Sales enablement is going through a renaissance.
Just last year, Forrester released the Forrester Wave for sales enablement automation platforms.
Plus, there are more sales enablement jobs titles now that ever before, in a graph that’s steep enough to make VCs positively salivate.
Finally, companies are spending more and more cash on enablement and readiness people, processes, and technologies.
Earlier this year at The Sales Enablement Pro event in Boston, Mary Shea, Principal Analyst at Forrester argued in her keynote that sales enablement is the third wave of sales and marketing alignment.
First, there was CRM, bringing tracking, forecasting, and process to the sales cycle.
Then, it was marketing automation software, bridging the gap between marketing activity and pipeline and revenue.
And now, we have sales enablement – the last piece of connective tissue we need to bond sales and marketing together.
Why sales enablement? Why now?
The evolution of sales and marketing technology, alignment, and philosophy isn’t an accident. It’s been driven by the market – specifically, customer demand for a consultative, value-driven sale, where the seller doesn’t simply provide the product but helps guide the customer to make the right decision (even if it means losing the deal).
At the same time, there are other market levers pressuring go-to-market teams:
- Increased competition
- Heightened customer expectations about product, services, and buying experiences
- Product commodification (especially software)
- Tight labour market – it’s no longer an option to only hire the top 1% of sellers. The filters need to be loosened to keep up with growth.
The result is sales enablement – which for a long time has been folded into sales / revenue operations or run as a side-project by product marketing – emerging as its own function. It has tactical commitments, budget, and strategic direction.
But all is not well in the land of sales enablement.
Why sales enablement struggles with buy-in
Sales enablers face a perpetual problem: what does success look like?
For some, it’s all about content: consumption, circulation, and usage in sales cycles.
For others, it’s all about certifications and gamification: how many quizzes were completed? What was the average score? How many times, on average, did a sales rep have to take the quiz before they passed it?
Aye, there’s the rub: executives don’t care.
You’ll sit in a lot of boardrooms for a lot of board meetings before you hear consumption and certification metrics touted as a success story. And here’s something you’ll never hear:
Yeah, we missed our number for Q4, but hey - certifications are up 200%!
The problem is, sales enablers are tracking and measuring metrics that the executive team doesn’t care about. Instead of saying “25% more of our reps are achieving 100% quota” sales enablers are saying “25% more of our reps are achieving 100% on our product quiz.”
This challenge, of course, isn’t new, and certainly isn’t unique to sales enablement.
Back before marketing automation became par for the course for marketing teams, ads were bought on impressions (in fact, lots of ads still are). The idea is that the more impressions you make, the more likely it is that someone will buy your product. And while that’s not wrong, there’s a big stretch between “I saw a billboard” and “I’m signing a contract.”
In short, marketing had an attribution problem.
And that’s the boat that enablement has found itself in. Yes, everyone agreed that we need enablement. And yes, there are significant resources being spent on enablement.
But for enablers everywhere, proving attribution and revenue impact is still incredibly difficult, when it happens at all.
At LevelJump, we approach enablement from a radically different perspective. Instead of saying ‘what does enablement do’ we say ‘what revenue outcome do you want to achieve?’
Then, we build out the enablement activities from there.
And because LevelJump is built 100% in Salesforce and thus, enablement and revenue live on a single dataset, we can track and measure back from the revenue objective without loads of questionable data manipulation.
Outcome-Based Enablement allows go-to-market teams to:
- Guide sellers to milestone achievement: Embed milestones like activities completed, opportunities piped, and deals closed to correlate program performance to business-critical metrics.
- Show executives business impact: Track the impact of enablement on seller performance over time in a single dataset and attribute revenue back to a specific program.
- Optimize programs for revenue results: Discover and replicate success patterns of top performers by visualizing milestone achievement to optimize for revenue KPIs.
By starting from the perspective of revenue outcomes rather than enablement inputs, practitioners can prove the impact of their programs on the metrics that matter to the executive team. And by proving revenue impact, enablement can take a seat at the table.
I’m incredibly excited about the potential of Outcome-Based Enablement, and the opportunities that it presents to enablement and readiness.
I hope you all join me in a community of enablers around the world who are making an impact in the boardroom and use LevelJump's Outcome-Based Enablement to tie readiness to revenue results.