Four Sales Enablement Predictions for 2021


2020 threw everyone for a loop, and sales enablement was not untouched. The good news is enablers are more important than ever before. Getting the right message to the buyer at the right time is mission-critical, and for some companies, it will define their survival in 2021.

We’ve analyzed data from the field and gathered the top minds here at LevelJump to predict the top four shifts for 2021. Here we go!

1. Sales Enablement Will Roll up to Sales

One value that is unique to sales enablement is the ability to cut through silos. Enablers have managed to open communication and enhance workflows where silos once stood in the way.

It begs the question: who is responsible for sales enablement when the responsibilities span many departments?

Our prediction is that enablement will continue to move out of operations or finance and into sales. Though enablers work closely with the marketing team, there will not be a significant shift into marketing this year.

It’s a no-brainer to say that the sales leadership team sets the pace in an organization, and companies will be leaning into sales leaders even more heavily in 2021. The strongest leaders will have the ideas that pull teams together and propel them forward. With 2020 being a year of transformation and adjustment, sales leaders will lead the pack. Enablement will be a part of a good sales leader’s initiatives.

2. Enablement Needs to Prove It’s Impact on Revenue

As we’ve referenced time and time again, there is a direct correlation between successful enablement teams tying their efforts to revenue outcomes. Those who measure and track enablement to revenue are out-pacing the teams who do not.

In 2021, expectations around proving revenue outcomes of sales enablement will ramp up even more. 

Enablement might still be the new kid on the block in a lot of orgs, but given the growth in headcount and technology stacks, it’s becoming too expensive to not be accountable to a number (and the CFO).

Teams will need to align around increasing not only top line revenue, but also reducing the cost of goods sold (COGS). Enablement can make a huge impact here, but you need to be able to prove it. If you already can, keep it up! It’s only going to get more important. And if your team is not up to speed on how to do this, don’t worry we’ve covered it right here.

3. Enablers Will Get Hired Earlier

Enablement will become a bigger part of the revenue team, sooner. In early-stage organizations, we predict that bringing in a sales enabler will start happening earlier.

This isn't just a random guess. Most of us can remember the evolution of sales ops.

In the prehistoric days of sales ops, it served as an admin function providing reporting and analytics. Over the years, it evolved from a nice-to-have in big orgs to a critical early higher for growing businesses.

But just like our friends in RevOps, Enablement can’t get cozy. The role is still transforming. Buyers continue to be better informed and demand a higher level of seller excellence. 

Delivering the right message at the right time will prove more and more valuable, and be the key difference that wins you the deal. Prepare to see new opportunities at start-ups in 2021.

4. Virtual Enablement Is Here to Stay

Virtual enablement will go from a one-off to being business as usual.

Any stopgap solutions from the pandemic will be ripped out and replaced with permanent processes.

When most companies went remote in March 2020, there was perhaps some wishful thinking that it was a temporary measure, and thus remote enablement just needed to be a band-aid fix. 

But as the year has gone on, we’ve seen virtual teams cement themselves in how revenue teams run, and we’re betting some (or all) of that will remain post-pandemic.

I’m not downweighting the fact that remote work is hard, and not everyone is quite so smitten with it. But many companies have found that instead of leasing expensive space, paying high utilities, and hiring only in their geographic area, they can save the money, keep folks at home, and bring on the best (for less).

In short, my guess is that at least partially remote work is here to stay, and sales enablement teams need to support this new normal. While companies work to get virtual culture up to speed, we anticipate the enablement teams will be on the forefront of replacing in-person processes with digital ones. 

I can’t guarantee any of these predictions, since I mostly made them up, but one thing we know is that enablement will shift as our world keeps changing. New enablement teams will sprout up sooner and continue to prove a valuable investment. New working patterns will change how enablers do their job. New pressures will change what enablement success looks like, and new reporting structures will keep enablement aligned with the constituents they support.

Check back in 6 months and we’ll see how we did!

If you think you need some additional help in getting ready for 2021, download our free ebook to help you along the way.