Revenue Operations

Community Q&A: Sales Enablement 101

Still not sure what Sales Enablement is or what it’s all about? You’re not alone! Here’s what six different community members had to say about Sales Enablement in our Community Q&A!

Everything You Need to Know About Sales Enablement

You might be asking yourself, “what even is Sales Enablement?” In the world of RevOps, some of us are familiar with the folks training, preparing, and readying workers for the big, bad world of sales. But is everyone else? We set out to hear from RevOps Co-op Community Members to find out what they had to say about Sales Enablement, so you can lead by their examples at your own organizations.

Six members of the community volunteered to answer the following questions:

  • What does Sales Enablement look like?
  • Do you believe sales enablement should sit in a certain department?
  • What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen when it comes to enabling sales teams?
  • ELI5 (explain like I’m 5): What does sales enablement mean to you?
  • How do you successfully hire for sales enablement?
  • Do you have preferred enablement tools?
  • What’s one thing you’d shout from rooftops regarding sales enablement?

What does Sales Enablement look like?

Depending on the organization, Sales Enablement can look very different in one place or quite similar in another. But what exactly is Sales Enablement to begin with? Here’s what our experts had to say.

According to Ray Bonis, head of RevOps at Thryv, Sales Enablement “handles all facets of removing the obstacles from selling with tools, systems, reporting and analytics, and coaching.” It’s a function that truly enables sales to be able to do their jobs, effectively.

For Apryl Hudson of Aptitude8, it’s “the creation of formal processes, implementation and adoption of said processes, sales-focused asset management through naming conventions, storage, use case analysis, data hygiene checks, KPI coaching, and tool stack education.”

With Sales Enablement, it’s important to note that there is no one size fits all approach for the “initial and ongoing training” the function is responsible for, per Lissette LaPointe of InDebted.

The structure of enablement teams can also differ greatly, especially when it comes to companies versus agencies. 

At Thankful, Blake Kendrick says, “Up until very recently, these processes were owned by RevOps in terms of surfacing the need for enablement content and skills development/coaching opportunities. Production of assets is primarily owned by marketing. We’ve recently promoted one of the SDRs to work as the designated Sales Enablement owner, in an operations role.”

Meanwhile, at the Mud City RevOps agency in Chicago, Jessica Hay explains, “Sales Enablement reports directly into Sales with a direct line to our Customer Insights Department and Revenue Operations. Enablement owns all Sales training & onboarding and also plays a crucial role in measuring field ‘adoption’ in partnership with Revenue Operations and Sales Management.”

Where should Sales Enablement sit?

The vast majority of our experts said the same: Sales Enablement should sit under RevOps.

Blake adds, “Enablement will fall ideally in RevOps, but Sales would also be acceptable. Depending on the maturity of the organization, Enablement should probably report to RevOps at first if RevOps is prioritizing process improvements within demand/sales, then transition to a more dedicated position in Sales to act as a resource to the department head.”

Meanwhile, Jessica cut in with a truly unique—and important—answer: “I believe that Sales Enablement needs to sit in the Department who is closest to the Customer Journey and GTM Strategy. In reality, this will change company to company. My GUT is that more companies will be implementing Customer Insights verticals in future that are tasked to OWN distillation of data into meaningful insights that can then be taught or trained to drive seller efficiency. The reality is that any ‘training’ or ‘roll out’ needs to exist to bring the seller closer to the customer problem, and that can only happen when the function truly understands it.”

Which perspective do you find the most insightful? Let us know on Twitter at @RevOpsCoOp.

What are the biggest mistakes you've seen when it comes to enabling sales teams?

Nobody wants to make mistakes. But we all make them. So, here’s what you can avoid when you’re concerned with Sales Enablement.

One method fits all reps. Nope. Everyone learns differently and you need to be flexible in how you instill knowledge.” — Apryl Hudson

Too much emphasis on building a library of enablement content (e.g. battle cards, decks, etc.) and not enough emphasis on skill proficiency auditing and ongoing coaching.” — Blake Kendrick

Testing how much the team is retaining the new trainings and tools.” — Chris Dowling

“Honestly, training for training’s sake. I think a lot of Enablement orgs exist to ‘train’ or ‘document’ or ‘produce content.’ That's great, but it's not enough. How do you ensure you're crafting trainings that are really pushing the sellers' understanding of the day-to-day of the Decision Maker and the problem they face every day that only YOUR solution can solve? How does Enablement introduce the kind of enablement that makes BUYING easier vs. SELLING more documented?”  — Jessica Hay

“Getting too granular in trainings; boring PowerPoints; nothing hands on.” — Lissette LaPointe

Not focusing on desired behaviors. Training simply solidifies good and/or bad behaviors. Likewise tools become boat anchors if behaviors aren’t first defined and process and structure put in place to drive those behaviors.” — Ray Bonis

ELI5 (explain like I'm 5): What does sales enablement mean to you?

“Sales enablement is like being a teacher.  Every year, you help your team -in new and more challenging ways- to grow and become better at their jobs.” — Apryl Hudson

“Sales enablement is literally ‘enabling’ sales by taking action on efforts that will improve success rates in the sales process. That means that enablement has primarily two responsibilities: to act as an educational function for helping guide sales individual contributors and execute selling skills more successfully, and to drive efficiency in the sales process by making resources that facilitate qualification (e.g. creating an ROI calculator that helps prospects quickly realize the potential value of the offer, as opposed to tasking the sales rep with making that resource every time).” — Blake Kendrick

“Sales enablement is a job that lets your company make every employee happy because they know how to do their job.” — Chris Dowling

“Sales Enablement helps sellers understand and discuss their seller’s problem proficiently (maybe an advanced 5 year old here).” — Jessica Hay

“Enablement means providing all employees with the information and training needed to properly complete their jobs & grow within the company and industry.” — Lissette LaPointe

Removing the obstacles that keep sales from being efficient and effective. ‘Enabling’ sales to do their jobs better.” — Ray Bonis

How do you successfully hire for sales enablement?

“You need someone who is flexible and dynamic in their skill set.  They need to be technical and socially intelligent enough to read the team (and their reports) and see what needs improvement.”  — Apryl Hudson

“A good sales enablement candidate primarily has experience in two areas: they've been an individual contributor in a sales organization before and can relate to the experience of executing sales, and they have extremely strong skills in empathy, communication, and writing. Good-fit enablement personnel are often found in early career hires that have a history with (or are currently sitting in) the SDR role, but have a more support-oriented disposition, i.e. higher levels of agreeable-ness and lower levels of assertion/determination compared to other sales people.”  — Blake Kendrick

“First, you have to define the org for your company. Sadly, because a GREAT sales enablement process needs to be highly customized to YOUR seller and YOUR customer's problem...this means no Enablement team should look quite the same. So stop copying and pasting other departments hierarchy and job descriptions - and ask yourself ‘in one year what SPECIFICALLY will this org have done for my business?’”  — Jessica Hay

Coachability and desire. The rest we can teach.” — Ray Bonis

Do you have preferred sales enablement tools?

Every RevOps professional knows, there’s no shortage of software tools to help “enable” us. But often, there isn’t a lot of budget for more specialized, specific needs. The suggestions provided are almost all free, with some exceptions: Your CRM, HubSpot Academy, Lucid Chart, Skilljar, Paint 3D, Confluence, Loom, and Google Drive.

Some words of advice:

“It's best for the sales end users if some resources can be accessed without navigating away from a CRM record.” — Blake Kendrick

“I think there are a lot of companies buying the Ferrari of Sales Enablement tools when all they really need is a Honda. No tool is going to beat a codified Sales Methodology that is documented and enabled in your CRM. If you don't have that, you're not ready for anything else.” — Jessica Hay

What's one thing you'd shout from rooftops regarding Sales Enablement?

“Say it 100 times if that’s what it takes; don’t give up on anyone.” — Apryl Hudson

“It's an education-first position where the audience is made up of adult learners (the sales end users). Individuals with strong writing and interpersonal skills are better candidates for fulfilling sales enablement objectives than more technically-inclined operations personnel.” — Blake Kendrick

“It's an under-appreciated necessity for every company.”  — Chris Dowling

“THERE IS NO ENABLEMENT WITHOUT A STRONG UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR CUSTOMER'S PROBLEM.” — Jessica Hay

“Everyone needs a good enablement professional.” — Lissette LaPointe

“It is NOT JUST training.” — Ray Bonis

Our Thought Leaders:

A huge shoutout to all of our community members that participated in our Q&A!

Apryl Hudson

Apryl Hudson is a Solutions Consultant with Aptitude8, with her enablement experience coming from her time in FinTech. Apryl is mastering Hubspot, while aligning teams through careful process creation and collaboration.

Blake Kendrick

Blake Kendrick is Revenue Operations Manager at Thankful. With three years experience working with and advising executives as a consultant, Blake has helped around 100 SMB and mid-sized organizations improve their approaches to revenue operations.

Chris Dowling

Chris Dowling is Associate Director, Revenue Operations at Litify. A former golf pro that developed a passion for sales, operations, finance, and tech, Chris runs the Revenue Operations team alongside his two dedicated Salesforce Admins.

Jessica Hay

Jessica Hay is the Co-Founder of Mud City, a Sales & Revenue Operations Agency that helps emerging technology companies build their Outbound engine from scratch...the right way! 

Lissette LaPointe

Lisette LaPointe is Sr. RevOps Analyst at InDebted, where she collaborates with marketing, sales, service, and technical teams to identify, analyze and implement solutions for maximizing revenue and operational efficiency. 

Ray Bonis

Ray Bonis is Head of Revenue Operations at Thryv where he leads global cross-functional teams to drive growth through operational efficiency and effectiveness across the customer lifecycle and drive the greatest net yield of Thryv's spend.


You can connect with any of our contributors on LinkedIn or by joining the RevOps Co-op Community, where you find them in our Slack workspace.

Interested in sharing insights of your own? Join our Creator Guild and become a RevOps thought leader yourself!

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