I sometimes hear things like, “Sales enablement is EVERYONE’S responsibility at a company.”
And in a way, this is true. Every role plays some part in helping the business succeed, and if you really tried, you could draw a line from every job function to how it impacts sales productivity.
The IT department keeps the network up and running.
Engineers develop quality solutions for reps to sell.
You get the idea; technically, every role – done well – in some way helps “enable” salespeople to do their jobs better.
But let’s be real; these are indirect contributors when it comes to the way we think of sales enablement today – a strategic approach to helping reps be more productive and successful.
With that said, one department that (in my mind) definitely IS part of the enablement puzzle is marketing. Effective B2B marketing is essential to successful sales enablement, in (at least) two very important ways.
Sales enablement content
The first, of course, is sales content. B2B reps rely on great content to support their sales conversations, nurture prospects, capture the attention of buyers, and so on. More often than not, it’s become marketing’s responsibility to deliver that.
There are lots of considerations that go into an effective sales enablement content strategy. You can read about it here, or here, or watch this video, or download this eBook. But what about the second thing?
Lead and demand generation
As important as great content is to enabling reps throughout the sales process, I think it’s important not to overlook the more traditional roles of marketing: to generate quality sales opportunities for the business. No matter how you define demand generation (I like this HubSpot breakdown), this is probably a key part of it.
But most of the time, the sales enablement discussion begins AFTER this part. Think about it:
you need to train and prepare reps to communicate effectively with buyers
you need to content to support sales conversations and engage buyers
you need strong coaching to help reps use the best sales approaches with buyers
you need CRM integration to put sales resources in context with specific conversations and contacts (i.e. buyers)
Everything is about having more successful interactions with BUYERS, but… where are these buyers coming from? Oh yeah – marketing!
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting demand gen is necessarily core to sales enablement in function, but it certainly is in spirit. You can prepare and enable salespeople until the cows come home.* Reps still need to be talking to the RIGHT PEOPLE, and the majority of these opportunities are still generated by the marketing team.
*I’ve never understood this reference. Where is all this cattle going? And why is it taking them so long to come back?
This is where alignment is especially important. We talk often about how marketing content needs to be aligned with the conversations reps are having with prospects and customers. A lead and demand generation strategy requires engaging content, but that content also needs to be aligned to target the RIGHT segment of buyers from the beginning, to ensure your reps are talking to the right people when they move down the funnel.
There are LOTS of keys to effective sales enablement, and I understand that demand gen doesn't fit within the most common definitions. But if you’re talking about putting salespeople in a better position for success, I’d have a hard time arguing that giving them quality opportunities to engage with isn’t at least part of it.
Then again, that’s just my opinion.
Learn how Brainshark can help increase the impact of your demand generation strategy.
What do you think? Do you agree that demand gen plays an important role in sales enablement? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.