With today’s ultra-competitive markets and even tighter marketing budgets, it’s of critical importance to maximize the effectiveness of both marketing and sales organizations. The idea that Marketing cannot provide an acceptable stream of qualified leads to sales or that sales has the luxury of rejecting (or maybe just ignoring) the leads generated by the company’s marketing budget is no longer acceptable. To this end, the close alignment of Sales and Marketing is becoming a prerequisite for planning an efficient, effective and competitive go-to-market strategy.
But alignment is about more than just maximizing your ROI metrics – it’s about breaking through organizational silos so that Sales can more effectively inform Marketing and vice-versa. The desired result being that your sales team not only receives more and better qualified leads at a lower cost, but is also better primed to progress leads through the sales cycle. Being able to provide the right information at the right time, effectively anticipating the needs of prospects, is a vital part of every successful sales process. Giving sales the information they need to do this is what sales enablement is all about.
Here are six critical sales-enablement strategies for your marketing team:
1. Determine your buyer’s journey and map the corresponding information needs
Network with Sales to understand the typical buyer’s journey and form as unbiased a view as possible. Determine what information needs your ideal prospect has at which stages of their journey so that content and assets can be developed accordingly.
2. Research relevant industry or market segments
Gather valuable background information regarding your prospects’ industries and market segments to ensure the relevancy of the content you develop for each of the stages of the buyer’s journey. Be sure to understand what challenges and issues each industry segment-member faces, as well as key drivers that will trigger buying decisions. This will enable you to position your content accordingly and connect with your prospects in a meaningful way.
3. Leverage Marketing Automation
Start to think about lead generation and nurturing as more of a continuous set of processes. Marketing automation then allows you to systematize multiple aspects of your program and provides the metrics you need to hone each component so that it produces the best results. Test email subject lines, landing pages, calls to action, keywords and SEO etc. and leverage automation to maximize the benefits of social media. Then capture the information provided by and on your opt-in prospects to give sales the vital intelligence they require about the prospects’ interests and needs.
4. Nurture prospects through the buying process
Work in concert with Sales to maintain online engagement. Foster an ongoing conversation regarding what information is being sought when, and update/develop your content/assets accordingly. Help your sales team always appear current by ensuring they have constant access to the latest information regarding specific prospects’ online engagement.
5. Survey to tease out specifics
Gain insight into your prospects’ pain points and tailor content appropriately to address these specific issues. You can use surveys to gain details and detect patterns on broader industry/segment needs, effectively helping you see around corners to developing issues or concerns, which you can then address pro-actively.
6. Create independent, unbiased case studies and reference material
Leverage third party authorities to create independent case studies and reference materials, such as ROI white papers. Credibility is the vital element when creating such content and while analyst firms are expert at this, they are also a rather pricey solution. Instead, consider using less expensive staff from industry/segment publications and blogs. Or better still, figure out who the key online influencers are and see if they might be willing to help.
In a nutshell, sales enablement is all about the prospect – it’s about cutting across organizational boundaries to glean every last bit of valuable information relating to all aspects of your target segment, industry, prospects, and buyers journeys, in order to more effectively, artfully, and efficiently leverage this information. By delivering market and lead intelligence, marketing can help improve lead conversion rates, increase pipeline momentum and aid sales productivity, while at the same time increasing the ROI and value of the marketing function. Together, Sales and Marketing can more effectively move prospects through the sales funnel and collectively bring more value – to both the prospect and the organization – than they do as independent entities.
The debate continues…What is Sales Enablement? What’s your view? How can Marketing best help Sales succeed? Please post your comments below.
For a comprehensive list of sales enablement information requirements and to evaluate how complete your current sales enablement efforts are, please download the SimplyDIRECT B2B Sales Enablement Checklist. Click on the button below to access the Checklist.