Marketers are struggling like never before to meet the needs of a changing market. More new channels than ever, buyer Information Overload, Frugalnomics driven by two recessions in the past decade, Internet fueled buying decisions.... With so much to work on, its easy for marketers to forget a very important audience, sales professionals, and where marketing meets sales, sales enablement.
As defined by Forrester, "Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer's problem-solving life cycle to optimize the ROI of the selling system."
The good news is that sales enablement programs have become more formalized, and investments in sales support have never been higher. According to Forrester, companies are spending worldwide, on average, 19% of their Sales, General and Administrative costs, some $135,262 per quota-carrying salesperson, in sales support-related activities. However, even with these significant investments, sales professionals have difficulty finding the right information for their needs, and are too often recreating or customizing the content to make it relevant to buyers. According to Jeff Ernst, author of The New Rules of Sales Enablement, the American Marketing Association reports that:
- Salespeople spend 30 hours a month searching for and creating their own selling materials
- 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales
Not only is sales efficiency an issue, effectiveness is not all it can be either. IDC reveals in a recent survey that, buyers are not satisfied with the value sales professionals are delivering to engagements. In a recent survey, 24% of buyers indicated that the sales reps are not prepared for presentations at all, 30% indicate that they are somewhat prepared , and only 29% indicate that they are well prepared. The lack of preparation has been directly shown to drive inefficient conversion, longer sales cycles, more discounting, and higher competitive losses.
Content marketers obviously have some work to do with sales to overcome these buyer perceptions and drive sales enablement success. According to Jennfier Watson, "As content marketers, we need to own our accountability in the flawed process and be prepared to make some significant changes."
The Bottom Line
Sales Enablement is the key to arm sales professionals with the tools needed to drive better engagements with frugal buyers, and drive business outcomes.
To enable sales, content marketers need to be sure there is focus, energy and budget left to produce the smart content necessary to help sales connect with a new breed of frugal and skeptical buyers, arming sales professionals to have relevant and meaningful dialogue throughout all stages of the buying lifecycle.
Uncovering The Hidden Costs Of Sales Support, Forrester Research, Inc., April 2009
IDC Executive Tele Briefing on Sales and Marketing Strategies for 2010
The Audience Content Marketers Can’t Afford To Ignore – But Almost Always Do, Jennifer Watson, Content Marketing Institute, Published: September 20, 2010