Only 30 percent of today’s organizations are meeting their sales enablement goals, according to the comprehensive 2017 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Optimization Report. While it’s widely understood that aligning sales and marketing teams is a difficult achievement, it’s also true that neither can exist without the other. And the rewards reaped from a successful sales/marketing synergy are even more evident, so why is successful sales enablement so elusive for so many?
Here’s some advice for marketers on how to address the top five sales enablement challenges, whether you’re an SMB or a massive corporation.
Sales Enablement Challenge #1: Accurate knowledge of the target audience
As a marketer, one of your main objectives is to get inside the mind of your prospects. Whether you’re advanced in your marketing (you have personas built out, and you’ve conducted and logged extensive research) or you’re just getting started, marketing is based on understanding who you’re selling to.
However, almost every hiccup in sales enablement can be traced back to this one thing: lacking deep understanding of your market. Over 50 percent of organizations don’t align their sales process with their customers’ journey, which may indicate a fundamental understanding of the customer.
The fix: Attend sales meetings or sit in on sales calls. Your independent research and campaign metrics can only get you so far — at a certain point, you have to listen to your prospects. Play psychologist by paying attention to when a prospect’s interest wanes. Read between the lines of what they say and (if you can see them) what they do. Notice the questions they ask, and assess how these questions get answered. Use all of this information to update your customer personas and create sales enablement content that your sales reps can actually use.
Sales Enablement Challenge #2: Content creation
While it seems within the realm of sales and marketing to create sales enablement content, the reality is different. Marketing creates about 40 percent of content, while sales people themselves create 18 percent of it.
And actually creating sales collateral is no easy task. Every stage of the funnel calls for a different type of content. For example:
Top-funnel: High-level articles, social media, case studies and whitepapers, infographics, promotional videos
Middle-funnel: Webinars, pricing and packaging documents, product one-pagers, comparison charts and graphs, consultation scripts
Bottom-funnel: Product videos, demo videos, presentation templates, customer testimonials or stories
All parts of the funnel: Email templates, blog content, apps or software downloads, internal resources (branding, persona documents, etc.)
With so many possibilities, it’s tough to know what’s most important and what might just be a waste of resources – and it’s even harder to align your messaging when it’s being created by several different parties.
The fix: Audit your current sales collateral. See what addresses which parts of your funnel, and where you’re lacking. Generate a list of ideas to fill in the missing pieces – and meet with your sales teams to share your ideas and get helpful feedback. Then, prioritize the new content pieces based on what will help sales the most right now, and develop those first.
Sales Enablement Challenge #3: Measuring ROI of sales collateral
You’ve created a wealth of beautiful, branded resources for the sales team to use in the field – and they’re using them, you think. Sales are up, but who’s to say that isn’t because you recently changed your pricing, or because sent your “B” players to a sales conference that changed them to “A” players, or because you expanded to a new market?
With sales collateral, it can feel downright impossible to get the data you need to prove there’s a strong ROI. However, it’s not really impossible.
The fix: There are a plethora of ways to track the use and ROI of digital content, from analyzing CRM data to installing pixels on webpages to track user behavior. Have your CRM admins focus resources on creating reports for sales collateral pieces. Make sure marketing is aware of what’s happening as well – this is a wealth of knowledge for marketers.
Sales Enablement Challenge #4: Implementing new tools and technologies
There’s no doubt about it: humans are resistant to change. When that change comes with a big learning curve, and the benefit to your sales team isn’t incredibly obvious, you might as well be offering your new sales enablement tool to an empty room.
However, you’ve done your research, and you’re certain that a new CRM or other tool will be integral in taking your marketing – and your business – to the next level.
The fix: Schedule dedicated time with sales to discuss the process and best practices with your new technology. Try a series of “lunch and learns,” or set aside a big block of time in the middle of the week to get the training done in one go. Hold the others on your team accountable for using the new tool – after all, technology is only as helpful as you make it.
Sales Enablement Challenge #5: Giving sales reps the right collateral at the right time
Let’s walk down a familiar path – you’ve worked hard to create a really stellar piece of content, such as a product tutorial video. You share it with sales. Months later, your sales reps say they don’t have any tutorials for their new customers.
You could have a high-quality marketing asset for every stage of your sales pipeline. But unless this content is well-organized, searchable, and easily accessible to your sales team, it’s not worth much.
The fix: Create a content hub for your sales enablement resources. Make sure it’s secure and easy for your sales reps to access customer-facing information, as well as internal information like best practices, persona documents, and brand guidelines. Organize it in a way that makes sense to your sales team, whether by stage of the sales process, or by having each item tagged with descriptive terms.
Despite the focus on the “sales” in sales enablement, it’s important that both your sales and marketing teams are in sync when it comes to streamlining the sales pipeline and allowing for greater collaboration – and success.