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7 Min Marketing with Pam Didner


Jul 12, 2018

I was talking to Michelle, a marketer, about my new book, Effective Sales Enablement. I told her that I wrote this book from a marketer’s perspective and how marketers can better enable their sales team. She told me that her company doesn’t have a sales enablement team, but it does have a sales operations team. So, what is the difference between sales enablement and sales operations?

If you think about it, Sales enablement, in essence, aids and supports Sales. So does Sales Operations. Sales-support structures come in various shapes and forms, depending on the size of a company, budget, resources, organizational structure, the maturity of the Sales organization, and even senior management’s preferences.

Some organizations tuck Sales enablement into Sales operations. Others keep the groups separate. Some have no official Sales enablement group; the enablement work is done by product-marketing teams in business units.

It doesn’t matter what the structure is and who does the jobs, someone is taking care of sales enablement work.

So, what are the differences between these two groups?

Like I said, each company can define the differences between the two groups. Here is one common approach to differentiate them.

Sales operations:

  • Can covers Sales rep operations: Territory planning, deal routing, account assignment.
  • It can support Sales administration: Proposal, quoting and contract management, contract governance.
  • It touches on Sales incentives and compensation: Compensation optimization and administration.
  • It works on Sales pipeline and forecasting: Forecast reporting and dashboards
  • Manage Sales tools and processes: Systems and data management such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Configure Price Quotes (CPQ), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Deal Desk and Discount Approvals.

 Sales Enablement Responsibilities:

  • It touches on Sales onboarding and training, including content, process and training events.
  • Sales enablement manages content planning, mapping, management, and analysis.
  • The team also manages sales processes and technologies, including process performance analytics.
  • They can also work with sales to brainstorm the tactics to engage new accounts or work with sales on account-based marketing.

So, that’s the gist of how they are different.

Another way to look at it is that sales operations tend to focus on short-term items such as quota, pipeline, incentive etc, while sales enablement focuses on long-term initiatives such as onboarding, training, sales content mapping, account-based targeting and more.

Michelle, even if your company doesn’t have a sales enablement team, someone is in your company is helping sales with sales training, content mapping to different sales stages, account-based strategies, and even sales communications. You just need to find out who is doing those tasks. Reach out and see if you can leverage existing marketing efforts, tools and outreach to help sales. Help them connect the dots.

Share with me how sales enablement is structured in your company. 

Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner  

Be well. Until next time.