Sales enablement bridges the ‘Last Mile’ of communications strategy

Marketers love branding, awareness, and lead generation programs.  They develop compelling value propositions—encapsulating the benefits of a product or service for a targeted group of customers.  The multi-channel marketing strategy is put in place and aligned with corporate objectives. Marketing is ready to go-to-market.  What can possibly go wrong?

For one, there is a potential gap between marketing objectives and field execution, where customer-facing sales people engage with buyer organizations.  I liken it to the “last mile” metaphor because this is the vital final link of the communications strategy trail for a targeted audience.

Marketers must be ready to bridge any potential gaps in strategy execution. This is where sales enablement comes into play by helping the sales force sell more effectively.Analyst firm, Forrester Research offers an excellent definition of sales enablement:

“Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”

Sales enablement is simply the tools, rich content, and processes that enable a sales force to have high-value customer conversations.  The goal for marketing is to create informative content that is relevant, timely and aligned with the unique needs of target customers throughout each stage of their problem-solving buying process.  This can take the shape of a marketing produced sales playbook, aligning sales strategies, tactics, and messaging along the entire buyer journey.

Sales enablement is a cross-functional discipline and the glue that bonds sales and marketing teams, as well as enlists the input of portfolio and offering management. It requires unhindered access by the field sales team to what is termed “tribal knowledge” or subject experts who can be called upon for cherished know-how.

Sales enablement is integrated with top of the funnel lead nurturing programs for optimal sales results—producing faster velocity leads moving through the funnel and higher revenue growth.  Lead nurturing is a popular technique for instilling awareness and influencing buyer preferences for future purchasing.

Customers want to be educated early on in the buyer process with industry and analyst reports, and identify the technology trends that may impact their businesses.  They have likely already done their homework and are well versed in a company’s products and services. Interestingly, the social web is now the number one way for buyers to commence their search for suitable business solutions.  Marketers must adapt to the new dynamics in buyer search behaviour.

What is the state of marketing collateral today?  IDC has reported that the majority of brochures produced by marketing are not used in the field by sales.  It is imperative that sales feedback be collected by analyzing usage and collecting user ratings so that content creation is focused on what is working.

Larger, more complex marketing and sales organizations can consider an automated sales enablement platform.  The SAVO Group offers a complimentary sales enablement maturity assessment against industry benchmarks; and Brainshark is focused on transforming PowerPoint decks into voice-enriched presentations that can be easily shared and tracked.

Salespeople need to articulate a customer business problem, bring awareness to it, and craft a tailored value proposition.  Proposed solutions should tie back to the business and operational challenges faced by the customer.  Marketing counterparts communicate value and support the knowledge-based selling approach throughout the buying process.

Leading organizations focus on the buyer process—not the sales process—and ensure that the buyer receives a ROI for the time spent with a vendor’s information and client-facing sales teams.  IDC aptly calls this the “Relationship ROI.”

Think about the value a potential customer may receive when interacting with your organization across all content delivery systems and customer touch points. Your company’s success is dependent on it.

Originally published on ChannelBuzz.ca

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