Enablement is a word that has been thrown around a lot in the last few years. But unlike traditional functions such as HR or Finance, enablement has different meanings to different people. So, what is enablement? And why do we see so many variations on the word when we’re talking about enabling our sellers? Gartner is seeing enablement teams and functions have several different names, depending on the organization and what they are trying to achieve. Sales enablement continues to be the most predominant name of the function supporting sellers, but we see others as well.
For example, revenue enablement is a growing trend, with many leading SaaS companies sporting a revenue enablement leader on their executive team. In addition, go-to-market enablement is out there, which addresses the unique training, content, and technology needs of the various go-to-market channels. Another term we see is growth enablement which focuses on improving processes and creating an effective environment that empowers team members to find ways to maximize revenue growth. Whatever you call your enablement team, your program will succeed more if you build it based on your specific organizational needs.
Sales enablement can be a broad term. While some organizations use the term sales enablement to refer to sales training and developing new content, others use it as a synonym for marketing or communications. We see sales enablement functions and teams focus on a wide variety of responsibilities:
• Sales training
• Sales onboarding
• Sales content
• Sales tools
• Sales methodology
• Sales support
But although sales enablement teams have different responsibilities, they share a common trait. They focus solely on the sellers and sales managers.
Revenue enablement is a growing trend, and many leading SaaS companies have a revenue enablement leader on the executive teams. Revenue enablement addresses the trend of enabling all members of the revenue team, and these team members include any client-facing, revenue-producing roles.
One goal of revenue enablement teams is to be able to provide all revenue team members with access to data and insights across the entire customer journey, from the beginning of the pipeline all the way through to the end. Another goal is to ensure that any channel the buyers choose to engage with your organization provides a consistent experience to the buyer, using aligned content, messaging, and technology.
GTM enablement addresses the unique training, content, and technology to support go-to-market channels. GTM enablement is about helping each channel improve effectiveness. It’s about personalizing your enablement efforts to your company’s go-to-market (GTM) channels, including direct in-person sales teams, inside sales teams, channel partners, resellers, and digital commerce teams—and finding the right approach for each group.
Growth enablement teams tend to focus more on improving processes and creating an effective environment that empowers team members to find ways to maximize revenue growth. Growth enablement is all about revenue velocity. Growth enablement teams answer the question, “How can we get more opportunities, increase average deal size, win more business and do it all faster?”
The lines between the various enablement terms are blurred, and teams will inevitably overlap in their day-to-day responsibilities. For example, a growth enablement manager may find herself spending time training sales reps on new products or features during the course of a product launch versus looking at the whole product launch process. However, as long as the enablement team has a charter that clearly defines the function or team’s roles and responsibilities, then the enablement team, no matter what they call themselves, should be able to help the organization meet its business objectives effectively.
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Doug, you said, “The lines between the various enablement terms are blurred.” And I agree with your assessment.
However, the growing importance of Buyer Enablement — which Gartner has identified as a key B2B tech marketing trend — is one area where I’m seeing distinct clarity of purpose (without overlap on other functions).
What are your thoughts on the emergence of buyer enablement team development? And how do these teams complement the other enablement roles?
@David – it’s a great question. When we see enablement work well, it directly supports the buyer journey, either by ensuring anyone interacting with the buyer has the knowledge, skills, content, tools and tech to increase buyer confidence through the buying journey, or by providing content and tools directly to the buyer to support their preference to move through the buying journey on their own. In both cases, the teams creating buyer enablement need to support the entire buyer journey, not only the initial stages. I’m seeing organizations achieve faster sales cycle times and better conversion rates when buyer enablement teams focus on understanding the buying journey, the various ideal customer profiles, and create content and digital tools for the buyer. The content and tools should build the buyer’s confidence that they have diagnosed the right problem, identified a solution that solves that problem, configured the solution correctly and selected the right supplier. To your point, this activity is complementary to the revenue team roles, who are delivering the content and tools to the buyer and helping the buyer make sense of everything available to them.