Sales Enablement vs Sales Operations: The key difference

May 07.2024  4 minutes



Every team associated with sales works (or should work) as a cohesive force, with each member playing an important part in getting work done.


Now, while sales reps may be the face of organisations, anyone worth their salt in sales knows that the unsung heroes are in two key factions that the customer will never see - Sales Enablement and Sales Operations.


These two groups, although capable of functioning independently share a common objective: driving development by supporting and empowering your sales force.


In this blog we will be seeing the difference between - sales enablement and sales operations, its responsibilities, roles and how it works together to bring the best out of the sales teams.


Sales Enablement Vs Sales Operation

Sales Enablement provides sales teams with the tools, resources, and training needed to connect with customers effectively while aligning both sales and marketing teams. Alternatively, Sales Operations streamlines the sales process, strategies,  and manage sales tech stack.


Both Sales Enablement and Sales Operations are involved throughout the entire sales cycle, but Sales Enablement's focus is predominantly on the pre-sales and beginning stages.


They develop training programs on product knowledge, competitor analysis, content creation, and value proposition communication. In the pre-sales stages, they create sales collateral (presentations, battle cards) tailored to different customer segments and buying stages.


Make Sales Content that is bingeable and not boring


During the early sales stages, they ensure sales reps have easy access to the most up-to-date materials for use during customer conversations.


Sales Operations, on the other hand, optimizes the sales engine itself. They define sales strategies, manage territories and quotas, and implement technology (CRM, automation) to streamline the process and track performance throughout the entire sales cycle.


This ensures reps have the tools and data they need to navigate every stage effectively.


sales enablement vs sales operations


Let's take a look at them in detail.


Sales Enablement 


Sales Enablement arms sales reps with the knowledge, tools, and content they need to resonate with prospects to effectively engage with leads and close the deals. It also helps in bridging the gap between sales and marketing teams


Teams involved in Sales Enablement typically include:


Sales Enablement Team: Defines the sales enablement strategy, oversees content creation and delivery, and measures the effectiveness of enablement programs.


Training Team: These are the experts who design and deliver training programs for your sales reps. They focus on building product knowledge, sharpening sales techniques, and keeping reps up-to-speed on industry trends.


Content Development Team: This team creates and manages all the sales materials reps use with leads. Think presentations, case studies, and sales collateral. They make sure these materials are informative and engaging and give reps everything they need to make a winning impression.


Product Team: They make sure the salespeople are crystal clear on everything they're selling.  This includes in-depth knowledge about the product's features, any recent updates, and how it compares to the competition. 


Customer Success/Support Team: They serve as the voice of the customer. They listen to what customers say about your product and share those insights with the sales training team. This way, the sales team can learn what resonates with customers and tailor their approach to better meet those needs. It's all about making sure the sales pitch aligns with what customers actually care about. 


Sales Enablement roles and Responsibilities


  • Develop training programs (product knowledge, competitor analysis)
  • Create sales collateral (presentations, battle cards, case studies)
  • Manage content libraries
  • Implementing sales technology tools
  • Provide ongoing coaching and support to rep


Sales Enablement fosters long-term sales growth. They equip reps with skills, content, and data insights to continuously improve customer interactions and drive consistent performance.


While Sales Enablement tools like: Paperflite, Seismic, Showpad, Brainshark etc..  streamline content and track rep activity, their core focus is empowering the sales force for sustained success.


Paperflite  - sales enablement tool
Sales Enablement tool - Paperflite


Sales Operations 

Sales Operations sets the process and strategies of sales efforts. They do this by giving clear steps for sales reps to follow, assigning specific areas for them to focus on (territories), and predicting future sales performance (forecasting).


Teams involved in Sales Operations typically include:


Sales Operations Team: Sales Operations optimizes the sales process with data, tools, and strategy to empower reps and drive results.


Sales Leadership Team: As captains of the sales ship, they oversee day-to-day operations. They manage the sales process, analyze data, and optimize workflows to keep the sales engine running smoothly.


Revenue Operations Team: They focus on aligning sales, marketing, and customer success to drive revenue growth.  Strategic planning, forecasting, pipeline management and performance management are their specialties. 


Finance Team: They provide financial analysis and reports to support Sales Operations.  Managing sales incentives, commissions, and budgeting for sales-related expenses are within their turf.  They essentially make sure the sales team has the financial resources they need.


Legal and Compliance Team: They make sure that Sales Operations comply with relevant laws, regulations, and company policies.  The team ensures everyone plays by the rules, especially when it comes to contracts, pricing, and risk management.


Sales Operations Roles and Responsibilities 


  • Define sales strategies and territories
  • Manage quotas and sales compensation plans
  • Implement and manage sales technology (CRM, automation)
  • Analyze sales data and performance metrics
  • Create sales forecasts and reports


Sales managers typically play a key role in Sales Operations, as they are in charge of implementing sales strategy and ensuring revenue targets are met.


They work with Sales Operations to put the sales strategy into action, while Sales Operations optimizes processes and gathers insights. Their teamwork ensures aligned efforts, smooth sales journeys, and ultimately, achieved targets.


Sales Operations and Sales Enablement working together?


We've explored the distinct functions of Sales Operations and Sales Enablement. While they could operate independently, their true power lies in working together. As demonstrated, their functions complement each other perfectly, ultimately driving sales success.


For example, when the Sales Operations team develops a sales forecast, strategy, and sets individual quotas for reps, Sales Enablement steps in. They then develop tailored content to help reps achieve these targets.


This tailored content might involve creating battle cards, objection handling guides, or customer case studies that specifically align with the sales strategy devised by the Operations team.


Similarly, when the Operations team implements a new sales tool to improve rep efficiency, they configure the tool by adding accounts, setting up dashboards, projects, and workflows.


Sales Enablement then takes over, training reps to use this tool to their advantage.


Finally, Sales Enablement tracks both rep performance and content usage. This data analysis reveals what works and what doesn't. Based on this data, they can refine content, identify areas where reps need additional training, and ensure everyone has the tools they need to consistently exceed targets.


tracking content usage
Content Usage Tracking


This insight will also help operations team to revise or course correct their strategy 


Empower Your Sales Team With Paperflite


To make your sales strategy as effective as possible, Sales Enablement and operations have to work hand-in-hand. There's no question about it. But in order for it to go hand in hand, transparency plays an important role. 


The sales operations team should keep the sales enablement team well in loop with their plans and strategies, while the sales enablement team should inform about their new marketing initiatives, content that is being used to train the sales reps and this is where Integrating a Sales Enablement solutions into your workflow would give your sales team greater transparency and productivity. 


Paperflite simplifies content management by allowing salespeople to access, share, and track content seamlessly. This transparency guarantees that Sales Enablement programs support Sales Operations' objectives while driving overall performance.


Schedule a demo today to experience the value of unified Sales Enablement and operations.

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