By Sonia Slattery 29 Apr, 2020
'Sales Enablement' is being touted as the key to resolving long-held frustrations between sales and marketing departments in large organisations. So what is sales enablement and how can this approach solve the marketing-sales divide and deliver better results for your organisation?
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals. These resources may include content, tools, knowledge, and information to effectively sell your product or service to customer. (source: HubSpot). At Engaging Partners, we see sales enablement as the job of both the marketing and sales teams - ensuring the two departments responsible for acquiring and keeping customers are 100% on the same page.
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Understanding the people-factor
We've all seen memes and anecdotes of the tension that so often exists between marketing and sales teams. So let's take a moment to explore why this is?
Marketers tend to be strategic big thinkers and creative 'doers': they think about stuff then execute, and they typically like to follow a plan; most derive satisfaction from a job well done and the results to prove it.
Sales people on the other hand, thrive on the chase of the dollar: they're typically not interested in the bigger picture beyond the immediate sale; most derive satisfaction from closing deals and the commission and kudos that rewards them for doing so.
[These descriptions are broad sweeping generalisations and are not intended to offend.]
So it's obvious to see: marketing and sales are different beasts! It's no wonder tension easily arises when they co-exist in an organisation. Yet - both skill sets are required to run a successful sales operation. Marketers are excellent at messaging and processes; Sales are excellent at closing deals. So how do you get them working together harmoniously?
Culture and commitment
A good sales enablement programme embraces the talents and strengths of both teams, and unites them around a common revenue goal. The culture of sales enablement must come from the top (as do most things) and be supported and remunerated based on both marketing and sales sharing the same revenue goal, measured by their specific KPIs.
Sales enablement requires long term dedication to a culture of improving lead generation and sales by acknowledging the need for ongoing training, personal development and consistent company-wide direction.
Communication and collaboration are particularly important. We're not talking about a quick meeting once a quarter, but regular ongoing feedback-loops that ensure your team are all on the same page, listening to your customers and constantly evolving their processes and systems to sell more efficiently and at a higher velocity.
Processes and systems
Speaking of which....what are the processes and systems that need to be in place to support your marketing and sales teams to work together to achieve their shared revenue goal?
The success of any sale is often reliant on your team being able to quickly understand where the customer is at in their buyer journey, tailor their approach to best meet their needs and nurture them towards a purchase. Let's break that down...
- Understanding of the customer buyer journey
- Tailored approach to meet customer needs
- Nurturing towards purchase.
These three ingredients are all underpinned by three vital requirements:
- Embracing Inbound methodologies that ensure an intimate understanding of your target personas and their buyers' journeys
- A central CRM that allows marketing and sales to have a single view of every prospect and customer
- And fantastic content resources that both teams can use to answer prospect and customer questions, and to nurture them towards closing the deal.
Understanding your personas, having a broad range of helpful content and being sure to capture and respond to questions efficiently can be the difference between a sale and a disappointed customer ...or a lost deal.
Your customers win
When sales and marketing teams are working together under a sales enablement framework the big winner is your customers. The quality of communication with customers is enhanced, friction is reduced, 'slip-ups' and 'dropped-balls' are eliminated and your customers are more likely to get a seamless (and hopefully enjoyable) experiences with your organisation. And we all know what happy customers do - they tell other people!
Who knows - you might even find your marketing and sales teams getting along a LOT better too!
Here's some more information about Sales Enablement that you might find helpful:
- Why is there a need for Sales Enablement (web page)
- How to: A Guide to Sales Enablement (downloadable eBook)
- What on earth is Sales Enablement (blog)