The sales field is often critical of any marketing effort. Marketers can feel like they are in a can’t-win position. Even when you do everything sales asks for it’s never enough, never right, or simply forgotten.
Marketing teams begin to resent their peers in sales. Sales teams think their marketing peers are not up to par.
What would happen if we as Marketers took this same attitude with our primary customer target audience? We don’t talk about how unfair it is when our primary customer target audience rejects our message. Instead we work our tails off to find our way through the barriers. We use customer research creative briefs, and outstanding create execution to reach our audience.
But when it comes to our internal audience of Sales, we assume interest. Why? With an internal audience they should be on our team. Marketing teams don’t believe they should have to ‘sell’ to sales. We get frustrated that we have to ‘sell’ them.
It’s time to set pride aside and invest in our selling of marketing services.
True Story – How I learned to execute Sales Enablement on a field ride in 2001
In 2001 I was an Account Supervisor at VML, a marketing agency. My client was the Less-than-Truckload (LTL) trucking firm Yellow Transportation. At the time Yellow was slugging it out with Roadway Express for leadership in the industry. Yellow ended up crushing Roadway Express and bought them a few years later. The effectiveness of new product launches (Sales Enablement) played a role in that win.
The CMO of Yellow encouraged field rides with sales to gain insights. There was one particular sales rep that I had a great deal of respect. His name was Chad. He was an enterprise rep who knew how to reach the C-Level suite of decision makers. While competitors were talking to decision makers at the dock, Chad was upstairs talking to CFO’s.
Chad always gave me great feedback and I made sure I rode with him often. The CMO needed sales enablement to be effective with the C-Suite and Chad was my guy. I went over my notes from the previous field ride before going on my next one. I recalled his previous feedback;
“Vince, this brochure is wayyyyyy too long. Cut this 4 pager back to a single page.”
I was excited to see Chad. I was eager to find out how he liked the single page brochure I had produced based on his feedback. I pulled it out and was surprised by his instant feedback;
“Vince, this brochure doesn’t get the job done. We need something with more meat.”
I started laughing and reminded Chad that the single pager was inspired by his feedback the previous quarter. He laughed when he realized he had contradicted himself. Chad jokingly said;
“Hey, you’re the marketing expert… I don’t know why you’re asking me what makes a great brochure.”
Chad was right. I knew what made a great new product brochure. What I needed from Chad was input into how the audience made decisions. I needed his insights into key drivers about the audience. I didn’t need Chad to get into the weeds of execution. For that I needed to trust best practices.
Too often marketing teams lose focus. With an internal audience we set aside the fundamentals of marketing. We forget best practices. We don’t ‘market’ to our internal sales peers.
Three Keys to Impactful Sales Enablement
The following are three keys to successful Sales Enablement:
1. Internal Sales Persona – Market Your Marketing Services
CMO’s don’t hesitate for a second to create Personas for our end customer audiences. However, when executing sales enablement efforts the internal sales audience persona is overlooked. Develop a persona for your sales reps.
Meet Rex the Rep. Rex persona looks at Rex as ‘user’ no different than how we use creative briefs. For example, here are Rex’s top 3 drivers for usage of sales enablement materials;
•Ease of implementation (time & effort) •Connects use to hitting number •Take lead from top sales producers
Are you leveraging to top reps to help you sell adoption? This can be done by involving them in expert panels and piloting groups. Is what you’re asking Rex to do simple and easy to duplicate call after call? Is your sales enablement overview training hitting on key value points that are important to Rex vs. company platitudes?
When communicating with sales, leverage a Persona of the sales rep. The Rex the Rep Persona provides valuable insights;
• Gain awareness into Rex as a user and how he adopts Sales Enablement tools
• Guide your efforts to connect with the sales rep’s What is in it for me?
• Understand the key goals and obstacles impacting sales
Download Marketing’s Sales Enablement Persona (Rex the Rep) to increase adoption.
2. Validate with Best Practices
Marketers don’t realize that Sales simply may not know what ‘good’ looks like. Take the appropriate time to share best practices when rolling out a new product. For example; Sales Enablement: The Missing Piece to the New Product Launch. Explain how World Class sales organizations perform sales enablement. Then connect the dots with what your marketing team has created.
The Rex the Rep Persona shows that reps want to keep up with their peers. Frame best practices in light of how marketing supports reps in world class sales organizations.
Without a frame of reference, don’t expect sales to recognize a quality marketing deliverable. Sales reps typically only have their past experience to compare. Invest time in sharing best practices and how your efforts align. Name the best practices of world class sales forces and how your sales enablement hits the mark.
3. Test Prototype – An Agile Approach
Sales Enablement deliverables should be tested before rolling out company wide. Developing a ‘prototype’ early draft and getting field feedback is paramount to success.
Select a small team of trusted reps to test new product release materials and messaging. Get feedback early and use that to fine tune your Sales Enablement rollout.
Gain speed to market by releasing a solid early draft as a prototype. This agile approach relieves the tremendous stress of trying to be perfect. Move quickly and allow the customer interaction to guide the fine-tuning of sales enablement materials.
In summary, CMO’s can increase the effectiveness of sales enablement through great marketing. Simply apply the processes and craft of marketing externally to inside stakeholders.