B2B Sales Enablement: What it is and the Role Marketing Plays in Making it Happen

We often discuss the age-old battle that can go down between sales and marketing. The tale of two disparate teams. Well in case you didn’t know, now it’s all about alignment. And… enablement.

Sales enablement according to HubSpot, is the technology, processes, and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity. And brace yourself for this one: marketing plays, or should play, a key role in the sales enablement process for B2B companies.

Whether the above sentence has you ready to fall out of your chair or stand up and clap, read on. We’ll cover why sales enablement should matter to marketers and their role in B2B sales enablement execution.

B2B Sales Enablement

Why Sales Enablement Should Matter to Marketers

Today’s modern buyers are different from buyers of old. The sales process is heavily led by the buyers and dictated by the market. Who specializes in the buyer’s journey and converting leads to customers alongside sales? Marketing.

A Seismic article quoted Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, as saying the following on an episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast, “If you’re in B2B marketing today and you’re not thinking every day about sales, what the pipeline looks like, or how close the organization is to hitting the number, then you’re not nearly as integrated in strategy – let alone tactics or activities – as you should be.” Yaaaasss. 💯

We created a guide to make sales and marketing alignment easier. Click here to get it.

This quote really says it all. If the company isn’t making money, more than just the sales team will be in hot water. The above just drives home the fact that strategy, goals, alignment, and yes sales, should be driving teams company-wide.

Successful sales are everybody’s business, but marketing has the skill set to enable sales to be successful and propel growth.

Marketing’s Role in Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is really less about sales and more about serving the buyer through the buyer’s journey. It results in an empowered sales team that sells at a higher velocity which ultimately equals happier customers.

B2B Sales Enablement

With that being said, there are several ways marketing can move the needle and enable sales.

Lead Qualification

Reporting needs vary from company to company, but one constant is the need to qualify leads. Every B2B company has to have some type of lead qualification process. Marketing’s role falls under the Sales and Marketing SLA, but more specifically, the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) process. [Read more about SLAs here.]

At a high level, MQLs are leads that are ready to be qualified by the sales team. Once the criteria are set and agreed upon, marketing can help with the implementation and qualification process. When marketing does some of the qualification and heavy lifting up front (digitally of course) it ensures sales are talking to leads that are ready to be talked to. It’s a win for everybody including the buyer.

Lead Scoring is a way to put your qualification process into action. Download our guide to learn more.

Content

A major component of sales enablement is arming the sales team with information they can use when selling. Don’t let your brain pigeonhole you into a sales deck. Information can range from internal best practices to customer-facing sales sheets. According to the TOPO blog, regardless of the form the information takes, it needs to be easy to consume and reusable across the sales organization.

Content Audit

Speaking of easy to use, have we mentioned content audits? Content audits at Lake One are a living breathing workbook that houses all of the client’s content (both internal and external facing). The workbook also notes what part of the buyer’s journey that piece of content serves, the location of the document, the persona, if it is a fit for a workflow, etc.

The best part of the document, though, is the collaboration tab where sales can add content ideas. Think repeat buyer questions, a need for a case study, and more. Marketing can pull directly from the tab to help fill the content calendar.

Email Templates & Automated Sequences

Marketing teams should be pros at nurture sequences (if they’re not, contact us) and pros at moving buyers through the buyer’s journey from a lead to an MQL.

That precise expertise applies to the email template and automated sequences of sales enablement.

How do those differ from marketing based workflows? The email templates and automated sequences can be used pre-marketing qualified lead state or even as a way to qualify MQLs to a sales qualified lead.

Despite the differences, the same basics of sending personalized tailored emails to the buyer still apply. Marketing can leverage their knowledge of lead engagement and automation to enable the sales team.

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Key Takeaways

  • A successful sales team should be everyone’s business
  • Sales enablement is really less about sales and more about serving the buyer through the buyer’s journey which leads to an empowered sales team selling at a higher velocity.
  • Marketing contributes to sales enablement in the following ways:
    • The definition and implementation of marketing qualified leads.
    • The creation of content that supports sales and in turn, the buyers.
    • The creation and implementation of email templates and sequences.

Evaluate Sales and Marketing Alignment in 8 Simple Steps

Sales and marketing misalignment can lead to a domino effect of problems such as internal tension, inability to achieve goals, and even revenue loss. Yikes.

But in order to grow and move forward, it’s crucial to assess and understand where you’re at currently with your smarketing efforts. So, how do you evaluate sales and marketing alignment? How do you know if your sales and marketing efforts are successful?

evaluate sales and marketing alignment

Here are 8 must-ask questions to understanding your company’s B2B smarketing state of the state.

Alignment Evaluation Question #1: Are Teams Speaking the Same Language?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the first areas for assessment is verbiage and definitions. Communication is key but can be extremely difficult if teams aren’t speaking the same language or starting from some place of commonality.

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Questions to ask:

  • Do your teams have a common definition and understanding for the following terms?
    • Marketing Qualified Lead
    • Sales Qualified Lead
    • Disqualified Leads
    • Lead Status
    • Contact Lifecycle Stages
    • Deal Stages
    • Traffic Sources (direct, referral, search, etc..)

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the sales and marketing alignment terms, but it’s a start. At a minimum, it should get you analyzing the common ground (or lack thereof) between the two teams when it comes to defining the sales and marketing process.

Alignment Evaluation Question #2: Are Teams Targeting the Same Buyers?

We have stressed time and time again the importance of buyer personas. Buyer personas (in conjunction with research) should drive your strategy and be another common denominator among your sales and marketing teams and really, the company as a whole. When evaluating your sales and marketing alignment, persona definition is critical.

Questions to ask:

  • Are buyer personas defined?
  • Did both teams have influence in their creation?
  • Are the personas still relevant or do they need to be updated?

Interested in some mind-blowing sales and marketing alignment stats? Check out this post.

Alignment Evaluation Question #3: Are Teams Working Towards the Same Goals?

Sales and marketing can be impactful independently, but joined together and working towards the same goal? Teams will achieve much more.

Nothing sets you on the fast-track to success like SMART goals.

Questions to ask:

  • Do the teams separately have SMART goals?
  • Are the goals well-known among the two teams and agreed upon?
  • Are the goals measured and tracked?

In need of a SMART goal refresh? Then this worksheet is for you.

Alignment Evaluation Question #4: Are Teams Promoting the Same Products/Services?

Not all products and services are created equal. Through defining your buyer personas or crafting your smart goals, you likely surfaced key areas of focus whether it be new product offerings, key industries, revenue generation, etc.

For example, if demos have been unsuccessful but consults are effective, marketing likely shouldn’t be pushing demos as their bottom of the funnel offer in the nurture sequences.

Questions to ask:

  • Is sales aware of the products/services that marketing is promoting and vice versa?
  • Are both teams in agreement on the best direction?
Lake One Smarketing

Alignment Evaluation Question #5: Are Teams Creating Content Together?

Although content creation doesn’t necessarily fall under the job descriptions of the sales team, sales should have an influence in content topic selection. Why? Because they are the front lines and literally the voice of the customer inside the company. Pairing sales’ insight with marketing’s keyword research skills is a great start to creating valuable content for your buyers.

Insider tip: We like to take it one step further and create what we call a content audit. It’s a living document that houses links to all of the content created and breaks it down by buyer persona and stage of the buyer’s journey. There’s also a tab for content requests that’s a direct line into marketing’s content topic queue. Here are some additional smarketing best practices to help.

Questions to ask:

  • What processes currently drive content topic selection?
  • Does sales approve?
  • Is there a way for sales to communicate content requests to marketing?
  • Does marketing have an audit document or something like it?

Alignment Evaluation Question #6: What is Marketing’s Lead Handoff Procedure?

Marketing curates leads through inbound or paid media and then at some agreed upon point, the leads need to be passed to sales to be contacted and qualified. There are a few ways to accomplish the handoff. Our favorite is using marketing automation software (like HubSpot) to do the heavy lifting. However, software aside, a step in evaluating your aligned sales and marketing alignment should be your ability to answer the questions below.

Questions to ask:

  • At what point in the process does marketing handoff a lead to sales? What triggers it?
  • How is sales notified of the lead?
  • What is the follow-up expectation from sales? (i.e. how many days do they have before they make contact, how are they contacting the lead, etc.)

Alignment Evaluation Question #7: How Does Sales Provide Feedback on Lead Quality?

In order for marketing to continue to deliver the sales team quality leads, there needs to be a feedback loop. Sales needs to communicate through lead status- the quality of the lead. This ties back all the way up to the first question about definitions.

Questions to ask:

  • How does sales communicate a rejected lead? (marketing automation software or otherwise?)
  • Does sales have a way to communicate why leads were rejected? (Poor timing, bad contact information, no budget, etc.)
  • What does marketing do with the rejected leads? Where are the leads at now?

Pro Tip: Formalize this process and set clear expectations and goals around lead quality, feedback, and lead volume by building a sales and marketing Service Level Agreement. Read about SLAs here.

Alignment Evaluation Question #8: Do Teams Have Regular Meetings?

Actually meeting in person, having conversations, and building rapport are critical to sales and marketing alignment success. It’s so much easier to work as a team when you have a strong foundation to work from.

So how do you build rapport? Meetings. But let’s be clear, quality of meetings should be prioritized over quantity. Nothing disengages teams like pointless meetings.

Questions to ask:

  • Do teams have monthly and/or quarterly meetings?
  • Do teams have a way to easily communicate outside of meetings? (Like Slack or Skype)

The trick to these meetings are to make them engaging, yet structured. Here’s an article with some great tips for doing just that.

Evaluating Sales and Marketing Alignment Key Takeaway: Communication is a Must

Do the questions above have your head spinning or wondering where to even start to begin to achieving sales and marketing harmony?

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Start with communication. If there is one commonality that leads to the improvement of sales and marketing alignment, it’s communication. It fuels defining the terminology, the buyer personas, content creation, and the entire smarketing process. Whether facilitated through technology or happening in regular scheduled meetings, it’s critical.

Need a little help with your sales and marketing alignment? You’re in luck because that’s our specialty. Contact us here.  

Four 2019 Marketing Trends You Can Count On

If you’ve been paying attention, the most likely 2019 marketing trends will come as no surprise. With an over-arching theme to connect to consumers personally, we expect 2019 to be filled with content intended to engage and meet consumers where they are rather than getting in their face. Here are the four trends we’d like to call attention to for the upcoming year.

Continue reading “Four 2019 Marketing Trends You Can Count On”

3 Tools to Help Your Credit Union Clear Content Marketing Hurdles

Happy New Year, here’s to a stand out 2014.

One of my resolutions for the new year is to not get hung up on the same hurdles in 2014 that slowed me down in 2013. I hate hurdles. The only thing I like about them is that after I’ve cleared them, I learned something. It’s great to learn . . . ‘cuz Knowledge is power!

I’m still feeling a lot of the holiday spirit so I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve learned over the past few years. 2014, in many ways could be called the year of content marketing, so these tips and tools will hopefully help you overcome some hurdles when it comes to content marketing.

hurdle-jumper

Seriously though, repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results, as Einstein says, is just insane.

Three of the biggest challenges for content marketing come from planning/coordinating, monitoring/curating and ideation. For the first two, I’ll share two of my favorite tools I use and for the last one I’ll share a resource or two that I’ve found helpful. Consider this a late stocking stuffer from me to you!

Plan and coordinate with style and flair, and a little help from co-schedule.

I found co-schedule late in 2013 and fell in love instantly. I used them on my personal blog and we also use them here on the corporate, result150 blog. CoSchedule provides an easy to use, drag and drop calendar system for WordPress that lets you schedule content, and social messages that link and post based on the content you’re publishing. You can work cross-functionally across multiple locations easily which makes collaboration on multiple pieces of content  a breeze.

Monitor trends and stock pile ideas for later with Instapaper.

Okay, so some time in 2013 a search party had to come find me, they found me lost in a mound of Google Alerts. I found that using them to monitor topics I wanted to read wasn’t working. Enter Instapaper. What does work however during the day, is to peruse a lot of headlines and make quick assessments  on whether something fits my interest areas or an area for content. If it does, I use Instapaper to snag the article for reading later so that I can digest it and possibly expand on it, curate it or build off it and cite it in a future piece of content. Works great on all of my devices too. I’ll usually have a few articles to read every night before bed.

When your stuck stuck and need a prompt to get over a blank page.

I remember my first time experiencing the symptoms of blank-page-itis. The cold sweat. The trembling of the fingers. It’s scary. Overcoming writers block should be an Olympic event. Just like content marketing hurdle jumping.

Heidi Cohen has a great list of ways to generate ideas for your content marketing needs. I’ve also found that some of the generators can be just enough of a push to get the juices flowing. Some of the generators I’ve found have been through here and here (you have to have an open mind with that one).

Ready? Set? Run!

I hope these tools help you and I’d love to hear of any tools you use, I’m always looking to add to my toolbelt.

Look at you, you hurdle jumper you! Happy New Year!

What about you? What tools have you found that help make content marketing flow a little smoother?

bank and credit union marketing swot analysis