Are you an enabler? 3 key questions about B2B sales enablement
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth—or maybe sometime around 2010—B2B marketing and sales were frenemies, at best. They coexisted peacefully, because what was good for one was usually good for the other. But they didn’t actually hang out much.
- Marketing was all about the big picture—branding, high-end messaging and priming the pump.
- Sales was all about closing the deal and ringing the register.
Oh, sure, they worked together now and then. Marketing would create the odd sell sheet, and sales would share some frontline insights with marketing. But they were fundamentally different creatures, content to do their own things.
These days? Not so much. More and more B2B companies are honing a more sustainable competitive edge by bringing sales and marketing closer—with sales enablement tools.
WHAT IS SALES ENABLEMENT?
According to a recent study by CSO Insights, sales enablement adoption has been steadily growing for the past four years. The percentage of companies with a sales enablement function grew nearly 70% between 2013 and 2016, from 19.3% to 32.7%.
Of course, that leaves 67.3% of companies still wondering what sales enablement is and what it can do for their organizations.
At its core, sales enablement is a strategic, cross-functional discipline for helping sales have relevant conversations with customers and prospects and establish stronger, longer-lasting relationships. In other words, sales enablement is technology and content that makes sales more effective—built in collaboration with their frenemies in marketing.
WHAT ARE THE TOP SALES ENABLEMENT TACTICS?
At StudioNorth, we’ve helped our B2B clients generate some impressive ROIs with these tactics and others:
- Customer-facing, interactive sales apps that help salespeople demonstrate customized solutions down to the last detail.
- Cost/return calculators that let customers see how a solution pays off under their own real world situations.
- Solution playbooks, from customizable cloud-based sales decks to printed battlecards with the latest specifications.
- Internal interactive sales tools, like vendor maps that let partners zoom in to find their counterparts at different levels region, state, or city.
- Social selling that helps salespeople connect with prospects on social networks, with templates, dashboards and the training to use them.
- Industry research packaged for relevance in easy-to-understand, easy-to-share formats.
- Sales advisory meetings that encourage sales teams to share the most relevant insights on their business and sales strategies.
We’ve created many of these working one-on-one with clients; others in collaboration with our longtime partners at Outlook Marketing Services. Most of these solutions would not be possible without today’s marketing technology tools, but some are as old-school as PDFs.
And they all get results. Read on.
DOES SALES ENABLEMENT GET RESULTS?
When salespeople can share the right content, at the right time, in the right place—specific to the offered solution and tailored to the unique needs of the buyer—they see big boosts in:
- Sales efficiency
- Existing client sales
- New account acquisition
- Customer win rates
- Average deal size
With sharply lower:
- Sales cycle length
- Customer turnover
- Client interaction prep time
Of course, none of this happens without big investments of time and talent—from both sales and marketing teams. (Hence the cross-functional part of the above definition.) Marketing might create the tools, but sales has to give input every step of the way.
When sales and marketing connect, good things happen. A recent HubSpot blog post noted that when these teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates.
BONUS QUESTION: CAN SALES ENABLEMENT WORK FOR YOU?
If you’d like to see your sales and marketing teams collaborate for more dynamic results, give us a shout. Don’t be part of the 67.3 of companies on the sales enablement sidelines!
Melissa Machay also contributed to this post, which is based in part on a recent article from Outlook Marketing Services.
When StudioNorth Account Manager Kyra King isn’t planning client campaigns, you can find her planning travel itineraries. She also loves listening to country music, reading actual books and working out (except on vacation).