My friend and colleague, Pam Didner, recently sent me her new book, “Effective Sales Enablement: Achieve sales growth through collaborative sales and marketing” and after finishing it I had some burning questions that I wanted Pam’s professional opinion. I have been in sales for longer then I care to remember, and I have watched and participated in the ever-changing sales and marketing trends – sales enablement being one of them. At LeadGenius, the Sales Enablement role is a neverending evolution, we are constantly analyzing its effectiveness as it pertains to our ABM strategy.
I want to thank Pam for answering my questions so thoughtfully! There are some great insights and takeaways in the below Q&A…enjoy.
Q. Sales Enablement (SE) went from task to strategy, why has this happened? What is the future of SE?
A. Sales enablement, in a way, is to equip sales with, knowledge, skill sets and tools they need so that they can do their jobs, selling. With the acceleration of technology development, new innovative products and services are created to better manage our jobs and lives efficiently and effectively.
Sales enablement should no longer about training your sales team. We should look at sales enablement holistically and understand what marketers and other functions within the company can do to better support our sales teams.
As former SiriusDecisions analyst, Jim Ninivaggi wrote in his 2013 blog post: “Unlike established corporate functions like accounting, finance, and marketing, sales enablement is still evolving, and the term means different things to different companies.” That quote still holds true today. With people, process and technologies constantly changing, the function of sales enablement will likely continue to morph for some time.
Q. Is SE most often in sales or marketing? Why?
A. Should sales enablement be part of the sales team, the marketing team or even the business unit/product group? In general, the verdict is that placing Sales enablement in the sales team offers the greatest advantage.
Lara Sibley, Senior Director Marketing of Operations and Delivery at CDW, holds the distinct opinion that sales enablement should be part of the marketing team. Her point of view is that prospecting is part of marketing’s job anyway. Also, most of the content creation role is fulfilled by marketing. To be more efficient, it makes sense for sales enablement to reside in Marketing. Curata, a platform that helps you curate, plan and measure your content marketing efforts, has its sales enablement function in marketing. The primary advantage of placing sales enablement in marketing is to motivate marketing to align with sales at an earlier stage of planning.
The sales enablement function varies from business unit to business unit when I worked at Intel. Some business units own sales enablement. Other business units have their sales teams manage the sales enablement efforts. Some newly formed groups may not have sales enablement team per se. However, the responsibilities for product content creation, sales training and subject matter support are handled by different individuals through divisions of labor. Sales are getting the support they need one way or another.
As I said, the role of sales enablement is constantly morphing, due to the maturity stages of organizations, product growth, and managerial changes. Sales enablement can be in sales, marketing, or product groups as long as a service level agreement (SLA) is created with the sales team. In addition, there needs to be a sense of ‘trust’ between the sales and sales enablement team and clear metrics for measuring the effectiveness of sales enablement efforts.
Q. Thinking about the SE role and the buyer’s journey…my impression is that most SE work has been pre-funnel (territory design and routing) or getting to an MQL or SQL (demand generation oriented). Is this changing? Do you see SE extending to post-sale activities? Into Customer Success?
A. Conventionally, sales enablement is defined as sales training and development. Depending on your roles and the funnel you focus, you can support sales from top of the funnel to the bottom. MQL is certainly one effective solution of supporting sales.
Here is an example I used in my book to support the bottom of the funnel to support closing the deal.
The sales team of a whiskey company was working hard to gain shelf space in liquor stores and supermarkets in a specific city. In order to get more shelf space in these stores, the sales team negotiated a campaign in which the company would run geo-targeted social media ads to promote free tasting events at these stores with agreed-upon dates. The goal was to drive as much traffic as possible to the stores for the tasting in the hope that customers would eventually buy that particular brand of whiskey.
While you are in the store, you are likely to purchase other types of mixers or liquors which directly increase the stores’ revenue. The stores loved the idea that the brand was running geo-targeted ads to drive foot traffic. Marketing budget was used in this case as part of the sales negotiation to close a deal.
I shared many examples as such in my book, Effective Sales Enablement.
Another example is account-based marketing. Marketing and sales work jointly to tackle strategic accounts together to close deals. This is another example that marketing can enable sales from the beginning of the purchase journey to the end.
Q. How can one really gauge the impact of SE? Building a great stack is…cool…but how do you know about ROI?
A. It comes back to how you define sales enablement and what you do to enable sales? What you do and how you do will dictate your success metrics. The challenge is that everyone does sales enablement differently. Some of the organizations don’t have sales enablement groups per se, yet the functions of sales enablement is embedded into different groups such as business units, product marketing, corporate marketing, or sales operations. If your sales enablement is related to sales onboarding and training, your metrics may be training completion and unaided sales feedback. If your sales enablement is account-based marketing, your ultimate success metrics may be deals won or lost like the sales team. If your sales enablement is to create content for the sales teams, the metric can be content usages by sales. It really depends. Of course, the closer you can tie to revenue, the better.
Q. When should you outsource SE vs hire?
A. In general, sales enablement should be full-time employees. However, you can also hire consultants to help you to launch new tools, set up new processes and train your sales team. At the end of the day, it’s a budget, resource, and organizational support discussion.
About Pam Didner:
Pam in a B2B and Tech Marketing consultant, writer, and speaker. Author of 2 books: “Global Content Marketing” and “Effective Sales Enablement”. She specializes in sales, marketing and external communications consulting, keynote presentations, corporate training, and workshops. Learn more at www.pamdidner.com.
Follow Pam on Twitter: @pamdidner
Purchase a copy of Pam’s new book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2uf6scr