can keep reps engaged at work and boost revenue.
Sales enablement and the bottom line
The impact of sales enablement is usually clear financially: Sales Enablement Pro’s data showed that 92% of companies said sales enablement improved the sales team’s performance and that larger sales enablement teams were related to better quota attainment.
Buyers are also happier when the sales team is being supported; organizations are 57% more likely to experience high buyer engagement when organizations have dedicated sales enablement teams. Win rates tend to benefit when sales reps have been coached about how to sell online, and when the buyer is getting a unified experience.
How can sales enablement help?
Sales enablement comes in many forms.
- Training and support: From onboarding to coaching, sales training is a large piece of sales enablement. Ongoing training helps reps stay on top of what buyers want now.
- Personalized sales content: Buyers expect tailored service. When sales enablement provides sales with the tools and content to customize the buyer’s journey for a prospect, teams’ win rates increase by an average of 12 points.
- Sales content: Sales reps are well-supported when they have the best, most recent content at their fingertips. When sales enablement provides strong content, reps are more likely to make sales goals — 55% of organizations said sales content tools had a significant impact on win rates.
- Automated tools: Your reps should be selling, not doing the sort of mind numbing, repetitive tasks that can be taken on by automation. Using a proposal automation tool, like Ombud’s platform, helps sales reps use automation to find the best content for their bid, and to easily assign parts of the proposal to the SMEs who can best answer questions in a Request for Proposals.
Sales enablement is a critical tool when it comes to supporting your reps and your buyers.