What is Sales Enablement?

By Jillian Eyl (@MsBiz_Chicago)

What is Sales EnablementThe proliferation of the Internet has transformed B2B sales. Prior to the rise of technology, buyers relied on salespeople to provide much of the information needed to make a purchasing decision.

Now, buyers can access product information, reviews, and pricing at the click of a mouse. As a result, much of the purchasing decision is made long before buyers ever raise their hands to show interest in a particular product or solution.

In fact, CEB studies show that 57% of the buying journey is complete before buyers ever interact with a sales rep.

To thrive in this challenging sales landscape, marketers have invested billions of dollars in sophisticated marketing automation tools to influence buyers during the early stages of the buying process. Despite these steep investments in marketing automation, converting a potential customer into a paying one remains as difficult as ever. Salespeople are under increased pressure to influence the buying process but often lack the resources needed to add value and provide guidance, especially during the last 43% of the buyer’s journey.

Shaping this buying journey starts with effective sales enablement. You may be thinking, “What exactly is sales enablement?” Great question! It took me two years working in both Sales and Marketing at SAVO to settle on my own definition of this emerging and evolving discipline. Drumroll please…

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is a strategic approach to unite stakeholders in sales, marketing, and operations around the common goal of providing salespeople with the right resources, processes, and technology needed to sell effectively.

Okay, admittedly, that’s a mouthful. In layman’s terms…

Sales Enablement makes it easier for salespeople to sell and buyers to buy.

Let me provide a bit of background here. If you’ve ever been in sales, you’ve likely felt that there’s not enough time in the day. With so much to accomplish each day, lacking an easy way to access marketing content (that probably exists somewhere but you aren’t sure where to find it and end up staying awake until midnight to scrape together your own less-than-impressive presentation) can be frustrating. Not to mention, lacking the right resources also makes it difficult to work productively, stay on-brand, differentiate from competitors, and provide value-add to clients.

Organizations combat these drains in sales productivity by investing in sales enablement programs that allow sales teams to get their hands on expert knowledge and tailored content they can pass along to the customer, saving them from creating their own content and giving them more valuable selling time.

Effective sales enablement strategy allows companies to systematically improve sales productivity by ensuring that reps have the resources needed to take control the final 43% of the buying journey. Instead of spending this pivotal time working on non-selling tasks, salespeople should be focused on providing value during client conversations and fostering client relationships… And this is what sales enablement is all about!

Want to learn more about building a successful sales enablement program? Download the full CSO Insights Key Trends Analysis for detailed results on the 2015 Sales Enablement Optimization Study.

PS… Sales enablement strategies come in all shapes and sizes. What’s your definition of sales enablement? Is there something I missed? Do you have any tips for implementing an effective sales enablement strategy?

I’d love to hear your comments below!

Jillian Eyl
About the Author: Jillian Eyl
Jillian Eyl is the Senior Manager of Marketing Program Strategy and Design at SAVO. In this role, she develops brand positioning, manages the content and email marketing strategy, and owns demand gen programs from conception through execution. A globetrotter at heart, Jillian loves to travel, critique BBQ joints, and visit family and friends in her home state of Ohio.

13 Comments

  1. Rajnish on July 15, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Yes! It’s all about providing right tools to the sales force.

    • Jillian Eyl Jillian Eyl on July 20, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Totally agree, Rajnish! Thanks for taking the time to read!

  2. H Luu on July 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Sales enablement is such a new term it’s often hard to explain. Love the explanation, “Sales Enablement makes it easier for salespeople to sell and buyers to buy.”

    • Sheila on August 18, 2015 at 9:18 am

      I agree. Liked seeing that sales enablement included the buyer statement. My follow up question would be more to examples of how it makes it easier for the buyer to buy. What are some best practices?

  3. Joe on August 6, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Great post Jillian!

    I love your layman’s terms definition for sales enablement.

    “Sales Enablement makes it easier for salespeople to sell and buyers to buy. ”

    I like how your definition doesn’t leave out the buyer in the process. As sales enablement managers, we tend to put a lot of focus on the sellers. We can’t forget about all the groups involved in the sales journey for the customer like procurement, order processing, implementation, etc. The entire organization needs to be involved in order to achieve real sales enablement success.

    Thanks for your insights!

    • Dianet on August 27, 2015 at 11:14 am

      I completely agree! the best description of Sales Enablement in one simple sentence. I will definitely be quoting Jillian.

  4. Elise on August 7, 2015 at 10:47 am

    At my company Sales Enablement educates, facilitates and innovates to build, trust, loyalty and transformational value.

    • Dan on August 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      i agree, i would add that this is an ongoing process, SE is a living breathing thing that must be managed, Knowledge management is really the foundation to SE

  5. Brittany on August 28, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Sales enablement is ensuring Sales reps have all the necessary information to facilitate sales and close deals.

  6. cecilia jaramillo on September 8, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    SE is all about making selling tools easily accessible to your sales team so that they can sell, sell, sell and buyers can buy, buy, buy.

  7. Amanda P. on January 10, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Sales enablement is giving sales the tools they need to get their jobs done. What that looks like can change based upon the different scenarios sales encounters. Sales enablement requires the flexibility to respond to changing situations with the right tools.

  8. Lakshmi Narayanan Venkatesan on January 19, 2016 at 5:17 am

    In my view, sales enablement is enabling the buying process through creativity and resource investment and in that enabling the sales team is just a sub-set. This is especially true when the buying process begins well ahead of the sales person interacting with the customer.

  9. Eric Sitarz on September 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Is That Vince Vaughn in your top image? I love him!!!!!!!!

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