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A Detailed Overview of the Modern Sales Enablement Manager

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One of the many essential roles of any sales enablement team is that of the sales enablement manager. Due to their deep immersion in the day-to-day of revenue teams, sales enablement managers are critical in building support and momentum for some of the key initiatives that drive behaviors and results on the frontline.

Sales enablement managers are one of the core members of any successful enablement team as they are able to tactically execute project deliverables, ensuring that sales enablement efforts deliver on the strategic goals agreed upon with senior leaders. While a sales enablement manager on their own is not the sole solution to all of an organization’s woes when it comes to revenue growth, they are well-positioned to drive process efficiencies and improve revenue performance as an active member of the sales enablement team. (Learn about other key members of a sales enablement team here in the article, “Ideal Team Roles and Structures for Sales Enablement.”)

Whether you’re looking to learn more about the sales enablement manager role for your own personal professional development, or represent an organization that seeks to formalize its enablement function, here is a high-level overview of the sales enablement manager, including a detailed job description, the skills necessary for success, the most common career path, and compensation.

  • What is a sales enablement manager?
  • What’s a general sales enablement manager job description?
  • What makes a good sales enablement manager?
  • What is the average sales enablement manager salary?
  • What is the career path of a sales enablement manager?

What is a Sales Enablement Manager?

A sales enablement manager is a standard role within sales enablement teams, and is responsible for deploying programs and initiatives that enable customer-facing teams to execute the core-aspects of their jobs more effectively, especially as it relates to selling and revenue performance.

As can be common in many aspects of sales enablement, the precise role of the enablement manager and its accompanying responsibilities will vary from organization to organization. In fact, the title of the role isn’t static across organizations, and many of the initiatives and priorities of the sales enablement manager fit within the purview of these roles as well: revenue enablement manager, field enablement manager, and sales productivity manager.

What’s a General Sales Enablement Manager Job Description?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all job description for today’s sales enablement manager, but certain core aspects of the role can help ensure success. Here are some key responsibilities, qualifications, and necessary experience for the position:

Responsibilities

  • Oversee end-to-end performance: Managers are often responsible for looking after the development of current and new enablement initiatives. This may include the programmatic design of these programs, while eventually paving the way for their successful delivery to revenue teams. Sales enablement managers pay close attention to what works well and what doesn’t, with the goal of continuously optimizing existing approaches.
  • Facilitation of alignment: As many revenue-facing teams experience a natural gap between them, the sales enablement manager often serves as the connective tissue that holds them together. It is often the duty of the sales enablement manager to gather insights and collaborate with cross-functional teams in order to execute initiatives that improve upon existing sales processes, and ultimately align to broader company goals.
  • Evaluation of metrics and impact: Prudence in tracking sales enablement metrics and KPIs is vital to the growth and success of the sales enablement function they manage. Being able to demonstrate the business impact of their enablement efforts can lead to stakeholder buy-in and support for future endeavors, while also establishing trust between the revenue-facing teams they serve.

Qualifications & Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred, or equivalent experience
  • Experience in sales enablement, revenue-facing roles, sales training, or sales support, and a demonstrated knowledge of best practices, methodologies, and technologies in each of these areas
  • Measurable experience with having a positive impact on business outcomes, such as win rate, quota attainment, length of sales cycle, etc.
  • Experience in executing change management initiatives with established approaches
  • Involvement and participation in sales enablement groups or communities (ideal)

What Makes a Good Sales Enablement Manager?

A good sales enablement manager is a wearer-of-many hats, who often has a multidisciplinary skill-set as it relates to people, management, organization, and development. Here are some of the key hard and soft skills that contribute to an effective sales enablement manager.

Hard skills

  • Data-driven. Managers aren’t just responsible for deploying initiatives, but they must also evaluate the results of those initiatives in order to improve future iterations. For example, if an enablement manager is responsible for designing and implementing training programs, they should also examine which aspects of the program were effective in preparing revenue teams with the right skills and knowledge based on quantitative and qualitative data from various sources.

“My challenge to every sales enablement practitioner is starting to think about what are you working on, how are you prioritizing it, and how are you measuring success to make sure that data-driven enablement has a seat at the table and is a highly respected field,” said Kristen McCrae McMullan, worldwide sales enablement manager at Amazon Web Services.

  • Technologically-savvy. The majority of sales enablement teams utilize a platform to support their programs, in addition to using other tools such as a content management system (CMS) and CRM. Sales enablement managers should be masters of the tools in their tech stack, and be able to communicate their functionality while also designing initiatives that support their adoption and track their usage.
  • Project management. Any formal sales enablement function will be responsible for multiple projects and initiatives, and it’s up to sales enablement managers to oversee their execution. They should be adept at strategizing the initiatives that will have the highest impact given available resources, and be able to leverage their organizational skills in order to anticipate roadblocks, juggle priorities, and meet completion deadlines.
  • Deep knowledge of the buyer’s journey. As the marketplace continues to undergo a rapid digital transformation, it’s critical that sales enablement managers demonstrate a keen familiarity with the buyer’s journey as it evolves alongside the market. Managers should be able to prime revenue-facing teams for these changes, by providing them the necessary tools, knowledge, and content to meet and guide their end-customers throughout the various stages of their journey.

“The creation of content and the identification of messages are important, and now it’s really moving toward how you deliver it to the client across the journey,” said Nicole O’Brien, head of marketing at Tycko & Zavareei. “Within that, sales enablement has become really critical.”

Soft skills

  • Exceptional (and executive) communication. Since sales enablement plays such a connective role in many organizations, it’s vital for the enablement manager to possess deeply acute skills as a listener, speaker, writer, and presenter. The underlying ability for a manager to possess all or most of these authentically is invaluable for things like cross-functional collaboration, trust-building, and behavior change.

“A really simple [skill] I think is often overlooked is listening,” said Chris Kingman, director of international enablement at TransUnion. “You have to have good attention to detail in talking to your stakeholders internally. Listening isn’t necessarily a skill, so you have to develop it into active listening and that’s really just understanding what people say and retaining that information.”

  • Agile innovator. Sales enablement managers must not only be entrenched in understanding emergent trends, theories, and tools, but they should also be open to modifying their approaches based on the ever-changing sales enablement landscape. Rather than sticking to the status quo, competent managers are open to experimenting with new and undiscovered methods that have an impact on results.
  • Collaborative approach. As a function that supports multiple revenue teams, sales enablement managers should be deeply familiar with identifying the internal stakeholders that are necessary for the success of certain initiatives. Some of the most vital elements of collaborating cross-functionally require communication, alignment, getting buy-in, and conflict resolution techniques.
  • Time management. Ensuring timely execution of projects is critical to manager success, but equally important is the ability to streamline processes and existing operations that can maximize resource utilization. Whether it’s designing onboarding or training programs for reps or teaching them how to balance time for their own role, utilizing time as a metric of effectiveness is a necessary skill for managers.

What is the Average Sales Enablement Manager Salary?

The average salary of a sales enablement manager in the United States as reported by Glassdoor is $99,299 as of September 2020. According to the same source, the low end of that range is $63,000 and the high end sits at around $147,000. This range is attributed to a variety of factors, including the location of the company and their respective industry, as well as type of experience and credentials such as certifications or education.

Length of experience is also a relevant factor. Since sales enablement is still in the growth phase of adoption, those with tenured experience are lower in supply and higher in demand, and thus likely to leverage higher compensation.

What is the Career Path of a Sales Enablement Manager?

Sales enablement managers have often climbed the ladder from more junior enablement roles, but their backgrounds may also vary drastically based on organizational priorities.

Some of the common roles previously held could be program manager, account manager, customer success manager, instructional designer, sales trainer, or any sales or sales support role. Within these roles, those who demonstrate success within their position, exhibit the ability to manage multiple projects, and are skilled at building relationships, may find themselves advancing their career toward a sales enablement manager position.

Exhibiting clear success as a sales enablement manager, coupled with highly visible leadership qualities and a strategic mindset, can create even greater opportunities for continued career advancement. Future positions to grow into might include director, president or vice president, head of enablement, or global lead.

There are a number of opportunities to gain the professional experience required to break into a sales enablement management position. Due to the community-oriented nature of many sales enablement professionals, networking is a worthwhile approach towards getting one’s feet wet in the field. Additionally, many enablement-specific online communities will share job postings with their membership base, along with other resources to aid in career advancement and development.

For organizations, understanding the key elements of today’s sales enablement manager can bring positive growth to an emergent sales enablement function. For individuals, learning the responsibilities, necessary skills, and trajectory of the sales enablement manager can help change-seeking professionals decide if the role is right for them.