There are two main requirements for creating a successful business. First and foremost, create the best solution on the market for the problem you’re trying to solve. Second, and almost as important, have a talented sales team and support them with the tools and content they need to get your product out there. This is where sales enablement comes in. It seeks to answer this question: how can we set up our sales team to turn leads into success stories?
Pam Didner has been working on this question for a long time. She trains coaches and provides strategic guidance on sales enablement, account-based marketing and sales and marketing integration for enterprise and technology companies. She has given future trends, content marketing, and sales enablement presentations and workshops in the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. In all of her work, she promotes the importance of early engagement, and content creation.
The Modern Sales Journey
In the past, sales enablement started when the sales team spoke to the customer. But in the digital realm, companies really start engaging with their customers when their customers start searching for the product or even searching for some key trends that the company wants to target.
The marketing team also has a role to play in sales enablement now, according to Didner. Online engagement with a company’s brand or products is often driven by the marketing team via digital content creation and media presence. In the ideal business structure, marketers will do whatever they can on the digital front to enable the sales team and enable the prospective customer to have a conversation with sales people.
Didner strongly believes that the best way marketing teams can help sales teams be successful is through content creation. Marketers should create content not just to educate the salespeople in terms of how they can sell their product, but also to help prospective buyers in the decision making process. Decision-making can be a complex process, especially for enterprise tools. Buyers are looking for guidance and expertise to reduce cmplexity in times of information overload.
If sales can utilise content and knowledge of a product and a solution space to guide buyers in that journey, not only through direct communication, but also potentially on social media, that is a big opportunity to develop consumer trust early. Marketing can enable that with good quality content.
Having a good understanding of a product and the solution space within an industry is crucial in developing rapport between sales teams and potential customers. Rather than talking about their products very bluntly and as blatantly as possible, salespeople can put their products in the context of the customer’s challenges and concerns. By focusing on how the product can solve a certain problem for the customer, rather than the product itself, the salesperson will earn trust as a subject matter expert.
Finding the Right Leads
Developing the right criteria for potential leads is a difficult but crucial process in sales enablement. A typical pain point for sales people is receiving low-quality leads from marketing teams that go nowhere. This is often caused by unclear criteria or a misalignment of incentives between the two teams. Didner encourages sales and marketing teams to make sure they are on the same page on which leads are the most successful conversions.
Develop a Tight MQL Profile
There should be a tight definition for who qualifies as an MQL (marketing qualified lead). The definition could require someone to be from a certain industry with a certain background, as well as requiring them to raise their hand and request a demo of a product. With such a specific definition, it becomes much harder for the marketing team to hand off leads to sales that are low quality.
Quality over Quantity
This is often a key point of contention between marketing and sales. If your marketing team is trying to hit a certain number of qualified leads per-week to send to sales, the quality of those leads will almost certainly suffer. Leads will likely only partially fit the ideal customer profile. Instead, Didner suggests a quality over quantity approach, in which the sales teams don’t expect a certain number of leads, but instead a higher conversion rate. This better aligns incentives between marketing and sales.
Market to the Ideal Customer
Once marketers have a tighter MQL profile, they should work on creating content that specifically encourages more people to fit the mold. If the profile requires that someone raises their hand, marketing should work on creating content that encourages people to do that. Finding ways to motivate people in a target industry requires a shift in marketing strategy.
Trends in Sales Enablement
As a result of the pandemic in 2020, as well as technological development, customer habits and behaviors have changed significantly in a way that has impacted sales and marketing. Here are the trends Didner has noticed in sales enablement:
- Surge in digital usage. With everyone staying home, digital usage has gone up tremendously. Many customers are engaging with products online, and that has significantly increased the importance of digital marketing and targeted content creation.
- Process changes become external. The pandemic has caused changes in terms of that type of information that companies need to inform their customers about, beyond the product and its benefits. Now, companies share health and safety-related changes as well.
- The content experience is more decentralized. Salespeople have shorter engagement windows, and need to be more concise and engaging when speaking to customers. Meanwhile, customers have access to a plethora of information and content at all times about a product or industry. This makes targeted and engaging content even more important.
- AI generated content is more common. We live in a world where AI can generate follow-up emails and even long-form content for companies. This is a great tool to take advantage of to boost sales and engagement.
Businesses should work on incorporating these trends into their sales processes to promote growth and development. But above all, creating good content to support sales and educate customers is the key to success.