Think sales enablement is the sales manager’s job and not marketing’s responsibility? Wrong. If your marketing team is tasked with generating leads for your company, you also have the responsibility helping the sales team to effectively communicate with those leads. After all, if your focus is 100 percent on generating new leads, but those leads never become customers, you might just find yourself out of a job.
So what is sales enablement anyway? Sales enablement is the processes, content, and technology that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity rate. While the vast majority of sales enablement functions live outside of marketing departments, we know that nearly 60 percent of the buying decision is made before a lead will talk to sales. That means marketing is already participating in sales enablement.
The last step is the marketing-to-sales hand-off, which is where marketing content and sales strategy meld together to meet the needs of your future customer. Consider a relay race. If the first runner reaches his or her teammate before any of the competition, but the duo fumbles the baton hand-off, any traction originally gained could easily be lost.
Let’s look at a tactical example.
Last month, your marketing team focused in on a particular theme that was tailored to a common pain plaguing your buyer personas. You blogged twice a week around this theme, and like a good inbound marketer, you used calls to action to offer your readers additional helpful material. A downloadable guide that dove deeper into the problem and offered solutions. A live webinar in which a practitioner shared best practices in this area and warned audiences of potential pitfalls. From a marketing perspective, the campaign was a success. Your blog traffic increased. You attracted brand-new leads, and you moved prospects from awareness to the consideration stage in your funnel. Time to move on to the next campaign, right? Not quite yet.
There are three very simple extensions you can add to your marketing playbook that will ensure a smooth transition for your future customers as they shift from marketing to sales:
- Give your sales team blog bylines. Buyers are looking for partners to help them accomplish a goal, and those partners often come in the form of sales reps. By positioning your sales team as experts in your space, you’ll help them build credibility in the presales process. Just think: If you had really enjoyed a tip or trick you read about on a blog, and then later, you were on the phone with the person who had offered that valuable advice originally, would you be more open to continuing to learn from that person? For those of you who say your sales team doesn’t or won’t write, that’s okay. Use a ghostwriter or work with an agency partner that knows your business and your team. Then have that salesperson add a bit of personalized flair to the piece. No one will know the difference.
- Make sure your sales team knows when you are launching a campaign. Your sales team likely isn’t dialed into the company’s day-to-day marketing activities. Ask the team members how they would prefer to be notified of events such as webinars you are conducting or new e-books you are launching. Maybe you list the events and activities on an internal calendar and figure they can access that and see what’s happening when, but the team members would appreciate a notification in Slack or a task assigned to them in your customer relationship management system.
- Build sales-rep-focused communication materials. Reality check: Your buyers do not care about your “content.” What your marketing team can do for sales is create a bulleted list of talking points that relate to the content you’re creating and your buyers are consuming. Yes, ideally, your sales reps will also be reading that content and digesting it, and they should be able to speak to it intelligently. But we all know that’s not going to happen 100 percent of the time. Much like a public relations professional prepares his or her subject for a media interview, your marketing team is best equipped to prepare sales for the interaction that will take place between your marketing-generated lead and that salesperson. If you’re feeling especially generous, take those bulleted notes and build custom email templates that your sales reps can use for one-to-one follow-up communications.