Product marketing professionals have a broad set of responsibilities, ranging from product launches and persona research to product messaging, go-to-market strategies and more.
Interestingly, there are many touchpoints between product marketing and sales enablement. Sales enablement is responsible for ensuring salespeople understand who they are selling to, new product features and the value they can provide, which is why it’s important for product marketing and sales enablement to work together closely.
Can aligning product marketing and sales enablement drive new revenue? To help answer this question, I reached out to David Hubbard, CEO of Marketing Outfield, a sales and marketing consulting firm. In David’s 25 years of marketing and sales leadership experience, he finds that when companies properly align product, sales and marketing to buyers’ needs, they can grow revenue by 25-50% per year.
I asked David a series of questions to learn how aligning product marketing and sales enablement can drive greater revenue.
What are the biggest obstacles to aligning overall marketing and sales functions?
DH: For marketing and sales, alignment means integrating their independent functional strategies, processes and tactics into a cohesive company revenue strategy. However, there are several obstacles to achieving better strategic alignment, including:
- Trust: There is a long history of dysfunctional behavior between marketing and sales, resulting in siloed functions, divisions, groups, departments and channels. These separations prevent effective collaboration, which results in each group failing to understand the other. Without trust in the alignment process, don’t expect to get effective collaboration.
- Common, deep understandings of target buyers: A company's alignment to the market opportunity is only possible if both the "marketing funnel" and the "sales cycle/pipeline" are tightly aligned to the buyer purchasing journey, which requires a deep understanding of buyers’ needs and their preferred purchasing journey.
- Strategic marketing and sales leadership: Typical marketing strategies focus on branding and lead generation rather than the buyer's lifecycle. Sales strategies often focus on pitching products rather than becoming a trusted advisor to the buyer. Strategic marketing and sales leadership is required to update and align functional strategies and processes in the evolving marketplace.
In my experience, companies that have overcome these obstacles have achieved better alignment, greater profit growth rates and higher revenue.
What is the division of labor between sales enablement and product marketing?
DH: Let’s start by understanding the responsibilities of sales enablement and product marketing. Sales enablement is essentially a structured process to increase sales productivity by tightly aligning with the buyer’s purchasing journey. Research firm CSO Insights defines sales force enablement as “a strategic, cross-functional discipline, designed to increase sales results and productivity, by providing integrated content, training and coaching services, for salespeople and frontline sales managers, along the entire customer’s journey, powered by technology.”
Product marketing is focused on increasing product sales. Research firm SiriusDecisions has a list of five core product marketing disciplines:
- Buyer personas, expertise, insights, needs and preferred journey
- Product messaging, positioning and differentiation
- Go-to-market strategy
- Bringing offerings to market
- Sales readiness and knowledge transfer
Product marketing is responsible for creating content that enables sales to sell more product while sales enablement is responsible for ensuring sales reps understand how and when to effectively use that content. Product marketing and sales enablement can achieve a win/win outcome if they collaborate and ensure the sales force has the product content they need at each stage of the buyer's purchasing process.
What can sales enablement and product marketing do to make sure reps know the right material at the right moment?
DH: Product marketing generates product-related content throughout the product lifecycle, such as:
- The "one-hour PowerPoint pitch" at sales kickoff regarding product positioning, feature/function/solution, product roadmap, etc.
- Product brochures, data sheets, and press releases
- Total cost of ownership (TCO) or return on investment (ROI) calculators
Unfortunately, sales is often unable to find this information or misunderstands when and how to use it. Here are four ways to ensure sales has the right training and sales content at the right time:
- Product marketing and sales enablement must collaboratively define the type of product content and training needed to help the buyer move from one decision stage to the next. It’s critical to help the rep know when and how to use that content effectively. Initially, existing product and buyer content should be mapped against requirements to highlight content gaps.
- Sales enablement technology must enable marketing to easily create and manage content that sales can quickly digest at the right time. For example, product marketing should be able to upload a few slides, quickly add audio to each slide, and have it automatically transcribed into text. This provides reps with the choice of viewing, listening or reading the specific content whenever and wherever they need it.
- Sales enablement technology must fully integrate into the CRM system to automatically distribute sales content and corresponding training to the specific selling stages of every opportunity. Specific sales readiness content must be available to reps whenever they are updating a prospect's status, enabling reps to quickly identify all content assets that are relevant to a prospect's current purchasing stage.
- Sales enablement technology must also track real-time sales usage and feedback regarding the sales content and training effectiveness, making it available in real-time to both product marketing and sales enablement, so they can continue to improve alignment between sales and the buyer journey.
Can an effective sales enablement practice empower product marketing to generate revenue?
DH: Absolutely! There are several benefits to ensuring reps have access to the right buyer content and training, in real-time, when/where/how they need it, including: shorter sales cycles, increased sales productivity, higher product sales and increased product marketing productivity. Empower product marketing to spend more time proactively driving revenue instead of providing reactive support to individual reps.
With confidence that reps will get the sales content and training when they need it, product marketing can focus on developing new revenue initiatives, such as:
- Quickly validating and easily sharing actionable information to the entire sales force as field sales reps discover new buyer product needs and competitive product tactics
- Automatically distributing new, compelling research or product functionality news to prospects within a specific industry segment in the "awareness" purchasing stage
- Creating special campaigns/offers and automatically distributing them to all opportunities in the "evaluation" purchasing stage
- Crafting real-time competitive product updates and automatically distributing to all opportunities in the "decision" stage
- Constructing cross-sell/up-sell campaigns and offers which can be automatically distributed to customers in "post-implementation” stage
To learn how to get reps ready to sell new products or into new markets or buyer personas, check out our eBook: Why Sales Readiness is Critical to Growth in 2017.
For more information about David Hubbard, visit MarketingOutfield.com.