What Marketers Need to Know about Sales Enablement
More and more companies are recognizing the need to invest in sales enablement tools and practices, but there’s still a lot of confusion among marketing teams regarding how best to go about that. The following are some essential tips to help increase the efficiency and efficacy of your marketing team’s sales enablement efforts.
Why Marketers Must Understand Sales Enablement
1. Bridging the Gap between Marketing and Sales
Companies have heard it repeatedly over the years: marketing and sales need to be aligned in order to be more effective. This has led to increasingly integrated teams, which is great. However, it’s not about simply generating a lot of leads. It’s about getting qualified leads—leads that are more likely to result in closed deals and increased revenue.
If you’re seeing increased lead gen but minimal client conversion, your problem most likely rests with misaligned goals. Yes, marketing and sales need to work more closely, but that’s not enough. Their goals needs to be explicitly similar. That is, they both need to be working toward getting qualified leads and seeing better sales conversion.
To accomplish this, keep the following pointers in mind:
- A service-level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales defines and makes explicit shared goals between the two groups.
- Both marketing and sales should be held accountable for revenue generation.
- To improve the quality of the generated content, both teams must quantify and track conversion at every stage. This identifies which specific pieces of content are working and which are not.
- In general, companies are better about aligning their marketing and sales. To get ahead now, it’s about marketers working with sales teams to implement the right tools to help salespeople achieve their quotas.
2. Adapt to a Changed Sales Funnel
As time goes on, the sales funnel becomes less and less linear. Prospects don’t simply progress from interest to awareness to purchase. Instead, information gathering is increasingly crucial to the buyer in the purchasing decision. Today’s sales team needs to be prepared to walk a prospect through this complex journey.
- Content must be increasingly targeted to effectively persuade a buyer.
- There is no longer a clear time to hand off a lead to sales, so more collaboration between marketing and sales is necessary throughout the buyer’s journey.
- Content must be measured by conversion. This is a far more powerful metric than simple lead numbers.
3. Take Into Account Consensus Buying
In any given B2B sales decision today, twenty or more people can be involved in that buying team. As consensus buying becomes the norm, you must face the challenge of engaging all these personas. When the group goes offline to discuss and collaborate on this buying decision, neither sales nor marketing is directly involved at that point.
Your best weapon, therefore, is your content. Arm these key decision-makers with persuasive, relevant, targeted content that that is informative and proves your value. Every piece of content you provide should establish and build trust in your company, brand, or product and illustrate what sets you apart.
If, for example, you provide a generic case study that has nothing to do with the particular company you’re working with, when that team meets to finalize its buying decision, you haven’t provided anything of value to persuade that group. You haven’t established your competitive edge, your benefits, or your trustworthiness. And you’re minimizing the chance of that buying team coming back with a decision in your favor.
4. Time Is Your Biggest Asset—Don’t Waste It!
A staggering 30 percent of a salesperson’s time is consumed by looking for, creating, or customizing content for prospects. Salespeople today recognize the importance of good content when nurturing a lead, but they have to waste nearly a third of their time just to get that content into their hands.
To minimize this tremendous time sink, employ these two techniques:
- Have sales and marketing work together to identify what content is resonating with particular leads. Moving forward, use that data to weed out ineffective content and help create more content that speaks positively to your leads.
- Segment content based upon your buyer personas
- Create a content catalog that maps content to the buyers journey.
- Use a sales enablement platform (SEP).
5. Benefits of a Sales Enablement Platform
An SEP provides one place to put all your selling tools. This streamlines all sales enablement processes and allows marketers to get faster, more accurate feedback about the content provided to sales.
1. Integrate the SEP with analytics. Numbers don’t lie. Analytics immediately show what content is engaging and converting leads. A piece of content might seem extremely powerful, but if the analytics show it’s not effective, marketers need to be prepared to throw it out and learn from what is working. Analytics allow you to quantify a piece of content’s ROI, which shows you what types of content are financially worth your time and effort.
If a salesperson tweaks a piece of content, that’s great. But the changes need to be reflected and tracked within the SEP. That way, everyone can see if the changes improved the ROI. If it did, everyone can also learn how that improvement can be applied to other pieces of content to make them more effective.
An SEP facilitates this kind of insight and helps you eliminate the deadwood and use data-confirmed content as a model for future tools.
2. Carefully organize the SEP. A pervasive barrier to success continues to be marketing creating content that sales doesn’t use—either because it’s not relevant or because sales simply can’t find what they need. An average company spends 28 percent of its budget on content creation, yet 65 percent of content is never even used by sales. This is hugely wasteful and leads to the vicious cycle of marketers creating and creating content, while sales just keeps requesting more—because the content they’re getting isn’t accessible, easily found, or relevant.
Having everything centrally located in one SEP means sales has access to everything, and if that SEP is intuitively and effectively organized, sales can quickly and easily find the relevant content. For ease of access, pieces should be ranked based on what performs well for various selling opportunities (different customer sizes, industries, products, and so on). This way, high-performing content for a particular lead type will be readily at the fingertips of the sales team.
3. Ensure the SEP is for marketing and sales. Just because it’s called a sales enablement platform doesn’t mean it’s just for sales. This should be another aspect of sales enablement that both marketing and sales collaborate continuously on. It also highly facilitates closed-loop analysis. If either sales or marketing proposes a change to the SEP (or anything within the SEP), data can back up the suggestion and intelligently inform the decision-making process.
4. Make the SEP remotely accessible. Sales teams are increasingly spread across the country—even the globe. An effective SEP will be cloud based and mobile ready. This ensures team members, no matter where they are, can access and use the platform.
Sales enablement is a proven tactic. Companies that put an emphasis on sales and marketing alignment and sales enablement processes saw concrete results. Half the companies had at least a 10 percent increase in sales conversion, while 23 percent saw 20 percent of more. If you can identify your company’s best practices and make those practices repeatable, even new employees will be able to quickly and effectively hit the ground running. It requires collaboration, flexibility, and concentrated data analysis, but when that comes together, increased conversion (and revenue) often follow.
For more information about what marketing teams need to know about sales enablement, please feel free to contact a representative of Brand Fuzion today!
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