If you received a request to launch a sales enablement program, you’d likely ask, “What’s the problem you are trying to solve?” The answers would probably include a new product launch, new sales personnel, redistribution of territories, or new regulations or cost structures.
In scoping the project, you’d look at what’s been done before, what the top sales producers do or the courses they’ve taken that others have not. You might schedule interviews with top performers and ask for their help in preparing a new initiative.
The head of sales or the sales manager who requested the support would likely have particular ideas about where the problem was — and be ready to tell you how you should address the issue.
However, there is one key party that organizations regularly overlook when it comes to sales enablement: the marketing team.
Most modern organizations, whether they’re for-profit companies or not, use a marketing automation system with a customer relationship management (CRM) database. This database records all interactions that a client or potential client has with the company’s website, social media account and other platforms. It provides a more holistic view of customer engagement and greater insight into the consumer’s or client’s perception and experience of your product or service. When the sales team uses the same platform and accesses the same data, it has far more information to go on to address particular challenges.
Potential New Clients
Business-to-business (B2B) sales usually involve a long process and are rarely impulse buys. The company website, and the efforts that the marketing team uses to drive people to the website, are some of the most important considerations when initiating an interaction with a potential client.
First, what sales professional wouldn’t prefer a warm lead to cold calling? If there is data showing that someone has visited the website, most marketing platforms will automatically notify the sales team that a call or email would be well timed.
Second, while not always included in that notification, there will almost always be information from the marketing CRM embedded in the sales CRM showing how that prospect found the website, what pages he or she viewed, and in what order. There will also generally be lead scoring involved so that the salesperson knows if the prospect is doing initial research or is further along in the buying process.
Ideally, the website is structured so that both the marketing and sales teams know that if someone visited a certain page or downloaded a certain asset, that person is serious about making a decision. They can also guess what his or her pain points are. This information is important, as the first conversation a salesperson has with a lead is critical for building trust and establishing the company as a thought leader and valued adviser. When a salesperson can include relevant examples during that first call, in those first moments, it can make all the difference.
In the haste to make a call, salespeople frequently only look at company size and revenue before picking up the phone. However, if they checked the CRM for details about which pages the prospect viewed and which content he or she consumed, they will be able to tailor their conversation from the outset, already having insight into the lead’s challenge or need.
This preparation is especially important considering that many B2B purchases are made by teams rather than a single person. Each part of an organization may need to weigh in on new investments, such as software solutions. With so many stakeholders, it’s important to demonstrate from the start that the sales professional understands the concerns of each party and can address them.
Retaining Clients and Upselling
After all the effort it takes to acquire clients, companies want to retain them. Review sites and industry analysts are using retention metrics more and more frequently, feeding a cycle that can further influence new and existing customer deals.
When the service tickets and knowledge base are incorporated into the same CRM, it makes it easy for the sales and marketing teams to see where there are potential issues, either with an individual client or across the board. Are there quality or service problems that you need to address with the operations team? Do multiple clients have the same questions that prevent them from gaining the full value of the investment, thereby putting renewals at risk? Is a client spending a lot of time in the knowledge base, and could he or she benefit from some one-on-one training?
When recognized and used well, these problems become opportunities. The sales team can avoid a bad reputation and loss of business, as well as create customer delight, simply by leveraging data in the marketing and service CRMs.
Why Has This Piece Been Missing?
The subject of marketing and sales alignment continues to be a sore one. Different languages and expectations too often have led to an environment of competition or lack of respect. The metrics of the two organizations don’t seem to agree, and at the end of the day, the sales team has a louder voice.
This reality doesn’t mean, though, that salespeople shouldn’t consider what the marketing team has done or that they should stop sharing sales data. While the key performance indicators (KPIs) of each group may be different, the numbers that sales professionals care about — profitability, revenue, velocity to close, etc. — are numbers that marketers also care about. However, the marketing department frequently does not have access to that data and can’t tie its efforts back to the sales results.
On the other hand, salespeople can seem dismissive or ignorant of the information marketers have gathered about potential or existing clients as well as the industry overall. Whether it’s the oft-quoted statistic that 57% of the purchase decision is already complete before the customer even calls the supplier or the finding that “83% of surveyed customers accessed digital channels even in the late purchasing stages,” salespeople ignore marketing information at their own peril.
There is a lot of pressure on sales organizations to deliver. The marketing department is invested in generating high-quality leads for the sales team to close. When the sales department requests new training, it doesn’t usually start with the information available from the marketing team’s efforts; it starts in the sales organization. That piece is what’s missing.
The next time you are tasked with addressing a sales enablement challenge, bring in someone from the marketing department, especially whoever is working with marketing automation and CRM. You might find that the training required is different than what anyone previously expected.