Sales and marketing have enjoyed a love-hate relationship since the beginning of time, but to really make the magic happen you need to get them onto the same page. For effective sales enablement, your marketing function needs to provide information, content, and tools that help your team sell more effectively, increase sales and drive revenue in a predictive, reliable fashion.
Sales Enablement: A Team Effort
By definition, sales enablement is the “process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools” that help salespeople sell more effectively. In the modern (read: digital) world this isn’t exclusively a marketing function, nor is it exclusively a sales function. It’s a team effort, one in which marketing and sales need to work together to make it happen.
In addition to quashing the age-old rivalry between the two, companies who encourage this stand to profit from predictable revenue, increased sales, faster deals, better productivity, stronger sales data, enhanced brand awareness, increased productivity, scalability and business growth. There aren’t many concepts in existence that can beat THAT list of benefits.
Here, in no particular order, are the top marketing tactics (and tools!) your sales team will love.
Tactic #1: Content Marketing
Few other sales enablement tactics can beat content marketing done well for increasing awareness of your product, building trust in your thought leadership and helping you to get found on Google. Your marketing team should develop a strong content strategy that includes:
Development of sales content for every stage of your ideal buyer’s journey.
Regular publishing of long-form content, well-researched and optimized with the right keywords. Google’s top-ranking content is between 1100 and 1250 words, partly because the longer the copy, the more times you can include your keywords without having it read like spam.
Personalization of content based on a segmented target audience and customer personas, which addresses their specific pain points.
Creation of sales-specific content pieces that your team can use as part of their technique for closing sales. Tools like DocSend are perfect for setting up a library of sales material that your team can access easily and incorporate into proposals, add to email correspondence or simply shoot over to a prospect in response to a question. The software even enables them to see whether the content has been viewed.
Using multiple types of media for your sales enablement strategy, such as blogs, educational resources, white papers, explainer videos, client testimonials, infographics, email newsletters, and social media platforms.
There is a wide range of digital tools available that can help with this. HubSpot Academy, for example, offers free content marketing training that covers building a content framework, generating ideas, creating topic “clusters” and pillar pages and measuring and analyzing your results. The HubSpot platform provides content publishing tools that have all the bells and whistles, including scheduling, metadata, and automated distribution to your linked social media accounts.
Serpstat is an all-in-one SEO platform that helps you choose topics for your content, conduct keyword research and analyze your competitors’ content and ads. Grammarly helps you ensure the quality of the content, and BannerFlow enables you to make stunning call-to-action banners, infographics, and tables, and VidYard makes it easy to transform your communications by including hosted online video in your content strategy.
Tactic #2: Lead Nurturing
Generating leads is an important factor, but 30-50% of those leads are not immediately ready to buy. Statistics from Marketing Sherpa show 61% of marketers send all of their leads to sales, but only 27% are qualified. That’s where lead nurturing comes in useful for sales enablement. Research by Forrester shows B2B marketers get an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured leads compared with non-nurtured leads, and that companies that do well at lead nurturing achieve 50% more in sales—at a 33% lower cost ratio.
The best thing about lead nurturing is that it can be automated using targeted content, multi-channel marketing, personalized emails, and predictive lead scoring. And when both sales and marketing share responsibility for their lead nurturing, 89% of companies reported seeing a major increase in their conversion rates.
Tools to facilitate your lead nurturing strategy include:
Salesforce’s Pardot, which enables you to create business rules to nurture your leads through the pipeline, send automatic updates to your salespeople based on their engagement with email and onsite content, and pass off the leads to sales when they reach the buying decision stage.
HubSpot (of course!), which offers software for CRM, marketing and sales. When you combine all three, you get to enjoy the real value of the products. Lead nurturing tools include drip campaigns, real-time notifications and automated CRM updates for tracking purposes.
Marketo, with its wide database of educational tools that help you build a lead nurturing strategy, combined with a marketing automation option and an engagement platform to spread your content to leads across your funnel.
There is also a range of smaller lead nurturing tools for businesses whose budgets don’t quite stretch to the big three, including SharpSpring, Act-On, Nutshell and LeadSquared, and you (or your agency) should be able to find a solution that fits the bill.
Tactic #3: Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is a key factor in sales enablement, because it nudges prospects closer to making a buying decision. Providing a strong online presence and drool-worthy content is a great start, but it’s vital to get your customers to engage with it for it to work. Reading statistics show average consumers have a wide range of material to choose from and limited time in which to read it, so they tend to skim read only the content that really catches their attention. Some ways you can promote customer engagement with your content are:
Formatting your copy so it’s easy to read, with sections, subheadings, bulleted and numbered lists, and good website design.
Adding visual elements like infographics, charts, and images. According to research from Xerox, colored visuals increase users’ willingness to read by 80%.
Optimization for mobile. Odd as it might seem, people engage better with long-form content on mobile devices, as long as it loads quickly and is readable. The thinking is that reading on mobile is similar to reading a book, and people are more likely to get to the important parts than when they’re sitting at a desk and skimming content in a time-crunch. Also, in 2018 around 56% of all Google search clicks came from mobile devices according to Statista.
Of course, you first have to get users to arrive at your content, which is where the next four sales enablement tactics come into play.
Tactic #4: Social Media
Social media has proven its worth over and over as a sales enablement tactic, given that companies can build up a dedicated following of users with an interest in their products and service. Networking platforms allow marketers to:
Share links to gated content, which helps generate qualified leads, gather user data, obtain contact information and build up your mailing database.
Place inexpensive, highly cost-effective, paid advertising, which is narrowly targeted at very specific audience segments and provides excellent analytics.
Run contests aimed at users with the highest potential to become customers, obtaining their contact information and getting access to their networks by encouraging shares.
Conduct social listening to keep abreast of industry developments, source actionable insights and monitor important keywords, conversations, and needs. Your sales team can connect with the individuals behind these conversations and establish relationships, making you the go-to option when it’s time for them to buy.
Engage in social selling, which includes components of social listening, lead generation, and sales practices, while establishing and building relationships. A survey from Feedback Systems shows 61% of companies who engaged in social selling reported strong lead development and good revenue growth as a result.
Digital tools abound that can facilitate your social media marketing, including HootSuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, Edgar, BuzzSumo, Feedly and a number of others. Most of these enable marketers to do all the things listed above and provide useful insights and analytics for reporting purposes.
Tactic #5: Email Marketing
Email campaigns are one of the primary building blocks of sales enablement, which allow marketers to communicate exclusively with potential. The benefits of email are clear:
It’s the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, after colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders according to data from Wordstream.
Email marketing’s return on investment is 38:1 on average, according to Litmus’ 2018 State of Email Survey of 372 marketers worldwide.
59% of B2B marketers state that email is their most successful channel for generating revenue.
The proof of the pudding is easy to find, and there are almost as many email marketing tools as there are statistics. MailChimp, InfusionSoft, ConstantContact, AWeber, and GetResponse are just a few products that can personalize, automate, schedule and monitor the results of your campaigns.