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Sales Enablement: The Inbound Marketing Hand-off

The goal of inbound marketing is to attract your ideal buyer personas and engage them to the point that they complete a conversion action that creates a new MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) for your sales team.

After that point, it’s in the hands of your salespeople to continue the process of helping that potential customer along the final stages of the buyer’s journey.

But what happens at that initial hand-off between marketing and sales? At the point between a lead record being generated and a salesperson closing the sale? According to HubSpot, whatever is happening is not ideal. Especially when sales and marketing misalignment is costing businesses $1 trillion each year in decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts.

According to Sirius Decisions, opportunity cost of unused or underused marketing content is roughly $2.3 million for enterprise organizations.

If your organization has been using inbound marketing strategies to attract and initially convert sales leads then you’re fully up on the landscape and familiar with selling to an empowered buyer.

You know that demand generation requires a new approach that’s focused more on being helpful and offering education and information, rather than using hardline sales tactics.

But once you hand the baton off to Sales, how are you ensuring that the communication strategy you used to attract the leads in the first place is staying consistent?

Do your Marketing and Sales teams even agree on when it’s the right time to make that hand-off?

Without a pre-planned sales enablement strategy, your Sales team could inadvertently be jarring new leads with a radically different communication style halfway through their buyer’s journey, or wasting resources reaching out to leads who are not adequately qualified.

Empowered Buyers Require a New Approach

The immediacy and availability of information on the Internet has shifted the balance of power in the sales process towards a consumer base that is hyper educated and has the ability to know everything about your company and service or product before they ever interact with someone from your team.

Today’s most innovative organizations embrace this reality and have restructured the sales processes around increased alignment with marketing teams and—generally speaking—around inbound rather than outbound methodologies.

The modern consumer isn’t generally reaching out to to talk to someone at your company until they’re ready to purchase and, for the most part, they don’t want to be bothered until that time.

Traditional sales tactics are seen as invasive and annoying. But this doesn’t mean that sales teams are relegated to the bench—it simply means that traditional sales tactics need to evolve alongside the consumer.

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Using Sales Enablement to Bridge the Gap

Sales Enablement helps bridge the gap that happens with the Marketing to Sales hand-off in two distinct ways. So what exactly is “sales enablement?”

Sales enablement helps drive more revenue by directly impacting sales teams’ ability to close more deals with processes, practices, technologies and tools that improve the performance and productivity of the sales organization.

Specifically, sales enablement refers to marketing and sales teams working together to:

  • Define Buyer Profiles and Buyer Personas
  • Align Marketing + Sales Messaging and Language
  • Share CRM Records
  • Define Lead Stages
  • Implement Lead Scoring
  • Prioritize Sales Activities around Buying Signals
  • Build Sales Email Templates + Sequences

So, firstly, sales enablement catalyzes a philosophical shift in your Sales team’s approach. One that moves towards selling with education and genuine helpfulness at the top of the agenda (an Inbound rather than Outbound approach.)

Then, it introduces a technological advent by ensuring that the tools and processes necessary to save time, increase effectiveness, and better align Sales and Marketing teams are in place and being used across the organization.

The work of sales enablement will only drive results if:

  1. The right tools are being effectively deployed around your organization’s business logic; and,
  2. You’re able to identify the exact buying signals (contextual trigger points) that help sales personnel understand how best to communicate with your prospective buyers after they’ve crossed the MQL threshold in the buyer’s journey.

Taking the time and effort to evaluate the state of alignment between your Sales and Marketing teams is foundational in kicking off a successful Sales Enablement program.

This process includes completing a full audit of processes and content being used by both teams and may be best executed by an outside party who is not internally biased. Having your Director of Marketing, or the VP of Sales, run the initial audit is not advised.

We often work with clients to conduct internal interviews of key stakeholders to get a solid understanding from all perspectives on what is and is not working in both the Marketing and Sales realms.

From this POV, we’re able to identify blind spots and areas of improvement where sales enablement tools and processes could be implemented to decrease friction between teams and improve overall program results.

 

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