What’s the Difference Between Sales Enablement and Sales Engagement?

In this article, we'll discuss the difference between sales enablement and sales engagement, why they’re essential for a successful business strategy, and how they yield exceptional results.
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Most B2B companies depend on a streamlined sales process to identify prospects, generate leads, and ultimately convert those leads into customers. There are two key components of a winning business growth strategy: sales enablement and sales engagement. While many businesses use these terms interchangeably, they differ significantly in tools, procedures, and skills.

What Is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is a process that salespeople follow to attract a target market, generate leads, and convert leads into customers. Here are some practices that salespeople follow in a sales enablement program:

Ongoing Training

Ongoing training and professional development are a huge part of a successful sales enablement program. With ongoing training, you ensure that each sales rep maximizes each conversation with a potential buyer. To have a successful sales enablement strategy, ongoing training should be a daily, weekly, or monthly priority in your program.

Workflow Optimization

With workflow optimization tools like Salesforce, your salespeople have the opportunity to follow up with the right leads at the right time. Additionally, they can send relevant marketing materials that align with the wants and needs of those leads, guiding them toward the end of the sales cycle. Workflow optimization tools enable your salespeople to build better relationships and maximize your lead generation efforts.

Sales Metrics Auditing

Auditing sales metrics is essential for measuring the success of your sales enablement program. While auditing typically is left to sales operations, sales enablement teams can use these metrics for sales empowerment. For instance, sales managers can take advantage of metrics to better teach, observe, and coach their sales reps. This results in a more successful sales program and more effective sales reps overall.

What Is Sales Engagement?

Sales engagement is the method salespeople use to interact with buyers, including phone calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings. However, it’s important to note that sales engagement is more than traditional outreach efforts. It also includes digital marketing efforts like blog posts, landing pages, and social media content. 

Sales engagement includes the framework and tools that directly help your reps guide prospects through the sales funnel. A sales engagement strategy includes:

  • Communication tools that allow sales reps to engage with prospects 
  • Content that’s been developed to address each stage of the buyer’s journey, so your reps will always have the resources they need to convince and convert
  • Critical selling tools that give reps the right guidance to move prospects down the funnel, including cold call talk tracks, customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, etc.

How Do Sales Enablement and Sales Engagement Work Together?

While sales enablement and sales engagement are different processes, they work together seamlessly. Sales enablement refers to the team responsible for continuously training your sales team and supporting them to succeed in their sales efforts. On the other hand, sales engagement is the platform you engage with prospects on. These platforms aid salespeople and help them optimize their interactions with prospects in the sales pipeline.

Overall, your sales enablement and sales engagement strategies complement one another and allow your sales team to build relationships and convert leads into customers.

Why Are Sales Enablement and Engagement Tools Not Enough?

Many sales and marketing leaders lean heavily on their automation tools and CRM platforms. While both aspects are essential, the reality is that much more is needed than the right infrastructure for your sales team to consistently smash their quotas. It’s vital that you take a comprehensive approach to sales optimization, which includes a strong emphasis on training and development. Consider the following:

Most CRMs Function as a Contact Database, But Don’t Help Reps Engage With Prospects

Identifying prospects is only half the battle. Your reps need to understand where each buyer is in the sales funnel and then match their messaging to the buyer’s specific needs and pain points. Unless your CRM includes some seriously dynamic scripting functionalities, then it won’t be much help for one-on-one interactions.

Marketing Automation Focuses on Quantity Over Quality

Email blasts, personalized landing pages, and chatbots are all great marketing tools that can spread brand awareness. However, they can never replace the one-on-one engagement your reps provide on a daily basis. For the most part, these tools don’t really have a significant impact on your reps’ performance. While marketing automation can lead prospects to your business, only your sales reps can convert those prospects.

Sales Reps Must Maximize the Impact of the Tools They Have

While your CRM may alert sales reps to new prospects that enter your sales pipeline, are they responding to each new lead promptly? Or are they waiting days before reaching out? If they’re delaying, then your conversion rates might be significantly lower than they should be. A CRM on its own won’t convert leads into customers. Sales reps reaching out to prospects promptly is the only way to build one-on-one relationships and enhance the customer experience.

What Should You Include in Your Sales Enablement and Sales Engagement Processes?

While sales enablement and engagement tools are important, they’re no substitute for exceptional management and skilled sales reps. Sales managers need to be actively involved with each member of their team and work with them to cultivate interpersonal skills that will take their sales game to the next level.

In terms of implementing a winning sales enablement and engagement strategy, consider the following:

Provide Intensive Onboarding for New Hires

Research shows that organizations with an effective onboarding program have 33% more engagement among employees compared to companies without an onboarding program. Additionally, 87% of businesses find that assigning a mentor to each new hire during the onboarding process is an effective strategy.

A solid onboarding program starts your sales reps on the right foot and helps you get the best out of your sales team. But how do you start an onboarding sales program? Here are some tips:

  • Onboarding is about more than imparting knowledge—it’s about initiating a new hire into your culture. With that in mind, be sure to extend a sincere welcome to each new member of your team. Call them before their first day at the office and check that all the equipment and tools they need to succeed are ready to go from day one. 
  • Train them to collaborate from the outset. Make sure they receive the relevant product training for their role, then set them up with other departments (marketing, product management, etc.) to take their training to the next level.
  • Schedule some time for your new reps to job shadow your top performers. This will give them a model to follow as they develop their skills into best practices they can use in their own playbook. If you have a mentorship program in place, then your new rep’s assigned mentor can provide helpful tips and additional training as needed.
  • Give each rep time to adjust to your tech stack, with the understanding that everyone learns at a different pace. 
  • Connect your new hires to loyal customers of your brand so they can see the “why” behind your product up close and personally.

Offer Ongoing Training and Development Resources

While you may have some elite sales ninjas on your team, even the most savvy needs an occasional refresher to perform at a high level. This is especially true as your typical buyer’s journey adapts to new market conditions and emerging technologies. Your sales team should evolve as your customers evolve. Sales skills like cold calling and social selling may come easier to some reps than others, but there are always new techniques to learn.

Offer Personalized Coaching

Just because someone is a sales manager doesn’t automatically mean they’re a sales coach. To many mid-level managers, coaching is a synonym for performance management, or a euphemism for “getting along with team members.” 

In reality, coaching should involve a highly organized approach to helping your reps cultivate strong selling skills. This includes regularly scheduled one-on-one feedback sessions that are tailored to the unique strengths and opportunities of each rep. Of course, a personal connection between manager and rep is important too. A company-wide commitment to coaching will help your reps retain and apply key skills that will help them meet or exceed their quota.

Use Marketing Collateral To Your Advantage

Modern sales strategies lean heavily on visual content, including white papers, case studies, testimonials, e-books, infographics, promotional videos, and more. If you want your reps to convert prospects, you need to arm them with enough knowledge to make a persuasive case for your brand. At the very least, they should know which piece of content can make the case for them and deliver that to the prospect.

Align Your Sales and Marketing Strategies

We all know that sales and marketing alignment is crucial for a successful business growth strategy and that misalignment between the two departments can lead to headaches. Your sales and marketing teams should be working together to attract prospects to your pipeline, nurture them as they become leads, and then convert them into customers.

One of the biggest friction points in many organizations is exactly when marketing should hand a lead over to sales. To eliminate any confusion over the matter, aim for a consensus on what constitutes a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) versus a sales-qualified lead (SQL). 

It’s essential for your business growth strategy to formalize those definitions and develop a workflow that’s acceptable for both sides. Additionally, make sure you encourage active communication between your two departments. For example, your marketers can train the sales team on how to use available content more effectively, and your sales reps can help the marketing team address the most pressing pain points of your target audience.

Key Takeaways

Sales enablement and sales engagement are two overlapping yet distinctly different processes. Their overall objective is the same: to give your sales reps the tools, techniques, and skills they need to crush their quotas day in and day out.

While sales enablement and engagement tools play a key role in optimizing the overall sales process, they can never be a substitute for highly engaged, experienced, and skilled sales reps. One-on-one conversations are still the core of the sales process within many companies, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

If you already have sales enablement and/or engagement software in place but aren’t seeing the results you want, you may need to give more attention to areas like onboarding, training and development, and management. A reputable sales engagement consulting team may also be of great help. 

At Sapper Consulting, we firmly believe that great technology is essential for department processes and alignment. Our team of sales engagement experts can help you identify key bottlenecks in your process, align your sales and marketing departments, and unleash the full potential of your tech stack. When you’re ready to maximize your sales enablement and engagement processes, reach out to our lead generation experts.

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About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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