Are you taking advantage of sales enablement? Having an effective enablement program leads to double-digit improvements in win rates, quota attainment, and revenue growth. So, if you don’t have a clearly defined sales enablement program, you’re leaving money on the table.
One of the keys to successful sales enablement is the resulting sales-marketing alignment and collaboration. According to Aberdeen, companies that optimize the sales-marketing relationship grow 32% faster, while companies that fail to nurture that relationship actually see their business decline. So, if you haven’t implemented sales enablement in your organization yet, this is an excellent place to start!
What is Sales Enablement?
CSO Insights defines sales enablement as:
“A strategic, collaborative discipline designed to increase predictable sales results by providing consistent, scalable enablement services that allow customer-facing professionals and their managers to add value in every customer interaction.”
This strategic practice involves content, training, coaching, and technology equipping sales to accelerate the sales process while closing more deals.
Sales Enablement Content
Going beyond content marketing, enablement content covers the entire buyer’s journey. It includes customer-facing content like:
- blog articles
- case studies
- white papers
- product comparisons
and sales rep-facing content such as:
- buyer personas
- training content (manuals and videos)
- sales reference pieces
- phone scripts
- email templates
- proposal templates
Fortunately, many customer-facing pieces can easily be repurposed for sales rep use, making the most of each piece of content.
Solving a Historic Problem
Sales and marketing teams need to work together, but they often don’t.
Marketers are keepers of the company’s brand, voice, and content. They’ve historically been focused on attracting, nurturing, and converting the right leads to marketing qualified leads (MQLs) while continuing conversations with existing customers.
Sales, on the other hand, have historically communicated with prospects individually to guide them through the sales process until disqualified or converted to customers. This has resulted in many disagreements and finger-pointing when goals and revenue targets are missed, but it doesn’t need to be this way.
Not only has communication been a problem for sales and marketing over the years, up to 80 percent of content produced by B2B marketing organizations goes unused. Plus, reps spend up to 31 percent of their time searching for or creating content. When combined, these issues are costly and inefficient. Enablement content addresses this by tracking content use and effectiveness, updating it routinely, and organizing it in a shared location where it can be easily found.
Giving Buyers What They Want
Where prospects used to rely almost entirely on sales as their information source, they now perform 55-90 percent of their research online prior to engaging with a sales rep. And when they do, buyers expect salespeople to do the following according to CSO Insights:
- Understand their businesses, challenges, and goals.
- Communicate clearly and effectively.
- Focus on post-sale requirements, not just on making a sale.
- Provide insights and perspective to aid in their decision-making process.
Fortunately, sales and marketing collaboration, combined with other aspects of sales enablement, prepares reps to meet or exceed these buyer expectations so your brand stands out.
Bring Sales & Marketing Together
Start aligning your sales and marketing departments by bringing them together. Have them:
- Pursue shared goals.
- Agree on definitions of common terms, like marketing qualified lead (MQL) and sales qualified lead (SQL).
- Establish shared systems, processes, and automation tools for storing content and performing external communications.
Then it’s important to create a united revenue cycle, replacing the previous marketing and sales funnel versions. This will enable better communication and fewer misunderstandings. Plus, both teams will be working together to reach a common goal, eliminating any previously existing roadblocks and silos.
Once these are all established, it’s easier for sales and marketing to start working together more effectively.
Sales & Marketing Collaboration
Although many of these steps may be spearheaded by one department or the other, they all involve both sales and marketing. Most of these revolve around the buyer’s journey and the customer experience (CX) along the way.
Create Better Buyer Personas
Going beyond basic research, include interviews conducted by marketing with actual customers to gain a deeper understanding of all prospect types and buyer personas on the buying committee. Once these are developed, they should be shared with sales, enabling them to conduct more meaningful conversations with prospects while offering more value.
Update Your Buyer’s Journey
The customer’s buying process continually evolves. Creating and maintaining an accurate buyer’s journey makes it easier for sales and marketing to anticipate what questions prospects need answered to facilitate an informed buying conclusion. When sales and marketing are communicating on an ongoing basis, sharing observed changes in this journey is easier, allowing for quicker adjustments.
Inventory Current Content & Identify Gaps
Make sure you have content for each persona at each point along their buying journey. Prepare by asking sales for the most common questions and concerns expressed by prospects at each stage of the sales process. Then gather common questions presented to customer support, and have marketing speak with customers as well.
This list reveals which topics your content must address, at which stage of the buying journey, and for which persona. Now you need to audit your current content, including internal documentation, to determine which content already exists or may be repurposed to answer these questions.
Once you’ve completed your inventory and aligned current content with where it can be used throughout the buyer’s journey, you can create a list of content that needs to be created.
Determine Additional Specialized Content Needs
Sales and marketing can then collaboratively identify additional specialized content needs for specific vertical markets, designed for inside sales use versus field sales use and accommodating different selling styles. The better marketing understands the needs of the sales team, the better equipped they are to support them throughout the sales process.
Track Content Usage & Effectiveness
Keeping track of which content is being used, when it’s being used, and how often allows marketing to understand what’s working most effectively. This can be accomplished through marketing analytics, as well as through a shared content platform or similar technology. Plus, it’s important to gather input from sales and customer service to identify which content is working best and resonating with which personas.
Sales and marketing should schedule routine meetings to discuss content effectiveness, updates, and new requirements. This is a time to share feedback or observations concerning changes to the buyer’s behaviors and journey. Plus, it’s a great time to brainstorm new content topics and share new questions prospects are presenting that aren’t currently addressed by existing content.
Maintain Ongoing Communication
Between regularly scheduled meetings, sales and marketing should communicate openly about changes in market conditions, buyer behaviors, or special content requirements as they arise. Working on various special projects serves to strengthen sales-marketing alignment and productive collaboration while answering the needs of prospective customers and advancing sales.
Added Benefits of Alignment
Sales and marketing alignment and collaboration has many benefits such as:
- Preparing sellers to provide buyers what they want — understanding them, effectively communicating, and following through after the sale as well as providing deeper insights and perspectives.
- Ensuring consistent brand messaging and customer experience (CX) throughout the buyer’s journey from start to finish.
- Improving efficiency and productivity since marketing’s content is all being used, and sales aren’t wasting their time searching for or creating content.
- Increasing financial results by more effectively meeting prospects’ needs.
Sales enablement plus the resulting sales-marketing alignment and collaboration result in an increased need for a larger volume of content. If you’re implementing this practice in your organization and are feeling overwhelmed by the content requirements, contact us! We’ll help you learn more about our lead generation and content marketing services.