When we ask salespeople what marketing can do to enable sales, 10 out of 10 salespeople will say, “more high-quality marketing leads (MQLs).” Although lead generation may be the only element that the sales teams care about, marketing can do so much more than just generate leads. In my book, Effective Sales Enablement, I discuss multiple ways that marketing can use some sales enablement creativity to help boost sales conversions, such as providing a crisp MQL definition, supporting account-based marketing, and mapping relevant marketing content to the sales journey.
Define a crisp, action-driven and conversion-centric MQL definition
Generating a good-quality MQL starts with a crisp definition. It can vary from company to company and from industry to industry and it’s critical that the salespeople have a say what MQL is, even though marketing makes the final call. I love LeadGenius’ lead definitions. They clearly articulate the different characteristics of good leads throughout their sales stages, tying it to specific actions taken by their prospect.
In order to arrive at the definitions for MQL and other types of leads, LeadGenius had sales and marketing agree on the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The agreed-upon ICP is used to guide marketing persona creation and outbound marketing strategy. As you can see in the table, MQL is clearly defined as a prospect that took the specific action: requests for a demo. Only leads requesting a demo is qualified as MQLs. They call these prospects “hand-raisers.” Well-said! Marketing makes an effort to pre-qualify prospects by matching leads with the ICP in order to increase the quality of MQLs, which directly minimize confusion and disputes over MQL metrics. Sales and marketing collectively focus on quality over quantity.
As you can see in the table above, SQL, prospects, etc. are all well-defined so that the sales pipeline can also be accurately forecasted.
Marketers need to make an intentional effort to tie lead definitions to the design of digital customer journeys. Apply actionable lead definitions, such as ‘request a demo,’ watch a specific type of video, contact us etc., to landing page design and call-to-action in key content pieces.
Collaborate through account-based marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) involves strategic and personalized marketing outreach and engagements with people at target accounts through close collaboration between sales and marketing. ABM is an ideal way to build synergy between sales and marketing teams. It allows the teams to work together on the same accounts, same goals, same priorities using the same resource allocation. Based on ITSMA survey results, almost 85% of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing investments.
According to a 2017 State of Account-Based Marketing Survey, 76% of respondents indicated that the ownership of ABM resides either in field marketing or sales organizations. In a way, ABM is not widely adopted by the whole marketing group. Conventionally, most marketers still create marketing campaigns following the typical purchase funnel of awareness, consideration, and purchase:
Build awareness of the brand.
Educate people about the benefits.
Entice people to consider.
Facilitate the purchase decision.
Implementing ABM requires marketers to think and behave differently by flipping that purchase funnel. Rather than starting a big marketing campaign to focus on a wide array of audiences, ABM starts with specific accounts, then, expands and engages with strategic and planned outreach as time goes.
With traditional marketing campaigns, marketers own the decisions of determining the target market. In ABM, the sales team is likely to tell marketers which accounts they should pursue as a team. In addition, marketing research becomes account-insight intelligence gathering. So yes, marketers still use the same outreach channels.
The difference is in the way marketers approach the ABM effort:
Embrace the flip channel approach.
Be prepared to give up ownership of the target market.
Gather account-specific insights, not just the persona’s insights.
Map select marketing content to sales processes
Another way to enable sales is through content marketing; this is especially valuable in technology or complex sales. Sales teams usually have specific processes or methodology they follow to bring deals to closure. If you are marketers supporting sales, it’s important to understand the sales processes and methodology. By understanding the sales team’s tactics at each stage, you can identify a list of possible content pieces that the sales team may need to facilitate the sales cycle.
Once you have a sense of the content list, you can source or customize existing marketing content for the sales team to use. If you can’t find suitable content, you can ask the sales team for the budget to create content they need for different stages of the sale cycle.
Content plays a critical role in technology and complex sales. It serves as a means to educate prospects about the uniqueness of your products. It can also serve as talking points for salespeople.
Marketing can do so much more than just generate leads. In my book, I point out that marketing is a hidden sales force and sales is another marketing channel. There are many ways that marketers can support the sales team and vice versa. Ultimately, it requires marketing and sales teams to plan joint initiatives and communicate frequently. Open dialogue and common goals are the beginning of a beautiful relationship. If you are interested in learning more about how marketers can enable sales, feel free to download a free chapter of the book.