My 1st book was about Global Content Marketing, while my 2nd book is about Effective Sales Enablement. On the surface, these two topics seem to be completely different, but they are strikingly similar in certain ways. With the launch of the new book, many people ask me why I wrote a Sales Enablement book instead of another content marketing book.
Well, there are professional and personal reasons.
One the professional front:
Smaller companies may not have this issue, but in enterprises, sales and marketing tend to be treated as separate functions with limited integration. With the rise of digital, marketers and salespeople may not fully comprehend that many marketing elements can be used to drive sales conversions, engagements, and further sales negotiations. I’d like to point out that marketing channels if used properly, can be an ingredient to accelerate sales velocity and close deals.
Here are three excellent examples
Partner marketing or co-marketing
Partner marketing is when two or more brands collaborate on promotional efforts or deliver value to the same segments of customers. In the tech industry, partner marketing is a key channel for driving demand for new technologies. To build the PC ecosystem and create PC demand, Intel established co-marketing efforts with Dell, HP, Asus, Microsoft and more. Intel did not just manufacture a microprocessor. In the early days, Intel sales and marketing worked tirelessly with manufacturers to help them design motherboards for desktops and laptops to establish a strong PC ecosystem. With Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Original Design Manufacturer (ODMs), the company not only developed co-marketing campaigns but also negotiated to have Intel logo stickers placed on desktops and laptops. Intel cleverly positioned the microprocessor as the brain of the computer. They launched the massive “Intel Inside” marketing campaigns in the early 90’s by encouraging consumers to look for the ‘Intel inside’ label when purchasing their personal computers.
It was a brilliant move with a strong alignment between sales and marketing.
- On the marketing front: it delivered a clear and unique product positioning with massive direct marketing campaigns.
- On the sales side: it provided a strategic account-based approach coupled with co-marketing elements to incentivize vendors to promote PCs.
In a way, Intel doubled its air-cover to include both direct and indirect marketing (co-marketing) efforts. Working with component suppliers, software companies, OEMs and ODMs, Intel fostered a brand-new industry and enabled its growth for the years that followed.
I’ve heard that e-commerce is eating sales’ commissions. But this doesn’t need to be the case if sales’ compensation is structured properly. During the holiday season in 2017, I found myself at J.C. Penny looking to buy some furniture. When it was time to pay, Odette, my salesperson, actually went through the whole process via the J.C. Penny e-commerce website. She said that it’s faster than using the point of sale system. Here she is, a salesperson, using the e-commerce workflow to complete the in-store sales transaction. When I asked her if the e-commerce site has any impact on her commissions, she said that any impact is positive. She gets credit for the sales even if she enters it using the eCommerce site and, since the e-commerce is her virtual showroom, it helps drive traffic.
Many of her customers would browse the J.C. Penny e-commerce site to view the products and specs, then they come to the store, ask her questions about their choices and complete transactions in person. She told me that some people prefer going through the whole buying process online, while some prefer doing research online and completing transactions in person. E-commerce gives her customers choices on how to shop. Buying big-ticket items such as furniture, people still prefer to come to the store to check the furniture out. People still love to buy face-to-face and talk to salespeople. Obviously, Amazon also knows that, so that they are trying to expand their physical retail outlet presence.
E-commerce also works well for SaaS with business models of freemium or self-subscribed transactions. It’s not about eliminating the sales force. Sales teams should see it as an opportunity to increase sales and build prospects for future upgrades or cross-selling and upselling.
Social media can be part of sales negotiations. The sales team of a whiskey company was working hard to gain shelf space for liquor stores and supermarkets in a certain city. In order to get more shelf space, the sales team negotiated a deal in which they would run location-targeted social media ads to promote free tasting events at specific stores with agreed-upon dates.
The goal was to drive as much traffic as possible to the stores for the tasting in the hope that customers would eventually buy that particular brand of whiskey. While in the store, ‘tasters’ are likely to purchase other types of mixers or liquors which directly increase the stores’ revenue. The stores loved the idea that the brand was running geo-targeted ads to drive foot traffic. Again, a great example of marketing enabling sales efforts.
I mentioned many examples of how marketing can better work with the sales team. AND here is the 4th example I mentioned in the video:
On the personal front:
The truth is that I simply wanted to challenge myself to write on a different marketing-related topic. I was struggling with what to write for a long time. Then, I looked inward and asked myself what experience and learning that I can share from my 20 years of corporate experience. Oh, what about my experience of supporting the indirect and direct sales team? We all know how hard it is to support them. I learned so much from them, yet they also learned a lot from me about the evolution of digital marketing and how to use social media to their advantage. It was a win-win.
Originally, the topic was how marketing can better support the sales teams. In a way, we, marketers, are enabling sales, anyway. So, it morphed into the sales enablement topic.
In the digital age, different marketing elements can potentially be sales tools. I don’t believe that many sales and marketing people realize how to utilize these elements well. The biggest drawback is that it requires time to plan and then work out the kinks during execution, which most salespeople are not interested in doing. It’s not as simple as qualifying a lead.
It sounds easy in theory, but it requires a massive amount of collaboration and communication. When we are all under deadlines, this is not something we can do on a continuous basis unless it’s mandated by the top or there is a process in place to facilitate it, which is also something I talk about in my book.
Most sales enablement books are written by sales consultants, sales professionals, and sales trainers. This book was written by a marketer for marketers. If you are a marketer, it provides additional ideas on how you can better support your sales team. If you are a salesperson, sales ops or sales enablement manager, it helps you get inside your marketers’ heads.