Last week I came across the e-book, The New Rules of Sales Enablement by Jeff Ernst, the VP of Marketing at Kadient. While I usually gravitate towards marketing e-books, I was immediately intrigued by the title. (Like many marketers, I'm a huge fan of David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing and PR. The tie-in to Scott's book was entirely intentional; Ernst acknowledges Scott at the beginning of his book). So I took a look, and I ended up reading the 34-page e-book in one sitting, which says a lot for me.
The e-book is focused on sales, but it is a great read for any B2B marketer who works with a sales team. I worked with sales for years, so I was constantly nodding my head in agreement with so many of Ernst's points. The issues he posed resonated with me--and I'm guessing they'll resonate with many of you as well.
While the entire book is worth a read, I was especially grabbed by two rules.
Old Rule: Sales enablement is about putting the sales and marketing collateral rack online.
New Rule: Sales enablement is about ensuring salespeople are able to have valuable conversations that help buyers advance through the buying process.
I admit it: I've done things the old way. "Sales needs help? Ok, we'll create some new collateral and put it on our sales portal." But, of course, these pieces weren't really used, or at least not as much as we hoped.
Ernst cites a stat from the American Marketing Association that I found incredible (but also sadly believable): Sales ignores 90% of the "stuff" that the folks at corporate give them. Instead, he's found that many sales people use what they were given when they first started and continually update that. No surprise, it can be quite scary to see what they come up with!
Where's the breakdown? Ernst outlines three reasons why it is ineffective to simply put collateral on an online portal:
- There is too much information on the portal and reps don't where to look.
- The materials aren't aligned with selling situations, and they don't address how a sales person should use them.
- Sales portals often require login and are disconnected from applications and tools such as their Blackberry and CRM system.
I absolutely with Ernst's assessment, and I think there is another problem at play as well: the materials may just not be that compelling. A one-size-fits-all brochure aimed at no one in particular and filled with gobbledygook simply isn't effective in any selling situation.
Take away for marketing: Marketing, sales, and other key stakeholders need to take time to map out the buyers and stages in the buying cycle and then constantly create material that fits into this matrix. When releasing material to sales it should be very clear who the material is targeted to and when it should be used in the buying process.
Old Rule: The folks in corporate know best what salespeople need in the field.
New Rule: The most effective selling content, messages and strategies are discovered from experience with buyers.
Ernst gives a great example of how marketing can improve how sales uses what is produced. When he was creating a competitive analysis, he did research (as we marketers like to do) and then - here's the key - he got input from sales. He used the weekly sales call to see who had been running into this competitive situation and how they were handling it. He incorporated this feedback into his analysis, and sales loved it; they trusted the info because it included their input and addressed their concerns.
Take away for marketing: Engage with sales! I constantly talk about creating material specific to your audience, but it is easy to forget that sales is one of your audiences. You can create stellar material, but you need sales to buy in.
Use (or form) relationships with sales to get regular feedback: which people are involved in the buying process, what pains their clients are experiencing, where they look for information, etc. Not only will you learn a lot, but sales will also be more apt to use the materials you create.
If you read Ernst's e-book, what points resonate most with you? What other ideas do you have to help sales and marketing work together?
Read more Savvy B2B posts from Michele.