The Truth About Sales and Buyer Enablement: What’s the Better Strategy?

There was a time when everything you knew about a product came from one source: the seller. Before the advent of the Internet, sales reps held all the product or service information and, therefore, all the power. To close a deal, the salesperson only needed to convince the buyer of the merits of their product. Today, the sales representative plays a different yet still challenging role. In the world of sales enablement and buyer enablement, their primary role is to establish relationships and anticipate needs.

Sales and Buyer Enablement in the Modern Sales Era

The Internet has upended how products are sold. With information at the ready, buyers can do their own research on a product or service. Primary product details, customer reviews, competitor products or pricing—it’s all easily accessible. As a result, the power has shifted from sellers to buyers.

This shift has led companies to change their tactics. Rather than focusing solely on sales enablement, which helps sellers sell, businesses are also emphasizing buyer enablement. By providing shoppers with the advice and support they need to make a sound decision, the buying process becomes easier to navigate and complete.

But is buyer enablement the right strategy? And, does sales enablement even matter anymore? Let’s break down both strategies so you can decide which is better for your business. (Spoiler: It’s likely a bit of both.)

What Is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement versus buyer enablement. Are they the same?
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Even with the modernization of the sales process, the salesperson remains a crucial part of the equation. The role hasn’t disappeared; rather, it has evolved. But before we define that new role and what sales enablement is, let’s look back at how the sales process has changed.

With information now freely available online, the advantages of having a knowledgeable salesperson have diminished. Instead of calling a sales rep first, buyers now call near the end of the sales cycle, when they’re ready to make a purchase and just need to validate their choices.  

In addition, the modern buyer is usually a committee instead of a single person. Research from the Gartner Group shows a typical company involves six to 10 people in buying decisions. For the salesperson, this means a decision won’t likely happen during a pitch. Instead, the committee takes time to deliberate the pros and cons of each vendor. This inevitably means the decision-making period is longer than usual.

Up-to-date and complete information about a product can help the buyer committee reach a consensus faster. Sales enablement gives the sales team the tools and resources it needs to supply crucial information to its customers. More specifically, sales enablement doesn’t just cover the actual content shared with buyers; the process also includes developing the skills to deliver content. As such, sales enablement includes the training and development resources needed by sales to enhance their interaction methods with customers.

Tools That Support Sales Enablement

Sales enablement keeps the seller relevant to any buyer discussions. Having the right tools produces content that helps salespeople keep the conversation flowing.

Some might point out that sales teams already have the means to produce materials and content that buyers can consume. However, sales enablement is more than just production. It also provides ways to update content or make relevant changes. After all, not all customers have the same exact concerns. This necessitates tweaking the focus of the content to what specific buyers need.  

Modern sales also require a heightened sense of dynamism when it comes to information. Outdated, wrong or inaccurate data can instantly spell doom when closing deals. In effect, sales enablement ensures the sales team holds the resources needed to consistently provide clients with helpful, relevant and updated information on demand.  

Below are some of the more common tools used in sales enablement. While the ideal setup is to employ all these software types, you may find that simply combining one or two with your current tools is enough to meet your needs.

Sales Engagement

To track and monitor individual conversations with customers, companies need a sales engagement platform. Integrated with communication and engagement platforms such as email, chat, voice calls and social media channels, the sales engagement platform acts as the central exchange system where all information gets organized. While the sales engagement software doesn’t generate leads, it does allow salespeople to communicate with customers and prospects in a centralized, timely and organized manner.  

Sales Productivity  

This type of software provides salespeople with much-needed relief from time-consuming administrative and clerical functions. Unlike sales engagement platforms, sales productivity tools allow sales representatives to automate common daily tasks such as scheduling, document signing, sending out proposals and data updates. Technically, software used to create proposals and presentations can also be considered sales productivity software.

Sales Management

The sales management tool allows supervisors, managers and executives to monitor their sales teams’ performances in the field. Using this platform, a manager can track a sales rep’s whereabouts and monitor the activities made during the day. This way, leaders can analyze a salesperson’s movements and see if they follow the most efficient way of managing their customers. As such, they can make timely interventions and provide the needed coaching to bump up their team’s odds of closing more deals.  

Sales Intelligence

Basically, sales intelligence (SI) software provides teams with information that can help improve their win shares. As long as the information delivered can help a salesperson close more deals, then the platform can be considered sales intelligence software.

Typical information provided by sales intelligence includes competitor reports, market status in general and overall market research. It can also include sales data collected from customer relationship management (CRM) software. Resourceful salespersons will channel the information gleaned from SI reports into actionable responses.  

Sales Analytics

Meanwhile, sales analytics software picks up where SI software stops. It crunches the huge amounts of data collected from customers and transactions to find and establish patterns and behaviors. Analytics can help sales teams see if they’re spending too much time or money on one client rather than spreading their resources evenly to others. It can also determine whether teams are focusing on the right market for maximum results.

Customer Relationship Management

CRM software builds on sales engagement by managing customer information to establish improved relationships. Think of it as a consolidated platform that’s integrated with customer service tools. This lets a company gather the most comprehensive data about buyers from various channels and sources.

In addition to managing customer data, CRM helps identify new sales opportunities and boost existing ones. It also monitors customer service performance for individual clients. Using CRM can help declutter an organization and remove the need for multiple separate tools. This means improved efficiency and organization when handling customer data.  

Content Creation Software

Content creation software allows the organization to create the content prospects need to make their purchase decisions. Such content can include anything from blog posts and video demonstrations to supplemental marketing materials.

When developed and curated according to market research, a well-timed content post can sway a buyer’s decision in favor of the creator. That’s why it’s important for sales teams to have the ability to react swiftly to market developments and produce content on the fly. Even something as simple as making a holiday post or jumping onto a trend can add relevance to a brand.  

Presentation Software

Similar to content creation software, presentation software creates content. However, presentation software generally caters to individual material that’s targeted to specific customers. Among the programs available, interactive presentation software provides the needed tools to create engaging and compelling proposals that can help create a lasting impression.  

Content Management Systems

When producing content, it pays to have a system where other members can provide comments or suggestions for improvement. When accessing the needed content, it also pays for salespeople to have a trusted repository for these materials that they can access easily. This is what makes a content management system (CMS) crucial for companies.

CMS platforms allow for remote collaboration across organizations so they can perform peer reviews or spot checks. They also let sales teams instantly access materials during their client visits and share the content.  

Training and Learning Solutions

The entire sales enablement process won’t amount to anything if the sales team doesn’t know how to access or use these tools. This is why it’s important to include training and learning solutions when assembling your array of sales enablement tools. Proper training gives your sales team a better grasp of the tools it needs to provide clients with useful information and content. Additionally, learning solutions can also remain on standby in case individual members need refresher courses or additional training.

When Using Sales Enablement Tools

Ultimately, the purpose of sales enablement (and buyer enablement) is to promote the conditions that make buyers receptive to your solutions. Using sales enablement tools effectively requires an understanding of how to utilize them properly to generate maximum results.

For example, anybody can create content like how-to guides and themed marketing campaigns. However, it takes careful study and attention to detail to ensure the output resonates with the intended audience. Sometimes, poor choice of wording or a desire to get edgy or trendy can backfire.

It takes more than tools to communicate with your audience. Make sure you don’t cut corners when it comes to research, audience feedback and passing the eye test.

How to Develop an Effective Sales Enablement Strategy

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Implementing a sales enablement strategy will likely be an adjustment for your organization in terms of process, learning and technology. In fact, it’s crucial to identify and remove any source of friction within the sales process to make the customer experience smoother. Don’t worry—the work will be worth it.

A sound sales enablement strategy lets you create engaging content that jump-starts the sales process. It also gives your sales team the means to track engagement to see how the audience is responding to current content and campaigns. If the response is negative, your strategy gives you the nimbleness to swiftly change directions. Therefore, the person in charge of implementing sales enablement should be adaptable, empathetic and a critical thinker.

Before You Create a Sales Enablement Strategy

There are a few tasks to cover before taking the first step in creating a sales enablement strategy:

Lay Out a Foundation That Supports Sales Enablement

Conduct a review to see if your organization in its current form can support sales enablement. This is a good opportunity to learn more about how your company functions as a unit and find out if it can currently support sales enablement. If the answer is no, make the necessary changes.  

Close Gaps That Can Prevent Sales Enablement

Once you identify processes that can potentially prevent you from implementing a sales enablement strategy, start closing the gaps. Update your organizational chart and note each person’s responsibility in improving the sales process.

Additionally, remove or veto any existing practices that prevent different groups from collaborating with each other. Instead, introduce a culture of transparency and inter-networking.  

Harness the Right Technology to Further Your Plans

Take stock of outdated systems (especially software) that might need upgrades to make your firm sales enablement-ready. This might mean integrating previously independent systems by installing integrated solutions such as CRMs and sales management software.  

More importantly, assess whether the different software platforms used within the company work with each other. If they don’t, you might want to consider options with better and tighter integration.  

7 Steps to Creating a Sales Enablement Strategy

Take these steps to create a strong sales enablement strategy for your organization:  

1. Identify and Fill Up Leadership Positions

For sales enablement to work, you’ll need to deputize a few leaders who can ensure the adopted strategy gets implemented and followed. Chief among these leaders is the sales enablement head, who’s responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the overall strategy. Ideally, a group leader should be assigned to every department (marketing, sales, customer service and logistics) to act as the point person.

2. Encourage Collaboration Among Groups

As sales enablement is all about working together, the organization will need to revisit internal guidelines on inter-department relationships. In addition to implementing policies encouraging collaboration, the organization must also act tough against individuals who have shown resistance to collaborating with others.  

3. Define Each Group’s Sales Enablement Responsibilities

When it comes to assigning responsibilities, each department should have its roles spelled out completely. While sales is ultimately the internal recipient of any sales enablement content effort, the entire company remains responsible for its creation and upkeep. For example, marketing and customer service will supply the information needed when developing sales and marketing materials like technical specifications, guides, scripts and social posts.

4. Share the Goals and Establish KPIs

Once you have a concrete strategy drawn up, make sure everybody gets a copy and understands the goals. The ultimate objective of disseminating the strategy is to secure buy-in from all involved parties.

At the same time, it’s best to share the strategy’s key performance indicator (KPI) targets so stakeholders know what to expect. Establishing benchmarks gives them baseline expectations that can help them prepare for the entire implementation.

5. Define Procedures and Establish Monitoring Systems

While different departments have their own processes and workflows, the sales enablement strategy should have clearly defined processes to ensure all teams work cohesively. Specifically, leaders should impose guidelines for creating content, training enablers and storing and accessing materials.

At the same time, those overseeing sales enablement should also establish monitoring systems to ensure compliance with guidelines and standards. This will also help track where each group stands in terms of KPI accomplishment.

6. Apply Technology Solutions

Once the guidelines and processes are in place, it’s time to provide sales enablement teams with the tools they need. Expanding access to tools such as CRM and CMS to other stakeholders can improve information sharing across the organization.

One way to improve cross-department collaboration is to ensure the company uses software that integrates well with other company platforms. Choosing platforms with application programming interface (API) solutions or getting all-in-one enterprise programs can improve collaboration immensely.

In addition, the sales enablement team should determine whether the frontline technology solutions actually help clients. If customers don’t benefit from the sales enablement program, then it can’t be successful.

7. Align Sales and Marketing Objectives

Finally, all these efforts will go nowhere if you leave marketing and sales free to pursue their own objectives. Instead, take the time to align sales and marketing objectives so both parties benefit from the collective success. One way to ensure this happens is to align marketing and sales incentives. For example, if sales exceed revenues because of marketing’s timely deployment of certain content, then marketing should receive similar incentives for their delivery.

Although this is a sales enablement strategy, you should never focus solely on the sales department. Doing so will alienate other teams and make them feel apathetic toward goals. Similarly, making departments compete for the same incentives despite different responsibilities will backfire badly and erode communication and trust.

What Is Buyer Enablement?

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Now that we’ve covered sales enablement, let’s move on to buyer enablement. To begin, we’ll need to examine the limitations of even the most successful sales enablement programs.

By combining the efforts of sales, marketing and customer service, sales enablement equips the sales team with information to engage customers. However, the decision to purchase will still rest on the buyer. In the case of B2B businesses, the buyer is often a committee.

With typical B2B sales cycles taking months, a salesperson faces little chance of closing a sale at the end of a pitch. Instead, the buyer will likely convene its committee to deliberate the merits of the proposed solution and come back when they’ve made a decision. This independence—coupled with the widespread information on the Internet—reduces the sellers’ influence. At this point, the seller has likely exhausted their arsenal of sales enablement tools during previous interactions with the buyers.

In this case, it’s now time to explore the other side of enablement: buyer enablement. Unlike sales enablement, buyer enablement provides resources to the buyer directly so they can discover a product’s advantages on their own. This empowers buyers to make informed decisions.

The Changing Sales Environment

Buyer enablement is also a result of a changing sales environment. At this point, the majority of B2B buyers are millennials joined by a spattering of Gen Z workers. Millennials spent their adolescent years as Internet technology was becoming popular, while Gen Z workers are fully digital natives. Their exposure to the Internet gave them unprecedented access to information.

As buyers, these digital workers have never had to wait for sales reps to provide information on products and solutions. Instead, they simply whip out their smartphones and look up the information. They visit the company web page, check out review sites and search for recommendations that include the product. They also look at competing brands and make comparisons.

By the time they contact a company sales rep, these buyers already have an idea of what the product can do and what people think about it. In most cases, they also have an idea of who the manufacturer is and what they stand for.

Buyer Enablement Fits the Changing Role of the Salesperson

Given the changing sales environment, the role of the salesperson also had to change. While they remain the authority for the products they represent, buyers prefer getting input from other sources such as competitors and fellow users and then making up their own minds.

Sure, they’ll need information from sales reps about technical specifications, minimum order quantities and prices. Ultimately, though, they want to collectively weigh their choices and come up with their own decision.  

Instead of merely pushing a product to buyers, the intrepid salesperson has learned to champion the buyer’s cause. By learning more about the customer’s specific needs, they can gently prod a customer to discover for themselves that the solution to their particular need lies in what the seller offers.

So, What Is Buyer Enablement?  

The simplest definition of buyer enablement captures its full essence. If sales enablement helps sellers sell, buyer enablement helps buyers buy. Rather than having a salesperson on standby to provide the information a buyer needs, buyer enablement eases the sales journey altogether.

Instead of using sales enablement tools, the salesperson utilizes buyer enablement to help the buyer discover their product. While this may sound counterproductive, it gives the buyer what they want: the opportunity to arrive at their own conclusion. The seller prepares all the steps and provides the necessary information beforehand. They also make sure all the information is accurate, updated and readily available.

Buyer enablement also means the salesperson ditches their traditional role. Instead of championing their products, sellers now become trusted advisers that help buyers arrive at solutions. Instead of hawking the product’s features and benefits, the seller learns more about the buyer’s specific pain points and suggests possible fixes. This requires the seller to exercise a lot of empathy.

Similar to sales enablement, creating content remains the essential piece of this strategy. Buyer enablement means sellers help buyers navigate the maze of information available so they can find the right solution. The salesperson goes beyond the product and becomes a subject matter expert. If the buyer actively engages with the seller-turned-adviser, they soon become champions of the brand.

Tools That Support Buyer Enablement

Implementing a buyer enablement strategy requires tools as well. In most cases, the same set of sales enablement tools such as sales management, CRM, productivity intelligence and analytics software can be used for buyer enablement.  

Marketing Software

CRM and marketing software in particular can help sellers create more detailed profiles of their customers. CRM platforms, for instance, contain a virtual treasure trove of data pertaining to customer needs. Meanwhile, marketing software, including automation software for campaign creation, execution and tracking, can provide support when a buyer needs it. Sales enablement platforms can also help by making multiple channels available for customers to start conversations.


When discussing buyer problems and solutions, having the right presentation software matters as well. Interactive presentations that show how much you know about your customers’ problems can solidify your authority position. Showing how your products actually solve problems is much more engaging than presenting customers with pages of features and specifications.

Self-Help Tools

Finally, providing buyers with lots of self-help tools can help them reach a solution without compromising their independence. Diagnostics and online assessment tests can pinpoint specific problems they’re experiencing. Online calculators can provide quick cost or savings estimates of your solutions. Tutorials, how-to guides and video testimonials can connect buyers to other users who found help with your products.

How to Develop an Effective Buyer Enablement Strategy

To understand a buyer’s particular needs, the seller should put themselves in the buyer’s shoes. Forget about pushing your product and focus instead on what solutions the buyer needs at the moment. Master this, and you have the foundation of an effective buyer enablement strategy. Follow these steps to round it out:

1. Think Like a Customer

It’s time to think like a customer to find out what they really want. Shoehorning a product that offers an all-in-one solution to address a specific problem isn’t the way to convince the modern buyer. Instead, they prefer to talk to someone who understands their problems above everything else. For these buyers, as soon as they find the solution that fits their needs perfectly, price and other issues become secondary.  

2. Simplify Their Journey

The buyer’s journey is already complicated. Especially for large industrial items, the sales cycle can take weeks if not months.

Buyers also have to consult among themselves before settling on a seller. In between, they go back and forth looking for information that can help them make a decision. In many cases, they’ll return to a site to revisit updated data just to make sure they have the right information.

As a seller, you should make it easier for buyers to access what they need. Simplifying their sales journey by making information, tools and resources available can benefit your efforts in the long run.  

3. Develop Buyer Enablement Content

When creating content, sellers should look beyond materials where the product is placed front and center. Buyers actively look for and appreciate content that talks about their specific problems. That’s why creating buyer enablement content such as how-to guides and problem-solving scenarios is becoming popular. Providing these types of content can draw straight lines from their problems to your solutions.

4. Turn Your Buyer Into a Brand Champion

Projecting an expert image complete with knowing buyers’ problems and speaking their language can help you establish trust. Actively engaging the customer to look for solutions can make them realize your solutions are their best options. Once this happens, the buyer will likely champion your brand personally during buyer committee deliberations. At a minimum, this ensures your product ends up for consideration.

Is There a Difference Between Sales and Buyer Enablement Content?

Buyer enablement and sales enablement are basically two sides of the same coin. They both require a deeper understanding of customers, just from different perspectives. As the name implies, buyer enablement helps buyers make up their minds. Meanwhile, sales enablement allows sellers to close the deal.

In some cases, a single piece of content can be classified as a buyer enablement tool and a sales enablement tool at the same time. It’s a matter of who’s getting value out of the particular content that makes the difference. This requires you to know the stages of your customer’s purchase journey as well as the various information needed during every stage. As a result, the art of sales transforms from selling a product into nurturing a relationship with customers.

This brings us to the question, is there a difference between buyer enablement content and sales enablement content? While the type of content is almost always the same, there are slight differences in terms of approach and execution.

Sales Enablement Content

Content produced for sales enablement aims to follow buyers as they navigate the sales journey. This means they’re testing the waters to determine whether the product fits their minimum requirements. In addition, the buying process within their organization continues to shift. As a result, sales teams should be ready to keep up with the changes in the buyer’s requirements. They should have basic information and insights ready to provide to inquiring parties.

In short, buyers are sending feelers that they might be in the market for your offerings. Consequently, you should also share content that shows specifically how they could benefit by learning more about your solutions. Marketing collateral, introductory videos and technical specifications are some examples that can create an initial impact during this initial stage.

Buyer Enablement Content

Meanwhile, buyer enablement content becomes a necessity once buyers reach the crucial stage where they’re shortlisting their candidates. For them, it’s a matter of deliberating which solution provider truly understands their particular requirements and can supply the solutions they actually need. In effect, buyer enablement content should be relatable, authentic, credible and useful. It should inspire enough confidence in buyers that they would have no qualms about sharing it with others.  

For this reason, you should come out with buyer enablement content that makes the customer’s journey easier. Helpful DIY tools found on the website can help them make self-assessments and confirm you’re in tune with their needs. At the same time, producing content that focuses on solving problems similar to what buyers are facing can reinforce the fact that you have the solution in hand.

In addition, reviews and testimonials attesting to your capabilities can support your claims. With buyers in the stage where they’re validating offered solutions, detailed presentations that feature more problem-solving and fewer product features can also create a better impact.

Effective Content and Information Delivery Is Key

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Whatever strategy you plan to employ, you should remain aware that your competitors are thinking of doing the same thing. Apart from providing content that resonates with your target audience, you should also ensure buyers and prospects can find your information easily. At the same time, it pays not to overwhelm your audience by delivering key messages all at once.

Implementing a scalable content delivery system means packaging information into parts and delivering these parts to your customers in well-timed intervals. Using marketing software to deliver automated messaging can help you organize your messages sequentially.

With the sales journey divided into many stages (trigger, learn, try and buy), the buyer must receive the right message at the right stage. For this, it’s essential to have a content library in place that stores all the ready-made content. This way, content can be sent immediately to the intended audience as soon as it’s needed.

In Practice: Trigger-Learn-Try-Buy

Usually, a company CFO initiates the sales journey by stating a current problem requires a solution. So, they can appreciate relevant content during the Trigger and Buy stages. During the first stage, the CFO can get an idea of your solutions through initial marketing collateral and DIY-assessment tools found on the website. After the initial trigger sequence, they’ll only return to provide their approval during the Buy stage.

CFOs will leave the evaluations during the Learn and Try stages to managers and buyers. During these middle stages, buyer enablement content such as white papers, testimonials and how-to guides can influence their recommendations toward your product. A no-obligation trial version can also help sway their decision, especially if it actually shows your product’s effectiveness.

Once the journey reaches the Buy stage, the sellers should have relevant buyer enablement content ready. This includes an ROI calculator and benefits analysis for the CFO, technical evaluation results for the managers and onboarding samples for the buyers.  

Tips for Creating and Delivering Effective Content

When creating content, keep these guidelines in mind to ensure your content is understandable, compact and relevant:

Speak the Language

When thinking like a customer, it pays to speak their language. Go beyond your own jargon and talk to customers using terms they’ll have no trouble understanding and relating to. It’s not dumbing down content to appeal to the lowest denominator; rather, it’s making sure you speak the language used by your target audience.  

Remember the Modern Buyer

Always remember the modern buyer doesn’t want spoon-fed information. They have the capabilities and competence to conduct their own research and will actively do so, with or without your assistance. Instead of competing with your own customer, create content that guides them to the additional information you already have available.

Involve Marketing

This needs to be consistent throughout the content-creation process. To create buyer-centric content, you’ll need to involve your marketing team. Given its wealth of research and insights, it can produce content specific to each audience type as well as content dedicated to particular problems faced by customers. Whether it’s a blog post, a short 15-seconder or an informative YouTube video, marketing can also make sure content targets the right audience on the right channel.

Stay Consistent

When creating content, your guidelines should prescribe the type of content that suits the particular audience you have in mind. Stay within that persona in terms of language, tone, relevance and intent. Talking about solutions that don’t apply to certain personas can only lengthen the content and make it uninteresting. This is why, when developing content, it pays to stay consistent in all areas. This includes design and format as well.

Don’t Be Cute at This Point

At this stage, being cute is out of the question. Your content is directly targeted at customers eager to start exploring solutions to their problems. With a lengthy sales cycle ahead, this is not the time for jokes or trends. Instead, talk to your audience directly and provide the information they need in a clear and concise form.

For Sales or Buyer Enablement, Ingage Provides the Answer

When creating the ultimate client presentations, technical data papers or even simple marketing brochures, it pays to have reliable presentation software. Ingage is cloud-based interactive software that provides the tools to create dynamic presentations. Whether you’re developing sales enablement materials or buyer enablement content, use Ingage’s powerful features to create dynamic presentations every time.  

Learn more about how Ingage can create the content you need. Reach out today and we’ll gladly arrange a free demonstration.

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