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76 - Sales Enablement: Where to start as a marketer?

B2B Marketing and More With Pam Didner

Release Date: 02/14/2019

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Andie from the UK sent me a LinkedIn messaging: 

“Hey Pam, I've been following you on Twitter for a while, and have recently heard your Marketing Book podcast, thought I'd reach out as sales enablement is a big problem right now: Where to start?!  

Actually, several people approached me about this question since I published my book in October 2018. Given that the sales enablement effort from the marketing side is different from company to company, let me address this based on the 3 different roles of marketing professionals,.  

Where to start to enable sales  

  • as an individual contributor 
  • as a marketing director with a small team 
  • as a VP of marketing 

As an individual contributor: 

Say you want to take the initiative to support sales as an individual contributor. The best way to start is to clearly articulate your own roles and responsibilities. Are you doing email marketing? Are you managing social media channels? Are you a content creator? Or, if you are wearing multiple hats, what do you do? 

Next, talk to the sales team to understand their challenges and needs. When you open that Pandora’s box, they will tell you many, many things that they need your support on. You need to categorize and prioritize their requests, then identify the items that you can help them with, in the context of your roles and responsibilities. That’s one way to start: a bottom-up approach. 

Another way is to internalize their needs, create a formal request with solid recommendations on what you plan to do after your discovery and research.  Present to your management, seek their support and get approval and funding before you start. That’s still bottom-up, but a more formal approach. 

As a marketing director: 

What if you are a marketing director, how do you start? As a marketing director,  you likely have a team and a budget already. You probably have a plan in place on how you’ll leverage your team and budget to achieve your marketing objectives. Start having conversations with your sales counterparts and understand their challenges to see if you can address some of them with your current plan. 

Sometimes, there is low-hanging fruit, such as revising select marketing content for sales needs or sharing a messaging framework or even helping with on-boarding training. Again, the key is to incorporate what you can do as part of your plan deliverables. The best time to do that is at the company’s annual planning cycle. Get a fresh start and have a discussion as part of the fiscal year planning.  

As a VP of marketing: 

The ideal way to start sales enablement is top-down. As a VP of marketing, you have that authority and power to role model by initiating the collaboration with the VP of sales.  

Obviously, you have your marketing plan and initiatives for the year, as does the sales team.  

Understand the sales plan and key imperatives for the year. Identify the areas that marketing can add value. If you are budget and resource-constrained, start with several small initiatives or even ask for budget from the sales team. Get the VP of sales’ buy-in and identify team members from both sides to form a task force or a virtual team, since many small projects start with some form of task force. And request timely updates from the team to keep the momentum going.   

Like I said, the best way to start sales enablement synergy is starting at the top. Senior management’s commitment goes a long way.  

Ok, there is a consistent takeaway from my recommendations above:  

  • Know what you are doing first [Symbol] Know yourself. 
  • Seek to understand sales’ challenges and pain points.[Symbol] Know your sales team 
  • Identify their challenges that you can address [Symbol] Know what you will do. 
  • Map it into your overall plan deliverables [Symbol] Create a plan to execute. 

That’s how I’d start, Andie. I hope that I answered your question. If you are in a specific marketing role, please let me know. I can explain further what you can do.  

Ok, you know where to find me if you have any marketing questions: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, email, you name it.   

Again, if you find the podcast, please share your comments in iTunes.  

Keep hustling, my friends. You got this.