How Enablement and Marketing Can Intersect and Partner Together
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While sales enablement and marketing have their own departments and roles in the sales cycle, they can often intersect and even complement each other. Some key skills and knowledge for marketing translate into sales enablement, like having in-depth knowledge of a company’s buyer personas and its product or service offerings. This kind of knowledge and awareness is just as necessary for crafting marketing strategies and messaging as it is for sales enablement teams to create training, content, guidance, and engagement programs for sales reps.
“Sales enablement is actually the outcome of a healthy product marketing and sales training team,” said Tyler Zeman, product marketing for education programs at Amazon Web Services.
Since the two business functions often intersect, it is beneficial for sales enablement and marketing teams to align and build strong relationships inside a company. By sharing resources, streamlining communications, and collaborating on projects with shared goals and stakeholders, these two teams can contribute to a more efficient sales cycle.
Here is a look at how sales enablement and marketing intersect, and how to build strong relationships between them.
Key Points of Intersection
Content and Messaging
Sales enablement and marketing teams both play a critical role in creating content and messaging for the sales team. For both teams, it is necessary that their content and messaging stay consistent and align with the goals of the organization, such as with content management processes and how the content is rolled out. Since both teams are creating content for the sales organization, it is vital that they work in alignment with each other and ensure that the messaging and materials they roll out are consistent in their content and style.
Both teams also share the same user, the sales reps. They design and optimize their content and messaging for the sales reps, and use the same processes to ensure that content is being used efficiently and that it resonates with buyers.
“We can’t just hand reps some battle cards, PDFs, and slides, and expect them to just go crush it,” said Zeman. “Even if they’re excellent assets and intel, they need help knowing how and when to use them, they need practice. Together, product marketing and sales enablement look at our world through that lens– is this an asset or a training need or both?”
Feedback and Insight from Sales Reps
By going on the front lines with the sales reps, sales enablement teams can share feedback and insights with the marketing team on how content like training materials is being used and whether it is working as intended.
“You don’t have to worry as much about ensuring your content is being used efficiently or it’s resonating, because you’re there with them, you know firsthand,” said Zeman. “We just try and see as much as we can firsthand and then supplement that with data from our sales enablement platform and then the feedback we also get from leaders and reps for the rest.”
This is especially helpful when rolling out new materials to ensure a successful adoption and to better know what their customer is engaging with. Firsthand feedback is also helpful for making improvements in the future when content is retired or isn’t being used, to cut down on “content sprawl,” which is when an organization’s content has grown too unwieldy to manage.
Since sales reps are often strapped for time, it is helpful for them to have a communication channel with the marketing team. By serving as a liaison and facilitating communication, sales enablement teams can help the marketing team and sales reps understand the most important information and share updates that are relevant to each other. This kind of organic connection-building within the organization is beneficial not only for the ease of communication, but also because it strengthens the relationship between the departments that participate in the sales cycle.
These relationships between the sales enablement team, sales reps, and the marketing team go beyond just navigating a smooth rollout or creating new content. By serving as partners with each other, they can experience challenges, solutions, and successes together, which gives them greater knowledge for the next project.
Potential Challenges to Marketing and Sales Enablement Collaboration
Since sales enablement and marketing have their own practices and team dynamics, it is not always easy for them to work together seamlessly. First, it can be easy for miscommunication to arise between them due to distance, as they don’t often live under the same department within a company. Thus, it is important for leaders in both departments to share goals so everyone can see the bigger picture and keep each other updated.
“There are still things that will slip through the cracks where it would have been better to run something by another team before rolling it out to sales,” said Renee Tily, vice president of sales enablement at TechTarget. “It turns out two teams were unknowingly working on the same or similar issue and kind of duplicating some efforts. It’s bound to happen every now and then, so when it does you just need to regroup and revisit the guidelines that were outlined, see if anything needs changing, and then see where the communication breakdown happened.”
In a company where the marketing team might be doing the work of the sales enablement team, or vice versa, it’s inevitable for conflict to arise between them. For instance, the teams might have a disagreement about a certain practice or how long it takes, and especially if the two teams are separated from one another, conflict can arise. To overcome these potential issues, transparent communication and intentional collaboration are key.
How Sales Enablement and Marketing Teams Can Collaborate More Effectively
First, sales enablement and marketing teams should spend time getting to know each other. This allows both teams to understand what projects they are working on to promote transparency and highlight any overlap or opportunity to collaborate. It is helpful to establish documents like a shared calendar and communication plans, as well as ensuring that the other team is incorporated in the planning cycles for each quarter.
Another valuable way to collaborate is on aligning content. Instead of having each team create their own materials separately, collaborating to streamline content workflows can help improve content efficiency and effectiveness. This includes setting guidelines such as ownership for certain responsibilities and how to communicate changes or updates with sales reps. In some instances, tasks may fall to either team, so by establishing clear responsibilities, it eliminates confusion about who is doing what. It’s necessary that these two teams collaborate on content, since they both share the same goal and want sales reps to be able to find and leverage content as easily as possible.
It is also helpful for leaders on both teams to have a plan for how to communicate with the sales team. In many companies, it’s common for multiple departments and individuals to email materials to sales, which can make it hard for sales reps to cut through noise and find the information they need. By coordinating communications like emails and announcements, sales enablement and marketing teams can make it easier for sales reps to stay up to date on what information and materials they are being sent.
Rolling out large initiatives for sales reps like new training materials is another ideal opportunity for sales enablement and marketing teams to collaborate. They can share resources and streamline internal communications, such as keeping other departments informed and gathering feedback across the company. While preparing for a rollout, it is helpful for both teams to meet with stakeholders from the sales organization to refine their programs and ensure alignment with the go-to-market strategy.
“Having been part of those meetings, now I’m fully prepared to help build some e-learning training for sales that’ll help reinforce the bigger team trainings that we’re doing,” said Tily. “We expect that this will help reps speak to the changes more knowledgeably in the field sooner than maybe we’ve seen in previous roll-ups.”
Sales enablement and marketing teams share similar tasks and goals. Since both teams create content and messaging for sales reps and gather feedback from them, it is vital that these two teams not only align but also ensure strong relationships between them. By fostering successful collaboration, the two teams can not only align their goals and tasks, but also contribute to greater success within the organization and create a positive impact on sales performance.