Sales teams need to understand how to leverage technology and their customers’ content to create win-win marketing scenarios. Role of marketing in sales enablement was:
- Drive demand generation
- Work closely with sales on nurturing prospects
- Fulfil content needs
- Aid sales training and onboarding
- Craft value propositions
But it needs to evolve to help also with:
- Education of sales
- Identification of marketing elements important for sales discussion
- Integrate sales and marketing tools
Sales reps spend up to 43 hours per month searching for information they need. More than 90 of content goes unused by sales team. 87 % of sales training skills are lost within a month. So, it is important that marketing and sales integrate their activities for efficiency and relevancy purposes. Marketing creates the brand guide, but it is up to employees to bring brand promises to life. Marketing is behind-the-scenes force and sales is another marketing channel.
Sales enablement enable sales to do their jobs, but should not do their jobs for them. The concept of sales enablement and the necessity for sales support in B2B sales organization is still evolving. Sales enablement according to author is delivering a positive customer experience by equipping sales with knowledge, skills, processes and tools through cross-functional collaboration in order to increase sales velocity, sales retention and productivity. Knowledge and skills represent content, training and onboarding. Process suggests documented sales processes and methodologies. Tools are software platforms and technologies to implement sales enablement efforts.
Seven common elements of all definitions of sales enablement:
Sales enablement could be a role or a task that people in existing roles are performing. In some organizations, sales enablement is part of sales operations. Sales operations run operations and day-to-day activities, compensations and quotas. It focuses on the mechanical aspects of sales. Sales enablement is more concerned with equipping salespeople with knowledge, skills and tools. Things they have in common are: purpose, reporting structure and accountability. Sometimes it can be seen as sales enablement being involved early in the buying process and sales operations late in the sales process. Probably the best place for sales enablement is inside sales organization.
The sales team need to influence a team of buyers, then train a group of users. Some areas where sales can use marketing support are:
- Segmentation – deep
- Content for different stages of customer journey
- Marketing research
- Value proposition by vertical or targeted accounts
- Co-marketing or other marketing tactics to use them in negotiations
- Training for use of social media
- Resources for joint initiatives
- Additional data about leads, target companies
What marketing needs in order to properly support sales
- Have a solid go-to-market (GMT) plan
- Understand the company’s business objective and sales strategy
- Understand the sales process and sales
- Sales process is the measurable, consistent and systematic series of steps that map out and track interaction with prospects from their first point of engagement through the closing of an opportunity
- Sales methodology is the learned behaviors,
tactics and strategies used by sales team to execute and fulfil the sales
process in a professional and conversational manner’. A sales methodology
includes tools, skillsets and techniques needed to move prospects along the sales
funnel. Some of the methodologies:
- SPIN selling
- Target account selling
- The challenger sale
- NEAT selling
- SNAP selling
- The Sandler selling system
- Solutions selling the value selling framework
- Conceptual selling
When we are thinking about going to the market, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Is my product relevant? Are my buyers ready? Leonardo da Vinci was before his time. Industrial revolution created a good environment for ideas to become operational. But even that take time. Steam engines took three different people over sixty years (Savery in 1698, Newcomen in 1712 and Watt in 1765) to perfect the design and got it adopted by various existing industries. But those time didn’t need sales enablement. Sales enablement is not necessary when: the customer’s pain point is acute, product is relevant to address the pain point, it is easy to show-and-tell and it is simple to quantify savings. But second wave of Industrial revolution created complicate and interconnected systems and three elements impacted the complexity of sales: machines powered by machines, expanded sales channels and the formation of corporations. Two other elements emerge: unexpected usage of products and emergent customers from new and existing verticals. Sales enablement has become crucial for success of sales of technology products.
Senior management is here to estimates trends and react on them. If we are looking at approach, we can define five steps: evaluate trends, make decisions, identify challenges, propose solutions and modify behavior. Elements such as market dynamics, sophisticated and educated buyers, customer expectations and disruptive technologies are now uncontrollable factors that are fomenting a perfect storm of trends that are changing the context of how sellers and buyers interact.
Key trends that shape sales profession:
- Market dynamics & changing
- Rise of empowered buyers
- Sales force verticalization
- Shift from “FAB” to “solution” to “insight” selling
- Blurred lines between sales and marketing
- Adoption of hybrid sales communications
- Advanced in technology
- On-demand availability
- Omnipresent social media
- Analytics-based prospecting
- Workforce reconfiguration
- Multigenerational sales teams and customer teams
- Globalization of teams and customer base
- Sales Talent Development
- Use of analytics to gain leaner insights
- Emergence of integrated learning environments as a necessity
Trends help you to identify future opportunities. It is also important to map trends to actionable business outcomes for customers. So, we can update steps to handle development by adding some steps: identify challenges, prioritize solutions, obtain buy-in, implement recommendations, modify behavior, measure success, monitor performance, comprehend trends.
Sales and marketing
Customer expect sales to be a solution provider, thought leader, subject matter expert and partner first while the role of salesman only comes into play later. Sales is a high-pressure job. Salespeople are under a lot of stress to meet quotas, convert quickly, retain customers, grow the lifetime value of each customer and, most importantly, make sure they get paid. Sometimes marketing long-term plays are burden for sales oriented short-term goals.
Some of the things marketing can provide for sales are:
- Provide relevant and credible content online and offline.
- Create vertical-specific value propositions and content.
- Help together with sales uncovering customer needs.
- Create case studies to support solution and insight selling.
- Share social media best practices.
- Break down content into snackable and digestible formats.
- Help with sales training with content and creative resources to make training more effective and engaging.
Main differences between marketing and sales come from different department goals, different time frame (long-term to short-term approach), different resources and support allocation. Marketing will need to take care of the whole purchase funnel, while sales focuses on the bottom of the funnel to qualify prospects and convert to opportunities. When focusing on joint priorities sales teams may identify new target accounts, optimize sales processes, implement new tools or accelerate sales cycles. Marketing teams may focus on product launches, website refresh, marketing automation upgrades and so on. Together they can work on integration of marketing automation and CRM, improving the quality of data and dashboards, targeting specific verticals and personas collectively, something as simple as agreeing to host a specific number of customers’ events. Organizing events like customer or prospect events are good opportunity for marketing and sales to work together. Another opportunity is to do account-based sales and marketing. Where sales identify account and marketing create targeted campaigns to reach that account. Working together marketing and sales should agree on SLA (service level agreement), that will define roles and tasks of both teams. SLA should also respond to fields and data in both marketing automating system (MAS) and CRM.
Marketing ultimate goal in working with sales is to deliver them high quality leads. They should have:
- Depth – Lead is a cluster of relevant information, which includes demographics, firmographics, buying signals, contact information and qualified activity such as an online form submission.
- Accuracy – Verifying the data allows your sales team to allocate time and resources to prospects with the highest probability of being receptive to your message.
- Reliability – It is about the process of gathering feedback from sales to improve the quality of the leads. Some industries have as high as a 6.5 % monthly contract decay rate.
- Fitness – It is about quality versus quantity.
Lead generation impacts whether or not salespeople follow up on the marketing leads. And, if they do, can marketing tie signed contract back to their leads.
Brand and messaging framework
A brand is a result, not a tactic. Consistency is a key in brand building. It is important that the quantity of output does not outpace your ability to provide relevant content with consistent quality. It is important to establish brand guide, that defines the brand’s look and feel, and tone and manner. It is also important to establish messaging framework, that explains the product’s unique value proposition. We have brand persona and buyer persona. Brand persona is brand personified with a set of human characteristics. Buyer persona is representation of your ideal customer. Sales teams are the frontline interface of a brand. Marketing creates the brand guide, but sales reps, account managers, customer services and support teams all shape the customer experience and bring brand promise to life. For complex sales people are brand and the unique differentiator.
Some of the magic to close sales are:
- Clear product message and user benefits
- Persuasive show-and-tell
- Discounted pricing and small monthly installments
- Urgent call to action
The key is to craft a message that is relevant to something your prospects care deeply about: themselves. That is why messaging need to meet two criteria: identify uniqueness of your products and be relevant to your customer. When you try to create unique offers, go through list of features or catalog of services in your company, mark them based on are they special to you or something that others have, but you can prove that you are better or something that everybody has it. Discard all the last and work on first and second.
When making a claim, don’t go over three claims. Identify top three Value Wedge points. If your salespeople can find problems not only solve them, you are in even better position. Solution based approach can be built on:
- Identifying existing challenges
- Creating value proposition
- Positioning of your solution
- Proof points
But if you work on customer unconsidered needs, you can go straight to messaging and proof points.
In enterprises a messaging framework requires external marketing research from customers, competitive product analysis and internal feedback from management and subject matter experts. The essence of messaging should also be woven into website, content and communications materials including ads, PR, blogs, email and more.
Another tool to consider are sales playbooks. Sales playbooks describe in detail such things as sales pitches, competitive landscapes, product differentiations, target customer profiles, product offering and description, battle cards and customer success stories. Key elements of sales playbook:
- Product or solution description
- Competitive intelligence and analysis
- Customer challenges
- Response to customer challenges
- Value proposition
- Elevator pitch
- Messaging framework
- Proof points
- Approach plan
- Conversation starters
- Deal characteristics
- Buyers’ roles and lines of business
- Customer wins
- Client presentation examples
- Offering overview and datasheet
- Buying factors
- Relevant marketing content as pass-through
On top of product-based messaging, we also have thought leadership messaging, channel partner (indirect) messaging, brand messaging and purchase role specific messaging (buyers are sometimes not users).
Sales enablement elements
The purpose of the sales enablement is to enhance salespeople’s knowledge or change their behavior. We can talk about three elements: training, content and coaching. Training can mean a corporate training, product training, sales technique training and more. And training can come from different departments such as human resources, business units, product groups or marketing. Content can be training-specific content or content that the sales team needs throughout their sales processes to engage with their prospects and customers. Knowledge refers to the understanding of products, competitors, industry trends, opportunities, threats and usage of different tools. Skills are more about communications, storytelling, selling techniques, pitches, research and positioning.
Sales training plan map knowledge and skills with sales processes, sales tactics and sales career tracks. Inside sales need strong verbal communications skills with a high level of product knowledge to either schedule meetings for outside sales or close sales on the phone or via email. Outside salespeople managing strategic accounts must hone in one-to-one relationship building and deepen their understanding of accounts’ firmographics and technographics. They should be able to conduct need analysis, offering recommendations and solutions and preparing proposals.
According to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, we forget 42 per cent of what we have learned in twenty minutes. Within thirty-one days, a typical onboarding timeline, we lose 79 per cent of what we learned. Continuous training is the yang to onboarding yin. Salesforce has a well-established sales enablement team that focuses on sales development and training. A four-day bootcamp for their new sales hires. The sales enablement team created a complete six-month structured curriculum of continuous online and offline training that salespeople need to take. Other companies also work a lot on creating programs for continuous learning. Andy Grove, founder of Intel, is saying that employees own their own employability. It’s each employee’s job to proactively determine the skills and knowledge that they need to pursue their own career path.
Content is defined as anything that conveys meaningful information to humans. Content plays a vital role in selling complex technology. Content is also essential for search engine optimization (SEO). Supporting sales by providing content as a marketing person can be tricky. You need to apply judgement as to when to use standard content or customized content to support varied tactics. Some of the content marketing can prepare are:
- Product videos
- Product pages on web
- Solution briefs
- Customer stories
- Case studies
- ROI reports
- White papers, trends
- Competitor comparisons
- Topic-specific web content
In two days after the meeting people will only remember 10 % of what you say, so it is important to share content to validate, reinforce or remind customers of your key points.
Coaching and facilitation can play a key role in the discovery stage of a targeted account. One of the important actions in sales is to discover what makes a prospect tick. Erik Peterson’s approach described in his The Three Value Conversations, is using concept of “make the status quo unsafe”.
One of the potential sales approaches that can align marketing and sales is account-based selling. It can be supported by ABM (account-based marketing). Three types of ABM: strategic ABM (one-on-one), ABM lite (one-to-few) and programmatic ABM (one-to-many).
A customer’s propensity to buy hinges on three attributes – fit, intent and engagement.
- Fit is the set of environmental factors and attributes of a company that make it likely to need your offering. Data that are used in identification are firmographics and technographics.
- Intent is behavioral indicators showing and intention to buy.
- Engagement is activity from all the people who are interacting with your company at the account level
In helping sales in account-based selling approach marketing can enable the sales team to demonstrate greater levels of business relevance, save time of sales teams by focusing on high-value accounts and leverage insights and intersect with marketing own customer database.
The modern sales leaders have to be a marketer. Drucker believes that business is about creating customers and that is why business has only two basic functions: innovation and marketing. Some of the marketing programs are:
- Marketing with partners
- Social media
Partner marketing is when two or more brands collaborate on promotional efforts. In the tech industry, partner marketing is a key channel for driving demand for new technologies. It is about joint messaging and creating joint solutions.
Channel partner marketing can be about distributors, value-added resellers, system integrators, managed service providers and even retailers. Key issues can arise in: pricing, compensation, territory and process (lead registration system). Creating channel sales can cost some initial profit sharing, but it will deliver exponentially more value in the long run.
ROI of email marketing is not just about revenue, but also gathering intelligence. In order to do it properly, you should be careful about cadence. Also think about proper profiling. Marketing automation platforms like Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot are good tools for this part of activities.
e-commerce should be treated as another channel for sales teams, not a direct competitor. Another big advantage of e-commerce is the ability to address channel partners need to access product information and specification. E-commerce can be a good tool for replacement parts business or for SaaS with freemium model, where core is for free, additional features are charged.
Affiliate marketing activity is a business arrangement whereby one part (the merchant or advertisers) agrees to pay another party the affiliate or publisher) a referral fee, bounty or commission for every occurrence or desirable action.
Loyalty programs – US companies spend 50 billion USD a year on loyalty programs alone. Loyalty programs are popular in B2C. For B2B loyalty can be hidden in other marketing programs. The key to successful loyalty and reward effort is making sure your customer feels valued for supporting your business. Technology plays a crucial role in loyalty programs.
Programmatic and retargeting ads. Retargeting is a form of online advertising, is served to people who have visited your website (pixel-based) or to contacts from your database (list-based). Lumenison, now part of HEAT Software, built a retargeting strategy on five key pillars:
- Instant nurturing
- Lead retargeting
- Behavioral intent look-alikes
- Integrated online and offline event marketing and retargeting
Social media is also a must for marketing.
In addressing only known problems, sellers are ceding control of the conversation to buyers. By doing that seller put them self into commodity box. You need to become problem finder, not a problem solver. The premium is your ability to tell buyers something useful about a problem or of a missed opportunity that they didn’t even know they had. It is called unconsidered needs.
Design and UX
Design is front-and-centre and as important as content, workflow, functionality, layout and components. Design transforms the experience. And the experience matters in digital age. Augmented reality means projecting virtual information of top of the real world. And augmented reality is one of the xR technologies – cross reality. In order to apply xR technologies Terry Lewis, Digital and Technology director at Caterpillar see those areas as important: find the right talent, identify the areas to pilot xR technologies, think about time and investment you need, make sure you have done your homework on digital transformation and make sure that visualization tools you use are proper for your environment.
Different aspects of xR may impact sales enablement: product, training, maintenance and operations and sales and marketing.
SaaS companies can include sales messages inside their apps. But SaaS as new business model changes also sales processes, sales models, structure of the teams and pricing and cost analysis.
When we look at marketing or sales enablement technology and solutions, we should be careful to make sure we estimate: ease of use, integration, content management, mobile readiness and analytics. On one hand we have central repositories of data like CRM, marketing automation platforms and content management systems, on the other hand we have iPaaS – integration platform as a service. iPaaS will take data from all those systems and integrate it into one single set of data. But more and more sales teams are implementing on top of everything also sales enablement platforms such as Highspot, Engagion, Fusion, Grove, Azaleads and Veelo. Some steps we can take to source sales enablement tools are: define the company goals, conduct needs analysis, check existing sales tools, identify potential tools, select the tool and track usage.
In the Heart of Change, Josh Kotter and Dan Cohen state that most people believe change happens in this order: analyze, think, change. But in reality, is more: see, feel, change.
Structure of sales enablement
If you want to create a team, you first need to tie your team’s mission to your company goals. If some of those areas (knowledge is not centralized, sales spend too much time searching, positioning of products is not clear, training is suffering and there is silos effect of lack of collaboration) have problems it is time to think about sales enablement team. Potential roles for sales enablement team are:
- Coaching and talent development – sales coach or executive
- Recruiting – recruiter
- Onboarding and training – talent developer, training designer, instructor, facilitator, research manager
- Tools and process improvements – operations manager, technology manager, IT manager, procurement manager
- Incentives and compensation – compensation manager, finance manager, accounting manager
- Partner support – partner sales enablement manager
- Solutions and positioning – messaging manager, marketing manager
- Pipeline and forecast management – executive and data analyst.
Sales enablement should be part of the sale team and be peer to sales operations and not a part of sales operations. When sales enablement report to other functions, there is always the risk of being deprioritized based on that group’s focus, depriving sale enablement of required resources.
- Effective communicators
- Understand habits of top sales performers
- Demonstrate relevant market experience (industry, sales or product marketing)
- Able to develop relevant content
- Comfortable ramping tools and processes
- Adept with changing technologies
Global sale content requires special attention. When thinking about localization check: colors, holidays, sports, religion, fiscal years, superstitions, language use and collateral specification.
Children these days are excellent consumers of technology, but rarely dig into the bones of how it works. Author feels that is how we, as business professionals, have become. Technology has made it so easy for us that we don’t spend time to understand how everything ties together and what we can do to improve.
Sales tech stack vendors that were analyzed in 2017 by DeKouchovsky identified over 700 vendors in five categories: engagement, productivity and enablement, sales intelligence, pipeline and analytics and people management. Cost of acquiring customers is growing. In SaaS model, subscription alone is not sufficient enough, companies are adding layer services on top of the platform. Maintaining and controlling acquisition cost will be a key challenge for SaaS based or complex technology sales companies. Technology has two functions – it enables us to: automate our existing processes and enable new usage to do things we could not do before. When we think about tech stacks sourcing use those steps:
- Document the questions
- Anticipate the needs of the sales teams
- Map existing tools to the sales process
- Comprehend the gaps in existing tools
- Propose the technical requirements to address the gap analysis
- Research potential tools that meet the requirements
- Form a sourcing team
- Evaluate the recommendations
- Make a decision
Things before digital transformation were fairly straightforward: it was easy to define each department’s roles and responsibilities and people knew the departments boundaries. The boundaries between functions begin to fade as technology continues to grow and expand to improve our efficiency and productivity by doing our work or integrating or merging different tasks and processes. As Drucker said: “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes…but no plans.” When making checklist to support and plan with sales team you can focus on bellow categories:
- Business goals
- Sales objectives
- Marketing objectives
- Sales enablement strategy
- Internal sales personas
- Target sales enablement in countries
- Key tactics
Lee Iacocca: “There is no substitute for accurate knowledge. Know yourself, your business and your men.”
yourself is about knowing what you can offer. Knowing your business is about
knowing your company’s overall direction, strategic imperatives and sales
plans. Knowing your men is about knowing what makes your salespeople tick.
 By David Kirk in the book on page 13
 Lucas Conley in the book on page 77
 In the book on page 218
 In the book on page 224