Bridging the gap

July 23, 2018

 01 the only thing salespeople need from marketers is a bunch of marketing-qualified leads

 Granted, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) are the key deliverables for most of marketing organizations. Still, marketing can do much more for sales.

For instance, modern buyers do extensive research about products and services before contacting vendors’ sales teams. Empowered buyers educate themselves through content created by marketing. Marketers who understand the sales methodology can align relevant content with each stage of the customer journey.

Another example: email marketing was traditionally marketing’s job. But since salespeople can easily run their own email marketing campaigns using features in sales enablement or customer relationship management (CRM) tools, the marketing team can share the template and content used in their campaigns with the sales team— making sales people’s jobs easier.

Marketing should also understand that new technologies offer marketers additional capabilities to elevate marketing programs and identify sales-enablement opportunities. The digital component of partner marketing, affiliate marketing, and loyalty programs can be integrated as part of a sales-enablement marketing effort.

For example, marketers can design banner ad space in a mobile app in keeping with the user experience while showcasing a key account’s product. Understanding what marketing does—and taking advantage of it—helps sales managers increase leads and maintain client relationships


02 sales enablement is sales operations

 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 companies, budget, resources, organization structure, 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.

Whatever the structure, and whoever does the jobs— they are all unsung heroes.


  • purpose: both groups aim to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the sales team, making it easy for them to do their jobs.
  • reporting structure: usually these two groups report to the head of sales. According to CSO Insights, 53 per cent of the time sales enablement reports to sales, and 25 per cent of the time sales enablement and sales operations are in the same group.
  • accountability: both groups share responsibility for providing sales-performance dashboards and analysis in their own areas of expertise.


sales operations:


  • sales-rep operations: territory planning, deal routing, account assignment, team design
  • sales administration: proposal, quoting and contract management, contract governance
  • sales incentives and compensation: compensation optimization and administration
  • sales pipeline and forecasting: forecast reporting and dashboards
  • sales tools and processes: systems and data management tools, such as CRM, configure price quotes (CPQ), sales-performance management (SPM), deal desk, and discount approvals
  • performance analysis related to the above

sales enablement:

  • sales onboarding and training (content, process, and training events, such as sales kickoffs)
  • content planning, mapping, management, analysis
  • sales processes and technologies, including process performance analytics
  • sales communication
  • customer-engagement tools, processes, analysis
  • performance analysis related to the above

While you can certainly move the roles and responsibilities between the two and add more tasks, the key point remains: sales operations and sales enablement are not the same.

03 brand guides and messaging frameworks apply only to marketing

Although brand guides and messaging frameworks serve as the foundation for marketing communications, they also serve sales teams. Both documents can apply to sales onboarding, training, and content to facilitate sales processes or be used to plan customer conversations and meetings.

While a brand guide offers guidance for logo and font usage and creative development for marketing campaigns, the essence of a brand is to shape both the look and feel and the tone and manner so that customers can identify a brand by its content.

The same look and feel applies to sales communications.

A brand is much more than some rules applied to sales processes and communications. In some companies, the brand guide is expanded to cover the dress code (think airline flight attendants’ uniforms) or the office or store design (think interior colors and furniture selection in fast-food franchises). The brand persona informs the way talent is recruited.

Brand nirvana is achieved when a brand and its promise are woven into every aspect of a company.

04 sales enablement should be part of a sales group

Where should sales enablement reside: in sales? In marketing? In business units, or product groups?

Sales enablement in the sales team may offer the greatest advantage.

Alternatively, Lara Sibley, Senior Director of Marketing Operations and Delivery at CDW, thinks that sales enablement should be part of the marketing team. In her view, prospecting is part of marketing’s job. Also, most content creation role is fulfilled by marketing. For efficiency, sales enablement belongs in marketing. Sibley has supported both sales and marketing, so her opinion has validity.

Curata, a platform that helps people curate, plan, and measure content marketing efforts, has its sales enablement function in marketing. The primary advantage is to motivate marketing to align with sales earlier.

The role of sales enablement is constantly morphing due to re-orgs, product growth, and managerial changes.

Sales enablement can be in sales, marketing, or product groups as long as a service-level agreement exists with the sales team.

Also, sales and sales enablement teams must trust each other, and they need metrics for the effectiveness of sales enablement assets.

 05 sales enablement is only about sales training and development

Most of sales enablement definitions are about sales training and development. In a digital-first marketing environment, it is crucial to deliver a positive and consistent customer-experience both online and offline. That is why it is vital to add the customer to the sales enablement definition.

Here is my definition of sales enablement: a positive customer experience delivered by equipping salespeople with knowledge, skills, processes, and tools through cross-functional collaboration to increase sales velocity, sales retention, and productivity.

In my definition, knowledge and skills represent content, training, and onboarding. Process suggests documented sales processes and methodologies. Tools are mostly software platforms and technologies to implement sales enablement efforts.

Increasing sales is important, but sales enablement’s role is to also increase sales velocity—defined as how quickly a product is sold or a deal is closed. By equipping the sales team, marketers align themselves with the goal of increased conversions, directly impacting sales results.

An effective sales enablement team goes beyond sales training and development, increasing sales velocity by removing barriers and friction. Marketing plays a program-manager role, performing multiple tasks (generating leads, creating content, etc) as part of the sales enablement process.