As B2B marketers, we know that today’s buyers are more informed and empowered than ever before. We’ve all heard the statistic that more than half of the purchase decision is complete before a prospect talks to sales person. Whether you think that statistic is pretty darn close to the truth or way off, the point is that as marketers, we should do what we can to help sales team make every conversation count.
That’s where sales enablement programs come in. As marketers, we can help our sales team close more deals by reducing the time they spend on on-selling activities. We do this by giving sales the right content, training, tools & technology to be effective in every conversation.
While there’s a lot of high level articles out there about the ingredients for a successful sales enablement program, I want to share some specific ideas and tactics I’ve personally come across in my current and previous roles that have worked.
1. Provide your sales team with relevant lead info through emails
Here at Socedo, the marketing team focuses on providing the sales team with relevant information about each lead so that they could personalize the outreach and create conversations.
To ensure that our sales team can follow up with each lead, the marketing team at Socedo has created an alert email that gets sent to a sales rep every time a new Marketing Qualified Lead is assigned to them. This email contains lead record data and contextual information. For example, if a marketing qualified lead just watched a webinar, this email will contain the title of the webinar, a few details about the key findings and a link to the on-demand version of the webinar.
The sales rep can use that email template to craft a personalized outreach email to the lead. For example, let’s say if a lead watched a webinar about how to create optimized landing pages, that means this person is looking to solve a problem they have with lead capture. A sales rep can reach out to them and say “Hey, I noticed that you’re really interested in finding effective ways to capture leads. We can help you with strategies to drive your target audience to your landing pages to generate leads. Would you like to learn more?”
2. Use Lead Scoring to Send More Leads to Sales
Lead scoring is one lever that our marketing can pull to improve lead velocity. At Socedo, our demand generation manager creates a lead scoring model based on regression analysis. He runs a regression analysis on our database across several different demographic and behavioral factors to determine which characteristics make up a “good” lead.
We track all types of actions on and off our website – social media engagements, email clicks, website visits, whitepaper downloads, webinar registrations. We measure how many leads who took these actions ultimately led to deals, customers and revenue. By conducting this research, we can determine which behaviors are the best indicators of buying intent.
[Example with dummy data]
Then, we assign a weighted score for each action. If a lead who clicked on a link in an email is 50% more likely to become a customer compared a lead who visited our homepage, we’ll adjust our lead scoring model to reflect email clicks at 5 points and website homepage visits at 3 points. By having a lead scoring model that weighs different actions based on their impact on deals, customer and revenue, we’re able to send leads who are more ready to buy to sales faster.
Because our content, audience targets and business goals do shift over time, we make sure to run this analysis every month to make sure our lead scoring model is aligned to serve our goals.
3. Create an on-demand content discovery solution for your sales team
As a marketing team, you can make sure that your sales team has access to the most relevant content for each stage of the sales cycle. At Socedo, our sales team is often looking for:
- Case studies: They want to send to prospects case studies about similar customers from the same industry or role. In addition, the sales team ask for customer references
- Presentations they can send to their prospects to forward along to their team/boss. This should contain a good overview of our product, showcase the benefits and ROI and use cases for the product from current customers
- Videos that demo the product
- Blog posts: Sales reps often get specific questions from prospects asking for details on how our product works or why they should implement certain marketing tactics (i.e. lead nurturing) or invest in related technology (i.e. a marketing automation system). Marketing writes blog posts that directly answer these questions.
- Competitor comparisons: Sales reps often get questions on why they should consider our product versus a competitor’s product. Sales reps need succinct blurbs on our value proposition and how our product is differentiated.
Here at Socedo, we’re still small enough that sales reps can simply stop by our desks to ask us if we can send them certain types of content to send to their prospects. At my last company, which employs over a thousand sales reps, we utilized SAVO – a sales-enablement content management platform – to put everything from marketing materials and product information to competitive battle cards to tips from top sellers and best practices at the fingertips of our sales reps.
SAVO was initially implemented by one person who is fully dedicated to information management at the company. He then trained key members of the marketing team and the product team on how to use the platform to upload and manage their own content. The result was a well-organized site where sales reps can search for or browse to discover any content they needed for any selling situation. The site navigation was based on these categories:
- Sales training materials – This section includes sales playbooks and decks that explained the company’s value prop, product lines, buyer personas and other materials that help new reps ramp up.
- Product demos – At this company, we considered our software to be an experienced good so it was critical for all sales people to be able to demo the product well. The Product Marketing team had created a wide array of demo workbooks, sample datasets, and written demo instructions for the sales team to use. This way, a sales rep can be prepared to do demos tailored to each prospect’s use case/industry.
- Case studies – Because the company sold software to many industries, marketing had to make sure that salespeople can easily find relevant case studies. Although our case studies lived on our website, the Customer Marketing team went into SAVO and added links and tags to categorize all the case studies on our website. This way, sales reps can search for case studies by location, role, and industry tags and immediately find relevant case studies to send to prospects.
- Competitive intelligence –To make sure that reps are prepared to take on the competition, our Product Marketing team and Product Management team created competitive intel documents or “battle-cards” on how to win against each of our major competitors. In addition, the Product Marketing team created custom demos highlighting our products’ strengths vis-à-vis the competition for sales teams to use.
- Analyst reports – Nothing builds social proof quite like independent analyst reports that review our products and competition. My company’s Analyst Relations Team puts a lot of energy into earning positive coverage in these analyst reports, which make for great lead generation magnets and sales acceleration fodder. This team uploaded all major analyst reports, along with curated summaries (including key graphics and verbatim/quotes about the company and key competitors) into the SAVO platform for sales reps to access.
- Industry/Specific knowledge – This company has a few strategic verticals (i.e. Government, Education, Healthcare, Retail). Each vertical has its specific opportunities and nuances. The company had hired marketing directors with background in these particular industries who align with the sales leaders to train reps on the nuances of the respective verticals. Each vertical marketing leader created his or her own sales enablement materials covering the context of their industry, market segments, buyer personas and more to help sales reps gain expertise in these industries.
While SAVO is a great option for larger enterprises, Knowledge Tree is another platform to consider. Knowledge Tree allows your team to store all your sales assets in a single, cloud based platform and organize content to be easily discoverable. Sales reps can share content with prospects via social media with a click, or add and track content in various email tools.
4. Facilitate Knowledge Sharing Through Salesforce Chatter Groups
Because sales reps spend most of their time in Salesforce, my previous company decided to utilize Salesforce Chatter to create forums that allow sales reps to easy access files, documents and experts from across the company. A rep could simply follow a Chatter group and get updates on new posts from those groups in their Salesforce dashboard. Reps can ask questions such as “do we have a case study about X or Y?” and get a quick response with a recommended case study from the customer marketing team. They can also talk to one another through the group and share best practices on how to handle specific customer objections and questions.
These groups were used to gain competitive intelligence, customer stories and insights into certain industries.
5. Create a monthly newsletter by marketing just for the sales team
Because sales reps are so busy, the marketing team at my previous company created multiple digital and in-person communication channels to reach our sales team. One of these channels is a monthly newsletter Marketing creates just for the Sales organization to keep Sales up-to-date on key events, new assets and upcoming product launches. Each newsletter had a fun, catchy subject line and a theme. Marketing also used this newsletter as a way to build a good rapport with the sales team, by giving a shout out to top salespeople who showcased ingenuity or helped their colleagues.
6. Make sharing best practices a best practice.
Marketing teams need to know what’s going on in the sales organization in order to help their sales colleagues. At my previous company, the sales organization had a monthly “all hands on deck” meeting. At every single meeting, a couple of sales reps would talk about their recent experience with selling into key accounts and the lessons they learned. While the meeting is mandatory for those in sales, marketing was also encouraged to attend. In addition, each territory team had its own quarterly business reviews where the team discussed their current challenges and brainstormed ideas. Marketing was invited to come to these meetings and hear firsthand what the sales reps are going through and develop ideas on how to better support the sales teams.
At Socedo, the marketing team has a weekly meeting that includes our VP of Sales. This helps both teams get on the same page. Marketing hears from sales on how that team is currently following up with leads, what talk track Sales is using. This way, we can discuss ways to tweak the processes on both sides to increase response rate from prospects.