Here’s a simple truth: Without sales, there’s no business. So if it weren’t for the goal of closing deals, marketing content wouldn’t have much purpose. That is to say, at least for B2B inbound marketing, the whole point is to pave the way for the sales process by helping the prospective customer.
Sales enablement takes that truth and amplifies it, recognizing the importance of tools and resources that power sales, meet the team’s needs, and help them do their jobs better.
So, how do you make sure your marketing plan supports and enables your sales team members in all the right ways? And does your CRM serve as a sales enablement tool?
Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.
So, what are the must-haves of a B2B inbound plan that truly support the success of your sales team? This checklist can help you assess your inbound program’s sales enablement strategy to identify gaps and make those iterative improvements that empower the team to close more deals, faster and easier.
1. Develop sales content for all stages of the buyer’s journey
Does your content library include sales-specific content pieces — such as case studies, for example? If so, how well has your sales content kept up with changing buyer behaviors and an ever-evolving sales process? Does your team use this content as part of their approach and regimen for closing more sales? (Hint: Don’t answer these questions yourself. Ask your sales team.)
Chances are, your B2B sales team needs your content help; it’s just as likely that your content can use the help of your sales team. Most salespeople are less than thrilled at the prospect of writing blog articles, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find more knowledgeable in-house resources about your products, processes, industry, prospects, and customers.
Your sales team knows what potential buyers are looking for. Help them share their valuable knowledge, and help position them as industry thought leaders, by interviewing them for blog articles on your website.
Collaborate with members of your sales team to produce other helpful, useful content for potential buyers in the sales process, too. Case studies can be immensely helpful in many sales contexts to help close more deals. You may also include content such as:
Specialized sales resource pages
Individual and targeted website landing pages for each sales rep
Competitive analysis content pieces
Automated workflows designed for leads engaged in the sales process
It’s essential to make all content easy for the team to share and track. Storing all sales content right in the CRM helps ensure that resources and assets used are the most current and approved for use. Tools like the documents library in HubSpot Sales hub simplify access, updating, and use of sales enablement content.
2. Leverage social media for leads
Studies show that sales representatives with high social networking activity can achieve 45% more sales opportunities, and are 51% more likely to reach their sales quotas — plus, 78% of social selling representatives outsell their peers who aren’t using social media.
Is your B2B sales team using LinkedIn to prospect, nurture leads, and sell? If not, start with the basics: solid training, a documented plan of action, and metrics for success. If they already are using LinkedIn, make sure you offer the content pieces they need to support the conversations they’re having with decision-makers all throughout the sales cycle as part of their social selling efforts.
3. Establish a process for lead management
Does your sales team have protocols and a process in place for accepting and managing leads from Marketing? Have Sales and Marketing developed an agreed-upon definition of a sales qualified lead (SQL)?
What does the timing look like between attempts to connect with leads? How many attempts are made before a lead is returned to Marketing? Is each attempt a phone call, email, or both? What content is shared in each attempt and is it specific to the stage the buyer is in during the sales process?
If you don’t have definitive, confident answers to these questions, grab your sales leaders and get started collaborating on a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to establish the right processes within both Marketing and Sales for effective lead scoring and management. And while you’re at it, use the SLA development process to evaluate the support content you provide, identify gaps, and discuss opportunities for creating new case studies and other materials.
4. Equip your sales team with the right tools
Does your sales team have tools that help them complete tasks faster, boost sales productivity, and close more deals? At the top of the list should be a CRM (customer relationship management software), the use of which directly correlates with successful sales teams. At the most basic level, a CRM should store customer and process data to help manage customer relationships.
And let’s be clear: Spreadsheets are important, effective tools for some tasks — but they’re not a CRM.
At Weidert Group, we use HubSpot, and it’s easy to articulate why. HubSpot’s CRM platform has all the software that teams need for marketing, sales, customer service, operations, and content management that eliminate sources of friction throughout the organization and support business growth. Each one of those products is powerful on its own; together, they’re even better.
Manage your pipeline. Your sales teams need tools such as:
Sales management playbooks
Sales analytics and reporting
Connect from anywhere.
Does your CRM have a mobile app for sales reps on the go?
5. Establish KPIs to measure success
Marketing and sales teams both deserve to have clearly articulated key performance indicators (KPIs) established and documented. Establishing and tracking KPIs helps Marketing and Sales evaluate productivity and effectiveness on a regular basis, providing visibility to the activities that have the greatest impact on sales success. If sales aren’t on target, those KPIs can point you in the right direction to improve results.
Standardized reporting is also vital to streamline the data, reduce information overload, and deliver only the information that helps teams learn and improve. Comparing data on sales rep activities related to deals won versus lost, for example, may provide insights into what activities more often support a successful sale. And if your sales reps don’t know how to build the reports they want, helping them create the structures for the data will show support for the team to strengthen rapport and collaboration.
This five-point approach provides a solid base to enable your sales team for inbound selling success — and once you dive in, you’ll soon see it’s just the start. When Marketing and Sales share closely aligned objectives, sales enablement becomes a foundational standard for marketers, and collaboration and knowledge sharing become second nature for sales reps.
You’ll promote a higher caliber of communication and collaboration between teams when you establish, document, and uphold an SLA. Our eBook, Sales & Marketing Service Level Agreements: A Guided Tour, shows you how to set and align goals, build consensus, choose the right CRM, and more. Just click the link below to get started.
Posted by Nicole Mertes As Weidert Group's lead salesperson and business development strategist, Nicole heads up the agency's new business strategy and provides sales consulting services to clients.
Prior to her role at the agency, Nicole was an advertising manager at Gannett, one of the nation's largest media companies. With 10+ years of experience in advertising sales, she understands the complex relationship between marketing and sales within organizations.