Up-Leveling the Sales Enablement Profession
The term profession comes from the word profess. It originally was a religious term referring to an acknowledgment or declaration.
However, a profession is generally defined as an occupation (such as law, medicine, or engineering) that requires considerable training and specialized study. Many would argue that “Sales” is the role that drives the global economy. What about the sales enablement profession? “Is sales enablement a title or a profession?”
There are only a handful of undergraduate degrees available to salespeople, and none in the sales enablement profession. For the most part, sales professionals are left to their own devices of learning and applying the vast body of knowledge available and proliferated by sales training teams and companies. Most training doesn’t help salespeople “do” much. It tells them what to do, but doesn’t necessarily help them practice it.
In today’s increasingly complex business environment, the sales enablement profession has been booming. Is sales enablement an art or science?
Even though the profession of selling has been around from the dawn of civilization, there really hasn’t been an objective, transferrable, and measurable standard of what the sales profession is. Same for sales enablement. Instead of debating whether to call ourselves sales enablement, revenue enablement, revenue operations, commercial enablement, or sales training, maybe we should first take a step back to understand what the definition of a profession is. And ask ourselves, do we believe we’re in a profession or not?
In many professions, there are specific professional specialties. As an example, with medicine, there are the specialties of internal medicine, pediatrics, and different types of surgery. In the professional trades, there are specialties of plumbing, electrician, painter, etc.
To arrive at a definition of the sales enablement profession, we must understand that just as all of the primary professions have a specialization, so does marketing. Under marketing, there are several professional specializations such as:
- Public Relations
- Marketing Communications
- Product Planning (includes pricing and packaging)
- Channel Marketing
- …. and Professional Selling.
What About Sales Enablement?
The sales enablement profession first started and 2008, when Scott Santucci defined it at Forrester Research..
Since that time there have been many debates about what that definition is or what evolution looks like. When it comes to defining sales enablement as a profession, the question is does it meet the criteria of a profession?
- Is there an easily accessible and validated body of knowledge? For the most part, there is not in sales enablement. The largest body of knowledge exists at orchestratesales.com
- Is there an industry recognized standard of entry? In this case no, there is no standard of entry. There are many courses for many different topics however each has their own point of view.
- A sanctioning organization. In this case, the sales enablement society operates as a membership-driven exchange of ideas. However, there is no set taxonomy or set criteria for sales enablement practitioners. There are no standards set by this organization.
- Does the or profession have a enforced code of ethics? In this case with sales enablement there are no enforced ethical codes or standards for members.
- Does the profession and people in the profession give back to others? For the most case the sales enablement society fulfills this criteria of a profession.
So, in these examples above the criteria are not met to make sales enablement profession. The question becomes, do members in the profession want to come together and work together to meet these criteria?
Sales enablement professionals work across the sales and marketing system to provide salespeople with the right resources, processes, and technology needed to sell effectively and increase bookings. Sales enablement leaders orchestrate across product, marketing, training, HR, and sales teams to engineer valuable and relevant sales conversations at the point of engagement salespeople have with buyers. In that way, they improve and enable the experience customers have with salespeople who are communicating the brand promise.
Sales enablement technology unlocks insights into content engagement and how it affects sales performance. Salespeople have better conversations and act as trusted advisors which allows them to foster long-term relationships with prospects and customers. Sales enablement technology is only one part of the skills required by sales enablement professionals.