Highspot Blog

Marketing and Sales: Connecting the Dots Between Perception and Reality

Sales and marketing often hold different worldviews.  Left unreconciled, they can flatten innovative ideas and the career-making opportunities that accompany them.  Today we’re investing a few minutes in how to identify differences between perception and reality, and use the results as a launchpad for revenue growth.   

The Other Side of the Lens

At one point or another, we’ve all perceived a sales and marketing reality that didn’t exist.  We anticipated a behavior that fell short or an opportunity that didn’t materialize.  In the final analysis, chances are you, too, vowed it would not happen again.  This is about minimizing the probability it will.  

A recent study by Highspot and Heinz Marketing captured the points of view of 586 marketing, sales, and sales enablement leaders.  The purpose of the study was to learn more about how businesses are using sales enablement to drive sales performance.  Among many notable results, differences in perception were among the most interesting.  Here’s a snapshot of the importance and self-rated performance of respondents in five key activity areas: 

As indicated above, importance-performance gaps vary by team and category.  For example, marketers noted relatively small gaps in their ability to make sure the sales team can find needed content, as well as in producing content for sales (15% and 11%, respectively). On the sales side, relatively large gaps were noted in training and coaching the sales team (31%) and producing content for sales (the same category in which marketing perceives a small gap). Among sales enablement respondents, making sure the sales team can find needed content and refining the selling process for greater effectiveness emerged as significant gaps (22% and 20%, respectively).

Knowledge is Power

Though walking in the shoes of your colleagues might lack practical application, the spirit remains valid.  Here are five recommendations for identifying content initiatives with the greatest impact on sales, marketing, and sales enablement teams:

  1. Know your colleagues’ KPIs.  When you do, you’ll have clearer context on their incentives, top strategic priorities, the seasonality in their business, their approach toward specific audiences, and more.  How?  Simple: Ask them for their scorecards and share yours.  (And repeat as necessary.)  This is the first step toward testing your perceptions, regardless of which side of the lens you see.
  2. Know your colleagues’ pain points.  Identify what they’d rather live without.  From misguided content and lack of customer insights to technology overload and fragmented systems, there’s room for improvement in every execution plan.  Find it, act on it, and reap the ROI.  It all starts with candid conversations.
  3. Know which pain points can be solved with technology.  Sales and marketing have been promised a solution for every ailment, often with underwhelming results.  Fortunately, times have changed.  Modern sales enablement technology is now capable of driving results that render predecessor versions irrelevant.  A little research on the best of what’s currently available is a great place to start.    
  4. Know what’s working.  It’s not uncommon for solutions that work perfectly for marketing (or sales) to be either invisible or ineffective for sales (or marketing).  If you value high-performing content made possible by a shared technology, language, scoreboard, and feedback loop, you’ll need a strategy for achieving it.  And that strategy begins with (what else?) direct communication and informed analysis.  The ball is in your court.
  5. Commit and measure.  One-off meetings tend to be well-intentioned but lackluster in long-term impact.  Sales and marketing leaders who have enacted real change have established a durable, recurring framework for exchanging data and ideas.  We want this to be you.  Monthly performance reviews of content strategy and execution, sales technology, and processes are a great starting point.

Hard Work + The Right Technology = Higher ROI

Armchair clairvoyance will never replace hard work and on-the-ground understanding.  Many of the best sales and marketing pros have indoctrinated these essentials into their sales enablement routine.  As proof, each day we hear from marketers using sales enablement to drive higher content ROI via improved content quality and relevance; and from salespeople who are now better prepared to demolish quota using the power of content.  It’s a win-win if ever there was one.  

To realign your own sales and marketing teams (and technologies), we recommend downloading a copy of State of Sales Enablement 2017.  It might be just the silo-busting, revenue-generating, perception-versus-reality intelligence your business needs.  

Highspot and Brainshark: A New Standard in Sales Enablement

Ask any sales leader to point out the difference between success and failure. Chances are, they’ll mention content and training before you can count to three.    

Just as a good plan is only as useful as a team’s ability to execute it, so too an optimal sales enablement platform is a direct reflection of how it delivers the full range of what users need.  The partnership between Highspot and Brainshark is built upon this premise.  

Starting today, customers of both companies have seamless access to the features that make each unique.  For Highspot customers, the power of Brainshark’s sales training solution is now available within the Highspot user experience.  For Brainshark customers, the content authoring, training, and coaching they rely upon may now be accessed via Highspot’s industry-leading sales content management, customer engagement, and analytics platform.  It’s a partnership that rewrites the scope of modern sales enablement capabilities and helps sales teams overcome their most daunting effectiveness challenges.       Continue reading article ›

First Annual Sales Enablement Stars

sales-enablement-stars-awards-2017-blog-image

Recently, we put out a call for nominations for a program launched just this year to recognize stand-out members of the sales enablement community. Interest was over-the-top, and I’m excited to share the details on our very first Sales Enablement Stars!

Still a relatively new field, no two organizations define it the same way, but one thing is certain—sales enablement is critical to sales success. With the sales cycle becoming increasingly complex, it’s up to sales enablement pros to bring together sales and marketing to help drive more effective customer engagements. It’s a challenging role that requires process management, people skills, creative thinking, and an understanding of current technology. It can also be a thankless job, and we wanted to do something to change that.Continue reading article ›

Sales Reps Love Highspot

At Highspot, we take pride in customer feedback.  It’s our version of candy hearts in mid-February.  Today we’re especially grateful for the Love shown by our customers.  We wouldn’t be the sales enablement industry’s leading platform without it.  

Every sales rep knows the difference between Like and Love.  Like is nice.  It’s optimistic, an opportunity in the making.  Love, on the other hand, is essential.  Lyrically speaking, “All you need is Like” won’t start any sing-alongs.  And business-wise, no customer ever selected a product they Like over an alternative they Love.  Continue reading article ›

New Research by Highspot and Heinz Marketing: State of Sales Enablement 2017

Sales enablement is giving businesses the competitive edge they need.  As illustrated in this year’s State of Sales Enablement Report, critical performance advantages have emerged at companies investing in this high-growth category.

Fundamental sales enablement strategies and tactics are now in place among a broad cross-section of companies.  From smaller sales teams just getting started to larger and more complex organizations, sales enablement has become a strategic commitment with significant upside.  Continue reading article ›

Defining Sales Enablement Roles and Responsibilities for Organizational Success

defining-sales-enablement-roles-blog-banner-v01-01

One of the great things about being in an industry that is still defining itself is that there are no real boundaries. When it comes to sales enablement, the sky is the limit because we’re all defining what it is and what it means to our individual organizations.

Conversely, this freedom can also cause confusion or friction when determining “who does what” to empower sales. As a sales enablement professional, it can be difficult to understand where responsibilities start and stop, when to enlist other teams, and what may be overlooked as being done already (but isn’t).Continue reading article ›

Defining Success with Sales Enablement

defining-what-is-success-with-se-blog-banner-v01-01

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is becoming more and more of a common term in organizations big and small. But, just as no organization is the same, no definition of the concept of arming sales to succeed is exactly the same. Some see sales enablement as a role (or team) within the organization, some see it as the technology that does (or should) power content distribution and management, and some categorize it as a hybrid of the two. And, there are many degrees of differences along the spectrum.

At Highspot, we define sales enablement as a strategic, ongoing process that equips sales teams to have consistently effective engagements with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey. In other words, it’s the teams, tools, and technology used in the ongoing quest to help sales close more deals, faster. For what it’s worth, the teams that “do” sales enablement may not have the term in their titles—it could be the marketing team, a dedicated sales enablement team, or even members of the sales team itself who are most involved in activities and deliverables to empower sales.

Continue reading article ›

Connecting Your Sales Process to The Buyer’s Journey

Road trips are a great way to get to know someone.  They reveal compatibilities, interests, and perspectives on everything from the best route to worthwhile stops.  These rites of passage are similar to shared expeditions of buyers and sellers.  Both require clear understanding of the ultimate destination, open communication, and eagerness to engage.  

Still, buyers and sellers are different.  On one side there are needs to fulfill and benefits to derive; on the other, revenue goals and customer satisfaction.  What is a journey for buyers is a process for sellers.  Successful sales and marketing teams manage both paths to mutual advantage while accelerating the results they care about most.

From then to now

We hear many stories about how the buyer’s journey is changing.  How it’s becoming more fluid and dynamic, and how buyers have more control than ever before.  All true.  What’s not true but remains broadly perceived is that the journey is now a random walk.  That buyers are less likely to follow a well-worn trail and more apt to advance from one stage to another with little predictability.  High-performing sellers know better.  Today we’ll share how they remain proactive – and how sales enablement helps establish strong links between the sales process and the buyer’s journey.   Continue reading article ›

Make This Your Best Sales Kick Off Ever—Five Areas of Focus

highspot-sko-blog-banner-v01-01

As we’ve all settled back into life the first few weeks of 2017, there have been plenty of water cooler conversations about holidays, trips, and new year’s resolutions around the halls of Highspot. We’ve also talked a lot about what we learned in 2016, and how we plan to apply those learnings in 2017.

Sales Kick Off (SKO) is often one of the best places to put together a structured plan for applying new learnings. By planning ahead for what your reps truly need to succeed after SKO, you can have your best sales year ever.

Put a little focus on these five areas, and you’re bound to see long-term success from this year’s efforts.Continue reading article ›

Making a Difference in Our Community

Community spirit runs deep at Highspot.  It’s a driving force of our culture and a personal attribute we value.  After a massively successful year, our ADR team recently put their energy to work at Food Lifeline in Seattle, where they packed 3,790lbs of food, providing 3,158 meals for people in need.  It was the least they could do to help others make big strides of their own.      

Neighborhood connections deepen awareness of challenges too often overlooked.  They help us keep our eyes on what matters and encourage us to make the largest impact we can.  In this and more, volunteering is a two-way street with upside for everyone involved.  Continue reading article ›