We are hearing more about sales enablement as we emerge from isolation and get back to normal business. But what is sales enablement? For professionals outside of the sales and marketing professions this may be a new term, but it is one that is vitally important to success as we move forward. It is also important for learning and development professionals to understand the concept and the scope of sales enablement.

Sales enablement involves a number of elements, both tactical and strategic. The one that most people will think of first has to do with getting needed resources to your organization’s sales team so that they can close more deals. That means business intelligence, leads, slide decks, samples, and a team with a plan. But there’s more. Sales enablement also ensures that customers and prospective buyers have the information and other support they need in order to buy. That may sound like marketing, but… there’s more. Sales enablement is cross-functional and “resources” include everything in the kit: content, tools, technology, CRM and reports, training and skills, research, campaign planning, and more.

Where does L&D fit in?

The sales enablement system and the way the elements fit together will vary according to the industry and the organization, so there won't be a "standard" way that fits everywhere. However, the fundamental elements that the sales team and the other functions need for success fall into the same general categories that have always existed within learning and development, from onboarding to strategic levels.


  • A well-understood "pipeline" process that organizes the flow and events of selling
  • Understanding of the concept of "qualification"
  • Selling skills (virtual and in-person)
    • The skill needed to qualify a prospect or prospective account
    • The ability (understanding and skill) needed to identify and deal with obstacles (mainly objections and competitors) to closing a sale
  • The resources and materials needed to support each of the elements
  • Technology-related skills
  • The skill needed to close a sale


  • Campaign planning
  • Product/services/offerings knowledge
  • Channel partner training and support
  • Use of CRM system(s)

Resources for sales enablement

For L&D, much of this is handled through onboarding, coaching, sales training, and software training. In the present setting where things must be done at a distance, we have a lot of technology to support all of these elements.

Scenario-based training and simulations

The overall approach and some of the tools have been described in Learning Solutions articles. Short sims are a specific approach that can be developed quickly.

Product knowledge training

There are a number of apps and other software that will improve the level of knowledge among the sales teams, making them more effective, more efficient, more responsive, and better at increasing customer satisfaction. Product knowledge training has been deployed across most sectors, especially banking, pharma, financial services, and technology companies. It is also used in sales onboarding to help bring sales teams up to speed quickly and to reduce time to revenue.

Advanced approaches to learning

Spaced repetition is also an excellent approach to learning, and there are apps and software for that. Most are more for use by individuals than by L&D, but they are effective. In addition, note-taking apps are worth considering for use.

Gamification and microlearning are also extremely useful for sales training as a remote application. Learning Solutions has published several articles on these applications.

Priorities for 2021

In 2021, sales enablement must be supported by L&D as well as by sales leadership. Product knowledge training and onboarding are truly vital pieces, although they take more time to implement and need more attention from leadership. Spaced repetition, gamification, and microlearning require development time and are relatively new approaches, so L&D will have more work to do to implement them. But the good news is that they are lasting additions to the catalog of ways to get the job done.