What are the differences between Sales Enablement, Sales Operations and Growth Enablement?

What you will read in this article
Sales Enablement

Let’s explore the similarities and differences between Sales Enablement and related concepts such as Sales Operations and Growth Enablement.

The complementary relationship between Sales Enablement and Sales Operations

Research on management science and global business performance rarely mentions the managerial concepts that emerged post-2000. Take Sales Enablement, for example. The concept is sometimes referred to by other names such as Revenue Enablement or Sales Operations, which may not do it justice. The first term is too “generic”, while the second is too simplistic.

Sales Enablement and Sales operations share some similarities

Sales Enablement and Sales Operations are sometimes used interchangeably in companies that are not yet familiar with the concept of sales enablement. In fact, the two functions share a number of similarities:

  • First of all, they address the sales function as a whole;
  • Furthermore, they are both supervised by the Sales Director;
  • These two functions also pursue the same objective, which is to improve the company’s business performance.

Operational, tactical or strategic?

Let’s look at the definitions of each function to better identify the key differences:

  • Sales Enablement is a strategic approach that seeks to align Sales and Marketing to maximize sales performance and help the company achieve its full growth potential. Sales Enablement provides sales teams with integrated content, training and coaching services powered by technology.
  • Sales Operations are the daily tasks related to the sales department. This includes cold calling, CRM management, meetings, etc. In other words, it involves all the operational tasks that drive the sales representative’s daily life.

The following table summarizes the main differences between Sales Enablement and Sales Operations.

 Sales OperationsSales Enablement
TypeOperationalTactical and strategic
ScopeSalespeople, individuallySales and Marketing
Examples of specific tasksDefine individual sales quotas based on a global objective, CRM management, gathering KPIs, finding the best operational practices, day-to-day management of the sales force, “micro-coaching”, etc.Collaborative content design between Sales and Marketing, implementing tools and processes to prepare sales meetings, analyzing and understanding buyer behavior, generalizing best practices, etc.

Sales Enablement, a (key) component of Growth Enablement

A brief history of Sales Enablement

At the end of the 1990s, many performance management consulting firms started reporting a problem within the sales function.

The computerization of business had not yielded the expected results, often leading to double work with both manual and computerized entries. This lack of effectiveness and efficiency was not limited to one particular industry. It grew exponentially as the company expanded (more customers, more salespeople, more data entries, sales and marketing misalignment, etc.). As a result, companies were experiencing exponential hidden costs affecting their growth potential.

This is why former Brand Manager John Aiello and telecom consultant Drew Larsen laid the foundation for Sales Enablement. They wanted to organize, optimize, and streamline the efforts of salespeople to eliminate leakage, hidden costs, and lost revenue. A few pioneering and innovative companies started to adopt Sales Enablement in the second half of the 2000s. It was only in the 2010s that Sales Enablement made its way beyond the US, before Touch & Sell brought it to France in 2012.

Growth Enablement expands the scope of Sales Enablement

The unbridled digitalization, the spread of Data and the transformation of B2B buying behaviors have brought companies to realize that growth involves everyone, not just the sales function. By focusing exclusively on the sales department and its micro-environment (marketing in particular), Sales Enablement alone does not activate the company’s full growth potential.

This was first echoed by studies from Gartner. Doug Bushée, Gartner’s Senior Director Analyst, explains, “CEOs and chief sales officers recognize that functional silos handing off clients from one function to the other, and using different technologies, people and processes, are a barrier to revenue growth. As a result, progressive organizations are beginning to align sales, marketing and customer success technology, data and KPIs to provide an end to end view of the revenue-generating engine. The shift to a more end-to-end revenue operations view means enablement leaders should provide enablement support not only to the frontline sales force, but to other revenue generation roles found in marketing, sales and customer success.”

This brings us to our definition of Growth Enablement, which is a set of processes, techniques, tools and resources deployed by companies to align people, processes and technology. The idea is to put sales people (Sales Enablement), marketing teams and the rest of the workforce in the best possible position to drive or accelerate growth.

Touch & Sell, the French leader in Growth Enablement

The Touch & Sell approach of Growth Enablement results into concrete results with an excellent ROI:

  • 95% of salespeople adopted our Growth Enablement platform within the first month of use;
  • A 20% surge in revenue within the first 6 months;
  • Employee onboarding becomes twice as fast;
  • A year’s worth of man-days saved on document search.