Sales Effectiveness or Sales Enablement?

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Man with a Question Face 2 I started a discussion on LinkedIn last week titled “Sales Effectiveness needs help from all departments” and in it I got an interesting response from Traci Curran, who is the Strategic B2B Marketing Director at Revergy, Inc. Traci made an interesting comment to the discussion, @chuck, on tools like CollaboRate…these solve content problems (pre sales and post-sale). Content is top of the funnel stuff…which I would consider sales ENABLEMENT, not sales EFFECTIVENESS. Sales don’t fall through the funnel – they must be pushed (pulled, dragged, greased, coaxed)…and that is sales effectiveness.”

That got me to thinking more about what the definition of both terms were. When I went to the online dictionary and looked up “effective”, it stated: “producing a decided, decisive or desired effect.” After that, I went on to try and find the definition of Sales Effectiveness and here is what Wikipedia defined it as: “Sales effectiveness refers to the ability of a company’s sales professionals to “win” at each stage of the customer’s buying process and ultimately earn the business on the right terms and in the right timeframe.

Improving sales effectiveness is not just a sales function issue; it’s a company issue, as it requires deep collaboration between sales and marketing to understand what’s working and not working, and continuous improvement of the knowledge, messages, skills, and strategies that sales people apply as they work sales opportunities.

Sales effectiveness has historically been used to describe a category of technologies and consulting services aimed at helping companies improve their sales results.”

Okay, now that made perfect sense to me, so when I went to look up the word “Enablement”, it wasn’t listed in any of the dictionaries! I then looked at the root word “Enable”, which meant: “to make something possible, practical or easy, or someone able to do or be something.” Since I clearly know that there are a number of definitions for Sales Enablement, I found this definition from Forrester’s: “Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”

Now things are starting to come together and make more sense. Clearly, Sales Effectiveness is a goal that we want our sales professionals to attain. While Sales Enablement is the strategic, ongoing process and tools that help those sales professionals reach that goal. One is a destination (sales effectiveness) and the other (sales enablement) is the way to get there. I’m sure to many of you this has always been clear, but to others, the terms have been so interchangeable that it has kind of muddied the water for some of us. So, I hope that has been helpful and enlightening to those who might have been a little confused over which was which.

For me, the ultimate goal is to achieve sales effectiveness and the path to get there is sales enablement. At least that’s the way I see it. What say you?

  1. Johnny Walker Says: June 4, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Great points. Based on those qualifiers/definitions I would agree that there are multiple tools necessary that enable sales effectiveness. Collaborate is most definitely one of those that enables a clear, consistent conversation between sales and marketing as well as making it easier for new hires to onboard and understand what collateral is the most effective and why.

  2. ChuckCarey Says: June 4, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks Johnny, coming from a successful sales professional and consultant like yourself those are high complements!