Business buyers do not distinguish between marketing and sales activities. From the buyer’s perspective, there is one problem-solving process that may result in a purchase. As they work through their decision-making process, what really matters to buyers is the relevance, quality, and credibility of the information they receive from prospective vendors. They couldn’t care less about whether the information comes from the marketing department or a salesperson.
To maximize results, what B2B companies need is a demand generation process/system that can address buyers’ needs at every stage of their decision-making journey. I call it managing demand generation “from curiosity to close.”
Marketing and sales play distinct roles in the demand generation process, but marketing is well-suited to help make the selling process more effective. This role of marketing is usually called sales enablement, and marketing has two major sales enablement responsibilities.
- Content – Marketers must provide the content resources that will enable sales reps to advance sales opportunities.
- Information – When a lead is passed from marketing to sales, marketing must provide the information that will enable sales reps to continue prospect relationships without loss of momentum.
This is the second of three articles dealing with sales enablement. In the first article, I discussed why sales enablement is important for B2B companies. In this article, I’ll discuss the content aspect of marketing’s sales enablement responsibility. My next article will cover the information component.
Sales Enablement Content Needs Improvement
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Recent research by Richardson, a sales training firm, paints a mixed picture of marketing’s performance on the sales enablement content front. The Richardson research consisted of a survey of over 400 sales representatives and sales managers. Here are a few of the significant findings.
- 54% of sales reps and 65% of sales managers say they understand their company’s content marketing strategy.
- 65% of sales reps and 74% of sales managers say that the content their company publishes is valuable to their customers.
- Only 52% of sales reps and 43% of managers say that the content their company publishes helps improve sales effectiveness.
- When asked how their company’s content could be improved to better support sales efforts, 59% of sales reps and 57% of managers said “improve content relevance to our customers.” Fifty-one percent of sales reps and 65% of managers said “create a stronger link between the content and the solutions we sell.”
Two Flavors of Sales Enablement Content
There are two basic types of sales enablement content. The first consists of “normal” marketing content resources that are distributed to prospects directly by sales reps. Marketing is responsible for developing content resources for all buyer personas for all stages of the buying process. This will necessarily include those stages that occur after marketing has passed a lead over to sales.
These later-stage resources are designed for prospects who are actively considering a purchase. To borrow the terminology used by SiriusDecisions, these are prospects who are “exploring possible solutions,” “committing to a solution,” and “justifying the decision.” When late-stage marketing content resources are distributed by sales reps, they become sales enablement content.
The second category of sales enablement content consists of various “tools” that are specifically designed for use by salespeople. This category includes, but is not limited to:
- E-mail message templates
- Sales presentation slides (with accompanying scripts or notes)
- ROI calculators
- Total cost of ownership calculators
- Sales proposal templates
While I contend that marketing should take the lead in creating these kinds of content resources, marketers need to involve sales reps at every stage of the development process, and they need to pay close attention to the “real-world” intelligence and insights that sales reps can bring to the process. Getting salespeople to buy into these resources is critical because they will have no value if they aren’t used.
In my next post, I’ll discuss the kinds of information that marketing should provide to salespeople as part of the lead hand-off process.
Read Part 1 of the sales enablement series here.