Since the publication of my 2nd Book, Effective Sales Enablement, several marketers approached me and were interested in enabling their sales teams but unsure of how to get started. Since every marketer’s relationship with their sales team is different, your support effort will be different. Therefore, it’s best to approach sales enablement based on 3 common marketing roles that exist in most companies.
How to start supporting sales:
- an individual contributor
- as a marketing director with a small team
- as a VP of marketing
As an individual contributor:
The best way to start is to clearly understand your own roles and responsibilities. Are you doing email marketing? Are you managing social media channels? Are you a content creator? Or, if you are wearing multiple hats, what marketing tactics do you do? What marketing channels are you responsible?
Next, talk to the sales team to understand their challenges and needs. When you ask sales what you can do to better support them, it’s going to be like opening Pandora’s box, they will tell you many, many things that they need your support on.
You need to categorize and prioritize their requests, then identify the items that you can help within the context of your roles and responsibilities. That’s why you need to know your own roles and responsibilities. This is especially true in a big company where roles and responsibilities are narrowly defined. That’s one way to start: a bottom-up, informal approach.
Another way is to create a formal request with solid recommendations on what you plan to do after your discovery and research. Present it to your management and sales, seek their support and get approval and funding before you start. That’s a more formal way to go about it.
As a marketing director:
As a marketing director, you likely have a team and a budget already. You probably have a plan in place to leverage your team and budget to achieve your marketing objectives. Start having conversations with your sales counterparts and understand their challenges to see if you can address some of them with your current plan.
Sometimes, there is low-hanging fruit, such as revising select marketing content for sales needs or sharing a messaging framework or even helping with on-boarding training. Again, the key is to incorporate what you can do as part of your plan deliverables. The best time to do that is during the company’s annual planning cycle. Get a fresh start and have a discussion as part of the fiscal year planning.
As a VP of marketing:
The most ideal way to start sales enablement is top-down. As a VP of marketing, you have the authority and power to initiate collaboration with the VP of sales.
Obviously, you have your marketing plan and initiatives for the year, as does the sales team.
Understand the sales plan and key imperatives for the year. Identify the areas where marketing can add value. Get the VP of sales’ buy-in and identify team members from both sides to form a task force or a virtual team, since many small projects start with some forms of a task force. This is a good way to start if you can’t add headcount immediately. To keep the momentum going, it’s essential to request timely updates from the team.
There is a consistent theme when embarking on the effort to enable sales, whether you’re an individual contributor, director, or VP of marketing:
- Know what you are doing first –> Know yourself.
- Seek to understand sales’ challenges and pain points. –> Know your sales team
- Identify the challenges that you can address –> Know what you will do.
- Map it into your overall plan deliverables –> Create a plan to execute.
Getting started is easy with a can-do attitude and scrappy implementation. We all need to start somewhere. The challenge is how to keep the effort strong and on-going. The only way to sustain that is the top-down approach with a strong commitment from senior management of sales and marketing.
If you want to continue reading, check out my post: Simple Sales Enablement Tips To Implement As A Marketer