At OutsideIn View Jennifer Doctor asked "how do product marketing professionals, ensure that our sales team is effective and ready to sell our new products and have well designed sales tools aligned to the ever-changing sales cycle?"
She describes the sales enablement function in an organization as providing "information, tools and technology that helps sales to succeed", and asks "who is better suited in the organization to understand the changing buyerâs cycle than product marketing?".
Where does it fit?
Jennifer Doctor is a product management person, so her leaning is that way. She asks the question rhetorically but I'm not sure that the answer is so obvious.
I agree in a sense with her observations about why it would not be Sales:
Would you expect sales to understand rapidly changing market dynamics? Usually sales is in repetitive motion and has difficulty with change.
But on the one hand Sales are the only people connected to the actual benefits and VALUE for a client, no matter how clever the persona development. (For more on this see The Value of Hutch Carpenter's Customer Feedback Innovation Model.)
On the other hand the Marketing people can only be connected to features and advantages. The advantages relate to the persona e.g. different features become different advantages for different persona.
I would have thought that among the Sales teams that the best of them would be acutely aware of the buyer's search for value, and the trends and dynamics influencing that over time. They would be the ones bringing back that information to the product development and product marketing people, would they not?
In fact the best that the product development people can do is background analysis and research including with social media, to determine trends and needs. That is, unless they talk to customers, and presumably they do that in tandem with their key sales people?
Sales enablement more informed by Sales
My conclusion is that there is a role for coordination of "sales enablement" as you call it. But that role is informed by Sales more so than product marketing, but in any case has multiple informed inputs. And where it actually lies in the oganisation can be wherever it works best, whether Sales, Marketing or elsewhere.
(To be fair, my headline is only being provocative, as sales enablement could well be in Marketing, and in fact Jennifer Doctor also says it could be anywhere, but makes a case for product marketing.)
Where do you think Sales Enablement best fits?
How is Sales Enablement best informed - through Sales or Marketing?
Can Marketing understand benefits and value, or is this only Sales?