Sales Enablement brings about Sales & Marketing Alignment

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I just finished a great research brief “Sales Enablement: Fulfilling the Last Frontier of Marketing-Sales Alignment”, from Peter Ostrow and Trip Kucera of the Aberdeen Group. In it they make some excellent points around the value of having a Sales Enablement process to better align Marketing and Sales. The relationship between B2B marketing and sales teams is more than just about leads and lead management. In a recent survey conducted by the Aberdeen group, the number one business goal was to increase topline revenue. So Marketing and Sales teams need to collaborate in order to create and manage an integrated revenue pipeline to meet those goals, specifically around sales content and messaging.

We know that the relationship between the seller and the buyer has changed and marketing has more responsibility for shaping the vision of buyers, so sales must up its game to engage this better informed buyer. According to the Aberdeen Group “this is a crucial cornerstone of sales enablement whereas in earlier business generations the flow of data about products and services was unidirectional – buyers could only learn about features, advantages, and benefits from the marketers and sellers with whom they interacted – today, it is commonly understood in the B2B space that the buyer now holds the power after having easily researched product reviews, user ratings, and social media content to narrow down the list of providers or products they might consider.”

It’s clear with the increased sophistication of today’s buyer; Marketing can no longer provide Sales with one-size-fits-all messaging or sales scripts. The two groups need to work together and collaborate on what’s working and what isn’t, so that the overall result is more effective. In other words, sellers must align their conversation and content to the buyer’s journey and vision.

I love this quote from the report, in which Marketing says: “I know that half of my working budget is working, but I don’t know which half.” All too often, marketing campaigns, customer messaging, presentations, brochures, and other marketing collateral have been created that wind up missing their mark. The reason for this is that most of this marketing collateral gets created in a vacuum, without collaborating with the sales department. The problem with this is, there haven’t been any feedback loops in place to measure the overall results of how effective those have been. So, what winds up happening is, if the content isn’t working, then salespeople spend their time rewriting it. This creates a problem around the continuity and consistency for what is delivered to the market.

Providing the right tracking and feedback tools that are a part of the Sales Enablement process will provide greater accountability and eventually a better return on investment (ROI) around future marketing initiatives. According to the Aberdeen Group: “Identifying the ROI of discrete marketing campaigns and assets will be made far easier when the marketing and selling teams collaborate in a manner that more effectively allows for post-marketing activity tracking of buyer engagement; the ongoing refinement of marketing messaging will not only make that department more effective, but inevitably better satisfy the sales team with the ultimate desired outcome – more engaged, qualified leads – are presented to them for nurturing and closure”.

When Sales and Marketing organizations collaborate, and are in greater alignment with one another, it becomes much harder to criticize the other party. When marketing assets, campaigns, and content are collaboratively created, executed and measured as a team effort, then everyone has an equal stake in the outcome.

Another challenge that Sales Enablement addresses is delivering the right information, content, message, or collateral at the right time to the right target. This can be accomplished by implementing the right tools that capture, host, and deliver those items. Providing Sales with access to a Sales Enablement marketing automation system will allow sales people to access the tools they need to be more productive and effective.

So those organizations that create a Sales Enablement initiative will go a long way to align both the Sales and Marketing teams. At least that’s the way I see it, what say you?

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