This document shares what we have learned from personal experiences and others building successful Enablement organizations across the planet.
Note: Building enablement teams is not an exact science. In this document, we use team size as an indicator of overall business growth and maturity. Your business may reach specific hiring needs sooner than our recommendations — or later. Please realize that your sales enablement team structure will vary to match your particular needs when in doubt.
Simple Model – Build an Enablement Organization Based on team Size
The typical Enablement organization has a ratio of one enablement person for every 50 customer-facing teammates they are supporting. Ratios heading towards 1 to 1 indicate gross inefficiencies, and those beyond 500 to 1 generally show a lack of buy-in for Enablement.
From 0 to 50 customer-facing teammates
At this stage, the team consists of one Enablement Manager who spends most of their time on tactical activities (roughly 75% of their time).
Ideally, the manager is investing up to a quarter of their time strategically planning programs, process improvements, and early tool purchases. Still, the vast majority is, as noted, tactical and often reactive.
Often, this Enablement team-of-one focuses on one Enablement activity above all else, tasks such as:
- Sales onboarding and training
- Content creation, curation, and delivery
- Process improvement — often living with revenue operations early, but may also be with Enablement.
From 50 to 500 customer-facing teammates
At this size, teams need a leader who is still primarily tactical. However, the leader should be spending around half of their time on strategic efforts.
Note: As you build an enablement organization, the leader switches from being tactical to strategic.
As you are adding teammates, consider:
- An adult learning specialist (if the leader is not skilled here)
- A project manager to formalize programs
- An enablement pro focused on CS-specific needs (Customer Success Enablement)
- An enablement pro focused on sales-specific needs (Sales Enablement)
- An Enablement professional working with product marketing or equivalent role to ensure new product launches result in revenue as quickly as possible (Product Enablement)
- An enablement lead who works as a liaison for each vertical/product team to stay in touch with requirements in the field (Enablement Liaison)
From 500 to 2000 customer-facing teammates
At this size, the Enablement organization should organize similarly to when supporting 50-500 customer-facing teammates. The primary difference is that the Enablement leader must become entirely strategic but continue hiring in line with the recommended size.
- Adult learning specialists
- Project managers to formalize programs
- Enablement leader focused on Customer Success specific needs
- Enablement leader focused on sales-specific needs
- An enablement leader is working with product marketing or equivalent role
- Enablement teammates are working as liaisons for each vertical/product team to stay in touch with conditions in the field.
More than 2000 customer-facing teammates
You must build your Enablement organization for scale at this point. Your Enablement Leader should be at a peer level with leaders of the customer-facing functions they support and interact with, often reporting to the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or equivalent.
In addition to what we suggested at the smaller size, add:
- A formal approach to change management
- Co-creation and collaboration models for scaling coaching, content capture, and delivery, and more
- A single center of excellence for Enablement with co-ownership across customer-facing teams
As you look to scale your organization, you must move from an orchestration model to collaboration, where Enablement becomes a core business component and how it works.
The Sales Enablement Org Structure – The Impact of where you work
When not in a direct revenue-generating team, you often can be more strategic as not heavily focused on the day-to-day. The downside, you are further away from that team you are supporting and harder to influence the team day-to-day.
When a part of the revenue-generating teams, you tend to be more tactical, less strategic, but having a more significant impact is a reality.
As Shamis notes, and I agree, there is not necessarily one correct answer for where the team should report. Where is the Sales Enablement Org Structure where you work?
Keep listening and remain curious.
Curious to learn more about the role of a Sales Enablement Manager?