When sales and marketing collide – sales enablement should serve the customer, not the sales team
Sales and marketing are two revenue-generating functions crucial to most organisations, but they often fail to see eye-to-eye, says Kat Warboys. When there’s friction between the two teams, CX is compromised and growth slows. Who’s your enablement enabling?
The typical situation looks like this: sales complains that marketing isn’t generating enough quality leads, and marketing criticises sales for not working their leads hard enough. Something is broken, and it usually comes down to misaligned goals, poor communication and a lack of action from leadership. This all trickles down to the prospective customer, who often bears the brunt of the business’ messy internal processes and misaligned goals.
There’s no quick fix for solving those issues, although it can be done. To bridge this gap in the first instance, the sales enablement function is often introduced. However, businesses often view sales enablement as another content production role, with creating customer case studies and testimonials being some of the responsibilities that come to mind. While that’s sometimes true, the sales enablement profession has evolved far beyond this, but most businesses haven’t yet realised its full potential.
According to HubSpot’s 2018 ‘State of Inbound’ report, improving the efficiency of the sales process is the second highest sales priority for businesses in Australia and New Zealand. The role of a modern sales enablement professional is all about efficiency, focusing on helping sales teams to extract maximum yield from the demand that marketing is creating in order to drive more revenue for the business. The function exists to implement technology, processes and content to remove friction in sales processes and empower sales teams to work more efficiently with the data they have.
The customer at the centre
So where do most organisations get it wrong? Many organisations view sales enablement as serving only the sales team; and while that’s true to some extent, the sales enablement function really exists to improve the experience of the buyer. When sales enablement is viewed through this lens, you start to set goals that have a positive impact on both your business and the customer experience – which go hand in hand.
Success is, therefore, about enabling sales teams to work in ways that are in the interest of the prospective customer. When that happens, marketing and sales teams will begin making different – but ultimately better – decisions that are reflected in the business’ bottom line.
When call monitoring tools like Gong and internal collaboration tools like Slack are connected to a CRM, the end result is an incredibly valuable data set that allows salespeople to have much more contextual conversations, creating an improved sales process for the customer. However, this is creating another problem for today’s salespeople: data paralysis. The modern salesperson’s world is driven by data, but a constant stream of information can overwhelm sales reps and hurt productivity.
One role of sales enablement is to make large data sets useful, helping the sales team identify their next ‘big bet’ so they can close more deals in less time.
However, there are two pieces of technology that are instrumental in achieving this: automation and artificial intelligence.
Technology enables scale
There are lots of powerful sales acceleration and enablement tools on the market, and when these tools are integrated with a CRM and paired with automation, the end result is a valuable tech stack that becomes incredibly influential in a business’ ability to grow. Automated lead scoring was one of the first technical solutions to go mainstream that helped salespeople make decisions from large data sets, and machine learning models are now helping improve accuracy in this area.
On the marketing side, the data collected by sales tools can be used to improve and automate various aspects of demand generation programs. This usually results in better lead quality and a higher close rate, which naturally improves the relationship between marketing and sales, as well as the business’ bottom line.
Your future customers will undoubtedly feel the difference too. When you use data and technology to improve the handoff between marketing and sales, your prospective customers are only ever having contextual, timely and helpful conversations with your salespeople. As a result, you create a purchasing experience that’s frictionless and hopefully enjoyable for the person buying from you.
It’s easy to think of sales enablement as simply serving your sales team, but what that role really exists to do is to serve your customers by enabling your sales teams to create the best possible experience for them. Any technology and processes implemented to help your sales team become more efficient should ultimately be driven by the motivation to use the data you have to create a frictionless, personalised customer experience.
Kat Warboys, head of marketing, ANZ at HubSpot
- Marketing and sales alignment – a best practice guide for business leaders »
- The funnel is dead. Introducing the flywheel – why marketers should make the switch »
- Marketing is no longer the underdog to sales »
- Counter: was marketing ever the underdog to sales? »
Image credit:Tyler Nix