How to Align Marketing and Sales for Successful Sales Enablement
This article originally appeared in Marketing Toolbox.
Sales enablement, the ongoing process of providing reps with the training, content, and tools they need to sell effectively, is often thought to be a function exclusively owned and operated by sales teams. But this isn’t true. The fully realized benefits of sales enablement require collaboration with other departments in an organization, especially marketing.
Marketers play a pivotal role in sales enablement: They produce and provide the content—solution briefs, case studies, win/loss story videos, presentation decks, product demo scripts, email cadences, and more—to support reps in moving deals through the sales pipeline. This process, however, is often complicated by misalignment between marketing and sales departments—one of the top pain points sales enablement teams face, according to new research from Allego.
The lack of alignment between sales and marketing often stems from poor or outright lack of communication between both departments. Because of the volume of content needed for sales enablement, marketers spend a great deal of time curating materials for reps without checking how valuable the materials actually are. Instead, marketers fulfill content requests and move on upon completion. In a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 57% of marketing and sales teams rarely or never collaborate on assessing content effectiveness. As a result, content goes unused by salespeople. On the other side, marketing professionals have no idea if what they created was helpful or performed well because reps aren’t providing feedback.
This communication gap also extends to marketing and sales teams who are not on the same page about content’s accessibility, with 43% of marketers saying it’s easy for reps to find sales content, but only 32% of sales reps agreeing, according to Allego research.
Misalignment between both groups creates unnecessary roadblocks to sales enablement, making the function less impactful for the reps it’s designed to help. Marketing and sales teams need to align for sales enablement to be successful and mobilize better-prepared sellers. Here are three ways they can do this:
1. Form Partnerships by Increasing Communication
The content that marketing professionals develop can sometimes miss the mark for what sellers require. Although marketers conduct online research to supplement upcoming content, unless they consult with reps and sales managers—people with firsthand understanding of the sales cycle and buyer interactions—they’ll continue to put out materials that aren’t used, wasting time and effort. Marketing professionals need to partner with sales teams to ensure they create viable assets.
Marketers need input from the people the content is meant for: sellers. Communicating with sales teams and getting their feedback can assist marketers in elevating sales assets with the messaging, concepts, and language they need rather than marketers making that call themselves. Sellers, as well as sales managers and subject matter experts (SMEs), have the background and buyer experiences required to inform content, allowing marketers to repackage the knowledge in easily digestible and distinctive ways for sales teams.
Marketing and sales teams can meet regularly to discuss the materials that gain traction or fall short of what’s needed. For instance, following a sales kickoff event where reps receive new sales presentations and product information to prepare for the coming year, marketing and sales can review attendee feedback to determine which content worked and which didn’t. As a result, both parties will be on the same page once it’s time to plan content for the next sales kickoff.
While it’s imperative that both teams sync often to align on priorities, it isn’t always feasible with everyone on different schedules. Even if teams aren’t available for conversations, sales can still support marketing by utilizing asynchronous videos to identify and share relevant selling situations. This can be a prospect call recording or even an informal recording of the rep sharing a “win” story or a new competitor they encountered. This gives marketers insights from real-life scenarios they can use to develop their content while allowing them to view the video when they have time.
2. Disclose ‘Creator’s Intent’ Behind Content
As marketing professionals receive content requests, they’re prone to develop creative materials that will stay top of mind with salespeople. However, once the content gets into a seller’s possession, these creative solutions (coupled with the abundance of available content) can leave them confused if given no further context. Marketing and sales professionals think differently, so marketers can help sellers by going the extra mile and explaining the “creator’s intent” behind each piece of content.
One way to provide context is through video. Suppose a marketer produced a set of solution briefs for a new suite of products. The marketer could record a short video explaining each asset’s purpose, including which pain points they address and whether they should be used for a specific industry or job title. That way, there’s no uncertainty with sellers around which asset to use, helping them use the right content more purposefully and strategically. The now-informed rep will feel more confident using the solution briefs with their prospects. In turn, they’ll be one step closer to closing the deal.
3. Construct More Agile Content
Even with some content initially checking all the boxes, the reality is that it can quickly become outdated as markets change. Marketers should leverage agile content to keep sales teams informed as markets shift to avoid unused assets. For instance, in financial services, where markets fluctuate rapidly, and advisors need to inform their clients and prospects regularly, senior leaders can record short videos with their viewpoints to share with the entire company. This is much faster than typing out a long email any time changes occur. All employees will receive the information in a timely fashion, so they’re better prepared for client conversations.
A video is also a powerful tool for constructing agile content that can be shared among sales and marketing teams. Marketers can ask sellers to record a video on a given topic, such as how they handle objections or deliver a pitch. They can then add a creative flair to the video that makes it consumable to sellers. Once finished, marketers can build and organize a learning library of peer-generated video content that sales teams can easily access and glean best practices.
Additionally, sellers can help guide content by sharing timely information about evolving markets. Their observations can help fuel dynamic content while also allowing sellers to have a hand in creating marketing materials. The content driven by the people who’ll use it (sellers) will enable marketers to build materials that lead sales teams to success.
As sales enablement emerges as a critical function for organizations, marketers and sales teams must align to create valuable content to better prepare reps for any selling situation. For content to be effective, marketers must get on the same page with sales teams by communicating more, explaining the intent behind each piece, and ensuring that it’s agile for changing selling situations. By doing so, success and sales enablement will go hand in hand to drive results for organizations.
Download the Who Owns Sales Enablement? research report to learn what a successful sales enablement team looks like and get recommendations for your organization.