Sharp sales and marketing leaders understand a simple truth: without strong strategic direction, their departments will flounder. Action without focus is usually wasted motion. Even when sales and marketing strategies are well defined, we still see a gap left in sales enablement. The risk in ignoring sales enablement strategy will be seen as it will impact the overall success of the broader strategies.
Before we dive in, let’s define it. Sales enablement is made up of strategies, processes and content that equip the sales team to sell more effectively and support revenue growth.
Sales enablement is critical to ensuring your business continues to scale. It is the natural overlap between the actions of marketing and efforts of sales. If you expect to continue to grow, this link must be strong and highly intentional. Here are three things to consider when you go about giving sales enablement some long overdue TLC.
What is your Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy?
How an organization presents itself to the market is critical to its overall positioning. And yet, many organizations are not properly aligned around core GTM motions. Our Chief Strategy Officer, JT Bricker, detailed how companies can solve for this in his post about “How to Conduct a Go-To-Market Workshop.”
Sales Enablement Strategy Considerations for Demand Generation
Let’s say your strategy is a traditional Demand Generation approach, where you plan to cast a wide net and drive as much volume and velocity as you can. This type of strategy will require the deployment of many marketing initiatives. And therefore, it drives different needs than other approaches. Here are the key things to be on the lookout for:
- Make it easy. Sales will NOT work to figure out what you’re doing in marketing (and again, you’ll be doing a lot of things). You have to serve it up.
- Focus them. Don’t simply depend on one email to tell your story. Review large scale campaign plans with the sales team in person or on call. Specifically focus on your big rock campaigns, anything spanning months with a multi-threaded channel mix. These type of campaigns take a lot of time to develop. Ensure sales understands why you’re going through all this effort. Walk through your campaign development process (Objectives & KPIs, Audience Analysis, Campaign Plan, Messaging Plan, etc). Steal our framework for this here.
- Scale. For everything else, you have to create scalable visibility. Let sales know what’s coming in a format that’s easy to reference. Fail to do this and they won’t understand what it means when someone converted from campaign 23 of 114.
- Create a self-service approach to data. If a sales person gets a lead and they can’t easily see what this person did or wants, they will just make some shit up on the call until they can figure it out. Provide them easy access to the data they need.
Sales Enablement Strategy Considerations for ABM
Alternatively, if your business uses an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy, your tactics are going to look vastly different than the DemandGen folks’ and your sales enablement strategy will need to reflect the distinction. Couple things to note:
- Ideally your campaign development should be done in conjunction with the sales team. Since you’ll have a smaller number of key accounts to target, with which your salespeople should be intimately familiar, you should set engagement strategy together.
- Unlike Demand Gen, Sales should be involved in the deployment of marketing efforts and partake in the insights gathered from wins and loses. The post-mortem of a campaign should drive the strategy for both Marketing and Sales.
- Consider implementing ABM stand ups. Jon Miller, co-founder of Marketo and current Founder and CEO at Engagio, wrote up everything you need to know to be successful with those here.
Jon also recently detailed how modern B2B marketing and sales teams are becoming less of a baton handoff process and more an integrated team. Check out this snippet and if you’re interested to hear more, view the entire webinar on-demand here: www.leadmd.com/alignment
If you can’t categorize your GTM approach as either, consider yourself part of the ever-growing number of companies leveraging a hybrid approach. If your approach is a mix between DemandGen and ABM, you’ve likely already guessed that your sales enablement strategy will also be a mix of the above.
How big is your organization?
The size of your company can also influence the way in which your sales enablement strategy is handled. Here’s how…
- Enterprises. An enterprise company (which we’d define as over $1 Billion in annual revenue) is likely to have a large volume of DemandGen and a slew of sales people. This requires a more scalable method of sales enablement than a smaller company. Salespeople in this type of organization will need to “self-service” in part by having access to marketing’s campaign calendar, engagement data and as much lead context as possible. Otherwise, they’ll be flying blind.
- Medium. Our definition of medium-sized businesses is $100MM through less than $1 Billion. Big range, we know! What we typically see in these businesses is rapid growth and the growing pains that go with them. In our recent research on marketing and sales alignment, we found organizations in this revenue band the most unaligned. Often, departments, roles and responsibilities are in flux. And with that uncertainty, data becomes increasingly messy. If you find yourself in this position, focus on process. With the right documented process, even as ownership changes and shifts, the fundamentals are maintained.
- Small. If you’re in a small account-centric organization and your sales and marketing teams are planning campaigns together, there’s really no need for sales enablement at all. Of course this assumes marketing and sales are aligned and communicating effectively. See ABM above.
How aligned are your sales and marketing teams?
As I alluded to above, alignment between your sales and marketing departments will be critical. If you’re unclear about what really constitutes alignment, check out our Sales & Marketing Alignment Research (based on a study we conducted with Drift). Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you think about where your organization stands in this area:
- Are your teams united around who your buyer is? Do they share customer-centric KPIs? If so, you’re ahead of the pack and should experience success with sales enablement.
- Is your sales enablement team characterized as personal assistants or strategic support? It should be the latter. Effective sales enablement teams are like surgical technicians, who ensure a surgeon has the right tools at the ready. Ineffective teams act more like executive assistants, trying to schedule meetings for sales or jump on miscellaneous tasks outside the scope of true enablement.
- Do you regularly ask for feedback from sales? It’s important to check in frequently to find out how you can optimize and adjust your efforts for subsequent campaigns, based on what’s worked well and what hasn’t. Don’t leave out the feedback loop.
Do you have a clear picture of the right sales enablement strategy for you? If not, we can help guide through building the strategy your organization needs to properly equip sales to succeed – and drive your brand to success. Give us a call.
Meet Michael Davis
Ferdinand Magellan was first to circumvent the globe and if Michael has his way he will circle the world of marketing before he’s done. Michael’s entrepreneurial streak has landed him on the shores of multiple successful startups and at every stop he picked up a few gems of marketing know-how. With over 15 years of marketing experience, Michael brings a unique blend of strategy, tactical expertise and business sensibilities to every project. Originally from Ohio, Michael is a rabid Buckeye fan and the nickname “Magellan” was coined for his propensity for getting lost while driving. Fortunately for Michael, getting lost behind the wheel of a marketing machine is never a problem.