The Blurry Line Between Marketing and Sales Enablement

When was the last time your sales team applauded when your marketing team delivered materials or content for them to use? If this is not happening frequently enough (or at all) then perhaps we should consider the reasons.

I recently asked a Senior Director of Marketing at a very successful high-tech company how he spends his time, and after a long pause, he told me that he spends the majority of his time managing the process of putting materials together for the sales team. Brochures, specifications/data sheets, white papers, presentations, etc.  I then asked him what, out of all of his deliverables, was the most effective and the most valued by his marketing and sales teams? His answer was simple: Anything interactive – online AND offline. We both sat in silence pondering the ramifications of these last two (perhaps incongruent) points. A visionary Global VP of Marketing for a leading telecom equipment provider said recently: “None of my sales guys ever thanks me for making brochures.”

It is axiomatic that useful and effective sales enablement solutions will be used by sales teams, and ineffective tools will sit on the shelf (or in the file folder on their laptops.) Where are you spending the majority of your time? What kinds of content/tools would your sales teams really use?

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One Response to The Blurry Line Between Marketing and Sales Enablement

  1. Anne Cauley says:

    I am compelled to comment on this post: how Marketing spends their time, how to create great (Sales) Enablement material and whether Marketing should expect to be thanked.

    Often the behaviour of employees (and business units) is driven by measurements. How is Marketing measured: based on the number and type of collateral created? Based on usability of material? Based on effectiveness of material? Perhaps the high tech company that you are speaking about should examine alternate ways of measuring Marketing (and incenting the outcome that they are hoping for).

    To create impactful sales enablement material I suggest you adopt a (consultative) “sales approach”. Great Sales Reps ask their prospects insightful questions, they listen to responses and, in the end, they gain an understanding of the client’s process, measurements, challenges, PRIORITIES and more. This consultative approach adds to the value proposition of the Sales Rep (and hence the Organization) and the Sales Rep becomes viewed as a valuable partner /part of the client’s “team”. A similar approach should be used by those developing (Sales) Enablement material.

    It is easy to think you know what Sales needs, especially if you have a Sales background (speaking from experience). However, if you take the time to understand the Sales Process: the hardships, the gaps AND if you understand how that process changes product-to-product OR depending on the channel (blue-suit Sales Rep, Inside Sales, Channel Partners, etc.), then your value proposition as a deliverer of effective material has just increased.

    I agree if the material is useful, it will be used. However, all your Sales folks need to know it exists. If they can’t find it, they won’t use it. Sometimes the Sales Enablement material needs to identify resources that the Sales Rep (or Channel Partner) may not know about.

    As for Sales thanking the deliverer of Enablement material, I’m not sure that is reasonable to expect. I’ve held many Sales and Sales Support roles. Even those in integral roles to closing a deal seldom get thanked. In fact sometimes they don’t even know if the deal has been closed. This behaviour is understandable when you examine the pressure on the Sales Organization to look forward (not back). Ask a Sales Rep what their boss says when they land a big deal. I bet, many would tell you their boss says something like, “Congrats on the Sale. Where’s the next one?”

    Thanks for the post, it was thought provoking.
    Anne Cauley

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