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A Beginner’s Guide to Sales Enablement

Posted by Rebecca Spary on 11/15/16 11:00 AM

Sales enablement is a powerful tool that drives sales success, however it is becoming increasingly hard to define and describe. ‘What is Sales Enablement’ may be a simple question, but there has never been a simple answer.

Sales Enablement (SE), as well as the digital sales technology landscape as a whole, are constantly changing and evolving, meaning that the definition that applied in the past may not translate to SE today or tomorrow. This is part of the reason why sales enablement is so hard to define; the other part is that sales enablement encompasses multiple functions.

We’ve decided to tackle this problem with our beginner’s guide to sales enablement.

A Beginner's Guide to Sales Enablement - Sales Enablement 101 - WHUT Inc.png

In a recent survey, participants were asked to define sales enablement. The results showed a wide range of opinions, including:

  • 61% - develops strategies
  • 50% - creates materials and assets
  • 42% - sales training
  • 41% - performs analysis
  • 36% - find cross-selling opportunities
  • (Hubspot, 2016)

Although these results may seem scattered, this is actually a fairly accurate depiction of sales enablement.

Simply put, SE is the process of providing sales teams with the right content, knowledge, and skills for every buyer interaction. The three main functions of SE that every marketer and sales professional should know are: digital content management, multi-channel capability, and closed-loop analytics.


1. Digital Content Management

Perhaps the most important function of sales enablement is digital content management. It is the organization of digital content throughout its lifecycle, from creation to storage or deletion (TechTarget, 2011). Digital content management empowers sales professionals with the right content at the right time and in the right place. It is essentially Netflix for sales content.

There are many challenges facing content creators and their teams, with 73% of marketers reporting that sales teams are not using marketing materials (HubSpot, 2016). The problem is that a lot of companies are producing content at an exponential rate, leading to an overflow of content that is becoming increasingly hard to manage and maintain.

This is in line with research conducted by RO Innovation. They surveyed sales professionals about their content habits, and discovered that salespeople are spending nearly 40% of their potential selling time in sales preparation activities. They reported that in an average week, sales professionals spend:

  • 3 hours searching for marketing collateral
  • 8 hours searching for customer related information
  • 4 hours creating presentations
  • (RO Innovation, 2014)

In an average week sales professionals spend 3 hours searching for marketing collateral - 8 hours searching fo customer related information - 4 hours creating presentations - wasting valuable selling time

An effective SE solution can automate systems, improve processes, and eliminate tedious tasks, saving valuable time and resources!

SE allows sales professionals to quickly and easily access the right content by organizing and storing all content in one convenient, organized location. Additionally, flexible controls allow users to effortlessly design and tailor existing presentations in real-time, rather than creating new materials, providing them with access to everything that they need to close deals. 

It allows the marketing team to manage, edit, and delete content all in one location. They can organize content using customized tags, filters, playbooks, playlists, and more. Having one content library that is organized by a coordinated team with guidance from analytics (more on this in #3. Closed-loop Analytics) makes finding the best content easy.

To learn more about digital content management and how to successfully manage the overflow of content check out our new white paper:

Download the WHUT white paper: Managing the Content Avalanche


2. Multi-channel Capability

The technological needs of sales professionals are becoming greater every day, and multi-channel capabilities are becoming a must-have for sales teams.

Sellers can no longer have different strategies for different channels, instead they must meet buyers wherever they desire, and they must make sure that each interaction builds upon the last with no communication gaps.

It’s not enough for sales teams to just have a digital content library; they need a library that is capable of…

  • Operating on all devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones) and browsers
  • Working both online and offline
  • Making real-time digital sales calls (for those hard to reach prospects)

Sales enablement has adapted to handle the needs of the modern sales professionals. Providing users with unlimited access to their content and facilitating personable engagements with prospects from anywhere, at any time. They can easily present to large groups or individuals right on their devices, without missing out on insights and analytics. Having all engagements automatically recorded reduces time spent performing dull admin tasks, so that sales professionals can get back to selling.


3. Closed-loop Analytics

Last but not least, we have the third crucial function of sales enablement: closed-loop analytics. Closed-loop analytics is a system in which all content usage is tracked and monitored to provide awareness and insights into the sales process.

Analytics provide insights for sales teams, letting them know what content to use and when to use it. They also create opportunities for marketing to tailor content creation, to identify gaps in production, to update out-dated assets, and eliminate content that is performing poorly.

Companies without SE have been struggling for years to determine the effectiveness of their sales content, with 41% of sales and marketing executives stating that they lack insight into which campaigns are most effective (HubSpot, 2016).

41% of sales and marketing executives state that they lack insights into which content campaigns are most effective.png

Additionally, the majority of organizations are struggling to create great content. The quality of content is essential to its success, without insights from sales professionals, customers, and marketers it is increasingly difficult for content creators to understand which content is working (KissMetrics, 2014). In order to streamline their content creation, marketing teams need closed-loop analytics.

A sales enablement system with closed-loop analytics will track every interaction and presentation from the moment you enter the system. Monitoring each stage of the engagement lifecycle (prepare, pitch, close, grow), concluding which content is most effective for each step, allowing marketing to align content with the key stages of the sales process (HubSpot, 2016). By capturing and leveraging what top sales professionals send to prospects, SE can recommend the best assets to present or share based on prospect characteristics and data from closed deals (RO Innovation, 2014).

By collecting and analyzing data, users can quickly and effortlessly uncover opportunities for growth, and discover ways to tailor future communications and enhance customer engagements!


Sales enablement delivers quantitative benefits

  • Eliminates wasted time - SE improves the success rate of finding sales content, saving sales reps up to 7 hours per week and approximately $5,000 annually (RO Innovation, 2014)
  • Reduces unnecessary costs – Eliminating the duplication of content and the number of sales facing portals can save large organizations up to $4 million per year (Scribd, 2009)
  • Creates greater integration – Businesses using a SE platform see an 80% increase in the integration of management platforms (Skura, 2016)
  • Generates more leads – When content consumption data is shared, the content that marketing produces for lead generation, nurturing and qualification is effective in 78% of cases (Demand Metric, 2015)
  • Closes more deals– 46% of sales enablement users reported a greater number of leads captured as a direct benefit of SE (Demand Metric, 2015)

With all of these benefits it’s no wonder that 75% of organizations with a sales enablement function agree that it makes a moderate or significant contribution to their business (Hubspot, 2016).

75% of organizations with a sales enablement funciton argee that it makes a 'moderate' or 'significant' contribution to their business.png

We hope that we’ve helped you in your journey to better understand the complex world of sales enablement. Just remember that sales enablement empowers and enables sales professionals to work more efficiently, and a more productive sales team generates more revenue.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits and features of sales enablement, click the button below to talk to one of our dedicated sales specialists.

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Topics: Sales Enablement