Attracting your ideal buyer personas requires developing a rock solid inbound marketing machine. When your content engages a site visitor and they choose to continue learning more about your brand by taking a conversion action (for example, downloading an ebook), that visitor becomes a new lead.
But what happens next? What happens when the transition of responsibility for nurturing a lead moves from the Marketing team to the Sales team? This is the point where your communication efforts can easily fall apart without a planned sales enablement strategy.
What Exactly is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement refers to anything that directly impacts the Sales team’s ability to close more deals through specific processes, technologies, tools and practices that improve the performance, productivity and revenue of the organization. Sales enablement calls for the collaboration between Sales and Marketing teams to:
- Define Buyer Personas
- Align Messaging
- Share a Single CRM
- Define Lead Stages
- Implement Lead Scoring
- Prioritize around Buying Signals
- Email Templates + Sequences
According to IDC Research, failure to align Sales and Marketing teams around the right processes can cost a B2B organization over 10% of revenue each year (see: Callidus Cloud, 2015), and the opportunity costs of unused or underused marketing content is roughly $2.3 million for enterprise organizations.
This happens because the messaging which lead to an initial point of connection with your site visitor, and the relationship you’ve fostered since that point, can easily become diluted if this hand-off is done cold.
A warm lead and open communication between Marketing and Sales is essential to maintaining and nurturing the good will you’ve created with your new MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads). And this is exactly why alignment in communication is especially critical during the final stages of the buyer’s journey.
Sales enablement calls for collaboration between Marketing and Sales teams to:
1. Define Buyer Personas
Identify your ideal consumer by researching the demographic, socioeconomic and psychographic segments associated with your targeted buyer profiles.
Are they business owners? CFOs? Students? What is their income bracket? New mothers? How long have they been in business and how many employees do they manage? Do they live in rural areas or densely populated cities?
Understanding the nuances found among your ideal buyer persona groups ensures that each type of lead or prospect is accounted for. This also ensures that every team member has a similar understanding of each persona’s needs, and how to guide them along the buyer’s journey from being a prospect or MQL, to becoming a customer.
Conducting buyer persona interviews (with current customers and even lost opportunities) ensures that your teams take into account the “little things” that end up making the big differences in your particular buyers’ journeys.
2. Align Messaging
Maintain consistency in all customer-facing copy and correspondence to avoid a potentially ruinous disconnect with your consumer as the Marketing to Sales hand-off takes place. Establish specific messaging and language that stays consistent across both departments.
Establish a company-wide brand style guide with detailed notes about communication to keep everyone on the same page. Include specific information outlining tone, language, visuals and a product or service pitch that summarizes your business succinctly.
These guides are used to effectively maintain congruity when a lead is working or corresponding with several members of your team.
3. Share a Single CRM
Marketing and Sales should be working out of a singular CRM (customer relationship management tool) to ensure consistency in correspondence.
Keep a detailed account of all communications with leads as well as information regarding their interest in your organization. This can be helpful in preventing repeat contact, prompting an inactive lead with a specific message, cutting down on unnecessary emails, storing all contact information accurately, and properly denoting which “stage” the lead is currently in.
4. Define Lead Stages
Sales and Marketing teams must come to agreement and define lead stages in order to successfully transition prospects from an MQL to a paying customer. Work together to designate a title for each step of the buyer’s journey.
When a visitor downloads an ebook or signs up for your newsletter, which stage have they entered and what follow up communications do their actions trigger?
This is an area where buyer persona interviews come into play to help your teams nail the nuances. Walk with your customers step-by-step through how they found your organization and all of the third party verification steps they went through before deciding to begin engaging with your content, through to becoming a customer (or a “lost opportunity.)
5. Implement Lead Scoring
Just as important as defining each lead stage is implementing a lead scoring system. Some leads are warmer than others. Determine which visitor actions (or points of contact) designate someone as a lead and rank the priority or significance of this lead according to their likelihood to become a customer and/or the overall lifetime value of that particular customer relationship.
Insight from both Marketing and Sales is critical in this step, to ensure alignment with priorities and tracking KPIs.
For example, a prospective customer in a particular lead stage may appear promising to the Marketing department, but could wind up never becoming a paying customer.
Having open communication and feedback loops between the two departments helps everyone to garner the historical customer path knowledge gained on both sides of the fence.
6. Prioritize Around Buying Signals
Buying signals are clues from prospective buyers that they're about to take another step along the buyer’s journey. Those sales activities which move MQLs further toward becoming a customer should be prioritized.
A pre-defined sales enablement strategy makes it clear to everyone on your team what should happen when, for example, a lead reaches out with questions after downloading an ebook, or requests a quote after hopping on an introductory phone call with one of your sales reps.
By tracking engagement and paying attention to the responses your efforts elicit, you'll be able to determine which activities yield successful results, and which ones need to be refined.
7. Email Templates + Sequences
And finally, having email templates crafted and email nurturing sequences automated to communicate in a personalized manner with leads who cross certain thresholds in their buying journey is critical to maintaining the health of your pipeline.
Each template should specifically correspond to the action taken most recently by the lead (e.g. downloading an ebook, filling out a contact form, etc.) and be sent after the lead takes action as a way to entice your contacts to take another engagement step and help solidify the relationship you’ve been building with them through content.
Keep in Mind
Sales enablement will only drive results if...
- The tools being used are centered around your organization’s existing business logic,
- you’re able to accurately identify exact buying signals (contextual trigger points from prospective buyers) that inform the timing and communication of your sales personnel, after a lead has crossed the MQL threshold; and
- your demand generation plans are based on an education and information-focused approach, not hardline sales tactics—which are often viewed as invasive and annoying by today’s consumer.
Evaluating the state of alignment between your Sales and Marketing teams is integral in launching a successful sales enablement program.
Planning to ensure that the communication strategy your Marketing team used to attract leads stays consistent in the hands of the Sales team is no small job. Nor is it always easy to pinpoint exactly when in the buyer’s journey a hand-off should occur.
This is why a complete audit of the existing content and processes being deployed by both teams will be necessary. This type of audit will be best executed by an unbiased third party, as tasking your Director of Marketing or VP of Sales with the project could lead to missing key oversights in a case of being too close to the situation to notice the “little things" that end up being the most valuable nuances.
From wasting capital on developing relationships with unqualified leads, to inadvertently jarring promising leads with a radically different communication style as they move from talking with Marketing to Sales folks, the cost is too high to not start on the work now.
We work with clients to identify blind spots and areas of improvement where sales enablement tools and processes can be implemented to ensure alignment between teams and improve overall program results. Reach out today if you'd like to talk shop.