Sales enablement…or knowledge management
What is sales enablement?
With the evolution of SaaS, customer success has risen to prominence, but there’s another function that’s become increasingly important inside growth companies—sales enablement. Sales teams succeed when they have access to timely information about competition, product roadmap, pricing changes, buyer personas, updates to demo scripts, sales and CRM data. A bird’s eye view of what’s happening in product support also provides an edge, because they can offer a meaningful response when (not if) something goes wrong. Sales enablement arose, in its most common form, as a bridge between marketing and sales, to provide at least some of this information and to continually improve the sales process and tools. Essentially, sales enablement provides sales content and refines the sales process. This post from Toby Roger of Culture Amp, captures it well.
Where present-day sales enablement goes wrong
In most organisations, the product marketing team provide battle cards, personas, data sheets and case studies. When sales content is viewed through a marketing lens, it’s created, approved, stored and static. While it’s intended to be useful, but it’s usually stored on a cloud drive and rarely interacted with. We’re relying on busy people to go searching for and “pulling” that knowledge when we could be doing better at pushing timely and relevant knowledge in a consistent way.
Where the sales process is concerned, it’s all about contact management and messaging, but more emphasis should be put on decision support. Sales enablement is currently preoccupied with pipeline automation and very little work goes into recognising the patterns of past interactions that can inform future decisions and sales process innovations.
Knowledge sharing practices in sales
Rapid growth at Monday.com put their sales enablement function through its paces. The full story is in the video link, but I’ve pulled out some key points:
Onboarding new hires—Monday used to run separate product education sessions for new hires to the sales team, but rapid scale meant they had to get more efficient. They brought new hires together from across multiple client-facing functions in the business and turned product education into a hybrid delivery model using a combination of Lessonly and live Zooms.
Knowledge transfer—Sales enablement practices include mining sales data for high performers and arranging knowledge sharing sessions to spread that secret sauce around and improve processes.
Refining systems for knowledge capture and reuse—Monday.com continues to refine their systems for coordinating, interacting and knowledge retention.
Looking at the key activities in Monday.com’s sales enablement work and APQC’s definition of knowledge management as “a collection of systematic approaches to help knowledge flow to and between the right people at the right time (in the right format at the right cost) so they can act more efficiently and effectively to create value for the organization”, the parallels between sales enablement and knowledge management are plain to see.
Although knowledge management is most often aligned with support functions, it can and should, go beyond that. In all the best shows, KM is behind the curtain feeding lines to the whole cast, not just to the one role that’s most likely to win the award for best supporting actor. Look at the 8 Pillars of KM for some inspiration.