Sales Enablement vs. Sales Operations

The Difference Between Sales Enablement and Sales Operations

Sales enablement, sales operations…sounds pretty similar, right? It’s actually pretty easy to confuse the two. Here are the most significant differences between sales enablement and sales operations. 

The key difference between sales operations and sales enablement is that sales operations focuses on the operational efficiency of the everyday business processes involved in selling (i.e., order management, forecasting). In contrast, sales enablement experts work directly with other teams to increase adoption within the organization by providing content, training, and support for their customers. 

Note: operational or technical account managers are a part of sales operations, whereas account executives or senior account managers can be considered as part of sales enablement even though they may not have direct reports under them. This distinction becomes more evident when they have a dedicated individual responsible for overseeing the training, onboarding, and support of their accounts.

Sales Enablement Roles and Responsibilities

  • Create, manage and distribute content
  • Train internal stakeholders on their products or services
  • Partner with marketing for campaign support
  • Develop supporting collateral to help internal teams sell better

Sales Operations Roles and Responsibilities

  • Order management
  • Forecasting
  • Technical account management
  • Classifying and adding new accounts
  • Workflows and approvals (pipeline development)

How are these roles similar? Both are responsible for creating, training, managing, and distributing the company’s product awareness. Plus, a good sales operations team should have a solid understanding of how sales enablement efforts directly relate to actual sales. And vice versa: sales enablement directly impacts operational efficiency when done correctly. For example, sales engineers can identify issues in your software and escalate them before customers contact the sales team.

Focus on What’s Best for Your Business

This distinction between sales enablement and sales operations matters because it helps each team focus on what’s best for their business.

Sales enablement focuses on delivering an engaging customer journey. Therefore the team works closely with marketing to provide content through email drip campaigns, interactive guides, and personalized user experiences.

On the other hand, sales operations will work closely with other teams like finance to identify opportunities for process improvement, including automating order management or improving forecasting accuracy.

Drive New Business Growth

Both roles are vital for driving new business growth – yet both still require additional tools to help them become even more efficient at their jobs (or turn you into a unicorn).

Sales Enablement: If you’re working on sales enablement, then the first thing you need is CRM. CRM gives your team one place to manage all of their customer interactions and information, including marketing campaigns, email drip programs, account plans, product launch schedules, and more.

Sales Operations: If you work in sales operations, then the next thing you’ll want after CRM is analytics. Salesforce Analytics Cloud lets you track company-wide trends so you can benchmark how much business your reps are driving overall vs. other companies in the industry. In addition, it comes with pre-built reports that help you visualize data to improve quotas or forecast accuracy.

Operations + Enablement = Sales Growth

These two roles work together to drive new business growth. But the right tools can take them from good to great.

The best part about having both solutions? You can use them together to measure shared metrics across the company. Here’s a quick example: Sales operations wants to track the number of demo requests made by reps, and sales enablement wants to track the number of demos completed. But instead of each team creating their own copy of these KPIs, they can simply create a custom report in Analytics Cloud that uses both sets of data – which means less time spent tracking down information and more time for analysis and action.

So if you’re trying to figure out how best to spend your budget this year, remember that there are two distinct yet equally important roles when it comes to driving business growth. Sales enablement focuses on customer engagement while sales operations helps teams become more efficient at their jobs – so make sure your tools reflect those priorities!

Best Tools to Consider

1. Salesforce Sales Cloud: The sales management platform that helps salespeople and sales operations teams become more efficient at selling.

2. Salesforce Analytics Cloud: The analytics platform that lets you measure and benchmark your company against other businesses in your industry and identify opportunities for improvement.

3. SalesLoft: Fully-automated outbound prospecting software that uses AI to generate personalized email campaigns, manage prospects from cold outreach all the way through to close.

4. InsideView: Helps sales and marketing teams quickly discover new prospects, prioritize them based on fit, and generate targeted lists for outreach.

5. HubSpot Sales: A platform that lets you manage all your contacts with automated workflows that easily move prospects through the funnel. It also makes it simple to create custom reports that help teams understand their data in context with overall company performance.

6. HubSpot Marketing: The marketing automation platform allows marketers to personalize each customer’s journey by integrating email, social media, paid advertising, and more.

7. Zapier: A web tool that makes it easy to build your own automated workflows between all of our apps without having to write any code.

8. FullContact: Helps sales reps quickly connect with new leads by automatically updating their contact profiles based on social media activity.

9. RingLead: Lets companies link contact data from third-party databases into Salesforce so they can get a complete view of not just who their existing customers are but also who they’ve had conversations with in the past (and might be interested in reaching out to again).

10. Rapportive: Allows you to see LinkedIn profiles within your inbox so you can make connections based on shared contacts.

The best software solutions for your business will depend on the size of your team and how you work together within each role (sales enablement vs. sales operations). However, most companies can benefit by having access to both types of tools because they focus on different aspects of growing revenue. With this distinction in mind, you can be sure to develop a complete and well-rounded sales stack that will help you increase your ROI and become a unicorn.

We at Revenue Ops LLC are happy to help you navigate sales operations and sales enablement software options and choose the right tool for your business. Let’s discuss your goals, obstacles, and vision to get started. 

Sales Enablement Software for your Sales Team

Consider Some Sales Enablement Software for your Sales Toolbox

An effective sales enablement strategy requires a team effort to optimize revenue by providing timely, personalized resources, such as valuable content and relevant educational materials, to potential clients or customers throughout their buying journey. In addition, your enablement team may be responsible for creating deliverables such as case studies, sales scripts, and onboarding programs, so you’ll want to equip them with the right sales enablement software to serve your clients’ needs best.

A wide variety of sales enablement tools are readily available, but you’ll want to evaluate several options to ensure a good fit with your sales team.  

Zendesk Sell

Key features

  • Offers contact, content, and performance management capabilities as well as content delivery and presentation tools.
  • Automatically tracks customer interactions.
  • Minimizes administrative works by managing tasks such as logging sales activities, organizing and storing contact details, and coordinating lead follow-ups.

Integrations: Slack, Squarespace, and Mailchimp

Pricing: Monthly subscription model

Users: Companies with 20 to 250 salespeople

Seismic

Key features

  • Systematically recommends relevant content to sales reps so that they can leverage the most effective materials at every phase of the buying process.
  • Customizes collateral according to the sales rep’s position and the products they sell.
  • Offers archiving, automated publishing, collaboration tools, content delivery and discovery, audit trails, and more. 
  • Great mobile experience.

Pricing: Monthly subscription; prices vary

Users: Large companies; clients include IBM, Verizon, American Express, and Philips

Highspot

Key features:

  • Organizes large volumes of content to share internally.
  • Offers content management, full-text search, text editing, collaboration tools, performance management, presentation tools, and more.
  • Provides sales and marketing leadership with insights into content usage and tracks closings by asset.
  • Recommends key content to reps so the most relevant resources are utilized in the buying process.
  • Features an email help desk, 24/7 live support representatives, phone support, videos, and in-person and online training.

Integrations: More than 50 platforms

Pricing: Subscription-based

Salesforce

Key features:

  • Offers its own cloud-based apps — innovative software as a service (SaaS) solutions, like Sales Cloud, which provides various tools to assist in content management and performance analytics.
  • Helps with workflow creation, contact management, opportunity tracking, customer engagement tools, and a mobile-ready dashboard.
  • Equips marketing teams with unique features, including social media integrations, marketing leads monitoring, and email integration. 

Integrations: More than 2,500 other software options

Pricing: Several pricing plans are available based on required services

Users: Large and small companies

HubSpot

Key features:

  • Provides marketing automation software, email marketing, customer service tools, and more.
  • Features an intuitive user experience.
  • Offers free CRM software and other tools to sales teams.

Integrations: More than a hundred apps and web services

Pricing: Free tools on a limited capacity; subscriptions start at $50 per month and scale up based on business requirements

Sales Enablement Software Experts

This list represents just a handful of sales enablement software options that are currently on the market. We at Revenue Ops LLC are happy to help you navigate them and choose the right tool for your business. Let’s discuss your goals, obstacles, and vision to get started. 

Crafting a Sales Enablement Strategy

Previously, we did a deep dive into the differences between sales enablement and sales optimization. Now, let’s talk about what it actually looks like to flesh out a sales enablement strategy and how it can help your organization. 

As consumers become more informed, sales representatives have to be responsive and provide a personalized experience for their prospects and clients. A sales enablement platform should make it easier to minimize the amount of time the team spends on repetitive tasks and maximize the time spent on meaningful activities that drive revenue.

It’s helpful to create a customized plan to meet the business and technological needs of the sales team. These five steps are the key to a successful sales enablement strategy.

Analyze Your Goals

It’s crucial first to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with a sales enablement platform. What problems are you looking to solve, and would implementing a new technology help to bridge the gap?

What activity metrics are most closely aligned to the success of the sales team? For example, what activities are taking a lot of time to accomplish but aren’t driving ROI? Also, what constitutes a realistic bar for measuring success for the team? 

A good sales enablement platform will help decrease the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks and help your team reach the activity goals that have proven to drive revenue. Knowing what’s important to your team will lead you towards the type of sales enablement software that you should consider implementing.

Some different types of sales enablement software include sales content management and sales coaching/productivity software. Sales content management allows sales reps to easily access and share relevant content with their prospects, along with helping you to measure what content is driving prospect activity. Coaching and productivity software allows reps to accomplish more activities, but to do so while still personalizing their conversations and allowing their manager to offer guidance on how to have valuable conversations with prospects.  

To understand which type of software would be most helpful, you need to talk to your team. So that’s step two in this process.

Talk to the Team

Who knows better about the challenges that the sales team is facing than the sales team themselves? The reps have their boots on the ground, and they’re able to quickly identify the major pain points that are hindering their success.

Spend some time talking through the knowledge transfer gaps between the content that the marketing team is providing and how easily the sales team can find the content that they’re looking to share in a short amount of time. Is there software that can make sharing content and measuring effectiveness easier for both parties?

You can make a list of the pain points that the teams are facing and a wish list of items or functionality that the team wishes were in place. Next, you’ll use this information to create a set of requirements and use it to evaluate each tool’s capabilities.  

Create a shortlist of various software options that could solve the team’s issues and set up a demo for the team to get their feedback on the user interface and the technological capabilities. You want to be sure that you’re only considering software that fits within your budget requirements. It does no good for the team to see the capabilities of something that is beyond reach.

 

Crafting a sales enablement strategy: successful-professionals-looking-through-online-ideas-for-their-business-project

State Your Case

To pitch this investment to the Chief Financial Officer, you must show the value of implementing this software to the organization. Why is this software, tool, etc., worth implementing and integrating into the existing technology stack? 

To demonstrate ROI, you’ll need some hard facts. Research the software and put together a presentation that shows the expected outcomes and potential gains that could be realized by implementing this sales enablement software. You should consider qualitative and quantitative data, and leveraging those customer stories from your sales team that talk about the pain they’re experiencing will make a compelling case for taking action.

Discuss the current benchmarks for the team, and outline the plan for measuring the efficacy of this investment. Next, create realistic SMART goals that show the C-Suite that you’re confident in the tool’s capabilities and demonstrate the value it will bring to the company. Finally, present a realistic budget request based on the system that best meets the team’s needs and secure approval to move forward. Be sure to include the one-time implementation costs for the software, in addition to any recurring software costs in the budget proposal.

Once you confirm approval, it’s time for the implementation fun to begin!

Make an Implementation Plan

Once you’ve selected the technology you want to implement, work with an implementation partner like Revenue Ops LLC to develop a plan for implementation, integration, and training.  

A suitable implementation plan will allow time for discovery so that the implementation partner can learn all about your current processes and incorporate them into the new workflows that they’re developing for the team, including the new sales enablement software.  

The next step for implementation is the build phase, where the new assets are configured to meet the customized needs of the team. It’s prudent to solicit feedback after the assets are built to satisfy the requirements and the team’s expectations. After the building phase is complete and the new technology has been deployed, user acceptance testing ensures that the software works as designed and anticipated. You’ll want to iron out any bugs before going live.

Before going live, the users will be trained on the new software and processes and educated about how this will help make their jobs easier. Since they’ve been included throughout the discovery, selection, and implementation process, the team will hopefully be extremely excited about the changes and embrace the new technology.  

Finally, it’s time to go live and deploy everything to production. After the go-live, allow some time to monitor how the deployment is progressing. Make any changes necessary to smooth the process. After that, sit back and watch the magic happen!

Measure the Outcomes

Simply put, track success. Constantly evaluate where there’s a visible improvement, successes and how to capitalize on those. Be sure all reps are adequately trained on the new software and processes, and monitor their usage to ensure proper adoption.

Create reports and dashboards to track those critical KPIs identified in your SMART goals, and communicate the results to your team and the C-Suite. Is the new software helping you to meet the goals you set forth? Since you’ve taken the time to vet the software properly, create the appropriate processes, and understand the actual pain points of the team, you’ll see some dramatic improvements after implementation.

Plan Your Sales Enablement Strategy 

Planning a sales enablement strategy will prove valuable to your business and teams, as it will help you increase productivity and maximize ROI. In addition, by removing barriers between the sales and marketing teams, new strategies will open new avenues between sales reps and content creators. 

These five steps are the key to a successful sales enablement strategy:

  1. Analyze Your Goals
  2. Talk to Your Team
  3. State Your Case
  4. Make and Implementation Plan
  5. Measure the Outcomes

Our team at Revenue Ops LLC are sales enablement software implementation and integration experts. We can help you analyze different software options for your company, understand your current practices and systems, and determine the best technological fit for your organization. Schedule a discovery call to speak with one of our consultants to get started.

Sales Ops: Becoming More Strategic

Sales Ops: Becoming More Strategic Infographic

Sales Operations – what is it, and what does it mean to you?

Sales Operations, also known as Sales Ops, is a general term that refers to processes, technology, and activities that support the sales team and enable them to sell more efficiently and effectively. While Sales Ops has been part of the sales process for many years, it has only recently been recognized as a strategic powerhouse within the Revenue Operations function, helping to support and define the sales strategy.

Sales Ops is generally comprised of processes, technology, and data and analytics. Sales Ops professionals use these three pillars to create a strategy that makes it possible for the sales team to increase revenue while minimizing costs and streamlining tasks to complete more work with less effort.

Salesforce, the world’s leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, surveyed nearly 6,000 sales professionals as part of their “State of Sales” report. They took some of that data and created a companion piece, “Trends in Sales Ops,” which is meant to help emphasize the growing importance of the Sales Ops function and help others understand its strategic importance.

This infographic contains some of the key metrics contained in that report highlights some of the ways that Sales Ops is becoming more strategic within organizations. The Sales Operations job description is expanding and there has been increased involvement in the following areas since 2019:

  •  Sales Strategy Planning
  •  Sales Performance Analysis
  • Sales Strategy Coordination
  • Sales Technology Management
  • Sales Training Management
  • Cross-functional Workstream Management 

Why is this important? Roughly 78% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments, but a whopping 59% of customers say it generally feels like they’re communicating with separate departments, not one company. It’s important to unify and empower the various functional groups to create a uniform and organized customer experience. You can achieve this by involving all of the relevant parties in the process. 

Sales Ops is becoming more strategic. 81% of Sales Operations professionals say that sales technology needs have changed. 89% say Sales Ops plays a critical role in growing the business. 85% of sales professionals agree that Sales Ops is increasingly strategic.

Sales Operations Demystified

Understanding the increasing role of Sales Ops within your business is critical to increasing your revenue. We are a team of strategic revenue operations experts who help our clients maximize their revenue through process improvements, technology enhancements, and meaningful data analysis. We are well-versed in sales enablement tools, marketing automation solutions, and digital analytics applications. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to learn more about our services or schedule a free initial consultation.