The following post was written by Marissa Gbenro, the Sr. Content Marketing Strategist at Highspot. Prior to life at Highspot, she worked to drive corporate marketing strategy for TrueBlue across 600 locations in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Think of the last time you made a significant purchase. You most likely started the process online, researching the benefits of the product. Once you were fairly convinced you needed to make the investment, you created a list of possible vendors to choose from. Finally, you put your detective skills to work, comparing the reviews and ratings of each brand before choosing to interact with your shortlist of favorites.
Engaging with a sales rep is far from a top priority for today’s buyers when traveling through their buying journey. This is especially true for B2B buyers considering that they navigate almost 60% of the buyer’s journey before reaching out to a sales rep.
The New Normal
Modern buyers call the shots now. Technology has provided them with access to unlimited information and as a result, unlimited vendor choices. This new reality has made sales and marketing increasingly more integrated. Sales needs insightful marketing content that engages buyers and marketing needs visibility into sales activities to create compelling content.
Social networks and advanced sales technology tools give today’s sales reps important insight into their buyer’s identity, pain points, and interests. By sharing this intelligence, marketing can equip reps with thoughtful content because 74% of buyers reward the rep that was first to add value.
Why Alignment Matters
One of the most important aspects in creating a scalable and repeatable revenue engine is sales and marketing alignment. In organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions, the two teams work together to achieve one goal – revenue. Forrester found that aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth while less aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue.
Despite extensive research, sales and marketing alignment continues to remain a struggle for most organizations. Companies who are proactively looking to achieve tighter sales and marketing alignment are investing in sales enablement tools and programs. According to Aberdeen Group, best-in-class companies have 50% higher quota attainment than average companies, and those best-in-class companies are twice as likely to be investing in sales enablement.
How Sales Enablement Moves the Needle
Sales enablement is the strategic, ongoing process of equipping sales teams with the content, guidance, and training they need to effectively engage buyers. Sales enablement analytics provide marketing, sales, and other departments with data-driven insights to optimize their business and drive revenue.
An effective sales enablement program involves marketing teams creating guided seller experiences by mapping content to important attributes like the buyer persona. Sellers can then quickly find the right content they need no matter the buyer. Marketing should also view analytics to track what content is utilized by sales as well as engaging buyers to move them through the sales funnel.
Sales enablement programs help sales reps in three major areas:
- Prepare sellers for any conversation by providing dynamic sales guides and insightful content.
- Engage buyers with effective content by making it easy for sellers to find what they need when they need it.
- Analyze and optimize best practices to continue delivering the most effective content.
It comes as no surprise that this year’s State of Sales Enablement report found that organizations with more established sales enablement functions, where they have utilized an enablement tool for more than two years, have 13% higher win rates and 11% higher quota attainment than companies without.
Content Makes All the Difference
Today’s buyers are more independent than ever and these new behaviors now require that sellers are prepared to provide content rich with value-added guidance and subject matter expertise, almost immediately. Unfortunately, studies have shown that sales reps spend a full 40% of their time searching for, or creating content. If sellers are unable to find the content they need or don’t know it exists, they will not be adequately prepared and their buyers will choose better-equipped sales reps.
In order for sellers to have impactful conversations that demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a buyer’s business needs, they must present content that provides well-matched solutions. However, 80% of content created by marketing for sales goes unused. If this content is created specifically for reps, why isn’t it being utilized? Well, sales reps either:
- Don’t have time to look for it
- Aren’t aware the content exists
- Think there is too much content to filter through to get the content they need
But what if there was a way for reps to easily search and find content, get greater visibility into the content marketing creates, and receive content attributes such as buyer stage and industry?
That’s where sales enablement comes in.
Sales enablement programs save sales reps time by providing curated guidance for all of their content needs, ultimately cutting down on the amount of time they spend creating content while increasing effectiveness. Sales enablement programs also improve the quality of content by providing marketing teams with analytics into content performance, answering questions such as:
- What content is being used—and where?
- Are sales teams getting what they need?
- Is my content resonating with customers?
Using what they’ve learned from the data, marketing can adjust content investments to better align with what is resonating with sellers and buyers, resulting in higher quality content. With more impactful content and more time they can dedicate to selling, sales enablement programs help reps reach quota attainment. Aberdeen Group found that best-in-class companies with sales enablement were 50 percent more likely to have sales reps who achieved quota. Sales enablement isn’t a nice-to-have any longer, it’s a must-have if sales reps are going to win the business of today’s buyers.