The average Sales rep relies on support from the account management, customer service, and Marketing teams. As such, it’s counterproductive for there to ever be a “Sales enablement vs. Marketing” dynamic, even though the departments are often full of competitive personalities.
For the Sales process to function as efficiently and productively as possible, Marketing and Sales must be aligned in a truly symbiotic way. Accomplishing this critical balance most effectively relies not only on close cooperation between marketers and Sales professionals, but also the use of an agile and comprehensive Sales enablement platform. It’s also critical to understand the ways in which the Sales enablement process and Marketing can sometimes differ to ensure that all involved stay on the same page.
Sales Enablement vs. Content Marketing
The difference between Sales enablement and content Marketing can sometimes be difficult to parse. Why? Because if we proceed under the operating principle that any tools (or processes) capable of improving the Sales cycle can be considered “Sales enablement tools” – an idea a fair amount of reps would agree with – then Marketing technically counts as such a process. Right?
Not exactly. Marketing certainly supports Sales and can be pivotal to the ideal execution of a Sales enablement program, but that’s not the same thing as Marketing being Sales enablement.
The two business elements ultimately differ in one pivotal way: The end goal of the Marketing process is to generate leads for Sales personnel to get in touch with. This entails piquing leads’ interest and providing enough of an incentive to them that they provide contact information or engage with social media in a manner indicative of a potential future purchase. Content like blogs, social posts, case studies, infographics, videos, or other media is the currency used by marketers to effectively purchase the attention of individuals who can eventually become customers.
It’s then the responsibility of a Sales rep – and, on a broad scale, their Sales enablement manager – to more concretely communicate with prospective customers, determine their needs, pitch the organization’s products or services as a salve for those needs, and then definitively close the deal. Marketing creates interest, whereas Sales solidifies and calcifies that interest into an action that directly serves the organization’s bottom line.
Disparate Yet Similar
One thing we should clarify about that differentiation between Sales enablement tools and personnel as opposed to their counterparts in Marketing is that one is not “harder” than the other. They can both be extremely difficult. Additionally, both of them involve creating a sense of engagement, and Sales content is just as much of a valued tool as its cousin in Marketing.
So what’s the bottom line here? It’s simple. The success of your organization depends on the optimal alignment of Sales enablement and content Marketing. This involves making the most of everything these disciplines are, avoiding practices that try to turn them into something they are not, and using tools like enablement software to bridge the gaps between the two processes.
Stages of Alignment
The degree to which your business’s Sales and Marketing processes are aligned depends in large part on where the organization is in its life cycle. In the earliest stages of the company’s existence, Sales and Marketing aren’t “departments,” just incomplete teams, and for some organizations at the growing-pains stage, Sales reps will be doing their own Marketing because a Marketing “team” may not exist yet (or vice versa).
Immediately after that, when they become two different groups, they might disagree often because both are hyper-focused on their separate growth.
However, the Sales process should gradually become more integrated (or at least compatible) with Marketing automation tools, while enablement software can similarly be leveraged to provide insights from within the Sales funnel that marketers use to improve their lead-gathering efforts. Ultimately, Sales and Marketing should become all but symbiotic so that your organization can execute complex account-based Marketing and omnichannel strategies that bring strong long-term revenue to the business.
If your organization can be considered reasonably established in terms of its years in operation, but you still feel as if Sales and Marketing are siloed, then you have no choice but to work overtime toward a solution to this disconnect. Sales enablement software that features functionality beneficial to both processes may be just what you need to close the gap here.
How Content Marketing Fits into a Sales Enablement Strategy
According to the Content Marketing Institute, one of the simplest and most effective ways of aligning Sales and Marketing is to use the latter’s content for the benefit of the former. For example, the materials distributed to prospects via scheduled social posts, email blasts, and other types of Marketing automation can also be turned into onboarding and training tools for Sales reps.
Think of it this way: Such content is made with the initial purpose of creating excitement about your company’s products or services among prospects whom you’ve identified (through research and targeting) as viable leads. It can be employed as Sales content that educates novice sellers about your products and the overall organization, as well as the value propositions of both. After all, to foster Sales engagement in a potential customer, the people doing the selling must themselves be engaged, buying into the bottom-line goals of your company.
Marketing content can also help plot the course of the journey on which Sales reps try to take prospective customers, by being modified each step of the way to meet the requirements of those particular phases. The Content Marketing Institute explained that it will be most effective if you select anywhere between 5 and 15 different pieces of Sales content to distribute during each phase of the Sales process- blogs, brochures, videos, whitepapers, case studies or whatever else is appropriate based on the customer’s level of interest and what formats have seen the most success in the past.
This is another major example of where Sales and Marketing need to be aligned for optimal performance – specifically, they should be freely sharing their historical data back and forth. While there are many reasons you can cite to advocate for such a free flow of information, perhaps the most obvious one is that doing so can better equip each team to repeat practices with proven results and avoid making errors that have already stymied previous Sales efforts.
Finding Sales Enablement Solutions for Optimal Alignment of Processes
Because Sales and Marketing use plenty of the same materials and also ultimately serve an identical essential purpose (advocating for the products or services of your business), it makes sense to integrate them in a platform that has been expressly designed to accommodate both.
The Sales enablement technology housed within Showpad’s cutting-edge solution represents achievement of true unity between Marketing and Sales – for the betterment of both processes, the key personnel executing them on a daily basis, and the managerial and C-level staff overseeing them in various capacities. Through the enablement software and its revolutionary approach of blending Sales onboarding and training, ongoing coaching, optimized content distribution, and close integration with your Marketing department, your organization can set itself up for sustainable success with Showpad.
Contact us today to learn more about the Showpad platform or to request a demo.