There’s a lot of debate about whether sales enablement is the responsibility of the sales team or the marketing team. The truth is, it’s a concentrated effort between both. Marketing provides sales with the resources they need to make sales, like videos, blogs, and other types of content marketing. The sales team then passes this content along to potential customers to lead them through the sales funnel.
What is sales enablement?
HubSpot defines sales enablement as “the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.” The examples HubSpot gives includes content, tools, knowledge, and information to sell your product or service to customers effectively.
Sales enablement doesn’t just consist of marketing assisting sales, though. It’s up to the sales team to relay any relevant information back to marketing about what kind of content works. Sales should also be able to offer up any information about what types of marketing materials are missing from their arsenal. This way, your company’s sales enablement strategy (and web content strategy) never stagnates.
According to CoSchedule, sales enablement focuses on four core elements:
Sellers having access to the right content at the right time.
Improved collaboration between marketing and sales.
Ongoing training to help sales staff deliver on the bottom line.
Analytics to understand how content resonates with potential customers, then iterating on it for constant improvement.
Read on to learn more about how you can enhance your own B2B company’s sales enablement strategy.
What makes sales enablement effective?
According to LinkedIn, four things must align for your sales enablement strategy to be effective:
People: Your sales team has to understand, as well as have documented information on who the ideal client profiles are. Think about your buyer personas! Keep lines of communication open between the sales and marketing teams, ensuring that they’re collaborating. After all, you all have the same end goal. Sirius Decisions found that 19% more growth occurs when businesses align their marketing and sales departments.
Content:Your content is what your potential buyers see before they have any contact with your sales team. So you want to make sure that content makes them want to move forward in the process. We’ll touch on this more in-depth later on.
Technology:Segment your client profiles in your CRM, so your sales team can easily distinguish between them. According to HubSpot, 57% of high-performing sales reps say that technology is their top sales enablement priority. Specifically, “deployment of and training on new technology was closely followed by improving rep usage of social media, and restructuring or creating enablement function.”
Process:Be sure there’s a documented process for what approaches you use during the prospecting process and how often. Continuously reexamine what’s working and what isn’t. Then keep that information in your CRM, accessible to both teams.
Sales enablement for marketers
Many people struggle to determine who “owns” sales enablement. Spoiler alert: nobody does. The entire concept of sales enablement revolves around the collaboration between teams. Sales enablement doesn’t solely fall on the shoulders of the company’s marketers. But, it does mean something a little different than it does for your sales team. In many ways, it’s up to a company’s marketers to even get leads interested in talking to sales. According to the market research firm, Forrester, 60% of B2B buyers get most of their information from sources other than sales reps. You want your marketing materials to be those sources, and you want them to be good enough that they lead buyers to your sales reps.
It’s also a common pain point when the marketing team has loads of useful content that would benefit potential customers, but the sales team just doesn’t know that it exists. Or even where to find it! It seems like a simple enough issue to avoid, but we’re all aware of how bulky and messy workflows can get when they aren’t maintained. Take extra precautions, and keep all of your finished content in a place that each team can easily find.
The types of tasks that land on the marketing team to smooth this rocky road include being proactive and using content mapping, providing a smooth transition between the groups, and sharing customer insights. Which brings us to our next point.
Keep an eye on competitive and market insights
Marketers have inside knowledge of the customer’s buying journey before the buyers even get around to speaking to sales. Use that to your advantage and relay that information to sales! This way, your sales team can directly address the things you all know are on your customers’ minds.
What content you’ve created has done well? What pages on your site get the most traffic? If any of your content is lagging, what can you do to make your message clearer and better answer your potential buyers’ questions? Not only can this information aid in the sales enablement process, but it can also help you polish your website strategy.
Don’t minimize the importance of automation
Could everything in your sales strategy be done by hand? Sure, I guess. But why would you take on that burden when there are so many automation tools at your disposal? You don’t want to get bogged down with tedious tasks. HubSpot recommends automating the following:
Email sequences: An email sequence is a follow-up email automatically triggered when a prospect hasn’t responded within a certain amount of time. They’re completely customizable, from the timeframe that passes before the email sends, to specific details included in the email.
Prospecting:Why go through the hassle of setting up call times with each prospect when you can let them come to you? In your follow up emails, include a link to your calendar that allows them to schedule time with you. You’ll have a full calendar of qualified leads, without having to lift a finger!
Direct messaging:Chatbots are nothing new. How you can use them in your sales enablement strategy is. Add filtering criteria to the chatbot on your website, so only quality leads are matched up with sales reps.
You can automate many of these things with sales enablement software, such as HubSpot, Outreach, or Zendesk.
Pay attention to your sales content
Whether we’re talking slide decks, presentations, proposals, or your collateral, all of your sales content needs to be great. And it needs to be used. It might sound silly to have to point this out. However, multiple studies have found that an alarming amount of marketing content is produced and perfected, only for it never to see the light of day. The Content Marketing Institute recently reported that up to 80% of the content provided by marketing teams goes unused. There could be several reasons as to why this happens. Perhaps the content produced is outdated or doesn’t answer the questions prospective buyers have. If that’s the case, that information must be relayed back to the marketing team so that they can re-examine their strategy.
This takes us back, once again, to ensure that both sides have open lines of communication and have easy access to these materials. However, if you’ve taken these precautions and truly find that the content you’re working on ends up being busywork that doesn’t contribute to your bottom line, focus your energy on other aspects of the sales enablement process.
When you read the term “demand generation,” it sounds like it just means that you’re “generating demand” for your product. While in some ways, that is accurate, there’s a lot more to demand generation than that. Plenty of things you do as a marketer each day fall under the “demand generation” umbrella.
What is demand generation?
Think of it as any activity that brings attention to your B2B company to bring people into your sales funnel. It’s about keeping in mind where people are in their buying journey when tailoring your marketing materials to them.
You’re not going to launch into a hard sell to someone visiting your website for the first time. And you’re not going to leave out important details for someone who is potentially looking to close a deal. Demand generation is truly your sales and marketing teams working in tandem. After all, the sales cycle of a B2B customer is quite different than a B2C customer. So it’s imperative that efforts to educate, nurture, and convert potential leads take place at the appropriate time.
Where it all starts
The B2C world can use demand generation, especially in areas with longer sales cycles, like home or car buying. However, it’s most common in the B2B world. The whole process begins with getting the word out. B2B companies probably won’t be filming commercials or taking traditional ad space out, so it’s essential to think outside the box. Some common ways B2B companies build awareness of their brand include tactics like:
Investing in search engine optimization: One of the best ways to allow people to discover your business is to help them solve a problem. Using keywords in your website content that people might search for while looking for a solution will get them on your page and potentially land you a customer.
Advertising on search engines: I know, it’s like Google is the gatekeeper to business and we have no choice but to play along (unless you choose to use like, Bing or something). But it would be silly to ignore the impact search engines have on business. Shelling out some cash to have your business’s information at the top of relevant searches is a way to kickstart your web presence.
Hosting webinars: Similar to investing in SEO, hosting webinars is an effective way to demonstrate your value by offering a solution that your potential customers may be looking to solve. Webinars are a low commitment way for people to see what you have to offer and how you can help them.
Free trials: How many free trials have you signed up for before actually investing in something? From streaming services to gym memberships, free trials are one of the best ways to get someone’s foot in the door. For a B2B company, this could be a consultation call or a free e-book that gives potential customers a taste of what you can offer, without giving too much away.
How demand generation fits into the sales cycle
If you think a lot of these demand generation tactics sound like inbound marketing, you are correct! HubSpot’s simple explanation for this is that inbound marketing is a type of demand generation activity. It’s effective, too — HubSpot found that inbound leads are five times more likely to become customers than outbound leads. That’s not where the connections between the two end, though.
WordStream states that demand generation is a “long-term relationship between a brand’s marketing and sales teams, and prospective customers.” Once the marketing team has created content and used that content’s performance to determine prospective customers and taken it a step further with projects like email campaigns, these contacts are passed along to the sales team. From there, the marketing and sales teams can determine where in the sales cycle each of these leads are. Then they can tailor their marketing efforts accordingly.
Lead scoring, ranking, and routing are all a part of the sales teams’ role in demand generation. Determining which leads should be contacted ups the chances that a sale will be made by focusing energy on the most promising leads.
There are a lot of decisions to make when you’re a new business owner. So you want to make sure that the software you choose makes your job as easy as it can be. That’s why choosing a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that makes sense for your business is such an important step to take.
This pressure and the fact that there are just too many different types of CRM tools out there can lead to decision fatigue. But you’ll be working with this tool every single day, so this isn’t the time to let your desire to be done making choices take over. We’re going to take a deep dive into two of the most popular CRMs and get to the bottom of the Pipedrive vs. HubSpot debate. Then you can see which works best for you.
Take your size into account
For small business owners who want a CRM tool to handle more than just the sales aspect of day-to-day tasks, HubSpot is a good choice. For example, a small business probably doesn’t have a coder on board yet, so HubSpot handles that.
A considerable benefit of HubSpot is that so much of it is automated. When a small team is stretched thin, HubSpot is running in the background, taking care of it. HubSpot also works on a tiered system, making it ideal for small businesses, so you can manage up to 2500 contacts before the price goes up. HubSpot owns approximately 41.5% of the small business automation market, so it’s no surprise that it checks off a lot of small business’s boxes.
Marketing Automation Insider suggests Pipedrive for small- to medium-sized businesses. The platform is customizable to suit different types of companies but lacks the automation options that HubSpot makes so easy. It is simple to integrate Pipedriver with Zapier, an automation tool that allows you to connect all of your apps and devices, but that does come with an additional cost.
Convenience comes with a cost
As mentioned, HubSpot’s tiered pricing system works well for small businesses. However, it can get pricey for a company that grows quickly. For example, once you establish more than 2500 contacts you manage, your price goes up to $1200 per month until you reach 10,000 contacts, and so on.
Pipedrive does use a tiered system as well, but it stays at one price until you reach 100,000 contacts. Take into account, though, the fact that you’d also need to pay a subscription fee for a program like Zapier if you wanted to automate to the level that HubSpot allows you to.
How about sales?
Pipedrive is known as a CRM “built by salespeople, for salespeople.” Its primary focus is on sales pipeline management, while HubSpot is a jack of all trades, with marketing and sales functionality wrapped in one CRM.
I know, the full expression is “jack of all trades, master of none.” If you’re looking to have all of your sales and marketing needs in one place, HubSpot is probably the pick for you. But if you’re just looking for a CRM to help you streamline your sales process, Pipedrive might be a better choice.
Integration, integration, integration
While it’s true that HubSpot can do just about anything you want it to do (from a sales and marketing standpoint, at least), you want to ensure you can integrate any software you’re currently using with the CRM you choose.
Luckily, whether you go for HubSpot or Pipedrive, you shouldn’t have an issue ensuring your favorite apps work alongside your CRM. According to Discover CRM, Pipedrive integrates with 148 apps, HubSpot integrates with 128 apps, and both work with popular software like Zapier, Salesforce, Outlook, and Gmail. Before you take the dive, though, make sure you check the list of apps that integrate with each CRM — especially if you use some more obscure programs!
I’m sorry if you went into this post intending to get a firm CRM recommendation for your particular business, but it just doesn’t work that way! Both HubSpot and Pipedrive have their strengths and weaknesses, but it’s up to you to figure out what’s important to you when choosing your business’s CRM tools.
A well-crafted buyer persona can provide tremendous structure and opportunity for your company.
What’s a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on your company’s market research and data on existing customers. They help align your marketing and sales departments by setting a clear picture of who exactly your firm should be targeting and serving.
In order to be effective, buyer personas need to be based on real-world information and not assumptions. The more specific you can be, the better.
Here is a five-step process to follow when creating a buyer persona for your company.
1. Research your audience
Let’s pretend you’re back in school for a second…
You’re taking an exam that you didn’t study for. We’ve all been there.
You miss classes, you don’t turn in the homework, and just show up on test day. It probably didn’t work out too well.
Similarly to creating your buyer personas, you have to do your homework. Just like you can’t expect to do well on a test without understanding the concepts, you can’t possibly create an effective buyer persona without knowing your audience.
Study the market. Ask yourself, “Who is already buying from me?” This includes demographics, behavioral patterns, goals, and buyer trends.
Another way to learn about your audience is by using social analytics. These buyers may not be customers at the moment, but the point is if they are searching and interacting with your brand or industry online, there is certainly data to be collected.
2. Identify customer pain points
Find out what problems your customers are facing. What’s holding them back from reaching their goals?
A great way to find this information is by simply asking your customer service team what questions they get the most. Figuring out these pain points customers are experiencing allows you to generate content tailored to resolving those issues.
And don’t forget, not every firm has the same company size and goals. So a strategy that may seem fitting for a company with 50-100 employees, can certainly be different for a firm with ten.
3. Identify customer goals
When creating personas, you need to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What motivates your customers? What are they actually trying to reach?
These goals don’t necessarily have to align with a solution that your firm can provide, so don’t sweat it.
This step is about better understanding your customers and looking for similar goals to what other firms may have.
What’s the purpose?
Data. Remember, the more information you can find about your customers, the stronger buyer persona you can create.
4. Why you?
Now that you understand who your customers are, potential challenges they face, as well as goals they may seek, ask yourself, “Why would a customer choose me?”
Because you’re the best!?
Well, maybe so, but customers want to experience and generate those thoughts on their own — another reason buyer personas are so important.
Buying personas help flip your thinking and consider your products and services from a buyer’s point of view. A tactic most marketers don’t even think about doing. If you truly want customers thinking you’re the best, you must know what they like and need.
Once you understand why buyers would choose you, crafting personas tailored to your market becomes much easier!
5. Creating the persona
Now that you did your research, it’s time to start organizing your buyers. Look for characteristics and similarities as you begin creating your first buyer persona!
Keep in mind, your persona is not just some folder on your computer containing all of your customer data. But rather a single, semi-fictional person that you can actually speak to and identify with!
Make sure to give your persona a name, age, and job title. From there, you’ll start filling in more job-specific data such as the number of employees, responsibilities, challenges, goals and any other data you collected from your prior research!
In order to build a strong sales team, it’s imperative to find people who can meet quotas and handle rejection, while also staying persistent and not coming off as aggressive. Hiring the wrong person can keep your company from reaching important goals, so never rush the recruiting process!
These effective interview questions dig into a salesperson’s skills, knowledge, experience, personality, and motivation. They can help reveal one’s true identity and whether or not they will fit the role and overall culture of a company.
Sales Interview Questions:
How do you keep up to date with industry news?
In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships versus hunting for new clients, and why?
What is your approach to handling customer objections?
If you are hired for this job, what would you do in the first month?
Judging from your research, where do you think our company can improve and be better?
When do you stop pursuing a potential lead?
What is your best way to establish a relationship with a prospect?
What’s worse: Not hitting monthly quotas or not having happy customers?
What core values do you feel every salesperson should possess?
What is your long term goal in life and how will you get there?
Let’s take a more in-depth look at these questions:
1. How do you keep up to date with industry news?
Even if the target market from their last job was totally different, this will show their ability to keep up with relevant trends and news in the industry.
Look for answers that revolve around reading publications, blogs, and up-to-date content sharing current data. If they don’t on their own, ask the candidate to elaborate on a recent article or piece of information they recently learned.
Receiving answers like, “Oh, I just watch other companies,” or, “I like to wait until we notice a sales decline to experiment new things” should be seen as red flags and signs of someone who may not be a good fit for your company.
2. In your last position, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships versus hunting for new clients, and why?
This is a great question because there is no ‘right’ answer. Some companies will prefer salespeople to always be on the hunt and searching for new clients. While others may want them emphasizing retainer clients and continuing to nurture relationships with them for future deals.
Although both are vital for sales, this will help your company know the type of salesperson you’re interviewing.
3. What is your approach to handling customer objections?
Put simply, listen for a process.
Look for things that revolve around, “I like to ask what exactly the prospect’s concern may be, and search for ways I can help resolve them”.
Having a prepared process to deal with objections instead of just winging it is a must.
4. If you are hired for this job, what would you do in the first month?
Don’t expect a response that like, “Grow your company to make millions.” That’s not realistic.
Instead, look for a goal. Hiring someone who is ready to come in with an idea and action plan in place is a great sign. Yes, you will have to provide proper training, but a candidate who’s a self-starter is never a bad thing.
5. Judging from your research, where do you think our company can improve and be better?
How can you expect an answer from this candidate when they haven’t even started or seen your company yet? Exactly!
This question will test the candidate’s creativity as well as show how much research they’ve done before the interview.
We often hear how important it is to educate ourselves about a firm and have questions prepared for them upon interviewing. This will test their approach.
6. When do you stop pursuing a potential lead?
The right answer here may depend on your company’s process and goals, so look for the obvious. Anything that comes off as “I try as long as I can because I refuse to lose,” should be noted and taken into consideration as an indicator of this candidate’s personality.
7. What is your best way to establish a relationship with a prospect?
Gather insight on how they approach and maintain relationships with prospects. Answers that contain constant emails and occasional phone calls should be a red flag. Instead, look for a candidate that collects information from the prospect and uses it to build rapport.
For example, as a sales rep, if you’re on a call and find out this prospect likes to travel in his free time, ask where. Maybe his answer will resonate and be similar to the places you like to go as well. All of which can help build rapport and make sales calls feel more personal!
8. What’s worse: Not hitting monthly quotas or not having happy customers?
It’s important to listen for keywords with this question. The right answer may be dependent on the company and what their priorities are, but reps who go strictly after quotas rather than truly giving customers what they want should be noted.
9. What core values do you feel every salesperson should possess?
Listen for things like: “Putting the prospect first.” “Patience.” “Caring.”
Remember, you’re hiring a sales rep. If they are not willing to deal with objections and aren’t very understanding or willing to adjust in certain instances, this is probably not the job for them.
10. What is your long term goal in life and how will you get there?
Like every interview, there should always be an open-ended question that doesn’t have to pertain to the job itself. Use this time to learn more about the person themselves and not just their qualities in the business world.
Asking this question is extremely important because it’s a chance to learn something you may never have otherwise known about the candidate.
They may share an impactful personal story about their life, and as a result, it drives and motivates them every day to work towards their goals until they get there.
You’re spending long hours at work desperately trying to close deals with under-qualified leads, thanks to your marketing team. To make matters worse, maybe your marketers are accusing you of not properly following up with leads, resulting in lost deals.
If that scenario sounds familiar, I’m here to tell you it’s all avoidable.
You are all a part of the same company, right? Everyone is trying to get to the bottom line and improve overall growth, right?
Then why are we competing with each other!
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
How are we supposed to know who is performing best and where we need help if we all work together?
Well, that’s where smarketing comes in!
Smarketing is the alignment between your sales and marketing teams, created through shared goals and executed through a collaborative strategy.
The better you are at smarketing, the lower your cost of customer acquisition will be. This means increased leads and more closed deals at a lower price. Here are a few facts every salesperson needs to keep top-of-mind when discussing marketing.
You need marketing to tell a story
No matter how great your product or service is, you should never rely on selling features alone. Creating a desire for your product helps bring more value and interest to your buyers. That’s where marketing steps in.
When you buy a car you will almost always have some sort of emotional connection tied with the one you choose. Before finalizing the deal, you need to be connected and know the product is right for you. Feelings and emotions that just can’t be felt from a salesperson’s persuasion alone. This holds true with any sale that’s not an impulse buy.
Things like blogs, testimonials, social media efforts, and videos are just a few of the many ways you can use marketing to help tell a story and increase emotional appeal — ultimately easing the sales process.
Marketing helps build trust
“Nobody likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy.”
The old fashioned, high-pressure sales tactics no longer work. Even if you have won the sale, that doesn’t mean you’ve garnered a long-term relationship.
When was the last time you bought something from a company you didn’t trust? Odds are, most of your purchases feel comfortable because you trust a firm or brand.
Buyers want to conduct business with people they know, like, and trust. Lucky for you, you can get your prospects closer to these goals with help from your marketers! Present your marketing team with questions and objections that often arise from your conversations. As a result, marketers can develop content that addresses how your product/service will help serve these needs.
Marketing helps determine when a person is “sales-ready”
Your marketing team can use data and tactics to help determine which prospects are actually sales-ready. Instead of cold-calling 500 prospects, marketing can help strip out the “noise” and provide a clearer direction for the sales team. Out of those 500 prospects, marketing may identify 50 that could use a hard sales pitch, while the remaining 450 require further nurturing. The point is, sales can direct their time and efforts to those prospects who are actually interested. Monitoring behaviors like email opens and click-throughs, social media engagement, and downloads are all great tell-tale signs that a prospect may be sales-ready.
You need each other
Simply put, sales without marketing is difficult. Without marketing, you’d have to make up for lost ground — tackling the tasks of storytelling, being persuasive, and finding emotional appeal without the assets you really need! As a result, it’s a lot harder to grow the company and increase revenue without the support of marketing.
The bottom line is this: Marketing provides the roof over the sales force while they’re inside working hard to close deals and increase revenue. When used correctly, your marketers will help eliminate any outside noise and funnel quality leads to the sales team.
Proper alignment between the sales team and the prospect is what ultimately closes deals. What’s vital to remember is that the “sales team” is actually made up of both salespeople and marketers. After all, you serve the same function and should have the same goals.
Now that you have a better understanding of how these departments should align, gather your sales & marketing teams together to bury the hatchet and start fresh!