What is Product Enablement?

Product Enablement translates feature to value so customers can understand how your products and solutions help them solve their problems.

Is Product Enablement Product Marketing?

In some organizations, product teams, product managers, and product marketers have traditionally filled this need at least partially. To make the differences clearer, let’s compare.

Product Managers

  • Product Managers (PMs) understand all the new features, often deeply as subject matter experts.
  • PMs partner with engineering to keep the trains running on time.
  • PMs deliver documentation and training to customer support and perhaps customer success on best practices for using the features to their fullest.

Product Marketers

  • Product Marketers understand how new product development efforts are closing gaps for their ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and key personas.
  • Product Marketers translate this information into updated messaging for the rest of the marketing organization.

Product Enablement (PE)

  • Product Enablement translates all of the knowledge above to enable customer-facing teams to have more effective customer conversations.
  • PE updates supporting materials (e.g., discovery guides, battle cards) to reflect new differentiators, traps, and so on to enable sales reps to win more deals.

Do you need a product enablement function?

In larger organizations, where Enablement work is segmented into specialist roles, you will want to add this capability at the right time.

The right time will vary across organizations, but ask yourself the following questions to determine if it’s time to develop a dedicated product enablement team.

  • Do we have a product marketing team that translates product updates for sellers already, or is this a gap?
  • Does our existing sales enablement team have content creators and training teammates already doing the work, and can they continue to handle the workload?
  • Is our product roadmap built based upon a strategic and well-aligned go-to-market strategy, or is it guided by engineering building cool features or simply keeping up with customer requests?
  • Do you have a clearly defined sales enablement strategy stating that this is part of your mandate?
  • Can the sales team rapidly understand and position new products and capabilities to reduce time to revenue?
  • Is this your biggest challenge?

Thoughts on Product Enablement Strategy and Tactics

If you decide that it’s time to add or optimize product enablement, please keep the following in mind.

  • As always, align with gtm leadership early and often.
  • Align across engineering, product management, and product marketing to ensure all are clear about the roles and responsibilities of this function.
  • Document and get buy-in on your product enablement strategy.
  • PE must be involved before the development of new features and capabilities. At the end of the day, they need to understand WHY something is being built and HOW its introduction will help their customer-facing teams best support customers and win prospects.

What else does a Product Enablement Manager do?

In case I haven’t made this clear enough, a Product Enablement Manager:

  • Provides product launch training to sales management and sales reps on how product capabilities impact their sales efforts (e.g., discovery, and so on)
  • Updates battle cards, discovery guides based upon the releases.
  • Participate with other members of the release team to ensure a successful launch.
  • May be responsible for, or involved in, setting up and maintenance of demo environments.

As noted, this role should reside within the revenue enablement team but, as with all enablement roles, will work closely with various cross-functional teams.

Listen to this Podcast Episode on Product Enablement

Matt Cohen is the Enablement Manager at Workfusion and formerly the Product Enablement Leader at Seismic. In this session with The Collaborator, Matt provided a great overview of what is product enablement and shared how it can benefit the organization.

Listen and learn how the role differs from product/solution marketing, building alignment from front to back of house and vice versa, and much more.

Give a listen and remain curious.