July 9, 2019

Sales Enablement Is Possible, But You’ve Got To Talk To One Another

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We all want to live in a world where sales and marketing work in perfect, streamlined harmony. But without aligned goals and good communication, cooperation between sales and marketing is doomed from the start.

Sales enablement requires a deep understanding of how marketing KPIs affect sales revenue outcomes. It’s a cooperative effort run by sales with specific, revenue-focused tasks delegated to marketing. At least, that’s the ideal.

Sales is marketing’s internal customer. That means marketing should prioritize producing sales enablement pieces, and sales should prioritize communicating their message to marketing. Enablement is a two-way street. While the job description of sales enablement probably lives under the sales team, both teams share the responsibilities.

How do sales and marketing cooperate to enable sales? Here are four ways to start.

Tie marketing goals to sales revenue

It’s easy for marketing types to disassociate themselves from the revenue-driving part of the company. That fulfills a need for many of us who came to marketing through the humanities. We can say “Ah, well, since I’m not working on a commission, I can focus on my craft. Let sales worry about the revenue numbers.” While it may work for a bit, that sort of thought process can quickly cause a schism between departments.

Instead, we need to think of marketing departments as revenue contributors. If we work the math backwards from the number of deals we need to meet revenue goals for the quarter, we can define how many opportunities we need to make those deals, how many sales qualified leads (SQLs) will result in those opportunities, and how many marketing qualified leads (MQLs) will result in those SQLs.

This is how you calculate your revenue-based marketing goal. If you need to sell, say, $10,000 this quarter, and your product is $1,000, you’ll need 10 opportunities. If only 10 percent of your MQLs turn into opportunities, you’ll need at least 100 MQLs for the quarter.

By calculating MQL, SQL, opportunity, and revenue goals as a continuum that both marketing and sales teams work toward, you spread the responsibility of performance. When content is tied directly to projected revenue outcomes, marketers begin to prioritize their content goals strategically to enable sales.

Curate a buyer-first content library

Buyers need all forms of informational content to help them move toward that purchase, and sales and marketing should work together to gather and create those assets.

Consider cooperating in these ways:

  • Sales knows the types of questions the buyer has. Turn those into answers that the buyer can find on their own or sales can provide to them at will.
  • Marketing likes to make content in isolation, publishing it and hoping for the best. Share your assets with sales. Let them know what’s been written, how they can use it, and gather feedback on what they actually need.
  • Track what assets sales actually uses, and lay ground rules about what gets used and when. Sales shouldn’t reinvent the wheel for every customer, so come up with a good plan and discuss when reps deviate. Use these times as opportunities to make a better plan or to course correct individuals.

It’s not enough to just make the content. Make your assets available in the company’s CRM or document management tool where sales can access it and use it. Bonus points for teams that plan out buyer workflows and sales scripts that suggest the best sales content for every objection, question, or buyer type.

Use your tech stack to further enablement

Marketing knows how to automate content distribution, how to start up and send newsletters, how to automate nurture cadences. If the marketing team is in charge of writing buyer-facing content, it should also help sales associate the right assets with each buyer need.

Marketers can set up email nurture cadences that align with your lead scoring tools for sales to engage leads after the initial MQL handover. The marketing team should advise sales on the types of content that currently exist to help bring your customers down the funnel.

Sales and marketing need to huddle around the same marketing and sales automation tools and collaborate on the expected outcomes. Use marketing automation software, sales enablement software, CRMs, and email marketing tools to align the smarketing team around shared goals.

Keep the conversation going

Like any good relationship, the marketing and sales teams need to communicate to cooperate. Make a regularly scheduled meeting between key stakeholders part of your monthly or quarterly routine. Take the time in this meeting to discuss revenue forecasts, re-align MQL goals, plan new content streams, check automated nurture cadences for bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and cover any ongoing issues.

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