This book from Wiley provides everything you need to get started with sales enablement.
Seemingly everyone has a different definition of what sales enablement should be. It only makes sense, then, that the same vagueness would apply to the role of sales enablement manager.
The skills, backgrounds and even salaries of the people responsible for sales enablement can vary greatly from one company to the next. Some might oversee enablement for a large sales organization by themselves, while others might be part of a dedicated 5-person team. Factors like company size, industry and philosophy all influence what “good” sales enablement looks like to them.
Still, there’s no denying the value of formalized sales enablement. CSO Insights reports that companies with a dedicated enablement function see double-digit improvements in quota attainment (22%) and win rates (14%) compared to those without one. That makes it critical to find the right person to lead your sales enablement efforts.
This blog will answer 5 major questions about hiring the perfect sales enablement leader for your organization, highlighting common responsibilities, key skills, potential interview questions and salary data.
What is a Sales Enablement Manager?
The sales enablement manager provides the training, content, processes, practices and tools needed to support salespeople throughout the buyer’s journey. This includes working collaboratively with sales, marketing, partners and other key stakeholders to increase sales results and productivity.
It’s a simple definition, but you can see that the position encompasses a wide range of different duties, priorities and initiatives. An “average” day might involve creating new sales training content for an upcoming product launch, coaching sales reps on key skills and competencies, leading a formal or informal training session, planning sales kickoff, or implementing a new technology platform – just to name a few activities.
While “sales enablement manager” might be the most common enablement job title out there, it’s also far from the only one. Other similar or related positions you might come across include:
- sales enablement program manager
- sales training manager
- director/head of sales enablement
- partner enablement program manager
- sales effectiveness program manager
How Much Does a Sales Enablement Manager Make?
The average sales enablement manager base salary is $68,957, plus $21,088 in additional compensation such as incentive bonuses.
Those estimates come from Glassdoor. ZipRecruiter reports similar overall pay, citing an average salary of $105,863 in the U.S. as of October 2019, with the top 25th percentile earning more than $109,000.
The answer will of course vary by location, industry, company size and other factors. For instance, when looking only at salaries in the “Computer Software & Hardware” category, the average base pay rises to nearly $76,942, according to Glassdoor, with the highest earners making upwards of $125,000.
What about the size of the sales enablement job market? As of 2018, more than 60% of companies had a dedicated sales enablement role or program, according to CSO Insights. Among companies with more than $50 million in annual revenue, that number rises well above 70%.
Which Skills Does a Sales Enablement Manager Need?
Because the role involves such a diverse set of responsibilities, there is no hard-and-fast rule for the type of person you should hire to run sales enablement. In fact, their backgrounds can be as diverse as the role itself.
SiriusDecisions found that 85% of current sales enablement professionals have some sort of sales or sales management experience. Many others have backgrounds in sales ops, sales training and product or industry marketing, while some move into the role from corporate L&D (learning and development) or instructional design positions.
Regardless of background, Jim Ninivaggi – Brainshark’s Chief Readiness Officer and sales enablement leader – says the most important skills to have are delegation and prioritization.
“If you don’t learn to delegate to your team, not just within your function but outside your function, it makes it hard to be anything other than a tactical executor,” Ninivaggi says. “You need to be able to prioritize. That was a skill I had to learn. There are 100 things you want to do as a sales enablement leader, and there are another 100 that other people want you to do.”
6 Key Skills for Sales Enablement Managers:
- Excellent listener and communicator. Any changes within the organization, product offerings, or sales content need to be clearly communicated to all sales reps.
- Highly organized, and skilled at project management. Sales enablement professionals typically have several different initiatives on their plates; they must be able to prioritize their efforts based on the activities that will receive the greatest return for the organization.
- Ability to collaborate with many different teams and personalities. The sales enablement professional must be persuasive enough to align multiple parties behind one vision, and confident enough to ensure the execution follows through. Any previous leadership experience will be a plus. “Sales enablement becomes the central convergence and integration point for marketing, sales and product in many cases,” says Ninivaggi. “You need to be something of a chameleon and be able to work with those teams, while never forgetting that your two most important constituents are your salespeople and your customers.”
- Strategic, data-driven thinker. A good fit for the job should be able to use metrics and observation to improve sales process efficiency and effectiveness.
- Familiarity with adult learning theory, training content design and B2B selling. These aren’t absolute requirements, but having a background in any of these area can only give candidates a leg up.
- Empathetic. Effective sales enablement professionals can put themselves in sales reps’ shoes and understand every aspect of their day-to-day life.
“It helps if you’ve done the job because you have the empathy for the people you’re enabling, and you understand their day-to-day challenges and struggles,” says Daniel West, VP of go-to-market strategy and operations at Oracle.
Related: 17 Key Sales Skills Every Rep Needs
What Should a Sales Enablement Manager Job Description Look Like?
Here's a template that you can adapt for your organization's hiring needs:
The sales enablement manager is responsible for leading the sales enablement team and for working closely with sales, sales operations and marketing to ensure strategic alignment across all three functions. The successful candidate will be a highly organized sales professional who has experience defining and running similar initiatives.
- Leads the creation and deployment of appropriate training, content/sales messaging, processes, practices, forms, and tools to support the sales force.
- Supports product launches by preparing and enabling the sales force to understand and sell our solutions.
- Responsible for aspects of foundational and continuous learning programs for sales, including but not limited to training content creation, scheduling and coordination, creation and deployment or delivery of on-demand courseware, and instructor-led sales training.
- Responsible for tracking and analysis of courseware and sales enablement content usage.
- Supports the buying and selling processes at all stages, from lead generation through win/loss.
- Supports frontline sales managers and sales leadership team in executing effective management disciplines and establishing a sales coaching program.
- Manages various sales enablement projects and coordinates sales enablement activities.
Knowledge, Skill and Ability
- Extensive knowledge of sales enablement technologies, processes, and best practices.
- Extensive knowledge of sales training best practices (analysis, instructional design, delivery, implementation, and evaluation).
- Extensive knowledge of modern sales methodologies, sales process, and buyer’s journey alignment.
- Extensive knowledge of sales management best practices, including pipeline management and developmental sales coaching.
- General knowledge of effective hiring and selection practices for sales roles.
- Expert ability to manage projects from concept to completion.
- Expert ability to plan and facilitate meetings.
- Strong strategic, conceptual, and analytical thinking, and decision-making skills.
- High adaptability and flexibility, including the ability to manage deadline pressure, ambiguity, and change.
- Strong negotiating skills within a context of political sensitivity and conflicting interests.
- Highly-developed training, presentation and written communication skills.
- Expert ability to consult or provide guidance on complex matters to non-specialists; ability to communicate effectively with senior management.
- Expert ability to collaborate and generate a spirit of cooperation while coordinating diverse activities and groups within a team environment.
Background, Experience and Education
- Bachelor’s degree or higher required. Minor or advanced degree in business preferred, but more weight given to history of making an impact and driving business outcomes.
- Superior organizational, conflict resolution, time management, and negotiation skills.
- 3-5 years of direct experience in Sales Enablement and/or Sales Training required. Past experience selling B2B solutions and/or managing B2B sales teams preferred. May accept less experience with verifiable proof of delivering business outcomes (increased velocity, increased win-rates, decreased rep ramp-up time, improving sales force performance).
- Ability to multi-task and manage multiple projects simultaneously.
- Self-motivated; highly driven to produce results.
How do you Hire a Sales Enablement Manager?
Once you’ve outlined your ideal sales enablement profile, the next step is recruiting and interviewing candidates.
While there are plenty of great sites where you can post your opening, we identified 18 sales job boards that are particularly helpful for companies with sales openings. These include well-known sites like Sales Gravy, SalesJobs.com and SalesTrax, along with several other options you may not already know.
When it comes to interviewing potential hires, consider asking these 5 questions:
1. What is your interpretation of sales enablement?
“Sales enablement” can mean different things to different companies. For some, it simply means providing reps with the right content at the right time, or aligning sales with product marketing. However you choose to staff the position, it’s critical that your new sales enablement manager aligns with how the organization views enablement.
Here at Brainshark, we’re partial to CSO Insights' sales enablement definition: “A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.”
2. What would you need from the team you’re joining to be successful in this role?
Your candidate’s answer to this question will indicate whether or not they will be a good culture fit for your organization. For example, if you need them to get into the weeds to figure out a project, make sure that willingness and lack of ego is demonstrated in their response.
3. What would X look like if you created it from scratch?
For example, ask them to design an onboarding program or facilitate a session for senior leaders. Then when they come in for their interview, have them present sales readiness exercises that go along with their plan. Look for answers that indicate they’ve done this before.
4. We’re experiencing X problem at our organization. How would you fix it?
Ideal candidates should be able to sift through your company’s data and identify which factors are affecting a decrease in rep win rates, for example. Effective sales enablement leaders will take a comprehensive look at all of the data available before prescribing a solution. Ineffective leaders might say something like “well, we just need more leads in the funnel!” before taking a deeper look at the sales process.
5. Tell me about your first year at your current organization. What were your three top priorities and how did you execute on them?
Asking “what would you do in your first 30 days at our organization?” is a fairly common question, but it deals in the hypothetical. During the hiring process, it’s more important to determine what the candidate did do with their current opportunity, how they made it happen and what level of success they achieved.
Want to learn more about sales enablement career paths? Download our special report to learn where great sales enablement leaders come from!