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Do You Really Need Sales Enablement?

Do You Really Need Sales Enablement?

For the past five years, there’s been a lot of talk about sales enablement. Some skeptics wonder if it’s ever been a new idea with relevance to sellers, or whether it’s the same old sales management tasks given a new label.
Our previous posts reviewed some of the ideas, approaches, tasks and business roles that sellers do in the name of sales enablement. As noted there, it’s an elusive concept. Everyone has their own ideas about what sales enablement is and does. And some folks argue whether it has any relevance and value in the here and now.

The New Sales Reality

For some analysts and sales professionals, sales enablement is an umbrella term for many tasks and processes that have one goal: to generate revenue. But for others, it’s a process engaged in by sellers waking up to today’s new selling reality: the challenges of longer sales cycles, buying committees and impatient buyers empowered by Internet research.
Sales enablement might not be a new idea, but it is important to implement if you haven’t already. Why? Because it helps alleviate today’s challenges, attitudes and bad habits that get in the way of successful selling. And, it incorporates tools and practices to get things right.
To illustrate the need for sales enablement, Jim Burns of Ativage made a list of new and changing sales practices that we see today:

Outdated attitudes/practicesEnlightened attitudes/practicesThe difference
Sales people working soloSales people as collaborators and managers of a processSelling is a collaborative process and a certified team sport.
Selling is a set of tasks that sales reps do.Selling is a process engaged in by people in many roles and skills.Many skills and departments are needed to close sales.
Complaining that sales and marketing don’t work well together.Agreeing that marketing is supposed to be a sales support effort.Use practices and tools that help marketing and sales align.
The sales processA conversation about the buying processTwo-way communications centered on what the customer wants and expects.
Vendor- and product-centered content is best.Buyer-centered content is much more effective.Reps must center efforts on serving customer’s problems and needs rather than pitching the product.
Generic content was adequate.Content is tailored to specific customers and stages in buying cycle.Customers have found generic content on their own. It’s seller’s job to provide customers with specifics.
The Internet had little role in buyer behavior. Sellers were keepers of product knowledge.Internet empowers buyers with detailed, pre-sales knowledge of products, services.Stop worrying about information control. Start focusing on customer pains and concerns.
Sales guides and playbooks focus on product informationSales aids that use how to sell, ideal customer profiles and sales-ready messages.Putting the emphasis on process- and customer-centered sales aids

Sales enablement proves its relevance by helping sellers address each of the changes listed above. It provides ideas and practices that promote, support—enable—more successful selling in a changing world. We’ll discuss the details of methods and tools in later posts.
Next time: How much of sales enablement is useful and how much is just hype?

Pat Ruffio