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Feb 28, 2023 Sarah Goodall

Social Selling Enablement vs Training: Know The Difference

When it comes to Social Selling, is your goal to enable your sales team with the digital skills to engage with their customers social media or train them on how to use LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator?  The words enablement and training are often used interchangeably but there’s a big difference, especially if you want to embed lasting behaviour change.   

The reality is, many B2B sales organisations are missing the mark when it comes to upskilling their sales organisation.

  • 84% of training is forgotten in the first three months.
  • 26% of reps say their sales training is ineffective.
  • If your sales reps don’t feel they are learning and growing in your organization, you’re at risk to lose upwards of 60% of your entire workforce within four years.

On the positive side, companies that do it well are experiencing huge benefits:

  • Effective sales coaching can improve win rates by as much as 29%.
  • 84% of sales reps achieve their quotas when their employer incorporates a best-in-class sales enablement strategy.
  • Organizations with sales enablement achieve a 49% win-rate on forecasted deals, compared to 42.5% for those without.

Let’s first understand the difference between sales training and enablement (according to Gartner):

Sales Training & Enablement Defined 

Sales Training is the process by which a company trains the front-line commercial staff to drive engagement, effectiveness and ongoing development. 

Sales Enablement includes the activities, systems, processes and information that support and promote knowledge-based sales interactions with client and prospects. 

At a more granular level, I love the way Seismic defines it:

“Sales training drives efficiency and growth.  Sales enablement increases revenue.” 

Ultimately, it comes down to your goals.   

If your goal is short-term knowledge transfer, then training is the way to go.  If it’s long-term behaviour change, enablement will provide a lasting impact.   

That’s why the Sales Enablement Platform market is experiencing rapid growth right now with tools such as SalesLoft, Seismic, MindTickle, ShowPad and HighSpot leading the way.  These are tools that provide a platform to create interactive learning experiences to help reinforce and engage customer facing teams. 

Multi-Touch Learning Experiences For The Long-Term 

A good model to endorse this approach to interactive learning experiences is the Learning Pyramid, a model first created by the National Training Laboratories in the early 1960’s and adapted ever since.     

The learning Pyramid illustrates knowledge retention rates based on teaching methods, from a lecture delivered by a trainer through to practice by doing and teaching others. 

The Learning Pyramid

Learning retention rates increase massively as the learner moves from passive (online webinars, lectures, etc) to participatory teaching methods (e.g. practice by doing, community engagement, champion roles). 

This doesn’t mean you should just focus on the bottom of the pyramid.  It means you need to ensure your enablement program includes a blend of all levels.  

By building learning paths that include audio/visual, demonstrations, tasks, 1-2-1 coaching, and champion programs to teach others, it’s possible to reinforce the learning experience for longer-term change management.

Embedding Social Selling Into Sales Enablement  

As organisations move towards employee self-service learning, tailored to the individual’s skill level and delivered at the point of need, best-in-class sales enablement teams are embedding social selling into their processes and tools. They provide the training but also provide the tools and resources to embed that learning into their daily habits. 

Recognising that one-size-fits-all training doesn’t work, sales enablement teams are building programs that focus on delivering tangible impact – connecting learning outcomes to revenue results.  They’re embedding social selling into their sales processes and enablement tools.

Less Training vs Enablement.  More Training + Enablement. 

To conclude, it’s easy to assume that you have to choose between one or the other.  Quite the contrary, training and enablement go together.  You cannot have one without the other.   

But that’s where confusion sets in when it comes to Social Selling.  Several LinkedIn training webinars will excite your sales team, but it won’t embed behaviour change.   

Build a program that is designed to meet them where they’re starting from (you will experience different confidence levels within your sales team), and work with them to achieve their best next step. 

For some, that will mean liking and commenting on other people’s posts. 

For others, that will mean posting weekly content with their own commentary. 

For a few, it will mean creating their first blog post! 

Meet them where they’re at and move at their pace.  Target your budget where you’ll get the fastest results, share those successes and build upon the momentum.    

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About Tribal Impact

Tribal Impact is a B2B Social Selling and Employee Branding Agency.

We're a team of social media strategists, trainers, coaches, content creators and data analysts who are passionate about helping our B2B customers develop and scale their social selling and employee advocacy programs.

Learn more about us here.

Published by Sarah Goodall February 28, 2023
Sarah Goodall