If you’re looking to reduce churn with your clients, your agency should focus on client digital marketing strategies that align sales, and one crucial part of that can be offering inbound strategies in conjunction with a sales enablement program.
This is not to say that agencies aren’t embracing sales enablement at all, but there is a tendency of agencies to focus on marketing and only include sales in a peripheral way. However, if you can truly bring sales and marketing together and be heavily involved in both sides with an effective sales enablement strategy, you are setting up your clients for greater success. At that point, you’re showing them how to implement a closed-loop system where leads and content are effectively managed between marketing and sales, which increases conversion, productivity of the sales team, and ultimately revenue—all of which helps you retain your clients.
Inbound Marketing Strategy and Sales Enablement: Why an Agency Should Offer Sales Enablement Services
For agencies looking to offer sales enablement to their clients, starting early is one of the biggest keys and the best pieces of advice you can offer. Again, it’s not that agencies ignore sales teams altogether when implementing inbound marketing strategies. It’s just that there can be a disproportionate emphasis on the marketing side.
However, if your agency can work equally with marketing and sales from the very beginning of your strategy and process planning, you are setting up your clients (and yourself) for greater success.
Bringing sales into the marketing strategy early is crucial for three big reasons:
- You’ll achieve better inbound marketing buy-in from the sales members because they helped inform and shape the processes that affect them as well as marketing. Achieving this buy-in is essential! If sales members understand the process and the concrete value it provides to them, they are going to be excited and proactive about contributing to and using this system.
- Your strategies and processes will be stronger and more effective because you’re utilizing the wisdom, knowledge, and insight of the sales members, who are always talking to and getting to know the clients and prospective clients.
- Building detailed content strategies and processes for sales within context to their buyers at different stages of the buyer journey.
Without this alignment between marketing and sales from day one, sales enablement simply won’t be effective. Implementing systems that promote ongoing, open communication and collaboration between marketing and sales will give your sales enablement efforts a much greater chance at succes.
1. Achieving Alignment between Marketing and Sales with Sales Enablement
OK. So, you know alignment is essential and that you cannot effectively implement sales enablement without that alignment. Now, how do you go about achieving that?
One of the easiest and most common ways is with a service-level agreement (SLA). This document is created collaboratively between marketing and sales, and it establishes common goals and objectives. It can cover anything from quantitative goals (e.g., lead quotas) to establishing best practices (e.g., who will hand off a lead at what time).
An SLA promotes that healthy ongoing communication between marketing and sales, it lays out some of the processes for achieving that, and it allows each party to hold the other accountable to the terms of the SLA. Without an SLA, sales enablement efforts are simply more likely to be unsuccessful.
2. How Alignment Can Help You Better Understand Your Clients (or Prospective Clients)
Sales is the front-facing side of any business. Sales team members are the ones always talking to prospects and learning valuable information about them. That includes prospects’
- paint points,
- problems (at the individual or company level),
- roles in their companies,
- and potential solutions to address those challenges and problems or achieve those goals.
If you don’t include sales in your inbound marketing strategies and buyer persona development, you don’t get the benefit of all that incredibly rich and relevant information that sales can bring to the table—information that can help your inbound marketing efforts be more effective.
3. Create Buyer Personas—and Targeted Content—with Marketing and Sales Involved
Once you’ve emphasized the importance of alignment to your clients and put SLAs in place, the next step is for you to walk those clients through buyer persona creation.
When creating these detailed buyer personas, your clients want to use the most accurate information available to them—and that means pulling from the collective knowledge of their marketing and sales teams. Each side can bring something unique and valuable to this process, and when those sides work together, the result is a more effective set of buyer personas.
Personas provide a more detailed knowledge of potential clients, and you can use that understanding of those clients’ problems, challenges, and goals to create highly targeted, relevant, and valuable content for each of those personas.
As an agency, you can help your clients build and implement systems and processes that create both the personas and the structured content for those personas, helping ensure the process is successful by including input from both sales and marketing.
4. Map the Content to Benefit Marketing and Sales
Once your clients have these detailed buyer personas and all the valuable content that targets those personas, the next crucial step is ensuring the content is properly mapped.
Mapping content helps accomplish three big goals:
- It ensures sales is aware the content even exists.
- It provides quick access to that content (for both marketing and sales).
- It makes it clear for sales whom the content is for and the appropriate time within the buyer’s journey to use that particular piece of content.
Lead-related challenges between marketing and sales are nothing new. For example, sales might assume the leads are no good, but perhaps marketing handed them off too early in the sales cycle. Effective content mapping systems for marketing and sales can alleviate some of these common challenges.
One 2015 study by Sirius Decisions found that 65 percent of generated content is wasted, with 37 percent of content not being relevant and 28 percent not even being found.
Irrelevant content often stems from improper or incomplete buyer persona creation, and unfound content can result from improper content mapping system. That is to say, sales:
- Didn’t even know the content existed and was available to them.
- Didn’t know where to go to access the content.
- Found there was simply too much content to sift through to easily and efficiently find the necessary document.
As with all other steps in this process, it’s crucial for both sales and marketing to be involved in creating the content and the strategies for how to organize that content.
If both marketing and sales understand the buyer’s journey, they can effectively map the content to reflect that sales cycle. Then, everyone who needs access to the content will understand how it was created, why it was created that way, and where to go to quickly and easily access the necessary content.
Offer the following tips to your clients to more strategically and effectively map their content:
- Use spreadsheets that organize the content based on title or other features.
- Create a content catalog—essentially an online filing system. Software such as HubSpot allows you to segment that content library into specific folders for easier, quicker, more intuitive access.
- Remember, enlist sales and marketing to collaboratively build this sales library.
5. Provide Coaching, Training, and Workshops on the Inbound Marketing Process
Sales teams are traditionally used to outbound selling. In order to make inbound marketing and social selling successful, though, your agency should underscore that the principles of selling are the same. The sales team just needs to apply their expertise to these new systems and processes.
That’s why coaching, training, and workshops are so important for your agency to provide to your clients. These trainings cover two main areas:
- The value of inbound marketing and social selling. This helps everyone understand how powerful of a tool this can be and helps ensure buy-in from everyone involved.
- The logistics of how to implement inbound marketing systems and use specific technological tools that make those systems more effective.
Specifically, trainings can cover topics such as:
- How to deal with leads, including the proper time to hand a lead from marketing to sales. (This, in particular, helps the sales team be more productive, effective, and successful.)
- When to use specific pieces of content (based on a potential client’s progress through the buyer’s journey).
- The tools needed to research a prospect before contacting.
- How to use marketing automation tools, CRM tools (including how to implement content into a CRM), and third-party sales enablement tools (e.g., HubSpot’s Sidekick).
- Inbound selling techniques, including how to provide value and engage potential clients through content and education.
To meet clients demand, agencies must consider aligning their digital marketing services with sales enablement services. Providing clients a systematic approach to increase marketing and sales productivity through content creation strategies, lead nurturing, sales conversion and training services. This will alleviate customer churn and increasing agency revenues
Learn how to increase marketing and sales productivity by developing a predictable, gowning sales pipeline through inbound marketing and sales enablement.