Last week, we talked a bit about the struggle between sales and marketing surrounding content marketing. It’s nothing new, and it’s also no secret that sales and marketing don’t always see eye-to-eye.
No matter the side of the fence on which you reside, this is one of those internal battles with no winner. Both sides lose – as does the company they represent – when revenue opportunities are lost due to miscommunication and finger-pointing.
But, there is a fix.
It’s clear to me why sales and marketing aren’t working well together in so many enterprises. There’s no alignment because there is no ability to objectively measure the problem. And I don’t mean measure so one side can win the finger pointing contest. Objective measurement is necessary to improve….to optimize. Objective measurement through sales enablement analytics helps identify where the problem lies, but it also gives marketing the tools to measure what works and how to improve.
Closed-loop sales enablement software can neutralize the content argument – just as lead conversion analytics all but eliminated the leads argument of our recent past. As I mentioned in the previous post, having objective and accurate analytics takes the emotion out of arguments, and it can do so in this case, as well.
Don’t get me wrong. This process isn’t easy. It will take work and persistence. It will take determination to push through the challenges posed by the “way we’ve always done it” mentality. But, the hard work will be worth it in the end, because you’ll have measurable results on which to base educated conversations.
Getting started: How to implement an effective sales enablement function in your organization
An effective business process for sales enablement will require organizational, process, incentive and technology changes in order to better align sales and marketing. With a combination of analytics and accountability, organizations can turn frenemies into true partners amongst unlikely participants.
To get started, here are a few steps will set you on the right path:
- Put the right leader in charge. Someone has to herd the proverbial cats, and it will need to be someone who can drive change across functional organizations. If this person is not an executive, you will need strong executive sponsorship to ensure both sales and marketing leadership supports the change.
- Build a culture of alignment. This requires overt and unequivocal support from the top. Kick off a awareness campaign highlighting what it means to be aligned and what actions you expect from everyone.
- Define the respective roles and responsibilities of sales and marketing. Make sure both organizations understand the boundaries, but, at the same time, encourage flexible integration and shared structures, systems, rewards, and metrics.
- Align sales and marketing on incentives. Shared goals in their MBOs and around revenue or NCA go a long way to improving cooperation and teamwork.
- Institute regular operating processes and review meetings. Set up regular sales and marketing alignment meetings. Review content and tools every quarter or month.
- Implement closed-loop sales enablement technology. This is critical to ensuring a closed-loop process with accurate analytics. Ensure the sales teams can find the content they need, sales can engage with the customer effectively and both functions have the analytics to optimize the sales content supply chain.
- Establish a Sales & Marketing Alignment Performance metric. Regularly measure improvement and broadly publish results. Metrics could be increase % content used by sales, increase content Influenced Revenue rate, or increase content effectiveness score.
Selecting the right sales enablement software
When selecting sales enablement software, at a minimum, you should consider these three critical components to success:
- Sales team access to content. There must be a content management system that is comprehensive, intuitive, and flexible. Ensure that sales teams can find the content they need when they need it for each specific selling opportunity.
- Engaging the customer through content. The system must include a digital platform for the transmission of content to prospects that is efficient, inviting, and even elegant.
- Data-driven results. Analytics are absolutely critical. Key reports should include usage and uptake data for each individual client initiative as well as the aggregated performance of the overall content strategy and execution. (Check out Highspot’s Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement Performance for a full review)
While I didn’t include these final two items as “critical components,” because they aren’t feature level components, but rather pervasive attributes that make each component much more effective. Consider them the value-added components of the platform that will make things run even more smoothly:
- Incorporation of data intelligence and machine learning. This goes a step beyond data analytics, which can report on performance, to the achievement of iterative improvements based upon the constant updating of data into algorithms that refine the automated aspects of the content delivery system.
- Top-flight usability. Prospects today are digital-savvy and have no patience for a clunky or difficult user interface. Closed-loop analytics are of no use if there is nothing to measure because sales isn’t using the solution. Usability drives adoption. It should be simple and intuitive for best results.
We understand this is new technology for many people, and it’s a confusing vendor landscape. To help buyers, Highspot has put together a technology checklist to help buyers weigh their options when assessing solutions. You can download it here.
Uniting sales and marketing teams around a common goal and following it up with a technology solution that can provide actionable data will go a long way towards erasing the line that divides these two groups. To help guide you, we have put together an infographic that includes these tips. I encourage you to save it to your desktop and reference as needed, and forward to colleagues that could use a push in the right direction in their own sales and marketing alignment journeys.