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What is marketing’s role in sales enablement?

July 27, 2021

Sales enablement is the process of providing sales teams with the resources they need to win more deals. It can cover content, tech, training, data and much more. 

It’s essential in modern B2B organisations. Why? 

Because it helps sellers connect with buyers with the right information at the right time, as well as win more deals. In a landscape where buyers do most of their research before engaging with a salesperson, it’s vital to make those moments count. Sales enablement makes it happen.

However, there has always been a discussion in the B2B sales industry about where a sales enablement team should sit in a business. Is it part of sales or marketing - or does it sit on its own? 

The fact is: sales enablement starts with an engaged, creative marketing team, fully aligned with sales. 

In this article, we’ll look at how marketing and sales can come together to create effective sales enablement strategies.

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Why sales enablement matters | Defining ideal customer profilesCreating effective content | Implementing tech that powers the strategy | Aligning the two teams around the strategy | Pinpointing areas of improvement | Key takeaway | Follow Cognism on LinkedIn

Why sales enablement matters

Buyers hold the cards in today’s B2B landscape.

When they engage with salespeople, having researched the marketplace, they require reps to add value with relevant content and insights. This content will primarily come from the marketing team and is often based on feedback from the sales team; they’re the ones on the frontline speaking to prospects.

Successful sales enablement depends on B2B marketing and sales teams talking to each other. While companies have always relied on revenue, marketing teams haven’t always been focused on the bottom line.

In today’s B2B environment, marketers have to think more about how they can support sales, aligning around revenue metrics rather than focusing solely on lead gen.

Five ways that marketing drives sales enablement

1 - Defining ideal customer profiles

The marketing team is the keeper of your company’s ideal customer profiles (ICPs). These are the type of people most likely to buy your product; people who you can target through content marketing and more traditional sales techniques like cold calling.

When devising sales enablement strategies, it’s marketing’s role to ensure your ICPs are front and centre. With a well-defined ICP, your salespeople and marketers will know:

  • Who to target.
  • When to target them.
  • What content and messaging will resonate with them.

The marketing team also looks after the brand story. They will have brand guidelines in place and will ensure there’s a consistent brand storyline built into every bit of sales enablement content.

2 - Creating effective content

Marketing’s biggest responsibility in sales enablement is in creating content for sales to share with potential customers. 

This content could range from whitepapers and eBooks to blogs and landing pages. Marketing can also craft email sequences that nurture specific types of leads and help them on the buyer’s journey.

There are a few things this sales enablement content needs to do:

  • It must be relevant and tailored towards your ideal customer profile. 
  • It must position your product as the solution to your prospects’ problems.
  • It must reach them at precisely the right time, when they’re most likely to buy.

To do this effectively, sales and marketing must collaborate to choose the best approach. While sales may have the best frontline insights, marketing knows what creative strategies will resonate with buyers.

3 - Implementing tech that powers the strategy

As well as creating great content that helps buyers along their journey, your marketing team needs to play a part in ensuring sales can leverage it effectively.

There are several sales enablement solutions on the market that map content to each ICP and stage of the sales process. It should be easy for salespeople to find the content they need, which they can then forward onto prospects.

Marketing must have input into selecting tech solutions for sales enablement, as they will be charged with creating the resource base that sales will draw from. 

4 - Aligning the two teams around the strategy

Traditionally, marketing and sales teams have worked separately, addressing different challenges with different goals. 

However, if sales enablement is to work, both teams must be aligned. 

Where does alignment begin? With communication.

Marketing can take the lead on communication between the two teams. Start by taking the time to ask sales what they need (rather than assuming they know). They can also be there to help sales get to grips with the new strategies, such as pointing them in the direction of new content and sharing success stories. 

5 - Pinpointing areas of improvement

Sales enablement has never been ‘set it and forget it.’ SaaS sales changes fast, and content that resonates today may not be as effective six months down the line. 

Marketing must take a data-driven approach to evaluating sales enablement’s effectiveness. The best B2B marketers are always looking for areas to improve.

Again, it all comes down to communication. Set up regular meetings between marketing and sales. Give marketing access to your library of reps’ cold calls. Get insights into what your salespeople and prospects are actually saying to each other.

Only then can marketing test new approaches and make the appropriate changes.

Key takeaway

Sales enablement is about bridging the gap between marketing and sales; the goal is to provide sales with everything they need to succeed in this new world of business. 

It needs to be a two-way street, harnessing marketing’s knowledge and creativity with sales’ real-time feedback, creating easily deliverable content that resonates with buyers. It’s an opportunity for marketing to take the lead in revenue-generating activities in the organisation.

As to whether your sales enablement team should be part of marketing or sales? It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that the team is effective. 

Companies that align their marketing and sales teams most effectively will be the ones that see the most success from sales enablement.

Where will that success be reflected most? 

In their revenue numbers.

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