As we’ve said before on the blog, marketers have two primary audiences: the end user and their own sales team. Last week, we hosted a webinar focused on the latter. Our Email Marketing and Campaign Specialist, Maureen Flaherty, shared her thoughts on the importance of sales enablement and how marketers can get it right. But what exactly is sales enablement?
To put it simply, sales enablement means empowering your sales team. As marketers, we have the responsibility to provide our sales counterparts with the knowledge and tools they need to have valuable conversations with prospects and customers. In this blog post, I’ll go over some of Maureen’s main points and some tried-and-true suggestions for marketers who want to better enable their sales teams.
Sales enablement begins with marketers asking sales the right questions. For example, what kind of conversations are they regularly having with customers? What kinds of content, campaigns, and programs can you create that will help them help prospects? Jenna Puckett from TechnologyAdvice points out that less than half of salespeople feel their company’s marketing assets are effective. Avoid falling into the trap of content for content’s sake by understanding exactly what your sales team needs from you.
Start a conversation using Jenna’s list of Six Crucial Questions to Ask Your Sales Team About Your Customers.
Once you understand what you can do to better equip them, the next step is sitting down with your company’s sales managers to map out a plan for lead identification, distribution, and follow-up. After you have a solid foundation for your sales enablement strategy, you’re ready to dive into sales enablement tactics.
Learn more about creating your ideal lead flow plan (and see examples of what’s worked for us) in our recorded webinar, The 3 Critical Components of an Optimized Lead Flow Plan.
Types of Sales Enablement
There are two broad types of sales enablement: training and support. Training refers to educating the sales team—but not just during the onboarding process. Training is an ongoing process that should continue throughout their career. Support refers to equipping the sales team with the tools and resources they need to essentially be their own marketers.
Let’s take a look at five ways your marketing team can enable sales through training and support—plus examples of enablement that have worked exceptionally well for us here at Pardot.
1. In-Person Training
In-person sales training might conjure up memories of college and tedious slide decks, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Training can be a fun and interactive way to educate your sales team—and make the lessons they learn really stick.
Example: At Pardot, we experimented a lot with the best way to run sales training before we found what works best for us. We generally keep sessions to about 20 minutes with engaging, interactive exercises (like role playing or a gameshow-style competition) every eight minutes or so. We also make sure to take a break every 90 minutes so folks can check their email, grab a coffee, or take a quick walk. Finally, we make sure to include actionable takeaways from the training—or as Maureen calls it, a “do step” so reps know exactly what they can do to excel.
2. Sales Content Library
A study by IDC found that sales doesn’t use up to 80% of marketing-created content. If you don’t want your hard work to go to waste, it’s crucial that your sales team has a central hub for all the resources they need to succeed at their job. This sales library can be hosted on your company’s intranet, a CMS, or even an organized, sortable spreadsheet, and should include content like:
- a first call deck
- customer stories and testimonials
- event and webinar calendars
- white papers, e-books, and other long-form content
- infographics, videos, and other visual content
- email templates
- presentation tools and templates
For more tips on getting started building a comprehensive resource hub, check out the blog post Why You Should Create a Content Library For Sales — & How to Do It.
Example: Here’s a snapshot of how we organize our content library at Pardot. We’ve found that having different ways to browse and search is the most effective way to get marketing resources in front of our sales team.
3. Internal Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing isn’t just for prospects and customers. Consider using it as a sales enablement tool by running drip campaigns featuring training resources. By using marketing automation to deploy these campaigns, you’ll be able to see who is engaging with your training content and get insight into what you can do to improve. For example, if you find that new hires are interacting with your emails differently than seasoned sales managers, you might want to segment these groups and create unique nurture tracks for each.
Example: At Pardot, we created a video-heavy lead nurturing campaign for our sales team called the Pardot Minute Clinic. We chose to make it an opt-in program using a Pardot form and landing page so it would be an optional learning opportunity instead of a chore. As a result, engagement was high and the feedback on the program was excellent.
Learn the steps we took to implement this campaign in our case study, How to Create a Sales Enablement Drip Campaign.
4. Competitive Sales Spiffs
It’s no secret that salespeople are a competitive bunch. Use that to your advantage by running a contest for your sales team. The prize doesn’t have to be a big bonus (although that doesn’t hurt); it can be something as simple as a t-shirt or a gift card to a local coffee shop.
Example: We’ve found that themed spiffs are incredibly popular among our sales reps, so we recently held a James Bond-inspired spiff called Mission: Engage. We created a microsite for the contest where reps (or “agents”) could check out the objectives, rules, prizes, leaderboards, and resources they needed to complete their missions.
5. Email Templates
Enable your sales team to “be their own marketers” by providing marketing-approved email templates they can easily send to prospects. Templates for pre- and post-events and webinars are especially useful because your sales team will be able to personally invite and follow up with their contacts with very little work on their part.
Example: This simple, on-brand email template allows sales reps to follow up with a prospect, give them an event recap, and provide them with a relevant resource.
Remember: sales enablement isn’t a task to check off your to-do list. It’s a continuous project that requires frequently communicating with your sales team to see what you can do to better enable them and adjusting your strategy accordingly. (As a general rule of thumb, Maureen recommends a biweekly check-in and evaluation.)
For even more examples of sales enablement, watch the full 30-minute webinar here. Then let us know: how does your marketing team empower sales reps to close deals faster? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.