WHY is Sales Enablement? A Community Conversation Begins…

WHY is Sales Enablement? A Community Conversation Begins...

I posed a question to the global Sales Enablement community last week: “WHY is Sales Enablement?”

For answers I’m looking first to the vision, principles, and positions of the founding “congress” of the @Sales Enablement Society about seven years ago, alongside a collaborative conversation with the community.

Why ask WHY? 

As a habitual community builder working on a “post Covid” reboot of the Atlanta Chapter of the SES while doing a deep dive into whether or not I should double-down on Sales Enablement myself professionally in parallel, it would be an epic fail not to involve fellow enablement professionals in the conversation and conclusions.

On Friday I went a click deeper and published an Article: WHY is Sales Enablement? Seeking Answers in the SES’ Founding.

To kick off the week I thought I’d consolidate and share some of the comments / commentary Q&As back into the larger conversation. There is some really insightful stuff in here that I want to ensure isn’t “lost in LinkedIN comments.”

Gail Behun: I applaud your efforts and look forward to reading these communications as you journal out your thoughts. I hope we can discuss at the SES conference because there is so much merit to the discussion. While I appreciate, these conversations have been held before, it is never academic to work to add clarity and definition when it up levels us all.

  • @Erich: Encouraging to hear Gail – thank you! Would love to have both SES leadership and the global Sales Enablement community fully engaged and even collaborating together in the conversation. Sascha Dainat and I are waiting with bated breath to hear whether or not the *related* session we submitted “Back to the Future – A Journey from SES’ Founding to Orchestrating a Modern-Day Enablement ‘Business'” will make the cut. Fingers crossed!

@Gail: Erich Starrett I can’t reveal that but I can promise the discussion will continue well beyond the event. We need thought leaders like you to continue to push the boundaries of this profession.

Scott Santucci: What is your specific journey… and how might I be of service?

  • @Erich: The specific journey I am focused on? I am unpacking my experience with Sales Enablement as I…


  • Consider next steps in my career path
  • Work to uncover how I can best serve employer(s) / customer(s) / the global Enablement Community going forward from my competencies and experience


  • Collaborate on a reboot of the Atlanta Chapter of the SES
  • Further investigate interest from the global Enablement community in doubling-down on the foundation set by the SES, with an emphasis on the three founding positions you mention above. In fact, Sascha Dainat and I have submitted to hold a session at the Sales Enablement Society annual event in October on exactly that topic.

@Scott: …and how might I be of service?

  • @Erich: I appreciate you asking! I can think of no better person to hold me publicly accountable as I share my experience including my interpretation of second-hand information from my research and conversations. Especially since you are a primary source. Both from my direct conversations and interactions with you, and from my indirect research – including your published primary research papers, LinkedIN articles and posts, and webinars/podcasts …to name a few.

@Scott: I appreciate your posting an article about the “definition of sales enablement” I wrote, but I’m not in the “definition” game anymore. It’s a worthless pursuit.

There is a MASSIVE problem facing B2B companies. It’s a problem that the 100 founders of the Sales Enablement Society were very close to defining correctly. There are precise positions in the group too.

That problem – friction between and among internal groups that create massive inefficiencies. This problem still exists and can be QUANTIFIED in a variety of ways. The best and more effective? The Commerical Ratio.

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Those 100 founding members of the Society articulated themselves as having front-court seats witnessing right before their own eyes the emergence of the biggest problem to face B2B companies – commercial chaos. Referring to themselves humbly and modestly as “heads of broken things,” the key insight was that the broken things have common patterns. First, there are flavors of friction between sales and a) HR, b) marketing c) finance, and e) administration. This insight is so true today.

Lee Levitt: Scott Santucci is right, it doesn’t matter when it was first defined. Despite the Sales Enablement Society taking on the noble task of elevating the profession, the SE role is still largely (sadly) considered that of trainer or content manager, versus strategic thinker and influencer of revenue generation. As a founding member of the Society, this makes me sad. Apologies to my fellow sales enablement strategists…we still have a long way to go.

  • @Erich: Agreed. Argument over the definition is DEAD. And I don’t think it was ever even the point to begin with. Either way, what matters NOW is “why” (…the SE role is still largely (sadly) considered…) and “what’s next” to elevate the profession.
  • I fully believe that the answer(s) will be uncovered thanks, in large part, to the collaboration, and courageous confrontation of reality, of founding members such as yourself, as well as invested newcomers.
  • I am looking to identify and grow a community of those who believe in the vision of enablement as a cross-functional strategic function that can, in fact, orchestrate the friction out of the corporate revenue engine and be (~your words) “influencers of the revenue generation.”

@Lee: Even though the work isn’t finished, I think we’re starting to see a bifurcation of what we think of as sales enablement back into training/content management and what people are now calling revenue enablement, which focuses on the sales and revenue lifecycle rather than on customer facing roles.

Personally, I think this is a more holistic perspective, one that actually reflects the glue function that we as SE professionals undertake…sticking many different groups together.

  • @Erich: I remain convinced that the original “Positions” taken by the ~100 Fore-founders of the Sales Enablement Society still have a solid merit and fulfill a need (or three).
  • I will unpack all of that further in the coming days / weeks, but for now I’ll focus on Position #2: there is a need for a function that Orchestrates a strategic “cross-functional business within a business” focused on connecting corporate silos / driving the kind of collaboration that unlocks energy and innovation need to work the friction out of the environment / system(s) …and empower sales to succeed.
  • Unfortunately a lot of the feedback I have heard to date is more of a propensity to double down on “fixing sales” instead. I’m convinced that a simple shift embraced by a global community can start to turn that ship.

@Lee: IDC published an IDC Insight in 2007, entitled Empowering the Sales Rep, discussing the value and effectiveness of sales enablement, and offering a thoughtful decision. This work was based in part on conversations with John Aiello and others in the vendor community. I’d suggest that John had come up with the concept of sales enablement as much as ten years earlier.

  • @Erich: Grateful for your bold contribution to the conversation. I will make it a point to further explore the IDC / John Aiello roots. Fact is that both IDC and SAVO played a foundational role in my personal Sales, Field Marketing, Sales Effectiveness, and Sales Enablement journey story as well.

Special additional shoutout of thanks to Paul Butterfield and Peter Ostrow for your direct outreach, questions, and continuing contributions.

I would be grateful to have YOU join in the journey, actively participate and collaborate in the conversation, and in doing so, work to connect and elevate the global Enablement community as we uncover both “why?” AND “what’s next?”

Please see links to the article/posts so far in the comments below… 

Let’s Elevate Enablement Together!

– Erich

Acting ATL Sales Enablement Society Chapter President

Pavilion Executive Envoy

Enablement #Orchestrator Ambassador



Originally posted to LinkedIN 7.31.23

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