Marketing is typically charged with generating leads… and sales, with closing them. So it makes sense that an effective sales enablement strategy starts with a strong focus on getting alignment between your sales and marketing teams.
Sales enablement describes the strategies, processes and technologies that help your sales and marketing teams be more aligned and efficient in their tasks of generating quality leads and closing deals.
But getting marketing and sales on the same page can sometimes feel like bridging a divide as vast as the Pacific Ocean. Why is that and how can it be overcome to ensure both teams are delivering better bottom line results for your business?
No matter what size company you work for, marketing managers often face the same niggly frustrations during their career. Perhaps sales aren't converting the leads that marketing teams are providing. Maybe they're not buying into marketing initiatives or offering constructive feedback on current campaigns.
On the other side of the office, sales managers are feeling similarly frustrated. They might lack the data they need to optimise sales strategies or the team could be complaining that marketing isn't coordinating with them properly and providing quality leads.
When these challenges affect results and customer experience, the executive team usually take notice and realise that change is necessary. How can your business fix these problems before you get to this point? Developing a smart sales enablement strategy is the best place to start.
Sales enablement is an approach that combines the strategic use of technology to create better processes, administration efficiencies and better data insights to - literally - enable your sales team to sell better.
It includes sales process optimisation, the creation of high-quality sales content, smart use of CRM technology and the automation of simple, repeatable tasks so the sales team can focus on closing deals, not chasing data and paperwork.
Sales enablement removes inefficiencies created by day-to-day operation of underperforming legacy systems, improves interdepartmental collaboration and provides real-time data and analytics with which to make better business decisions. If you're considering sales enablement, you'll need buy-in from sales, marketing and customer services before you get started.
Devising a strategy that aligns sales and marketing to create a better customer experience might sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. There are three key elements to consider in order to develop a successful sales enablement strategy. Here’s the breakdown:
Set up an SLA between marketing and sales - a shared agreement that clearly outlines SMART goals that everyone is working towards. Be specific about the KPIs that marketing are responsible for and specific about the KPIs that sales are responsible for. Review your performance against the SLA every quarter and keep it as a living thing. It’s important to feedback what’s happening in the real world - so if it’s not working, adjust it - just be sure to agree it.
In order to establish shared goals, it’s vital that everyone is speaking the same language. Take the time to talk about and agree shared terminology - what does a lead actually mean? What constitutes a Marketing Qualified Lead? Do we have such a thing as a ‘Sales qualified lead’ in our pipeline, or do we jump to ‘Opportunity’. What does an ‘Opportunity’ look like to the sales team?
Regular and open communication channels need to be established. Set up monthly sales and marketing meetings and quarterly SLA review meetings - look back at the successes and failures and brainstorm new ideas. Try Slack for daily communication - it’s more informal and chatty, helps build relationships and relieves the pressure on everyone’s inboxes!
Optimising your sales processes starts with taking a reality check on the strengths and weaknesses of your current processes. Have both the marketing and sales teams map out their current internal processes for lead handling and opportunity conversion, and be honest about what is working for your customers, what’s not, and where the gaps are.
Here’s a few questions to ask:
Once these questions are answered, identify what the ideal process should look like. This process is often best facilitated by an independent third party - someone who can ask the hard questions and remove blinders.
High quality, personalised content that is relevant to your prospects as they move through your sales funnel is the key to creating a great customer experience, and increasing the likelihood of converting prospects into delighted customers.
The type of content you create for sales enablement will be no different from typical Inbound Marketing except for the fact it should be developed to target qualified leads and help with customer onboarding. This means it leans towards the later stage of the buyer journey, so it's worth taking time to better understand this process so that you can ensure your prospect's information needs are being met.
For many organisations, legacy systems are hindering the sales process. A lack of a single view of all prospect and opportunity interactions, or tech that is simply too hard to get meaningful data from, means the marketing and sales team are ‘literally’ singing from different song-sheets.
Armed with solid strategy for sales and marketing alignment and your evaluation of current processes, the next step is to assess your current sales and marketing tech-stack. Is it helping or hindering the efforts of your team to evaluate leads, convert opportunities and share vital data?
Are they spending their time on high value tasks, or chasing their tails doing repetitive administrative tasks? Can you quickly and easily access reports to gain important business insights about customer experience and enable faster, better business decisions?
There are many good cloud-based product CRMs of all scales available to every type of business. Platforms like HubSpot are designed to enable sales and marketing teams to ‘sell better: