Sunday, June 16, 2013

Passing the Baton Without Missing a Step- Sales Enablement, Part 3


This is the third of three posts that are discussing the role that marketing plays in helping the sales team sell - what is usually called sales enablement. In the first post, I discussed what sales enablement is and why it is an important issue for most B2B companies. The second post discussed one of marketing's primary sales enablement responsibilities - providing the content resources that will help sales reps advance sales opportunities.

In this post, I'll explain why effective sales enablement also requires marketers to provide information that will enable sales reps to continue prospect relationships without a loss of momentum. In essence, marketing and sales need to work together like the runners in a relay race. Here's what I mean.

As I wrote in my last post, business buyers don't distinguish between marketing and sales activities. From the buyer's perspective, there is one problem-solving process that may result in a purchase. We now know that most buyers are performing research on their own before they are willing to meet with a salesperson. So by the time a potential buyer meets with your sales rep, the buyer will probably have visited your website and accessed several of the content resources you offer.

These self-educated buyers have little patience for "starting over" with a salesperson. They expect their sales rep to come into the initial meeting with a basic working knowledge of their business and industry. Just as important, today's buyers also expect their sales rep to know what has already transpired in the relationship. They want the sales rep to step in and provide new insights that build on what has already occurred and help advance the decision-making process.

To make the transition from marketing to sales without losing forward momentum, marketers must do more than simply provide contact information when they pass a lead to sales. An effective lead hand-off should include significantly more information, such as the buyer persona assigned to the lead, a description of the content plan for the relevant buyer persona, and a list of the content resources developed for that buyer persona.

An effective lead hand-off will also be accompanied by an activity history detailing the prior contacts between the lead and the selling company. The activity history should include the following kinds of information:
  • Outbound marketing offers sent to the lead
  • Outbound marketing offers the lead has responded to
  • Website pages viewed by the lead
  • Content resources accessed by the lead
  • Summaries of any person-to-person communications between the lead and representatives of the selling company
  • The prospect's lead score
Delivering this information isn't as overwhelming as it might first appear. Marketing should have developed a content plan and content resources for each buyer persona for each stage of the buying process. So, this information should already be available. Your marketing automation software should be able to capture most of the lead's activity history and transfer that information to your CRM system when the lead is passed from marketing to sales.

Don't misunderstand me. This type of lead hand-off does require additional work, but it will also provide significant benefits to the sales team and the company.
  • It reduces the amount of time that sales reps must spend on lead research.
  • It eliminates the need for sales reps to guess about what content resources to use.
  • It reduces the need for sales reps to create or customize content.
  • It improves the ability of sales reps to continue prospect relationships without losing momentum.
  • It helps improve sales pipeline velocity.
The changing dynamics of B2B demand generation require a coordinated effort by marketing and sales. That's why sales enablement remains one of marketing's most important responsibilities.

Read Part 1 of the sales enablement series here.

Read Part 2 of the sales enablement series here.

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