Sales enablement is not a new term, but it’s often used as an umbrella for a wealth of actions related to the sales team. Although any amount of enablement is helpful, having a set process for how marketing can enable sales is where the key to success lies.
Naturally, sales enablement begins with sales and marketing alignment. Without alignment, there’s no way to know the wants and needs of the sales team and there’s no way for marketing to cater to those requests.
Enablement is not a one-way street where marketing only supports sales. There is a great deal of valuable information that sales teams can provide marketing as well. The relationship should be mutually beneficial.
As the company grows, sales enablement responsibilities will lie within the product marketing role. The position will define language around the product and set up processes for marketing and sales that will allow both teams to run at peak performance levels.
Define Product Language
Defining how sales and marketing teams talk about your product may be one of the hardest things to perfect, but will also be one of the most beneficial.
It’s important that the brand message and identity stays consistent across teams. If your marketing team is creating content with one message, while the sales team is relaying a separate message over the phone, it’s going to be hard to close customers because they’ll be confused as to what benefit you’ll actually provide their company.
Marketing should meet with sales to determine the language that works best. The sales team is having daily, verbal conversations with prospects so who better to work with to define messaging than some of your top sales reps? If they’re saying “THIS is the right messaging” and it is creating quality conversations with prospects, then it’s a huge step in the right direction of defining product language.
Once you have the product messaging consistent across teams, the next step is positioning your product against competitors. How are you different? What benefits can you provide that others cannot? A B2B sale is typically high-cost and can take months to close, so it’s a sure bet your sales team will be asked about competitors and why the customer should choose you over another, possibly cheaper, product. Making sure sales reps are prepared for these questions, with messaging that is clear and easily digestible, can be the difference in closing a deal or not.
Create Content Around Sales Needs
Part of being aligned with your sales team is talking with them about their pain points. What kinds of questions do they receive most often from prospects? What product features do they have a hard time explaining? Gather this information and create content that answers the questions or solves the problems.
This can include blog posts, one-pagers and/or competitive documents.
The company blog should be used as an educational tool. It can explain the industry, describe best practices, and offer tips and suggestions surrounding the product. A sales rep may be on the phone with a prospect who has a specific question that we’ve answered in a recent blog post. Rather than trying to explain everything in detail over the phone, the rep could briefly describe the solution then offer to email the blog post to the prospect. This gives the individual time to digest the information when they’re ready and to email with any follow up questions.
If the company consistently provides useful, accurate information on the blog, it will become known as a leader in the industry and a go-to source for reliable information. Showcasing knowledge of the industry is a great way to build trust.
One pagers can be used to explain the product and its benefits or to position your product against the competition. Both of which are extremely helpful to the sales team.
Product one pagers are basically a highlight reel for your product and make it easy for the sales team to hit on important features at a glance. Like a Cliff Notes for sales.
Additionally, they can be used to provide a side-by-side comparison of your features versus a competitor’s. It’s a simple, visual way to highlight what makes your product stand out.
A good way to organize this content is to create a shared document on Google Drive, that way it can be accessed instantly whenever it is needed.
Ways to organize content:
- by persona
- by funnel stage
- by topic
- by type (educational, competitive, etc)
Move Toward Solution Selling
The sales team has the channels to sell, now they need the marketing to enable the sale. The pinnacle in this is to move from selling a specific feature, to selling the whole package. Also known as solution selling.
Creating a need is key here. This is where the product marketing role is most helpful. If your product has tons of great features, they’re worthless if the prospect on the phone doesn’t see WHY they need them. Determine the need(s) of the prospect and create messaging that provides a solution to those needs.
Depending on your product, it’s a good bet you have a demo video or slideshow. Marketing should determine the right messaging and right features to highlight that will give the prospect a comprehensive overview of why they need your product. Show them in real time how your product alleviates their pain points and provides value to their company.
Measure Success with Attribution
Once you have all of these processes in place, how do you know what is working best or what needs improvement? Marketing attribution can answer those questions.
Attribution tracks the anonymous first touch and all of the touchpoints along they way to a closed deal. With this information, marketing teams can see where prospects are dropping off (an area that needs improvement) and what marketing channels are pushing leads through the funnel (an area that’s working well).
By default this allows marketers to optimize the channels that work which in turn creates higher quality leads, better opportunities and more sales.