Effective Sales Enablement – Author Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Pam Didner

Effective Sales Enablement: Achieve sales growth through collaborative sales and marketing

Effective Sales EnablementHeidi Cohen: How do you define “Sales Enablement”?

Further, how does “Sales Enablement” differ from marketing where the objective is to provide qualified leads to sales?  

As a result B2B marketing plays a key role to enable or support sales in many ways. Of its functions, demand generation is the most prominent.

However, many other elements of marketing help to accelerate or enable sales.

Effective Sales Enablement

How to use sales enablement to close sales:

To increase shelf-space
a whisky company’s sales rep talked to several liquor stores and supermarkets. But this yielded no action!

Use paid social media and geo-targeting to drive foot traffic to specific stores for free-tasting events at on agreed-upon dates.

With marketing’s sale support, the sales deal closed the sales deal.


Heidi: From a corporate perspective, who is involved in the sales enablement process? 

Based on my experience in large organizations, the more departments involved, the more difficult it becomes because politics surface. So, how does sales enablement avoid these internal roadblocks? Further, how does sales enablement break down the friction between marketing and sales?

Pam: Bingo! You hit the sales enablement problem on the head!

Because the sales enablement challenge remains company specific.

Beyond definitional differences, sales enablement depends on each firm’s corporate organization structures and hierarchies. As a result, each firm defines sales enablement differently. Further, executives with the same organization may view the process differently.

For sales enablement success, follow these steps:

  • Start by examining sales and marketing objectives.
  • Analyze the related functions. Include product marketing, sales, sales operations, sales enablement, marketing, and marketing operations.
  • Talk to the people, including management, executives and others involved in the process. During this phase, discover personnel functions and where true power resides.
  • Assess the gaps between marketing and sales. Document where help is needed.
  • Determine how sales and marketing work together as well as where they have friction and different objectives.


Heidi: How do you get management buy-in and budget for sales enablement? Who owns the sales enablement function? 

Pam: In the general, the sales enablement process needs to be top-down driven.

“Sales enablement starts with senior management when both sales and marketing recognize their shared business need. As a result, they commit to put together team.” says Pam DidnerClick To Tweet


By contrast, while it can work, it’s difficult to drive this type of coordinated effort with a bottom-up approach and get sustained traction.

Ownership of the sales enablement function depends on how a B2B company defines sales enablement and the scope of the work involved. It can be marketing, sales, sales operations, or even finance.


Heidi: I’m intrigued that you mentioned Leonardo Da Vinci. What did he have to do with Sales Enablement?

Pam: While visiting Leonardo Da Vinci’s last residence, Château du Clos Lucé, located in the Loire Valley, France, I saw many of his inventions. Seeing them as physical objects, I was struck with awe at how ahead of his time he really was.

As a result, I started wondering about what I would do as Da Vinci’s Vice President of Marketing. I asked myself, “How would I sell these inventions back then or even now?”

[Editor’s note: Okay a girl can dream and should in today’s world!]

Later, this thinking sparked the initial idea for writing of this book.

BTW: If you want to get the full story, read this chapter. It’s a fun read.


Heidi: What’s interesting is that Mark Schaefer also references Leonardo Da Vinci in his interview on Marketing Rebellion.

By contrast, Schaefer, based on his conversation with biographer Walter Isaacson, focuses on Da Vinci’s creativity and the need to have a community to improve one’s work.



Heidi: How does “Sales Enablement” save businesses money? 

Sales enablement drives measurable results

Pam: Depending on how you define sales enablement, you establish success metrics and set up appropriate tracking to support your strategic goals.

In terms of marketing supporting sales, you can easily track your marketing contribution using your ABM (or account-based marketing systems.

Further by working closely with the sales team to either win or close deals, you can quantify marketing’s contribution based on agreed-upon processes and tools.


Heidi: How does “Sales Enablement” work in an organization that is using Marketing AI?  


“To optimize AI requires a huge amount of data to help machines learn. But, at the same time, it make sales and marketing work together more effectively.” Pam DidnerClick To Tweet

The best example of Marketing AI to support sales enablement:

Use an AI-based virtual assistant to sort through, score and qualify MQLs (or marketing qualified leads).

Marketing AI requires data from sales, marketing, and other departments within the company.

In the process, using Marketing AI the machine learns about prospect’s behavior and propensity to buy to anticipate prospects’ next moves based on a variety of factors. Over time the machine improve its scoring.

Your sales team saves precious selling time since they don’t need to deal with low quality leads.


Heidi: What’s your best piece of advice for marketers?

Pam: Understand your audiences! We all have a tendency to jump in and start talking about our products first. But it’s important to understand our target audiences’ challenges and pain points. Then, tailor our product positions to meet their needs.

Understand audiences to help you help them. It’s about them, not about you!


Contact information

Thanks, Pam.

Also check out what Pam has to say about Women In Marketing and the career challenges they face!

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Editor’s Note: This interview replaces our first interview with Pam upon the publication of Effective Sales Enablement in October, 2018.

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
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Photo Credit: Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci – Wikipedia