WHY is Sales Enablement? Seeking Answers in the SES’ Founding

WHY is Sales Enablement? Seeking Answers in the SES' Founding

Why Sales Enablement? In order to uncover the answer, I invite you to travel back in time with me — to the founding of the Sales Enablement Society itself. 

That wayback ride lands in Palm Beach, Florida the Friday before Thanksgiving 2016, where a congress of around 100 sales enablement professionals participated in “The Birth of the Sales Enablement Society.”

They came to consensus — and signed into existence — the core doctrine for the global SES, including the foundational visionprinciples, and positions

The VISION, was simply “to promote and elevate the role of sales enablement.”

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The founding PRINCIPLES were…

  • Growth Mindset …be comfortable being uncomfortable in order to innovate
  • Share Economy …give first and get later
  • Accept disagreement …and turn it into strength
  • Be inclusive …and seek to understand
  • Have courage …learn by doing and convert mistakes into wisdom
  • Practice patience
  • Use personal stories to connect

Both the vision and principles signed into existence by the SES Fore-founders are still largely reflected in the present day Sales Enablement Society’s stated “Mission and Values.”

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However, the three founding “POSITIONS,” which were also core to the birth, are scarce. 

They are nowhere to be found either on the global web home of the SES, nor in most Sales Enablement conversations. 

My hypothesis is that these founding positions, in part, hold answers to “the WHY?” of Sales Enablement …and are ripe for further exploration and collaboration by the curious.

So what were they?

  • Position ONESales Enablement Leaders did not see themselves as having a defined role. 
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“While interest in the function is expanding – the only thing we agreed upon was that our members see themselves as heads of broken things more than a defined role. The source of the “broken things” is friction between a corporate function and the sales organization.”

“We’ve identified four different sources of this friction which led to our view of “four flavors of sales enablement” Those flavors are friction between the sales organization and: 1) human resources, 2) marketing, 3) finance, and 4) administration.

Why? We want to avoid dogmatic debates given the emergent nature of the function, embrace the diversity of our community and create an inclusive culture.” – Excerpt from SES Founder and President Scott Santucci‘s Letter to SES Members April 2017

So rather than engaging in dogmatic debates about the “definition” of Sales Enablement they decided to embrace the diverse nature of the function and think more strategically about the role by grouping functional “flavors” of Enablement and then engage in workgroups to get things done. 

Those “flavors” or Domains of Sales Enablement were:

1. Sales Training / Talent Management

  • Human Resources / L&D and Sales
  • Full employee lifecycle from hire to retire

2. Sales Messaging

  • Marketing and Sales
  • From concept to customer contact

3. Funnel / Demand Management

  • Marketing, Ops, HR and Sales
  • From customer contact to contract

4. Sales Operations / Administration

  • Sales Ops, Finance, Legal and Sales
  • All the way through to expanding revenue

Which poses a pair of interesting questions.

Internally: What if were were designing our internal Enablement charters around “flavors” instead of a seemingly single-threaded focus? A team working together – each member operating through the lens of their competency and tribal knowledge of their given flavor.

And externally. What if we were all channeling Enablement community conversations (and possibly even job descriptions) globally into four (or maybe more — I’m sure they could use an informed refresh) domains / “flavors” of Sales Enablement. We could be collaborating in peer workgroups with strategic insights on how to work the friction out of each of the cross-functional sales systems!

Which leads us to…

Position TWO: Sales Enablement should be run as a cross-functional business within a business.

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“Regardless of the flavor, Sales enablement is a cross-functional problem and, to be successful should be run as a business within a business.” – Excerpt from SES Founder and President Scott Santucci‘s Letter to SES Members April 2017

Now think of that team of Enablement professionals working to build and orchestrate a “business within a business.” On a mission…

  • To identify the friction and confront the realities of the environment within each “corporate silo.”
  • To solve strategically and collaboratively for systems / alignment challenges across functions.
  • To fix the sales SYSTEM for the sales PEOPLE …vs the inverse, which is unfortunately much more often the case.
  • To operate as an interwoven cross-functional “Enablement fabric” of flavors. Just for fun let’s call it an Enablement Operating System. E-O-S! I digress.

This SES position laid the foundation for the “Enablement #Orchestrator” (more on that in later posts) and the evolution of the profession.

  • From what? “Ambassadors of Broken things.”
  • To what…?

Position THREE: Just as the CIO evolved from Data Processing, or CFO’s evolved from Bookkeeping – our fore-founders wanted to set a target for the evolution of the Sales Enablement function.

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  • They landed on “Chief Productivity Officer.”

So WHY is Sales Enablement? 

It seems to me that the answer could be in watering these seeds that the SES fore-founders planted when their Congressional session in Palm Beach penned these “positions” back in 2016.


NONE of this matters without critical mass. Without ownership. Without collaboration. Without an interest in elevating the profession vs. running from it (and YES – Enablement quiet quitting is real.)

If ANY of this resonates with you PLEASE step loudly out into the light and join in the continued conversation!

Let’s Elevate Enablement Together!

– Erich

Acting ATL Sales Enablement Society Chapter President

Pavilion Executive Envoy

Enablement #Orchestrator Ambassador


Originally published 7.29.23 on LinkedIN

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