I am a big believer in the power and importance of creating a customer-centric culture. Your buyers - their struggles, their pains, their goals, and their wants - should be at the forefront of nearly every decision you make as a company.
But we also need to remember that within every department and every role, you may have more than one customer.
There’s the company’s customer - whom you’re all there to serve - and your internal customer.
And for marketing, that’s your sales team.
That’s right. Marketers need to view sales, not as just an ally (and definitely not as an adversary - which is way too common), but as a customer, as someone you serve.
The point of a B2B marketer’s job is to deliver warm, engaged, and qualified leads to their sales team, and provide the necessary information, context, and resources to help close them.
And just like I advocate companies be downright obsessive about serving their buyers, I encourage marketers to be the same with about serving their sales team.
Yep. I just said that. And let me repeat it for emphasis:
Marketers should be obsessive about serving their sales team.
It’s time you all get passionate about learning how to make your sales team’s job easier.
And that means that as a marketer, you are also in sales enablement.
So what is sales enablement anyway?
In short, Sales Enablement is the process or discipline of providing the resources a sales team needs to be truly effective in their jobs.
Because this discipline has grown in complexity and maturity over recent years, there are certain guidelines that can help us all better understand how to deliver the kind of information, resources, and support that help sales people drive revenue and straight up kick ass.
More mature - mid-stage to enterprise - organizations likely do and should have full teams devoted to producing these materials, every marketer needs to keep the above principles in mind, so they can know exactly how to deliver genuine value to their sales teams.
How can marketers create better sales team enablement?
Now that you’re getting a better idea of why you need to spend more time and energy helping your sales team, let’s talk about how you’re going to do it.
Treat your sales team like your customer
For marketing to really help their sales team, they need to understand their sales reps - what do they need, where are they struggling, what are their goals. I highly recommend crafting buyer persona templates for your sales reps and do it with the same rigor and thoroughness that you do for your buyers.
Note: if your current buyer personas are just a list of titles and industries, you need help. Buyer personas should be rich, complex profiles that help you peer into the minds of your buyers, so you can better understand what messaging resonates with them, and how you can best help them solve their biggest problems and achieve their loftiest goals.
Some information you should include in your sales team profiles - segmented by Sales Development Reps (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs):
- Quarterly and yearly goals of your sales team
- Average number of reps hitting their quota
- Breakdown of inbound to outbound leads
- Differences in territory (do some reps get all the inbound?)
- Coaching and training initiatives for reps
The idea here is to give your team insight into how you can best add value and help your sales team build pipeline - faster.
Map the full Customer Journey
Your sales team plays an active role in your company’s customer journey. Sure, marketing is often creating the content or engagement that prompts a prospective buyer into beginning their journey with your company, but they’re passing the baton off to the sales team in order to lead that buyer to the finish line in becoming a customer.
All too often marketing stops paying close attention to the buyer funnel once the lead gets passed to sales, but it’s marketing’s job to understand what steps a buyer takes throughout their journey - from lead to close, and from close to retention, referral, and beyond.
Some insight you need into the customer journey:
- The content a buyer needs to review before they make their final decision
- The value props, images, or messaging that they see during a demo with sales
- Any customers they speak to or case studies they read
- Who is involved in the buying process - this can be influencers, technical buyers, end users, or budget approvers
- Common objections that must be handled
With this information, the marketing team can provide sales team enablement resources that streamline this buying process. The ultimate goal is closing more deals, more quickly. Find out everything you can about what stands in the way of this outcome.
Stop, Collaborate, and Listen
It turns out that if marketing wants to help the sales team build pipeline more effectively, they should probably just ask sales what would make their lives and jobs easier.
If you’ve built (or inherited) a culture of siloed revenue teams, it’s time to make a change. I know it can be daunting. I know it may even seem impossible.
Or hell, it may just seem tedious and not worth your time. But it is.
You both are responsible for developing revenue at your company. That means you’re on the same team, whether it seems like it or not. It’s time to start acting like it.
Find some ways to work together more closely. You might just start by asking one or some of your sales counterparts out for coffee. Or maybe you can begin having more productive, collaborative cross-functional meetings.
The idea is to bridge the gap, build a relationship, and learn from one another.
Some of the things marketing can learn from sales:
- What blog posts or content pieces get the best (or the worst) reaction from prospects
- Which objections do they hear most often and how do they handle them
- How different messaging or value propositions perform in their pitches or outbound sequences
- Where do they get stuck in deals (and how can you help)
You might also want to hold monthly Lead to Close Story Sessions. These are opportunities to share with the entire sales and marketing teams how a lead becomes a customer. Pick a current successful customer and share the entire story of how the deal happened.
Have someone from your marketing team explain how the lead came in, what content they consumed, events they attended, webinars they watched. Then bring in whomever qualified the opportunity. And next have the sales rep explain what they did to close the deal, which objections they had to overcome, influencers they needed to convince, and decision makers that got involved.
These are a phenomenal way for everyone to learn more about the full customer journey, discover more stories to tell during sales cycles, and ways to identify areas to improve.
And once you begin this relationship, you might also want to start running some joint campaigns. Reach out to your sales development team - or whoever is handling outbound prospecting - and launch a marketing campaign together.
Want some ideas for collaborative marketing + sales development campaigns? CLick here to Download this list of ideas to get you started.
I promise that if you take the time to complete the above activities, you’ll not only build a better relationship with your sales team, but you’ll also help them make a whole lot more money - which also makes you look way better.
Lots of marketers are tired of hearing complaints from the sales team about lead quality and frustrated by the feeling that their sales team isn’t following up with leads in the right way. The rest of you probably have better relationships with your sales teams, which means doing right by them (or better as the case may be) is probably always a priority.
And I get it that in today’s age of high pressured startup growth, taking a step back, slowing down, and doing this kind of strategic work can feel like a distraction, but I promise it will propel you forward, making your team and its results way more impactful.