Aligning Sales and Marketing for Maximum Results with Sales Enablement

May 20, 2024

Sales Enablement as the Bridge to Better Outcomes

Someone once said that the difference between sales and marketing is that marketing owns the message, and sales owns the relationship. It’s an interesting way to think about the collaborative partnership between marketing and sales, but it’s more layered and complex than this simplistic view.

In fact, the disconnect between sales and marketing in B2B organizations is a pervasive issue, at least from our experience working with hundreds of clients over nearly 25 years.

A significant percentage of B2B companies experience misalignment between their sales and marketing goals. This misalignment often leads to inconsistent brand messaging, a fragmented brand identity, and a weakened brand reputation. For instance, a report by HubSpot found that only 22% of companies believe their sales and marketing teams are tightly aligned.

Think about that for a second. Less than 1 in 5 teams. That should shock you to your core as a marketer.

As a marketing approach, we see sales enablement as the strategic solution to bridge this gap. It plays a crucial role in optimizing B2B marketing efforts, leading to increased revenue and stronger customer relationships. By equipping sales teams with the right tools, content, and knowledge, sales enablement ensures consistent and compelling brand messaging throughout the customer journey. This not only boosts sales but also strengthens brand perception. Let’s dive in.

Identifying and Solving Misalignment in B2B Sales

To dig in, let’s start with a common situation that will better illustrate the need for sales enablement.

The Problem: Misalignment between sales and marketing has far-reaching consequences for B2B sales. It results in longer sales cycles, higher customer acquisition costs, and decreased win rates. This misalignment not only impacts sales metrics but also dilutes the brand’s value proposition, preventing it from resonating with potential customers.

The Solution: Sales enablement addresses these challenges by providing sales teams with the resources they need to navigate complex sales processes effectively and close deals faster. It empowers sales teams to become brand ambassadors, ensuring that every customer touchpoint reflects consistent and compelling brand messaging. This alignment helps in creating a unified front that strengthens the brand’s value proposition and enhances customer trust.

Keep reading, it gets better.

Key Elements of B2B Sales Enablement

Sales enablement goes way beyond sales tools, encompassing brand guidelines, messaging frameworks, and customer-centric communication strategies. By ensuring that the brand’s voice and values are reflected in every sales interaction, sales enablement helps maintain brand consistency. Of course, as marketers, we also provide the sales tools, but what we’re really doing with sales enablement is arming our sales team with our awesome brand story in order to convert more sales! They’ll want to focus on features/benefits, because they’re salespeople, but brand marketing is meant to hit customers at a more emotional level. Sales enablement helps your sales team offer a stickier story.

And here’s the critical success factor: Collaboration. Sales teams must provide valuable insights into customer pain points and content effectiveness, helping to ensure that marketing content aligns with the overall brand strategy and reinforces the company’s unique value proposition.

Sales Enablement vs. Content Marketing

In doing the research to write this blog, we noticed that there seems to be some confusion online between sales enablement and content marketing. Obviously, while both sales enablement and content marketing aim to support sales, they play very different roles. Sales enablement focuses on equipping sales teams with meaningful and useful brand tools needed to close deals at a higher level, while content marketing creates valuable content to attract and engage potential customers. Both are important, but they shouldn’t be confused with one another.

Benefits of Sales Enablement in B2B

Before we go any further, let’s really examine WHY our clients come to COHN for sales enablement tactics. We’ve already mentioned a few by name, but there are some key benefits for B2B organizations when it comes to sales enablement as a strategy.

  1. Accelerated Sales Cycles: Consistent, on-brand messaging can expedite decision-making for B2B buyers, leading to shorter sales cycles.
  2. Increased Win Rates in Competitive Markets: Strong brand differentiation gives sales teams a competitive edge, increasing win rates.
  3. Improved Lead Qualification and Conversion: Aligned messaging attracts higher-quality leads and increases conversion rates.
  4. Enhanced Customer Lifetime Value: Positive brand experiences foster loyalty and repeat business, increasing customer lifetime value.
  5. Strengthened Brand Identity: Consistent messaging reinforces the brand’s value proposition and builds trust with customers.
  6. Increased Brand Awareness: Equipped sales reps act as brand ambassadors, increasing the brand’s reach and recall.
  7. Enhanced Brand Reputation: Sales enablement links to positive customer experiences, building a strong brand reputation.

Despite all these fairly intuitive benefits, you’d be surprised at how often implementing sales enablement in B2B organizations comes with challenges. For example, established B2B sales cultures may simply resist change, generally. They like to do things the way they have always done things, and they don’t need a marketing team telling them how to sell. Fair enough! In these cases, we usually recommend starting with a pilot program and highlighting early successes can help gain buy-in.

Probably the most common issue is siloed communication between departments which can hinder collaboration. The only real way to break down silos is—surprise!—to not work in silos. In other words, cross-functional training and shared KPIs/incentives can help to break down barriers and encourage teamwork.

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room. Measuring ROI in complex B2B sales environments is challenging. Establishing clear KPIs for both sales and brand metrics, and using analytics to track the impact of sales enablement, can address this issue.

Real-Life Examples: Collaboration and Communication

We believe fostering a culture where sales, marketing, and branding teams work together seamlessly is crucial for the brand’s success. Prioritizing open communication and collaboration ensures that all teams are aligned with the brand’s goals and strategies.

Several B2B companies have achieved significant results through sales enablement. Here are just a few readily available stats we found online that support the sales enablement thesis: For instance, IBM’s sales enablement program led to a 20% increase in sales productivity and a 10% increase in revenue growth.

Another example is Adobe, which used sales enablement to improve its lead conversion rates by 50%. Furthermore, Michael King, VP of Marketing at Adobe, stated, “Sales enablement has been a game-changer for us. It has not only increased our sales productivity but also strengthened our brand perception in the market.”

On the Salesforce blog, there’s a fantastic story that illustrates a lot of the learnings we included in this blog. For example, Schneider Electric adopted Salesforce Sales Cloud, which transformed their sales operations by providing a single source of truth for their 30,000 employees, significantly enhancing their sales and service performance globally. Additionally, GoCardless leveraged Salesforce to improve their tracking of sales stages and understanding of deal focus, resulting in a substantial increase in sales activities and productivity​​. Makes you think!

Strategic Advice for B2B Companies To Empower Sales Enablement

For B2B companies looking to implement sales enablement, here are some actionable recommendations. Some of them will be intuitive and obvious, while others might make you think a little!

  1. Integrate Brand Messaging and Values: Ensure that brand messaging and values are integrated into your sales enablement strategies. As a brand marketing agency, we believe this is the most important aspect to sales enablement because it creates a consistent brand experience for customers.
  2. Implement Sales Enablement Platforms: Utilize sales enablement platforms to provide sales teams with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Duh, right?
  3. Foster a Data-Driven Culture: Encourage a data-driven culture within your organization. Use analytics to measure the impact of sales enablement on brand awareness, perception, and loyalty. This will actually help you turn a skeptical sales team into one that trusts and believes in the power of marketing!
  4. Customize for Different Markets: Customize your sales enablement strategies for different industries or target markets. This ensures that your approach is relevant and effective, as we know that shotgun approaches in marketing and sales do not work.

By following these strategies, B2B companies can leverage sales enablement to strengthen their brand consistency, turn sales reps into effective brand ambassadors, and ultimately drive business growth.

It’s Time To Engage COHN for the Sales Enablement Journey

We hope we’ve made a convincing case by now that sales enablement serves as a vital bridge between sales and marketing in B2B organizations. This new approach will address the common disconnect between these functions, leading to improved alignment, enhanced brand perception, and increased revenue. By implementing effective sales enablement strategies, B2B companies can overcome challenges, achieve their goals, and secure a competitive edge in the market.

But let’s be honest: Sales enablement is easier said than done. If you’re on a B2B marketing team and you can see a breakdown in the process between sales and marketing, give our team a call. It couldn’t hurt, right? We have seen countless examples in our 24 years of operations, and we may just have a solution to crack the code at your company. Contact COHN today.

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