Why Marketers Suck at Sales Enablement…And How to Fix It

Collin Stewart, CEO

26 October 2017

Every now and then, you have to take a step outside your comfort zone.

As loyal listeners of our podcast and followers of The Predictable Revenue methodology in general know, we’re lovers of all things sales development. Died-in-the-wool sales professionals.

But while we focus most, if not all, of our attention on how to best navigate the sales trenches, rarely do we turn our attention to those that tirelessly support the sales org by producing case studies, customer stories, and battle cards (among many, many other assets). Well, we’re putting an end to that today.

Enter sales enablement.

“Sales enablement can mean a whole lot of things – from formal certifications to sales asset management. And I see it as all of those things,” says Steve Mayernick, Product Marketing Lead at Philadelphia-based Guru, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“If you were to boil it down very simply, sales enablement is giving sales reps the tools, knowledge and assets they need to win a deal. At the end of the day, it’s all about revenue. If you’re enablement initiatives don’t result in revenue, they don’t mean anything.”

Sounds fairly straightforward, right?

Salespeople are always using marketing collateral when prospecting, routinely using one-pagers while on calls, and constantly sending follow up materials to prospects to further illustrate why their product / service is worth buying. And, marketing teams create content all the time. It all makes perfect sense.

Not so fast.

The Foundation of Sales Enablement

According to Mayernick, effective sales enablement starts long before anyone produces any content. First, it requires an in-depth understanding of the company’s Ideal Customer Profile and specific Buyer Personas.

Understanding your ICP is the act of defining accounts that are most likely to buy at an economically viable threshold. If you don’t know your ICP, then you don’t know what you are building an enablement program for,” says Mayernick.

“So, dig through the data to find out who you are having the most success with. What do those profiles look like? Is there a specific vertical? Do they specific technologies in place that you should know about? And, take into account churn. It doesn’t matter if you define a good ICP, if they are not a buyer that will see continued value from your product, it doesn’t matter.”

As for buyer personas, Mayernick recommends drafting composite sketches of the people in those companies that buy from you. Buyer personas can be somewhat fluid, so a composite sketch, he says, will encompass enough details for reps to “have specific and personalized conversations with the different people they come across.”

Once that critical piece of sales enablement is built, the hard work begins. Now it’s time to “operationalize” the content and the knowledge your sales enablement people are producing.

First up, understand where your sales team goes to get their materials.

“Salespeople are creatures of habit. Any time you ask them to stop and go get something they need, a sales asset, it cripples their productivity,” says Mayernick.

For example, to save time salespeople will often download and save their favourite materials on their desktop. But, when they do that, says Mayernick, they run the risk of using materials that are out of date. Product marketers or sales enablement professionals have no control over what happens on a personal desktop, of course.

To make matters worse, too often companies have docs spread all over the place – company wiki and Google Drive, for instance. So, it’s up to the product marketing team to understand how the sales team works, and to develop a “single source of truth” for all of the reps to draw materials from.

“Sales reps are having hundreds of conversations, they are responsible for some much information,” Mayernick adds.

“You have to be delivering this information into the apps they are using everyday. Enable them in the places they work.”

Effective Content Creation

If you’re able to consistently (and effectively) get content to your sales reps, it’s a good idea to make sure that that content is accurate and up to date.

Salespeople aren’t necessarily subject matter experts, and neither are marketers. Marketers can write, and salespeople are experts at distilling materials for a sales call, but the raw data needed for great marketing collateral often requires team members from other departments such as customer success or development.

There is just too much information for reps. Too much for one person to own. So, get subject matter experts on top of the specific assets they need to be a part of. Get them involved,” says Mayernick.

“For example, not having an integration specialist own sales assets about integrations is a problem. I made that mistake early on. It wasn’t until I had an integration person listen to a salesperson relay incorrect information about integrations that they understood why they need to be involved in the process.”

Marketing Assets / Types of Content

To be sure, the various types of content a company needs will be specific to each company. But, some tried and true pieces of marketing collateral, says Mayernick, are:

  • Customer stories (can mean everything from a case study to a G2 Crowd testimonial);
  • Competitive battle cards (concise cards with information on your competitors);
  • Sales decks (tailored to the personas you sell to);
    One-pagers (used for follow ups after a sales call, if rep promises to send more resources)
  • Product FAQs (complete with customer stories and 3-4 product points in plain English)
  • Common objections sheet (these should be persona based, and have answers to any question from a prospect).

But, warns Mayernick, don’t get too carried away designing these pieces. Salespeople, he says, won’t even look at the design. They only want the info.

“I used to create these beautiful battle cards on competitors with company overviews, funding, their customers,” says Mayernick.

“But, sales reps don’t care. Reps only need to know how to de-position this competitor on the phone. Or, they want to know how do it in an email. That was a huge mistake on my part. I had to put myself in the lens of the rep. There it is again – see how they work.”

For more on Steve Mayernick’s thoughts on sales enablemente, check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.