Sales Enablement: Perception Vs. Reality


Sales is one of the oldest professions in the world, yet it often remains misunderstood.

The perception is that sales acumen and ability is innate and ANY salesperson will be wildly successful in EVERY situation. The reality is that (like all other professions) training and development plays a key role in keeping salespeople engaged, and it establishes a foundation for sustained success.

It’s called Sales Enablement (SE). Conceptually, SE is established in organizations to ensure that their sales people receive continual training and development, and have access to other tools (competitive intelligence, coaching/mentoring, simulations, and more) to aid in their success.

Notice: I typed (and italicized) conceptually because SE is not wildly embraced by the majority of organizational leaders who employ salespeople.

CEO’s still expect their Sales Leaders to hire “rain-makers”, and are genuinely perplexed when salespeople don’t perform as expected. Those expectations are often fed to CEO’s by Sales Leaders who (A) don’t know how to identify star performers during the hiring process (Hint – it’s not just about their “numbers”), and (B) aren’t prepared to equip newly-hired salespeople with the tools they need to be successful.

I’ve extensively researched successful salespeople and detailed their congruent competencies in my yet-to-be-titled 2nd book (coming soon…), and recent research confirms that Sales Enablement is still a vital component in the success of any salesperson – and the organizations they’re associated with.

In Highspot & Heinz Marketing Group’s 2015 State of Sales Enablement report, the authors  provide research that supports the importance of providing tools and resources for sales professionals. Click the link to download and read the report in its entirety, but here are the 4 key themes:

  1. Sales teams are perceived as “not effective” – Again, most people hire for star power and are amazed/perplexed/dumbfounded when the magic doesn’t happen.
  2. SE functions rank high in importance across all organizations – They may be “important” but they’re still ignored. This is no different that organizational leaders crowing about the need for employee engagement yet failing to implement measures to encourage it.
  3. Knowledge is power, content is king – Training content is as vital to sales training as it is to any other training offered within the enterprise.
  4. SE drives real improvement in sales – If you build it, they will come (and be better prepared because of it).

I’m celebrating my 25th year in the sales profession this year, and I’m always glad to see research that advocates the need for training and development of salespeople. While you can expect some measure of sales success by “being in the right place at the right time” or some other happenstance, the reality is that (sustained) fortune smiles on those who are prepared.


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