Small Business Spotlight: The Marketer’s 4-Step Guide to Effective Sales Enablement

By Jenna Hanington

Despite the emphasis on lead generation at B2B companies, marketers have another equally important responsibility to their sales teams: To enable them to close deals. This is particularly true at smaller companies where contributing to the bottom line is crucial — it’s important for marketers to position themselves as an indispensable asset to sales. So as your two teams grow, there’s already a foundation in place that aligns marketing and sales.

Getting sales teams armed with up-to-date information about customers is a problem at B2B companies. In fact, according to a study by Lattice Engines, 42 percent of sales reps said they feel they are not enabled with the right information before making a sales call.

Compound that with another recent statistic from CSO Insights — which states that less than 10 percent of sales teams are “exceeding expectations” in their ability to prioritize accounts to better focus selling efforts; we’re looking at a huge opportunity for marketing to step in and be the perfect selling partner for sales reps.

Let’s consider these four steps that marketers can take to better empower sales, so that both teams are not only working together right from the start, they’re winning together, too.

Step 1: Start building together

The first step to an effective sales enablement strategy is also the most basic: Make sure your two teams are on the same page. You can accomplish this with a short conversation about these things:

  • Lead quality: How does sales define a qualified lead?
  • Lead assignment: What actions signal that a lead is ready to be passed to sales?
  • Lead nurturing: How can marketing free up sales reps to focus on hot leads?
  • Content: What content do sales reps find most effective? Where do they see gaps in existing content? What pain points are prospects experiencing? How can you better organize this content so that it’s easy for reps to find?

Sitting in on sales calls is another easy way to gain more insight into the questions and concerns that arise during the selling process. Based on the conversations sales reps are having with their customers, start thinking about how you can equip sales reps with the content they need for every possible scenario.

Step 2: Refine the lead flow process

Getting the answers to the questions above can help marketing refine the lead flow process so that the marketing-sales lead handoff is as optimized as possible. According to CSO Insights, 30 percent of companies with a formally agreed-upon definition of a qualified lead claim a lead conversion rate (when leads are converted to opportunities) of more than 75 percent. Yet only one in two companies currently has a formal definition of a qualified lead in .

With a mutual understanding of an ideal prospect, marketing can set up lead scoring and grading rules to better qualify leads, then pass them along to sales at the right moment (using the insight gained from sales about sales-ready actions).

Step 3: Be transparent with results

As your new lead flow process begins to work like a well-oiled machine, you can turn your attention to your lead metrics. Working from a communal model to determine MQLs (marketing qualified leads), SQLs (sales qualified leads), and closed/won business will make it easier for your two teams to cooperate and work toward common goals.

Keep in mind that a large part of sales enablement is being transparent about which marketing efforts worked and which didn’t. Your sales team wants to know that you’re doing the right thing with the budget, and that you’re getting as much of a return on your investment as possible. Look at your conversion rates and your closed-won deals, then rank your investments across programs to see where you’re getting the highest return. Cut any programs that fall below what you consider an acceptable ROI, and double down on the programs that are experiencing the most success.

Step 4: Communicate — constantly

A sales enablement program that’s executed without sales input is never going to get off of the ground. Be sure to employ one or more of the following communication methods to guarantee your enablement program is effective in meeting your goals:

Create a feedback loop: Marketing and sales should be meeting on a regular basis to get feedback on what’s working and what’s not — and that includes your executives. This ensures that sales stays updated on any ongoing or upcoming marketing initiatives.

Act on feedback: Just getting feedback from your sales team isn’t enough. It’s even more important to act on their suggestions and troubleshoot any kinks in the enablement process.

Set up an enablement drip: Lead nurturing isn’t only effective for external communications with sales prospects. It’s also a powerful tool for internal enablement. Use drip messages, or automated communications, to alert sales reps of new marketing content, upcoming events, and general selling tips. Here’s an example of an internal drip program that we ran at Pardot.

Pilot: See how your new content roadmap, lead scoring model, and sales metrics work for your top performers, then roll them out to the entire team. Hearing about the success of the pilot from their peers will be a powerful motivator.

Onboard: Marketers should be available for sales reps from the very beginning. Talk to whoever is in charge of your onboarding program to see if marketing can get some facetime with new sales team members.

If you’d like more information about how marketing and sales teams can work together toward joint success, take a look at our Sales & Marketing Love Story, which follows one sales and marketing super team through their day-to-day routine of closing deals, using four powerful features of Salesforce® Engage and Pardot.