Your sales team is too busy trying to win deals to tinker with the CRM. And with strict targets to hit, they have to keep their eyes on the prize.

That’s why many organizations have introduced two key roles to help your sales reps grow, improve, and operate with killer efficiency: sales operations and sales enablement.

But what’s the difference? And why does a business need both?

Let’s find out. 👇

What is sales operations?

Sales operations is the more administrative role. These are the folks choosing, maintaining, and managing the tools and processes your sales teams need to sell.

That’s right, the sales ops team doesn’t do any selling. Instead, they focus on the auxiliary actions and processes your salespeople need in place to sell as effectively as possible. Processes like:

  • Refining day-to-day sales techniques.
  • Hiring new sales reps.
  • Creating sales strategies.
  • Mapping the competitive landscape.
  • Tracking sales metrics and KPIs.
  • Creating incentives and compensation plans.

That’s a lot of responsibilities!

You’ll notice these relate to systems of selling. These systems and processes act as the tracks the sales train runs on. And it’s sales operations’ job to keep those tracks gleaming.

But there’s one huge responsibility we left out: managing the sales tech stack.

Remember, there’s a huge amount at stake in sales. And a lot of money involved. So businesses are willing to invest a lot in the tools that help win deals.

That’s why CRMs and other sales tools, including Salesforce and Hubspot, are so massive. With this amount of money changing hands, the tools grow.

Some of them grow so huge that sales representatives used to one sales platform will refuse a new role that requires them to use a different one.

Entire roles have grown around understanding, managing, and optimizing these tools. And sales ops is an example. They’ll build new dashboards and manage the tech that allows sales and enablement to work together to win deals.

Can the sales process be shorter or more efficient? Sales ops’ll work to shorten it.

Is there an automation tool out there that could help speed up the administrative workflow? Sales ops will choose, evaluate, and adopt the new tools, create sales training programs, and work to integrate them with existing systems.

In these ways, sales operations is more data & tech-driven than sales enablement.

Sales enablement manager guide: salary, key skills | CIA
Sales enablement sits right next to revenue. With so much opportunity to impact the bottom line, there’s some eyebrow-raising compensation attached to successful sales enablement positions, with the average sales enablement manager earning $120,000.

What is sales enablement?

Sales enablement is more people-driven and concerned with qualitative deliverables. Its function is to give sales teams content and material that helps them close deals.

Material such as:

But creating collateral for their sales representatives isn’t all sales enablement teams do.

Other responsibilities include:

  • Onboarding new hires.
  • Reporting on sales metrics.
  • Upskilling sales reps with L&D programs.
  • Implementing the sales methodologies sales ops creates.

In our train analogy, sales operations is responsible for the infrastructure and its upkeep. The sales representatives are the drivers, intensely focused on a single important job. Sales enablement supports salespeople while they get that job done.

This is often called ‘sales readiness’, and describes the sales enablement team’s responsibility to make sure reps have everything they need to maximize their win rates.

Sales enablement managers and staff also align sales and marketing teams. Both deliver enablement content for marketing, and help feed back competitive intelligence uncovered by sales reps to the marketing team.

In short, sales enablement comes down to improving buyer interactions with learning & content-based strategies that directly support the sales cycle.

Depending on the needs of the business, sales enablement could be just one individual in a dedicated role, or an entire team.

The difference between sales operations and sales enablement teams

So what’s the difference?

Sure, there’s some overlap, but here’s where they differ:

Sales operations is responsible for processes and systems. They’re the engineers working on the infrastructure and getting the trains to run on time. They’ll decide what roles need filling and what to train their people in.

Sales enablement supports those new hires and gets them the stuff they need to help do their one job: selling

Both roles will liaise with sales managers and report sales performance metrics to sales managers. And different employers might interpret the roles in different ways. So a job ad for a sales operations manager at one organization might include some of the same responsibilities as a sales enablement manager job ad at another.

Plus, each role might contribute towards the same end in different ways. While sales enablement pros head up training and development sessions for their sales reps, sales operations staff might be leveraging CRM data to identify areas where the whole team can improve. Both, in the end, are still contributing to sales success within the organization through identifying and executing on training initiatives.

How sales operations and sales enablement collaborate

So how do these two roles work together to improve sales success?

Imagine your sales reps are touring musicians. Sales operations gets them to the gig, books the flights and the hotels, manages the transport of the instruments and the rigging, determines how many crew members they’ll need. All that stuff.

Sales enablement works closely with the reps themselves, doing everything they can to ensure the show’s a success. They’ll give performance feedback, let them know what needs improving, and they’ll feed back what’s not working to sales operations.

Sales operations reps are the strategists. They create overarching sales objectives and strategies and ensure frameworks and processes are in place to make them possible.

Sales enablement helps the sales reps use the frameworks, tools, and strategies sales operations has created to reach their targets. They create content that can inform sales reps at a glance, and ensure this content is kept up to date with the latest competitive info and market intelligence so reps have the best possible shot at handling objections, steering conversations, and closing deals.

Ramp up your revenue

Interested in taking your revenue and sales teams to the next level?

Then it'll pay to take in the surroundings first. Download our Sales Enablement Landscape report now to learn:

  • The most effective sales enablement assets.
  • How companies organize their sales enablement efforts.
  • The best sales enablement tools on the market.

...and more. 🙇‍♂️

Sales Enablement Landscape Report Vol. 2 | CIA
Sales enablement forms a big part of most product marketers’ day-to-day, and we know this because of the 2,000+ PMMs who participated in this year’s State of Product Marketing report, almost three quarters (73.8%) said creating sales collateral made up part of their key responsibilities.