What is sales enablement? Measure effectiveness with these 5 steps

Oct 11, 2018

What is sales enablement? I'll go through the types of sales enablement strategies here, and the five KPIs that will help you track the effectiveness of your sales enablement strategy.

Suzie BlaszkiewiczSenior Analyst

Selling is a lot easier when you know the ins and outs of the product you’re trying to sell. Imagine convincing someone to buy a house without knowing the square footage, location, or year it was built. Pretty impossible, right?

Sales enablement takes that same logic and applies it to B2B sales. It aims to predict buyer expectations so that the sales team is better equipped with the information they need to help them sell.

According to Gartner, a sales enablement program provides teams with the materials and processes that support a knowledge-based approach to sales. This can range from content, to training and educational resources, to the use of technologies to help empower the sales force to close more deals.

But implementing a sales enablement program is only half the battle. The other half is being able to measure its effectiveness.

 The challenge:  According to a 2017 study, 55 percent of organizations said that the biggest roadblock to their sales enablement journey was being able to measure its success. Businesses that don’t measure or report the effectiveness of their sales enablement programs are missing out on important data that can direct sales enablement strategies.

 How to address it:  Having an effective sales enablement strategy can increase sales by over 25 percent. Defining KPIs for your sales enablement program will provide valuable insight toward the creation and delivery of sales enablement materials that drive more conversions.

In this piece, I’ll go through the types of sales enablement strategies available, and the five KPIs that will help you track the effectiveness of your sales enablement strategy.

Types of sales enablement

Sales enablement can take three different forms:

  1. Content

  2. Training and education

  3. Technology

Throughout this process, it’s important that sales and marketing work closely together because marketing-using analytics and customer journey data– can provide insights about ideal buyers and markets to create the most impactful tools for the sales team to leverage.

You can see how sales and marketing work together in Gartner’s A-C-E model, which aligns sales and marketing around shared customer goals, based on alignment (A), customers (C), and execution (E).

Gartner’s ACE model helps aligns sales and marketing around shared goals(A version of this image originally appeared in the Gartner report, “How to Stimulate Your Sales Enablement Program“-research available to clients)

Below, I’ll go through how the different types of sales enablement aid in achieving the A-C-E model of sales enablement.

1. Content

Content that’s part of a sales enablement program includes articles, brochures, PDFs, and video material. Sales teams can use these to get themselves up to speed with a product or service offering, or share it with clients to provide detailed information that can help them make informed buying decisions.

Building a close relationship between the sales and marketing teams is especially important here. Marketing should spend time getting to know the sales team’s processes, including sales language, to create the right materials. They’ll also need to know which materials will be most useful during different stages of the buyer journey.

Effective sales enablement content should be:

  • Tailored to specific parts of the buyer journey

  • Developed in collaboration with marketing

  • Used regularly by the sales team

2. Training and education

Whereas traditional sales training is about learning sales processes and the features and capabilities of the products or services on offer, sales enablement training is more of an ongoing learning process.

This involves getting sales teams onboard with the team culture and values, building strong lines of communication with other departments (especially marketing), and engaging with prospects before and after closing a sale. Going beyond just the sales handbook, sales enablement training ensures that sales teams know when and how to use the right training materials at the appropriate time.

Effective sales enablement training should:

  • Start with team culture and values

  • Leverage communication between teams

  • Be updated with new information regularly

3. Technology

Sales enablement software helps bridge the gap between sales and marketing to deliver the right materials and ensure that teams are staying on message.

Typical features of sales enablement software include:

  • Asset database: This is where the sales team can access all of the sales enablement materials it needs to help with the sales process. This can be incredibly useful if sorted based on different parts of the buyer journey.

  • Email tracking: By tracking emails, teams can ensure message consistency as well as gauge the success of email efforts and campaigns.

  • Sales performance management: This can provide metrics and stats regarding sales team performance. It can track things like deals won and lost to give either a general or specific overview of sales success (this can also be a feature in your CRM ).

Effective sales enablement tools should:

  • Be the hub of resources for sales enablement

  • Bridge the gap between marketing and sales

  • Track important sales enablement figures

KPIs for measuring sales enablement effectiveness

Once you have your sales enablement strategies and tools in place, you need to measure how well they’re performing. Aside from some features in sales enablement software that can help track metrics, it’s important to know which ones are the most valuable to look at.

According to Gartner (research available to clients), there are five KPIs that can help measure the effectiveness of your sales enablement strategies.

1. Attendance and proficiency

Attendance is an often overlooked but important metric to consider when gauging the success of your sales enablement program. You won’t have enough team members to achieve your sales goals if your team isn’t showing up.

Similarly, proficiency is about setting a certain bar for training and certification. This ensures that sales teams are well-versed in the processes and materials that help effectively drive sales.

2. Content usage

Having content is only half the battle- sales teams also need to use it. You can see which materials work the best by looking at which ones are being used most often. According to research from Regalix, 47 percent of organizations rate sales enablement success based on engagement metrics such as views, completion rate, and time on site.

Depending on which type of materials you have available, there are different ways to measure usage. If you’re using front-facing materials like blog posts or videos, you can use analytics tools to check traffic to and views of those pages. If you’re using a sales enablement tool with downloadable materials like PDFs, there are features within those tools to be able to check numbers.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of speaking to the sales teams to see which materials they’re using most.

3. Lead to conversion

Measuring the number of leads in relation to conversions is a great metric to track, regardless of whether sales enablement strategies are in place. This is a simple measurement that shows how successful your team is at closing a deal once a lead has been established.

While it might be slightly more difficult to attribute this precisely to sales enablement (there are a lot of factors involved in a successful conversion), tracking this before and after adopting a sales enablement strategy can help spot successful trends.

4. Quota attainment

Measuring the time it takes new sales rep to get started on the sales floor is another important metric to consider.

Think of this in terms of onboarding. If a sales rep doesn’t have the proper training and enablement materials, they won’t feel comfortable enough to hit the sales floor and start selling. The shorter time that it takes to get a sales rep up and running, the more effective your sales enablement and training resources are.

5. Actual selling time

Don’t overlook the amount of time that it takes for a sales rep to close a deal when measuring sales enablement effectiveness.

This includes not only the time that it takes to close a deal, but the amount of time that it takes a sales rep to prepare to speak with clients. The time a sales rep spends looking for resources compared to the amount of time they’ll spend actually on a call with a client can be a good indicator of the effectiveness of sales enablement.

Become an (sales) enabler

As with any type of measurement, recording and tracking your metrics to see changes over time will be the only way that you can really gauge whether or not your sales enablement program is successful.

When measuring KPIs for sales enablement effectiveness, remember to:

  • Perform an analysis: Even if you don't have a sales enablement program yet, it's never too early to start measuring your sales success. You'll have a baseline from where to measure the success of your program and be able to see changes over time.

  • Capture proficiency scores: Don't forget that your sales team is an important factor when it comes to measuring program effectiveness. Getting all sales reps on the same level from the beginning will make it easier to see changes in individual rep success and how that relates to sales enablement materials, techniques, and strategies being used.

  • Refine KPIs: Just as you refine your sales enablement materials, make sure that you also refine your KPIs and tailor them to your sales team, processes, and enablement materials. Constantly checking to make sure that you have the right KPIs for the right

If you’re ready to start tracking your sales enablement success, also check out the important content marketing metrics that you should be tracking.

About the author

Suzie Blaszkiewicz

Senior Analyst