Stats to Inform Your Sales Enablement Strategy
April 16, 2019 | Aubrey Harper
This is a guest blog post from Aubrey Harper, manager of partner and content strategy at Kapost.
Fellow marketers, sanity check: How many times in the last week have the words “data-driven” come out of your mouth? And now, how many times have you dug into data to actually make data-driven decisions?
Creating impactful content requires analyzing the channels of distribution with meaningful analytics. We track behavior flows on webpages, engagement metrics on blogs, conversions through email—but what about the very channel that defines company revenue?
I’m talking about sales. How is your marketing team enabling sales? Before you get too far down the road, let’s turn to the data from the 2018 Marketing-Sales Alignment Benchmark. Fair warning: we’ve got a long way to go for effective sales enablement.
1. 2 in 3 Salespeople Don’t Think Marketing Knows What They Need
While a solid majority of marketers feel confident they know what sales needs, those on the receiving end of marketing efforts aren’t so sure. In fact, 43% of sales folks responded with an “I don’t know,” which translates to, “I haven’t been enabled!”
What’s making folks answer this way? There are two options.
Option one: Maybe marketing is flat out ignoring sales. Realistically, not all sales feedback results in content—that would be the definition of ad hoc content. But sales gets valuable feedback from the front lines when they speak with prospects and see how marketing’s content is actually resonating. If marketers wants to contribute real business value, they need to collaborate with sales to prioritize new content that will help them close more deals.
Option two: Marketing is creating what sales needs–but sales doesn’t know where to find it. Cameron Caswell, who serves as Brand and Marketing Sr. Manager at Synopsys and who chatted with Kapost on a webinar this year, ran into this exact roadblock. “Really, the problem is miscommunication,” she told me. Over and over again, she said, she’d be approached by salespeople suggesting content ideas—that already existed. It wasn’t that marketing wasn’t creating great content—it was that sales didn’t know it existed in the first place.
So, what are we going to do about it? Here are your action items:
1. Make sure sales feels heard by actively and systematically seeking their input (more on this later).
2. Organize all finalized assets in a single, curated, searchable repository for easy access.
2. Marketing and Sales Teams Aren’t Talking
Sales enablement starts with building a rapport between both teams. On top of sharing knowledge and keeping sales up to date on upcoming marketing activity, meeting regularly builds the trust necessary to tackle collaborative projects such as account-based marketing.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s proof that trust matters:
Set a regular meeting cadence with your sales team to share ideas, gather feedback, and learn from each other.
3. Marketers Don’t Know What Assets Sales Is Using
Question: If you’re not even sure what content to enable sales with, how can you create an effective enablement program?
Answer: You can’t.
You might be tracking the top-of-funnel metrics are to determine what content is working—time on page, traffic, downloads. That’s not enough. For proper sales enablement, you need to know which assets sales reps rely on to move prospects through the buying process. By deepening our understanding of which assets advance opportunities, we can better allocate resources to create content that drives revenue.
Improve the investment in content by centralizing assets and tracking sales usage in a single system.
4. 1 out of 3 Marketing Teams Don’t Enable Internal Ideation
Enabling ideation from internal teams is a secret enablement method. By opening the doors for sales to input what they want, you also get buy-in once the end asset is done.
Creating a central intake process allows you to point sales feedback to a single place that you can address on your time. The best ideation tools (for example—excuse my bias—the Kapost idea queue) allow stakeholders to check in on the status of their proposals, see whether they have been approved or rejected, and get feedback on why the choice was made.
You’ll get to hear from people—customer-facing teams in particular—who have insights you may not, without feeling overwhelmed by their suggestions. Win-win!
Create a standardized process for internal stakeholders to submit—and track the status of—content suggestions.
5. Consistent Messaging Is a Must for CX
Why do we even care about sales enablement?
The customer experience hinges upon consistency. In the handoff between marketing and sales, there is a huge potential to send mixed signals, introduce friction into buying decisions, and present a disjointed brand voice.
If speaking in one voice is essential for building outstanding customer experiences, it’s up to marketing to shape the message that will span the entire customer lifecycle. On that note, it’s up to marketing to be able to equip sales with the branding, voice, and content that creates a single voice and experience.
Commit to consistency. Commit to selling the importance of marketing-led consistency to other revenue teams.
What Does this Mean for Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is about empowering your internal teams to present one voice to customers. Your sales team needs to be agile and have the ability to respond to changes in the sales process, all within the voice and strategy outlined by marketing. Properly enabling sales helps facilitate alignment between your marketing and sales teams by giving them opportunities to work together on new projects that will benefit both teams.
In the end, we’re working towards alignment between marketing and sales to one end: a consistent customer experience to ultimately drive more revenue and make it easy for sales—and the customer—to do the right thing.