Sales Enablement: Helping the Sales Team Win

by Contributor on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 in Sales & Marketing Alignment

"When I first saw you, I thought you were handsome. Then, of course, you spoke."
- Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) in As Good As It Gets (1997)

Bill is a smart, well-respected VP of Marketing for a technology company.  He’s been there for about a year.  We had lunch together last week and he complained bitterly about his sales team:  “They aren’t winning enough deals.  They just don’t know how to communicate our value proposition.  I hand them qualified leads … and they just fumble them.  They have to get their act together.”

Bill is making a mistake that lots of otherwise competent marketers make – the faulty assumption that sales readiness is the exclusive job of the sales team.   It is not. Marketing’s job does not end with the handoff of a qualified lead to sales. (As though that, alone, was ever easy!)  It is the marketer’s job to help the sales team win in the market by:

  •  Giving them a prioritized list of contacts based on lead quality and purchase intent

  • Arming them with relevant behavioral data that summarizes the prospect’s interests (sometimes called digital body language)

  • Providing them with easy-to-use technologies to track their hottest prospects, including alerts based on key buying signals

  • Developing a library of content to help the sales team build trust along different stages of the buyers’ journey

The headline in a recent Forrester Research report says it all: “Executives don’t believe salespeople are well prepared to engage with them.”  The Forrester study reported that only 15% of executives say that their meetings with sales people met their expectations. Yuk!

What if you could improve those interactions?    Well, the best marketing organizations in the world are doing just that by making sales readiness a top priority.  They are preparing their sales teams to engage with prospects more effectively and they are achieving exceptional results – shorter sales cycles, higher lead conversions, and higher quota achievement.  Isn’t it time you took sales enablement seriously?

What is sales enablement?   

 IDC defines sales enablement as “The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”  Who is in a better position than Marketing help with that?

Getting Started with Sales Enablement

Rather than look at sales enablement as yet “one more thing for marketing to do,” one marketer recently told me: “Hey, this is our opportunity to be heroes!  We can really help the sales team win more deals by passing on valuable knowledge and content.” 

From our experience with hundreds of marketing organizations, there are six practices that we see consistently across the best performing companies:

  1.  Attach relevant information to the leads you pass to sales.  Don’t pass on “naked” leads. Attach campaign activity, web visits, and other valuable information. The more a rep knows about the opportunity, the better they will perform. 

  2. De-construct the sales techniques of your highest-performing reps … and replicate it!  Look at how your best-performing reps find opportunities and close them. How do they communicate value?  What do they send to prospects … at what stages in the cycle?  Pass this valuable insight to other reps. 

  3. Gives Sales the tools they need to be successful. You need to build out a set of basic emails on relevant topics that the sales team can use.   

  4. Test the sales enablement tools first with a small group of reps. Before you roll your ideas and email templates to the whole sales team, test them first with a small group of reps.  Build credibility by finding “champions” in the sales organization. 

  5. Makes things simple for the reps.  They have a lot going on, so be sensitive to overwhelming them. Try to do things within technologies that they use every day – like their CRM or Outlook. 

  6. Don’t make them do it.  Nobody likes a dictator. The most success sales enablement techniques will spread like crazy once reps start using them and find success. 

Introducing Eloqua’s Grande Guide to Sales Enablement

Last month, Eloqua introduced our first guide in the Grande Series – “Eloqua’s Grande Guide to Lead Scoring.”  The idea for the Grande Guides is simple: the layout, length and language behind each guide is designed to provide subject matter expertise … in about the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. 

Returning to introduce the Grande Guide to Sales Enablement is Juan Eloqua (see his latest video below), the fictional grower coffee and revenue.  In this second installment, Juan Eloqua is joined by his family, wife Guadalupe and son Diego.  We even meet Diego’s teacher, Senor Stagnaro. 

Although the Juan Eloqua video is intended to inject playfulness to Eloqua’s content marketing campaign, the Grande Guide to Sales Enablement is a serious resource.  It includes compelling statistics, actionable tips, and a list of the best online resources on the topic.  The guide also features a sidebar contributed by influential blogger Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions.

Both Grande Guides, along with the Juan Eloqua videos, are available at Eloqua’s dedicated microsite. The content can also be found on the company’s social outposts, including SlideShare, YouTube and Facebook

The best marketers truly enable their sales teams to win.  Read the Grande Guide to Sales Enablement and be a hero!


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