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The Changing Definition of Sales Enablement

Connector. Revenue Driver. Sales Enabler. You.

Do you think of yourself this way? Have you ever thought of your role as the center of an entire ecosystem of functions and capabilities within your organization, linking suppliers and customer-facing resources?

Sales Enablement—done right—is just that.

It brings people together to create standards and frameworks, connecting constituencies to think about how to equip the customer facing team and ultimately drive revenue. As a sales enabler, you’re the link between:

  • marketing and sales – creating a common language

  • strategy and action – turning strategy into results

  • initiatives and revenue – bringing value to initiatives across the organization

  • technology and people – making it simple for sales to know what to know, do, say and show

Most sales enablement leaders think too small about the importance of their role in this ecosystem. Are you one of them? Have you changed your day-to-day activities, roles and mindset in an ongoing journey to be more strategic –

Walk through the following practical ideas with us to envision how you can elevate your contribution within your company, and ultimately how you as a sales enabler can work your way up to a seat at the executive table.

Gayle Charach, founding member of the Toronto chapter of the Sales Enablement Society and Global Head of Sales Enablement at vArmour, remembers the day when sales enablement meant one thing: training.

As she says, “In today’s world we are trying to differentiate ourselves. We are not only training. We will help you drive revenue through improved sales effectiveness. We are in the business of helping sales teams be as effective and efficient as possible.”

While the discipline continues to mature from cost center to revenue driver, Natalie Long, Director of Sales Enablement at Workato, recognizes that sales enablement still means different things to different people. She believes how sales enablement is interpreted organizationally depends on 3 things:

  1. “Sales Leadership’s understanding of their go-to-market strategy and insight into their team’s sales execution gaps

  2. Sales Enablement leader’s vision and ability to articulate that vision across Sales, Product & Marketing

  3. How well aligned Sales, Product and Marketing are to one another”

When these elements are missing, it limits the impact sales enablement has across the organization. Sales leadership doesn’t view sales enablement as having a true mandate for change, limiting them to a tactical role. These issues perpetuate misalignment and missed expectations. When these three elements are present, sales enablement is recognized as deserving a seat at the table.

Enablement Career Tip: Make sure your collaboration with sales leaders is strategic. Schedule time with them to identify sales gaps and set priorities. If your conversations are only tactical, your impact and influence suffer. Prepare yourself to go toe-to-toe with sales leaders by speaking about the objectives they are prioritizing.

DSG’s Definition: “Sales enablement is the system for accelerating revenue growth by equipping salespeople with the content, tools and training to engage sophisticated buyers.”

If you’re like most sales enablement leaders, thinking through a strategic definition of enablement will have you considering areas where you’re very far from that ideal—but that’s a perfect first step.

Be forewarned, communicating the proper view of enablement will be an on-going challenge. As Jodie Schroeder, Vice President of Global Commercial Operations at Rockwell Automation says, “Many still don’t understand the definition of sales enablement. As soon as you get someone over the hump, you find 10 more that still think of it as training!”


If you would like to form your own definition of sales enablement, use this How-To Guide as your personal workbook.

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