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Sales Enablement Best Practices: Sales Process is the Foundation

TOPO recently completed its 2016 Best Practices in Sales Enablement note. The research includes the study of over 55 high growth B2B organizations. The focus of the research was to understand best practices and processes for delivering world class sales enablement.

Below are some of the key takeaways from the report. If you would like access to the full Best Practices in Sales Enablement research note, contact TOPO for more information on becoming a member of our Sales Practice.

Sales leaders agree that enablement is a high priority but believe their execution is average

According to TOPO’s research, sales leaders believe that sales enablement is a top priority. This represents a significant change from several years ago when many organizations were struggling to define sales enablement and whether to invest in sales enablement as a specific function. Today, they place high importance on sales enablement including sales training, coaching, content delivery, and enablement technology.

However, these same sales leaders rate their enablement effectiveness as average at best. Sales enablement effectiveness clearly lags behind its importance. The irony is that sales leaders know enablement is critical but despite this commitment, simply cannot deliver world-class sales enablement at scale.

The sales process is the foundation of sales enablement success

TOPO’s research has found that companies with a well-defined and standardized sales process deliver faster onboarding and ramp times. Their sales reps know what to do, when to do it and the reasons why.

What was more significant is what TOPO found at the highest growth organizations. For the highest growth organizations, the sales process is the foundation for their success. They tie their sales enablement activities including skills development, content and technology to the context of their sales process. For example, instead of delivering horizontal sales training where reps must apply what they learned afterwards on their own, they deliver training within the context of specific sales stages and plays so that reps can immediately apply and perfect those skills.

The first step in delivering world-class sales enablement is to build a well-defined sales process. Once that is complete, sales enablement infrastructure can be created.

Sales Process-Driven Enablement Framework

Sales Enablement Framework

Resting on top of the sales process are three core pillars: skills development, content and technology.  

Skills development provides the training, coaching and materials for sales reps to execute
TOPO’s research found that over the next 6-9 months, nearly 60% of companies will invest the majority of their enablement resources in skills development. The ideal skills development program has 5 key elements tied to each play in the sales process:

  • Best practices – Most effective methods for execution
  • Tools – Resources sales reps can use to execute a specific sales play (e.g. scripts)
  • Examples – Opportunities to experience best in-class execution
  • Exercises – Activities to apply learning and receive coaching
  • Certifications – Graded activities that verify a rep’s ability to perform

Content enablement provides sales the ability to deliver relevant content at every step of the process
Less than 25% of companies map their sales content to their overall sales process. Truly enabling sales to deliver the right content at the right time means mapping content to each step in the sales process. Within each step, organizations should provide their sales reps with three core pieces of content:

  • Core content – standardized content delivered every time the play is executed
  • Roadblock content – content designed to overcome common buyer roadblocks
  • Key question content – content that answer to common customer questions

The emerging sales enablement technology stack allows companies to deliver skills development and content in real-time and at scale
The sales enablement stack is seeking to solve the biggest issue for most sales leaders: the amount of resources required to deliver consistent, scalable global enablement.  The stack is still developing but we found 3 core segments:

  • Sales enablement automation – Automation to manage and track self-service training curriculum
  • Knowledge sharing applications – Real time knowledge sharing
  • Sales content applications  – Easily find, deliver, and track effectiveness of sales content

Analysts are also monitoring call recording analysis applications as sales and SDR leaders have begun reporting initial interest in this segment.


If you would like access to the TOPO Best Practices in Sales Enablement Report, contact TOPO for more information on becoming a member of the Sales Practice.


About the Author: Robert Koehler, Senior Analyst, Sales Practice, TOPO

Robert Koehler is the Senior Analyst for the TOPO Sales Practice. He develops best practice sales frameworks and actionable research that helps clients cultivate world-class sales organizations. He has over 25 years of sales, marketing and sales effectiveness experience. Prior to TOPO, Robert held sales consulting and sales effectiveness roles at LinkedIn, IBM, and HP

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