The Evolution of Enablement: The Top 5 Differences Separating Revenue Enablement & Sales Enablement

By Matthew Flug | June 13, 2023

In today’s dynamic and volatile business landscape, optimizing sales, marketing, and post-sales teams to drive revenue is crucial for success. Traditional sales enablement, which focuses on one team, is no longer sufficient. Forrester recently made the switch from sales enablement to revenue enablement, stating “The term ‘sales enablement’ is no longer an effective description of how most B2B organizations support their customer-facing roles with the competence, confidence, and content required to deliver a seamless customer journey.” It’s no longer just about sellers. The revenue team is an orchestra and the revenue enablement function its conductor.

To create seamless customer journeys and satisfy today’s digital-first buyers, the entire revenue team needs to be enabled to do their jobs more effectively and build trust in every interaction. This is particularly important today as we know up to 70% of buyers’ research is done before ever interacting with a seller. Even more importantly buyers need to be enabled to make confident purchasing decisions. Buyer confidence is crucial to winning deals as 56% of potential customers who express an intention to buy are lost to indecision. It starts with ensuring all go-to-market (GTM) teams use the same data. In this blog, we will explore the top five disparities between sales enablement and revenue enablement, shedding light on their unique contributions to organizational growth.

Difference #1: Focus and Scope

Sales enablement predominantly focuses on equipping sellers with tools, collateral, and skills to enhance their effectiveness. It primarily targets the productivity of the sales team and their readiness to close deals. However, this approach often neglects the teams responsible for the beginning (marketing) and end (post-sales) of the customer journey, leading to internal silos and disjointed customer experiences. Imagine an orchestra conductor only enabling the flutists in their orchestra. The other musicians’ gaps would go unchecked and possibly even widen.

In contrast, revenue enablement takes a broader and more holistic perspective, encompassing the entire revenue generation ecosystem. It aligns all GTM teams, enabling them to work together towards revenue growth. When enablement efforts include the entire GTM team, customers benefit from smooth, informative journeys across multiple channels, and throughout the entire deal cycle, through post-sales interactions.

Difference 2: Content and Resources

Sales enablement focuses on creating content based on seller needs and training sellers on how to use it effectively. However, today’s buyers are overwhelmed by the abundance of available content. Gartner recently found that 55% of B2B buyers receive an overwhelming amount of information throughout deal cycles. While sales enablement may provide valuable resources for sellers, it often leaves other members of the revenue team without adequate content support.

It goes back to enabling the entire orchestra. If only the flutists know the music it’s not going to be a good performance. Revenue enablement, on the other hand, encompasses a wider range of content and resources that cater to the entire revenue generation ecosystem. It involves marketing teams creating content that drives engagement and trust, while post-sales teams are equipped with collateral that facilitates cross-sells, upsells, and renewals. Revenue enablement ensures that content is produced and utilized by all revenue-driving functions, not just the sales team.

Difference 3: Metrics and Performance Measurement

Sales enablement initiatives are primarily measured based on sales team metrics such as quota attainment, win rates, and deal velocity. The focus is on sales team productivity and revenue generated by the sales function. But how is marketing measured? How are post-sales teams measured? Using traditional sales enablement metrics how can revenue teams identify how marketing and product can help sales and post-sales teams win?  

Revenue enablement aligns revenue metrics to common goals, ensuring that all revenue teams use the same data and metrics to measure success. Key performance indicators (KPIs) may include customer lifetime value (CLTV), sales cycle length, content success, and customer retention rate. The measurement of success is tied to the overall revenue performance of the organization, and identifying how different departments can help each other drive growth rather than solely focusing on the sales team.

Difference 4: Cross-Functional Collaboration

Sales enablement typically involves marketing and/or product “enabling” sellers to use content, sales leaders coaching them to traditional sales playbooks, or coaching on tools and how to navigate the internal ecosystem. The collaboration is often one way, and fails to meet sellers’ needs, focusing on teaching them to use what they have instead of optimizing revenue team processes, and fostering communication and collaboration to optimize every stage of the customer journey.

Revenue enablement requires extensive collaboration across multiple departments. It fosters alignment and communication between marketing, sales, customer success, and product teams to provide a seamless customer experience throughout the buyer’s journey. Revenue enablement breaks down silos and encourages a holistic approach to revenue growth. Companies with “tightly aligned” sales and marketing departments reach 24% faster revenue growth. When each member of the orchestra helps others to be better everyone’s performance is enhanced and the orchestra becomes exponentially better.

Difference 5: Coaching and Upskilling

Sales enablement coaching primarily focuses on enhancing the skills and performance of individual sales representatives. It aims to develop their skills, ensure adherence to sales methodologies and processes, and provide training on sales tools. With high-performing sales enablement, sellers receive personalized coaching, targeting their specific gaps. However, this approach again leaves out the majority of the revenue orchestra.

Revenue enablement is again more holistic, focusing on coaching and development initiatives that support revenue generation across the entire revenue team. This includes cross-functional collaboration, alignment on objectives and goals, branding, and ensuring a tailored journey for each buyer. Revenue enablement seeks to foster collaboration, alignment, and collective success within revenue-driving functions. 

It’s Time To Make The Revenue Enablement Shift

In today’s hyper-digital world where buyers demand smooth journeys and consistent consultative interactions with suppliers, making the switch to revenue enablement is a must. The entire revenue orchestra must be enabled, including the audience – the buyers. Understanding these differences enables organizations to create a well-rounded revenue enablement strategy that propels sustainable growth.

To learn more about revenue enablement check out our Future of Revenue Enablement Benchmark Report, and connect with us to continue the conversation!

As Director of Marketing, Matt conducts research on the B2B sales technology landscape, the future of B2B sales, and other relevant B2B trends. In addition to creating thought leadership, Matt supports Mediafly’s global sales teams by aggregating and sharing industry research from firms like Forrester, Gartner, IDC, and by supporting key sales pursuits. Prior to joining Mediafly, Matt was an Evangelist at Outreach covering B2B sales where he authored blogs and research reports. Matt also worked at Forrester as a Researcher on the B2B Sales and Marketing teams. Matt’s work has been featured by Mediafly, Outreach and Forrester on their websites as well as webinars.

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