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Sales Enablement Definitions: 12 Key Terms You Need to Know

Nov 02nd, 2017


No matter where your organization falls on the sales enablement maturity map, there are a number of terms that are important to understand and be familiar with. We’ve created a list of 12 definitions for common sales enablement terms you need to know.

1. Sales enablement

Might as well start at the top, right? CSO Insights defines sales enablement as “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.”

Our take: This definition is inclusive of the most important responsibilities of the sales enablement function, including sales readiness and content management, all tied together by technology. But the definition of sales enablement can vary slightly depending on who you talk to. Here are 3 other sales enablement definitions that help tell the story.

2. Sales readiness

Sales readiness is a core component of sales enablement that involves all strategic activities designed to prepare sellers with the skills and messages needed to make the most out of every buyer interaction. In other words, it’s any activity that gets reps ready to sell.

Our take: Readiness typically includes activities like new hire onboarding, continuous training and updates, coaching and peer learning. It’s important to note that readiness also involves the ability to verify that reps are truly sales ready through certification, practice and assessments.

3. Foundational Readiness

Foundational readiness is the efficient transfer of all knowledge that new hires need to be successful. It’s driven by a ready-to-execute onboarding program for every role in your field force, including sales reps, sales managers and sales leaders.

Our take: According to CSO Insights, 64% of reps take a minimum of 7 months to ramp up. Well-structured foundational learning programs for all roles should lead to accelerated time to full productivity and improved retention through structured learning paths. These paths can include video-based learning content, practice, and mentoring, as well as assessments and quizzes to gauge knowledge retention.

Related: 30-60-90 Day Sales Onboarding Plan: Can You Do It vs. Did You Do It?

4. Video coaching

Video coaching provides a simple way for sellers to record critical sales messages (pitches, objection handling, etc.) for the purpose of practice, training reinforcement, manager assessments and best practice sharing.

Our take: Video coaching technology is a great way to help reinforce what reps have already learned during training, and ensures they are ready to put that learning to use in the field. It streamlines coaching programs across large or dispersed sales organizations and provides a digital venue for reps to practice and receive feedback on pitches or competencies. For example, managers can initiate a challenge, which reps can respond to via a short video, which is then scored or graded based on customized criteria.

5. Sales productivity

Sales productivity can be simply defined as the amount revenue or yield acquired per sales rep.

Our take: From a technology standpoint, there are two primary ways to improve sales productivity: efficiency (giving sellers more time) and effectiveness (enabling them to get better at what they do to use that time more effectively.) According to Forbes Insights, 71% of C-level executives cite sales productivity as “critical” to a company’s overall growth – but the majority of reps still fail to achieve quota each year. The sales enablement function exists in many ways to fix the sales productivity problem.

Related: Sales Effectiveness Over Efficiency for Better Sales Results

6. Peer learning

For the B2B sales force, peer learning is the sharing of knowledge and ideas that occurs among salespeople.

Our take: Peer learning saves sales managers time by allowing ‘B’ players to learn from ‘A’ players and knowledge to be shared across different generations of sellers. Sales enablement technology can allow for the best tips and examples from top-performers to be converted into on-demand learning content for other reps to access and learn from.

7. Sales mastery

Sales mastery is about ensuring sellers have not only completed training material, but can demonstrate competency of those skills and messages when engaging with a buyer.

Our take: Sales mastery is the ultimate goal of sales readiness activities. Salespeople have unique learning requirements compared to other corporate employees, so simply completing their training is not enough. Sales mastery involves going beyond the completion of learning material to validate that sellers have retained and mastered the information.

8. Sales content management

Sales content management refers to the organization and access of sales content and resources needed to support the conversations sellers have with buyers.

Our take: Salespeople rely on content to prepare for meeting and engage with buyers more efficiently. Sales enablement technology provides a way for these assets (product videos, datasheets, PowerPoints, etc.) to be centrally organized for fast, anytime access. Some solutions allow for content to be accessible via the same applications reps already use – like the CRM or email client – or even served up in context with for individual contacts.

9. Sales engagement

Sales engagement refers to the interactions sellers have with buyers, and typically involves “having the most effective content available for the sales situation and giving sales and marketing leaders visibility into what is working and what is not,” according to Highspot.

Our take: Sales engagement is most often associated with the use of content to connect with prospects and customers. From a technology perspective, it’s sometimes used synonymously with “sales content management.”

10. Content authoring

Content authoring is the creation of rich, dynamic assets (typically video-based) for the purposes of sales training, knowledge sharing, prospecting and communications.

Our take: Content authoring tools make it easy to take important information and turn it into engaging content for reps to review. This type of content is typically proprietary or custom, meaning companies can’t simply buy it from someplace else – they need to build it themselves. Tools like Brainshark simplify this process by enabling users to transform PDFs, PowerPoints, webpages and so on, turn them into interactive, voice-enriched presentations, and upload them to their content portal.  

Related: 10 Tips for Creating Better Sales Content

11. Sales transformation

Transformational readiness involves events that require companies to ‘reboard’ their sales team without negatively impacting revenue or productivity, such as a massive organizational change.

Our take: Whether your sales team has recently gone through a merger or acquisition, entered a new market or recently adopted a new sales methodology, these are all contributing factors of a sales transformation. Sales enablement technology can help support your ‘reboarding’ plan around the new business conditions so reps are ready to engage buyers and field questions appropriately.

12. Social selling

Social selling involves activities in which sellers engage with prospects and customers on social channels, including (but not limited to) LinkedIn, Twitter and certain email communications.

Our take: Social selling is the training area most in need of a major redesign at many companies, according to CSO Insights. Sales expert, Keenan, says “selling through social channels is the closest thing to being a fly on the wall in your prospects, customers, and competitor’s world.” Given social selling’s high level of importance and growth, sales enablement needs to be well versed on the benefits and tactics of social selling so they can prepare reps to leverage social media for prospecting and relationship building.

In the market for sales readiness technology that includes all of these important components of sales enablement? Download the Sales Readiness Technology Buyer’s Guide to help you make a more informed buying decision.