rube_goldberg_-_toothpasteSimple, really. Coming from marketing, it’s rooted in a discipline and culture of revenue responsibility.

We can get far more granular, of course, and talk about creating content for sales that maps to each stage of both the buyer’s journey and their documented sales process. We can talk about going beyond simply passing along sales qualified leads, to also providing sales with messaging, follow-up tools and other support to increase lead responsiveness and conversion.

But that’s getting tactical. It’s doing the fishing, vs. teaching he organization how to fish.

The fundamentals of fishing, and sales enablement specifically in this example, is rooted in revenue responsibility. Get that part right and the rest often falls into place.

So what does that mean? Depending on your company and culture, it might mean tying marketing’s bonus structure to pipeline contribution and/or closed business. It might mean making sales-qualified leads and/or pipeline contribution the #1 measure of marketing effectiveness.

It might also mean taking a hard look at the distribution of responsibilities across marketing. What would happen if you took just one head focused on demand generation, and instead focused that person on sales enablement strategy & tactics? Would lead volume really go down? And if pipeline contribution actually went up, would you really care?

Fundamentally, you could easily argue that generating sales-qualified leads is itself sales enablement. Good leads are certainly more efficient than random cold-calling.

But we all know it goes well beyond that. And a tactical definition of sales enablement that fits all companies – sizes, industries, cultures – would be next to impossible.

So instead, I think the right definition of sales enablement is more accurately a guiding principle.

Revenue responsibility means a melding & blurring of the line between sales & marketing. It means new, seminal books such as The Challenger Sale are textbooks for not just sales, but marketing as well.

It means a focus not on internal execution but customer-cetric alignment. The tactics of sales enablement are delivered internally, but the value is 100% realized in the field and with your prospects.

This also doesn’t mean sales enablement needs to be a department, or even an individual role. Sales enablement is everyone’s responsibility. How does this effort impact our prospects? How will our sales team translate this to our prospects? How will prospects react, and how should our organization respond in kind?

These are the questions that, in part, will define how your organization executes successful sales enablement.

  • Craig Nelson

    Great post. I especially like the point “Sales enablement is everyone’s responsibility” which is critical to the overall success of the organization adopting and powering sales enablement. As they say there is power in numbers and if there is a belief that you are either in sales or enabling sales the organization can reach new levels of revenue performance while reacting to changing markets.

  • screpeau

    Great post Matt, I couldn’t agree with you more on many of your assertions!

    Sales enablement is the ongoing process of optimizing your revenue generation capabilities. Trying to define it in cliché, anachronistic terms is offensive to real world practitioners. Such an example would be enterprise
    technology sales teams responsible for producing a huge revenue number, or they lose their jobs.

    There are many complexities and layers involved. Is it a brand new market that you are trying to build? Are you a challenger with established market leaders? Creating a definition that uses a “just in time” reference (e.g., IDC) is analogous to comparing a simple game of checkers to the three-dimensional game of chess that Spock played so brilliantly on the Star Trek TV series. They are completely different and not everyone is capable of playing them well with the same training.

    Start by considering the business context. Why is sales enablement such a hot topic these days? The simple answer is because the buyer-seller dynamic has gone through wholesale changes courtesy of the Internet and availability of information. The seller can no longer dictate a sales process to the buyer. The buyer is in complete control of the process.

    What are the business implications of this? Win rates are falling. The number of sales reps achieving quota are at historical lows. Sales cycles are getting longer: too many deals are stalling or resulting in no decisions. It takes too long to ramp up new sales team members. Sales team attrition rates are too high.

    Great sales teams understand this and are constantly arming, educating and developing their sales teams with the capabilities they need to optimize their revenue generation capabilities.

  • Alex Eaton

    Great post Matt. Revenue responsibility absolutely has to be at the core of your marketing team, for everything beyond just sales enablement. I think revenue responsibility creates the team dynamic upon which you operate, and also prevents a lot of the sales vs. marketing mindset you see in traditional orgs. When it comes to sales enablement itself it all flows down from there to the specific tactics on how you are actually helping your team, whether its using training software or another internal tool to deliver what your team needs, you can’t reach that point if there isn’t a mutual goal and understanding there.