We marketers like to think we are making a big contribution to revenue, but in fact, we may be doing all kinds of interesting stuff but being perceived as inefficient when it comes to truly enabling sales. The operative word here is “perceived” because regardless of what we are actually doing (and accomplishing), perception is what will guide our future in the organization. To put this another way, we not only have to do the right stuff, but also prove that the stuff we are doing has beneficial impact on sales.
Our job as marketers is to minimize complexity and help simplify the salesperson’s job, not overcomplicate it with more systems, processes and digital paperwork. So what can we do to enable sales without making their lives more difficult? Here are six suggestions that are guaranteed to increase your sales enablement effectiveness and marketing department’s value.
- Generate a steady stream of qualified leads. Yes, I know this is easier said than done but good leads are the lifeblood of the B2B sales organization.
- Have a great website that educates prospects, makes them more receptive and shortens the sales cycle.
- If marketing is responsible for the lead qualification process, do this quickly, accurately and relentlessly. Sales will love you for this!
- Help the sales team message correctly – with timely product training and by providing branding statements and messaging templates (e.g. email and presentations) that are compelling and consistent.
- Produce quality collateral that helps optimize every stage of the sales process.
- Organize collateral in a simple content management system (CMS) that lets reps quickly find the latest assets. Please choose one that is easy to use, not full of overly-complex features.
David Brock, President at Partners In EXCELLENCE, offers a great perspective on sales enablement with his recent post, Stop!, Your Help Is Killing Me!. Paraphrasing slightly, David says that when trying to help sales, we layer on training, tools, systems, processes, programs, and support teams, including content management systems, marketing automation, email, social selling, research tools, account planning, call planning, e-learning, territory management — and on and on. All of these tools are oriented to help sales people be more informed, prepared, productive, effective, and efficient. But in the spirit of being helpful, our own organizations are making our lives much more complex and difficult! Unintentionally, by giving sales people more, we are overwhelming them, often causing them to produce less.
One of my pet peeves is that, too often, the systems we foist upon the sales department are so complex and burdensome that they damage productivity and frustrate reps that would otherwise make their numbers. Edward Deming certainly had this right. It is much better to start with simple, efficient processes and then implement the right technology to automate these processes.
In the interest of candor, there is one additional factor to keep in mind. The person/people who will be most vocal about marketing’s contribution (or lack of contribution) to revenue may not always have your best interests in mind. Examples of this include the Sales VP who missed his/her numbers and wants someone else to share the blame, or the CFO who thinks the company finances would benefit from cutting your budget in half. This is why you must be impeccable not only in carrying out your mission but also in collecting the metrics that prove that you are keeping up with the service level agreement (SLA) you negotiated with your Sales counterpart.