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Salesforce recently found that sales reps spend up to 66% of their time performing non-revenue generating tasks. Two-thirds of the work day is a huge amount of time that could be spent focusing on valuable tasks (like selling!). For sales leaders, refining an internal methodology for sales enablement while enforcing best practices in sales operations to better utilize reps’ time is key to boosting sales productivity.

Sales enablement and sales operations are two key functions of a well-run, efficient sales team. While both are essential to ensuring sales run smoothly, it’s key to understand not only how the two are different, but how they can work together. Collaboration between the two functions increases sales productivity and saves time so salespeople can focus on selling, driving win rates, and boosting revenue.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is the process of supplying the sales team with all the tools they need to succeed — from tech solutions to hyper-relevant content aimed at overcoming objections and enabling winning sales teams. In a recent HubSpot survey, 65% of sales leaders who reported outperforming revenue targets had a dedicated sales enablement person or team. Sales enablement also focuses on aligning the sales and marketing teams so that marketing can gain visibility into the sales cycle to create content that increases buyer engagement and motivates buyers to make a purchase. 

Furthermore, sales enablement is key to helping reps move buyers through the sales cycle quickly. For example, sales enablement could review data and realize that buyers are not responding as well to sales decks as they are to product videos. The sales enablement team could then share this information with both the sales and marketing teams, and work towards a solution to improve the content and how it’s used. 

What is Sales Operations?

Sales operations focuses on the day-to-day work processes and systems used by the sales team. Everything from optimizing the CRM system to analyzing the team’s performance data is a part of sales operations. Sales ops strategically align reps with their technology solutions to ensure each step of the sales process is functioning as strongly as efficiently as possible.  

For example, sales operations may identify that reps spend a vast amount of time manually inputting data into the CRM. In order to give reps back some of their time, sales ops can automate this task. CRM automation can notify reps of new MQLs, sync contact data into the CRM, and more, eliminating the need for reps to spend hours mindlessly copy/pasting. When reps only spend around 37% of their time selling, any time they can get back makes a huge difference. 

Sales Enablement vs. Sales Operations: How Do They Differ?

While sales enablement and sales ops have the same end goal of increasing sales productivity, they carry out their roles very differently. Sales enablement supports the sales team with the content and tech solutions they need to engage buyers and accelerate deals through the sales cycle. Operations, on the other hand, works with the technical, day-to-day processes of the sales team to identify and solve inefficiencies.

1. The Respective Roles: 

Sales enablement focuses on ensuring reps have the tools and resources they need at their fingertips to help buyers reach an informed, confident purchase decision. This helps reps prepare to close the deal when communicating with buyers. Operations focuses on how efficiently the deal is closed and how well daily functions operate. 

2. Their Respective Team Goals:

When setting goals, sales enablement primarily focuses on equipping sales reps with the tools and resources they need to sell more effectively. For instance, sales enablement may help to better structure and organize the content reps share with buyers so they can locate resources quickly. Sales enablement could also mean creating a new training program to better inform reps on how to best utilize new tech solutions. Enablement goals are centered around providing the right tools and resources that enable reps to thrive while making sure reps know how to best utilize those resources in their day-to-day. 

Operations also focuses on data when setting goals, but looks at the actual sales process rather than on content performance. To ensure things run smoothly, sales operations sets goals based on data that tracks overall performance. This includes tracking KPIs like win rate, sales cycle length, lead response time, and more. 

3. Their Respective Tech Stack Responsibilities

Both sales enablement and sales operations use tech to accomplish their goals. The two, however, often use it in different ways. Sales enablement uses tech to identify content performance strengths. Sales enablement also looks for the latest technologies that sales reps can leverage as a tool, like a new CRM, content organization platform, or more, and proposes adding these solutions into the tech stack to empower reps. 

Once sales enablement has located a new tech solution, sales operations ensures the tech is running smoothly and performing its intended job. For example, enablement may suggest Highspot as a content management solution to help reps better manage their client relationships and provide the right content at the right time. Once the tech is in place, sales ops optimizes those technologies while elevating adoption, usage, and overall strategies to ensure sales reps are leveraging tools effectively to perform at their best and hit their goals.

Why Is It Essential for Sales Enablement and Sales Operations to Work Together?

Although separate, sales enablement and sales operations both function more effectively when aligned. Sales ops finds ways to optimize the tools and tech reps use to enhance efficiency. And, sales enablement unlocks sales rep effectiveness in buyer interactions. So, when the two work towards improving sales performance together it’s common to experience impactful improvements to productivity and efficiency.

For example, sales enablement and sales ops may take a look at KPIs together to evaluate the team’s current productivity levels. If productivity is low, sales ops may decide to implement a new tech solution to help reps better manage their time and customer base. Once implemented, sales enablement would help train reps on how to use the new tech to its fullest potential.  

Final Thoughts

Sales enablement and sales operations are two key functions dedicated to strengthening sales performance. The two work in tandem to ensure reps are not only meeting goals but are best equipped to achieve them. 

Are you well on your way in your sales enablement journey but interested in learning more about sales operations and how to strengthen your sales team? Download our white paper, Optimizing Sales Operations for Next-Level Revenue Growth.