Take these steps to help your sales team engage deeply with customers and win more deals.
In my experience, the sales and marketing relationship varies dramatically from organization to organization, especially in smaller companies and start-ups. Sometimes, these two groups work seamlessly together with good communication, systems, and processes in place to make landing customers and therefore revenue—a smooth experience.
But too often, helping sales do their jobs is a distant priority for marketing. This isn’t because marketing doesn’t want to help, but because they don’t really know how or the right systems aren’t in place. No matter what the scenario, there is always room for improvement.
In most cases, when a “lead” has reached the sales opportunity status, marketing’s involvement narrows to providing sales with content and training on products and services. Unfortunately, 65% of marketing-produced content for sales is wasted and training happens only once a quarter.
Luckily, this presents a great opportunity for marketing to align more closely with sales to help them be more successful.
There are four major areas where you, as a marketer, can improve your game—and become a sales hero in the process.
1. Spend as much time thinking about the bottom half of the funnel as you do about lead acquisition and nurturing.
Focusing on lead generation, brand awareness, and social engagement are common marketing priorities. It’s easy to get so caught up in driving demand that you forget sales needs your support. But what if you could increase pipeline close rates by helping sales?
Take the time to engage with your sales team to understand how you can help in the sales process. Learn who they are selling to and their needs. Get feedback on what collateral, tools, messaging, or other support sales needs. Analyze what content and tools are working…and what isn’t. Odds are sales will be happy to tell you this information if you ask—and you’ll win major admiration points for taking the initiative to help with an aspect of a sales rep’s job that can be incredibly difficult.
Takeaway: Focus on the bottom of the funnel sales content just as much as you do the top of the funnel.
2. Improve the quality and type of content
How do you manage sales content? If you toss it over the invisible fence to sales and forget all about it, it’s time to take a step back.
We’ve evolved away from this “set it and forget it” mentality with marketing content thanks to modern technology and the ability to measure content’s performance—and so we should with sales content.
It’s time to start measuring the impact and quality of sales content by tracking usage, customer engagement, and content’s influence on revenue and stage conversion. Through this closed-loop process, you’ll know what works, what doesn’t, and why, providing you with the data to improve content quality.
Again, work closely with sales to test what you see in the analytics and discuss why certain pieces are or are not effective.
Takeaway: The best content workflows include a persistent and continuous closed-loop process for improving sales content: Develop, deploy, measure, improve/iterate, deploy . . . and test again.
3. Help Sales assess Sales Technology
Quite simply, most sales departments don’t have the time or resources to assess and manage technology.
And yet, the right technology solution can help them be more effective in closing deals and more efficient with their time. It’s a classic problem: They’re running so fast, they don’t have time to find and deploy a solution to help them run faster!
Marketing, however, has lots of experience assessing and deploying technology. Help sales by guiding them through choosing and deploying technology that can make them be more efficient and effective.
There is a multitude of sales technology vendors that offer very compelling products in sales enablement, predictive analytics, email content distribution, sales intelligence, account-based marketing, and online pitching.
Takeaway: Work with sales to figure out where they are spending time away from selling or where they could be more effective and map that to sales technologies that can help.
4. Training, Coaching, and Best Practices
The idea that you can train an entire sales force—regardless of size—on new products, new methodology, new features, and even new sales techniques and best practices once a quarter is dead. It’s been proven wrong so many times, and yet so many organizations are hanging onto this idea as “the way it’s done.”
Let me assure you, there is a better way! But, taking the next step requires a commitment to continuous training. Marketing can help. Here’s how:
- Dedicate some resources to training and coaching and then—you guessed it—work with sales. Develop some bite-sized, in-context training programs that can be given during SKO, reinforced throughout the quarter, and made accessible when needed—just in time training at its finest.
- We live in a visual world, so the more you can do on video, the better. Organize short training videos covering new product information, messaging, and pitching that sales can watch when they need it.
- Divide sales playbooks into pieces that align with product lines, stages, and other relevant parameters, and make those available “in-context”—in the relevant opportunity. Instead of making reps sort through entire decks to find the content they need, make it easy for them to find just the specific modules they need, by providing it in the appropriate opportunity.
- Create a framework for enabling your sales “eagles” to share their best practices, pitches, and learnings with the rest of the organization.
Takeaway: Marketing should take an active role in facilitating ongoing sales training, and ensure that reps know where to find the latest and greatest content, pitches, and best practices.
Being a sales hero will take work, but it’s worth it in both increased revenue and improved relationships with your company’s front line teams. If you start these processes when your organization is small and growing, you’ll build a solid foundation on which to expand and minimize growing pains along the way.
Jeff Day is the VP of Marketing at Highspot and a 15 year veteran of sales enablement. As a marketing leader for companies including Apptio, HP, Sun and PolyServe and the VP of Sales for DomainTools, Jeff understands the potential of a well-trained, empowered and enabled sales force. Jeff’s current mission is to elevate the role of the sales enablement professional by helping them drive continuous productivity improvement across their sales teams. Learn more at www.highspot.com/sales-enablement. @jeffwday