A search for “definition of sales enablement” generates pages of overlapping, differing, or conflicting concepts. But one idea permeates every definition, if not explicitly, then implicitly: It’s collaboration.
Let’s examine each of these widely-applied definitions to gain a better understanding of just what we mean by collaboration in the context of sales enablement, and to understand its importance:
#1. “Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.” – IDC
One of the leading thought leaders on collaboration, Morten Hansen, says “…the goal of collaboration is not collaboration, it’s better results!” We get better results when we know what we’re collaborating on, and I love this definition of sales enablement for its focus on common goals for sales and marketing.
“Getting the right information” requires that sales and marketing collaborate on reaching this decision. No decision should be set in stone without qualitative discussions among the front-line marketers and salespeople who have or will use that information. “The right time and place” defines the mutually-agreed strategic use of your content, and “the right format” fine tunes the tangible delivery.
Sales and marketing may approach these decisions with differing perspectives. Collaboration results in compromise, agreement, alignment to common goals, and organizational accountability.
#2. “Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.” – Forrester Research
This definition reads more like a mission statement, so it’s harder to recall, but it does encompass collaborative functions beyond communication.
“Ongoing process” should especially be heeded in high-turnover organizations. On-boarding should always include getting new employees up to speed on the shared visions between sales and marketing, and making sure that early experiences include collaboration. Equipping “all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation” refers to the importance of collaboration on content management and on both marketing and sales communicating in synch.
“The right set of stakeholders at each stage…” requires an understanding of target organizations and key buying and influencing roles within them – knowledge that isn’t complete without sharing information. “Selling system,” rather than “selling function” is a subtle, but final reminder of the importance of organizational alignment and collaboration.
#3. “Aligning marketing processes and goals, and then arming sales with tools to improve sales execution and drive revenue.” – The Pedowitz Group
“You should only collaborate when it’s the best way to improve performance”, according to Morten Hanson. On first read, this definition implies slightly less continuous collaboration than the two above. The discipline it suggests, as Hanson would approve, is knowing when collaboration is most important. “Arming sales” likely refers to a collaborative handoff, with substantial training and dialogue to arrive at common sales and marketing goals.
The Pedowitz definition is beautifully succinct, finishing with “…improve sales execution and drive revenue” – a mandate to marketing to create no content that isn’t aligned with the ultimate sales objective. It begins with marketing goals and ends with sales goals. No doubt, marketing and sales professionals collaborated on this definition.
If you would like to learn more about collaboration and sales enablement, talk to a Bridge Metrics executive today at 877.801.7158.