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Sales Operations vs. Sales Enablement: Everything You Need To Know

Ajay Jay
January 31, 2024
5 min read

Navigating the world of sales can be like trying to decipher an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Two key pieces in that puzzle are sales operations and sales enablement. But what do they mean? And more importantly, how do they interact with each other? In this blog post, we will unravel the mystery surrounding these essential functions.


What is Sales Enablement?


Imagine, if you will, a team of mountaineers, each equipped with state-of-the-art gear, ready to conquer an imposing peak. In the context of sales, these climbers represent your sales team, and their gear is what sales enablement provides.


Sales enablement is essentially a strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, sales training, and coaching services for sales representatives and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.


Sales enablement ensures each client-facing professional has the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s journey.

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What are Sales Operations?


Let's go back to our mountaineers. They have their gear, but they need more than that to succeed. They need a clear map of the terrain, detailed weather forecasts, and logistical support. This is what sales operations bring to the table.


Sales operations refer to the unit, role, activities and processes within a sales organization that support, enable, and drive frontline sales teams to sell better, faster, and more efficiently. Through strategically implemented training, software tools and engagement techniques, sales ops enable sales reps to focus more on selling in order to drive business revenue growth.


Sales operations is the critical link between the development and the execution of the sales strategy and go-to-market strategy."


Like the vital partnership between our climbers and their support team, sales enablement and sales operations must work together seamlessly to create an effective sales force.


Sales enablement provides the tools, content, and training that the sales team needs to effectively engage clients. It's about making sure the sales team can respond to every client situation in the best way possible.


Meanwhile, sales operations make sure that all other aspects of the sales process are optimized. This includes identifying potential market opportunities, managing the sales funnel, and ensuring that the sales team is not burdened with administrative tasks that could detract from their common goal - selling.


Sales Operations: KRA & KPI


Imagine driving a car with no dashboard. You wouldn't know your speed, fuel level, or engine temperature. It's risky, right? The same applies to a business. In the world of sales, KRAs (Key Result Areas) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) serve as our dashboards, illuminating the path to our destination - growth, and profitability.


Let's break this down further. Picture a seasoned pilot at the helm of a plane. The pilot's primary KRA is to fly the plane safely from point A to B. However, they don't do this blindly. They rely on KPIs, the plane's instruments, telling them their altitude, speed, fuel level, and so on. In the same way, a sales leader guides their team towards their goals (KRAs) by continually monitoring their sales performance metrics (KPIs).


And we all know - What gets measured gets managed.


KRAs in Sales Operations

KRAs are the main goals that you want your sales operations team to achieve. The sales manager or leader usually defines them, and they often align with the overall business goals. They serve as guiding stars for the team to focus their sales efforts. Some of the important KRAs are:


Sales Revenue: The total income from selling products or services.

Customer Acquisition: The number of new customers acquired within a specific period.

Customer Retention: The ability to keep existing customers and prevent them from going to competitors.

Market Share: The proportion of total sales in a market captured by your business.


Apart from the main ones we discussed, here are additional examples of KRAs in sales operations:


Product Penetration: This KRA focuses on how well your product or service is being adopted within the available market or specific market segment.

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Sales Profitability: This is about the profitability of each unit of product or service sold. The goal is to optimize profit while maintaining or improving sales volume.


Sales Pipeline Management: This involves managing and optimizing the process of moving a lead from the initial stage of identification to the final stage of sale closure.


Sales Team Development: This KRA is focused on building and enhancing the skills of the sales team. Training and development sales opportunities are prioritized to ensure the team's competency.

KPIs in Sales Operations

KPIs are the metrics that give you insight into how well you're progressing towards your KRAs. They are quantifiable and allow for performance tracking over time. KPIs are the metrics used to evaluate the performance towards achieving KRAs. They need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).

Some examples of sales KPIs might be:


Sales Growth: Measures the percentage increase in sales over a set period.

Average Deal Size: Reflects the average value of each sales deal.

Sales Conversion Rate: Shows the percentage of prospects that turn into paying customers.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Predicts the net profit from the entire future relationship with a customer.


Here are some additional sales operations KPIs:


Lead Response Time: This is the average time it takes for your sales team to respond to a new lead. Faster response times can lead to higher conversion rates.


Sales by Region: This KPI can help you understand which regions are performing well and which need attention.


Customer Churn Rate: This is the percentage of customers who stop doing business with you over a specific period. A lower churn rate is always preferable.


Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA): This KPI indicates the total cost to acquire a new customer, considering all sales and marketing expenses.


Sales Enablement: KRA & KPIs


Sales Enablement is about empowering sales ops teams with the tools, training, and content they need to sell more effectively. This goes beyond merely selling to developing and nurturing strong relationships with potential customers. Here's how we can break it down:


KRAs in Sales Enablement

KRAs are the desired outcomes that your sales enablement efforts aim to achieve. Here are some examples:


Improved Sales Efficiency: Sales enablement aims to make the sales process more efficient, reducing the time taken to close deals.


Sales Team Knowledge Enhancement: This involves ensuring that the sales team has up-to-date knowledge about the products or services, market trends, and customer needs.


Content Utilization: This KRA focuses on creating and using effective sales content, including presentations, case studies, and sales scripts.


Sales and Marketing Alignment: Sales enablement should facilitate better alignment between sales and marketing teams, improving overall business strategy and customer satisfaction.


KPIs in Sales Enablement


KPIs for sales enablement help quantify the progress towards the KRAs. These might include:


Time Spent Selling: This measures the amount of time sales reps spend on revenue-generating activities. The goal is to maximize this time.


Training Completion Rates: This reflects the percentage of the sales team that has completed the required training modules.


Content Usage Rate: This KPI measures how often the sales team uses the content provided by the sales enablement team.


Sales-Marketing Alignment Score: This can be assessed through regular surveys or feedback sessions with both teams. A higher score indicates better alignment.

How Sales Operations and Sales Enablement Should Work Together

How Sales Operations and Sales Enablement Should Work Together


Sales Operations and Sales Enablement might sound similar, but they have distinct roles within an organization. Sales Operations is responsible for the overall functioning of the sales team, including strategic planning, data management, and technology. On the other hand, Sales Enablement focuses on training, equipping, and empowering sales representatives to close deals effectively.


When these two forces work together harmoniously, they can drive impressive results for an organization. Here's how:


Strategic Alignment

Both Sales Operations and Sales Enablement should have a clear understanding of the organization's goals. They need to ensure their strategies and initiatives are aligned not only with each other but also with the wider business objectives. Regular meetings and open communication can facilitate this alignment.

Lack of strategic direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.


Shared Insights

Sales Operations often hold valuable data about the sales team performance and the overall sales process. Sharing these insights with Sales Enablement can lead to more targeted and effective training programs and content.


For instance, if data shows that a certain step in the sales process is causing deals to fall through, Sales Enablement can address this through specific training or resources.


Joint Technology Decisions

Sales Operations typically manages the sales tech stack, including CRM and sales analytics tools. Sales Enablement often uses this technology to deliver training and resources. Therefore, technology decisions should be made collectively to ensure they meet the needs of both teams.


The business of business is relationships; the business of technology is tools. Bridging these is the role of sales.


Consistent Messaging

Sales Enablement is often in charge of creating sales content and messaging. Sales Operations, with its broader view of business strategy and customer interactions, can help ensure this messaging is consistent and aligned with the company's overall strategy and customer expectations.


Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time.


Working together, ordinary people can perform extraordinary feats. They can push things that come into their hands a little higher up, a little further on towards the heights of excellence.


This can be applied to Sales Operations and Sales Enablement: their combined efforts can lead to sales excellence throughout the sales cycle.


What is the Difference between Sales Enablement and Sales Operations?

What is the Difference between Sales Enablement and Sales Operations?


Sales Enablement and Sales Operations, while both critical to a successful sales organization, have distinct roles and functions. Let's delve into the differences between the two.


Sales Enablement


Sales Enablement is a strategic approach that empowers sales teams to sell more effectively by providing them with the necessary sales platforms, content, and training. It's about equipping salespeople with what they need to engage the buyer throughout the buying process successfully.


Key functions of sales enablement include:


  1. Training and Development: Sales Enablement is responsible for training salespeople on products, services, sales techniques, and market trends.


  1. Content Creation: They create and manage sales content such as presentations, case studies, and sales scripts, ensuring the sales team has effective resources to support their interactions with prospects.


  1. Tools and Technology: Sales Enablement often works with technology to streamline the sales process, including CRM systems, sales analytics tools, and communication platforms.


In the words of Roderick Jefferson, a global sales enablement expert, "Sales Enablement is about delivering a positive customer experience by equipping sales with the knowledge, skills, processes, and tools. This drives efficiency, effectiveness, and sales productivity by doing the right things, the right way, at the right time, with the right resources."


Sales Operations


Sales Operations, on the other hand, focuses on the strategy, design, and management of the sales process. It's about creating an environment where salespeople can perform at their best.


Key functions of sales operations include:


  1. Sales Strategy: Sales Operations help formulate and implement the sales strategy, aligning it with the organization's broader sales goals.


  1. Process Management: They design and optimize sales processes to ensure efficiency, from lead generation to deal closure.


  1. Data Management and Analysis: Sales Operations often manage CRM systems and perform data analysis to provide insights and sales forecasts that inform strategic decision-making.


  1. Sales Technology: Sales Operations manages the sales tech stack, ensuring the team has the right technology to support their work.


Sales Operations ensures we have the systems, sales tools, processes, and programs to enable sales to be the most productive and effective they can be.


While there is some overlap, Sales Enablement and Sales Operations play distinct roles. Sales Enablement focuses more on empowering salespeople to interact effectively with potential buyers, while Sales Operations is more about the design and optimization of sales processes and strategy. Both are essential for a high-performing sales organization and meet revenue targets.

Boost your sales enablement with PreSkale

The main goal of sales enablement is to ensure that salespeople have all the resources they require, from content to training to advanced tools, to optimize every customer interaction. This approach not only improves sales productivity but also ensures a consistent and valuable customer experience.

Incorporating advanced solutions like Preskale can further enhance sales enablement. Preskale's features, such as Product Gap Manager and PreSales workspace, provide businesses with unique tools and insights that are tailored to streamline the sales process and foster stronger, more meaningful customer relationships. By integrating cutting-edge tools like Preskale into a sales enablement strategy, organizations can ensure they stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market.

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