If you’re a frequent visitor of this blog, chances are you’re deeply familiar with the term “sales enablement.” 

But what about marketing enablement? Business enablement? Tech enablement? Service enablement? Not nearly as common.

Sales enablement is a beautiful thing. Though the definition changes depending on who you ask, we generally agree on the outcome: giving salespeople the content, training, and support they need to reach their goals, in an effective and cost-efficient way. In short, it paves the way for success. 

Those are exactly the same benefits other teams want (and need) too, but more often than not they don’t get that kind of formalized support. 

Shopify Plus has a solution to that problem: have one enablement team, for everybody.

“We have about 10 people on the enablement team here at Plus, so we support all of the merchant basing team, sales, engineers, and merchant success managers,” says Emily Payne, senior enablement programs manager.

“We really look at enablement as a strategic partnership within the business.”

Here’s why we love their organization-wide approach.

Sales enablement is already cross-functional 

If your reps need content, you reach out to marketing. If they need new software, you work with IT. Onboarding new employees? That’s HR, along with learning and development.

In fact, the average enablement team works with around 11 other departments within an organization.

“Enablement teams have to collaborate with almost every other function in the company, including L&D, HR, sales ops, legal, sales management, executive management, product management, marketing, customer service management, event management, and IT,” CSO Insights reports.

If you think that’s a one-way street, think again. It’s true that a big part of the job is engaging those teams to help deliver on sales goals. It’s also true that the flow of information goes both ways, translating information and content, aligning on broader organizational goals, and making sure plans for adoption and execution from all stakeholders are in place. 

Embracing the cross-functionality of enablement pays off, CSO Insights adds. Organizations with a formal structure around that kind of collaboration saw 40% better enablement outcomes compared to those with an informal or ad-hoc approach in place.

And they report better sales outcomes, too. Teams with formalized collaboration were the only ones to score an above-average mark on quota attainment (that’s 60% compared to an average 55.8%, which is still higher than informal or ad-hoc collaborators who scored 52.6%).

That’s why it’s so important to break down those silos - no enablement team can achieve success alone. 

Enablement that puts the organization first

Shopify Plus has embraced that cross-functional reality and taken it beyond what’s going to help sales sell more, says Payne.

“We rank projects based on impact, so what kind of value does this actually have on the organization, and then also based on effort, so how much time is it actually going to take from the enablement team to get this done,” she says. 

Sometimes that means focusing on sales initiatives – sales is the revenue engine of a business, which is part of the reason it already gets so much attention in the world of enablement – but it could also mean delivering on projects for other departments or things like skill development and career pathing across the organization.

For Payne, who oversees programming from the strategy side, enablement means partnering with stakeholders, understanding priorities and goals from across the organization, learning how they align and interact, and then designing programs that make them happen. 

“Then we oversee our specialists and coordinators to make sure that they can support our program managers, and we can all work as a cohesive team to launch all those different programs,” she adds. 

Their team acts as advocates for roles across the organization, operating with their best interests in mind. Payne, for example, worked a full quarter in sales to experience exactly what reps go through on a daily basis, simply so she could represent them better when talking with other stakeholders.

Although the approach is still new – when she goes to sales enablement conferences and describes what she does, the reaction is often, “Oh my god, you support more than just sales?” – it’s still rooted in the same concepts as traditional sales enablement: helping teams be successful. 

And really, whether your organization needs marketing enablement, business enablement, tech enablement, or service enablement, that’s the common ground we all share. So why not share it as one?


Like that idea from Shopify? We’ve got lots more from them, like how to nurture sales culture and navigate large growth in a sales organization. Here’s Mark Bergen, Head of Revenue, on those topics (and more)


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