What if teachers were responsible for selling textbooks?
I spend a lot of time evaluating our selling system at SAVO. We have the marketing automation, the CRM and of course our own suite of applications to satisfy our sales enablement needs. As a company on the leading edge of an emerging market, we’re tasked with a unique, often double-edged, problem to solve: we have to educate potential customers as well as sell software.
Our sales pros and marketers have wrestled with this issue and it’s led to confusion in our approach to prospects and customers. As a software company, we want to build and sell software that makes people’s lives better, that ultimately removes the business pains in sales and marketing. But as a sales enablement company, our goal is to educate people about a better approach to collaboration between sales and marketing. Sales enablement is an idea that comes intuitively to many, but so many solutions and acronyms exist that there’s not much attention, or budget, left for a practice that is mainly a “better way.”
Sales enablement is the only way
I’m certain we’re not alone in trying to straddle this line between thought leadership and selling. But sales enablement is long overdue for a repeatable, predictable method of application. I’m not saying sales enablement is through evolving, but I’d like to stop talking in terms of theory, and start putting processes and technology in place that really work for our sales and marketing teams. We need a sales enablement process.
It’s no longer the case that software can serve as a quick-fix to a business problem – this market is too complicated for silver bullets and old reps’ tales. Here, though, are three steps that will help you set the foundation for a culture of sales and marketing alignment, and set you up for implementing the right technology that solves problems holistically, not randomly.
1. Create a sales enablement function
This seems like a no-brainer, but sales enablement is not one-size fits all. It’s unique to your company. Mine company data and develop a comprehensive plan to shore up all points of revenue loss. Then set loose the sales enablement team on filling those gaps with process and technology.
2. Be the bridge
Sales enablement can’t be lip service, it has to be reflected in the actions of leadership at the highest level. Accountability must be incorporated into the job descriptions of sales and marketing pros at every stage of engagement. From the MarComm Specialist to the VP of Sales in the East, everyone must be held to a level of collaboration that promotes business development and customer satisfaction. Set clear sales enablement goals and tie them to the performance metrics of these individuals.
With something like sales enablement, self-education cannot end. Sales is a professional role, and continuing education shouldn’t be unique to doctors and lawyers. New technology and methodologies emerge all the time, most claiming the same end result of greater revenue. However, at the foundation of all of these is communication between sales and marketing – sales and the pillars of the company that allow them to sell smarter and deliver greater value than competitors. Again, sales, sales support (marketing, etc.) and emerging sales enablement technology are the binding elements of a successful company. As a sales or marketing leader, it’s your job to continue delivering the best solutions to your sales reps and the teams that support them.
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