Biznology
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Playing in the sandbox with the babies

Photo credit: Anz-i

Sales and marketing don’t always play nicely together in the sandbox, but they need to, especially when it comes to sales enablement. This is one area where sales and marketing can really work together. Sales knows what it needs to make the sale and marketing can provide the materials necessary to “enable” that outcome. Achieving top results only comes when both departments are aligned and working together.

Here are the top five ways to optimize your sales enablement efforts:

1. Know the needs of your sales force/distributors

Whether you have a sales force who work directly with your customers or your have a network of channel distributors, you need to know what they need in order to make the sale. Talk to them and ask them what would be the most helpful for them. They work with the customers day in and day out, so they have the best idea of what will speak to your customers.  Is it a visual, diagram-oriented audience, or do they like video instructions/demos…or technical specs on paper–or a combination of all of those tools.

Especially important is understanding the mindset of the person delivering the message. Often, we are asked to enable salespeople with relatively little technical expertise or experience to sell highly technical solutions.  So we spend more time and energy creating marketing tools that explain not only the what but also the why and the overall business value so they can have a more strategic and engaging dialog with the end user customer.

This step is especially crucial when you work through the channel, since yours is probably not the only product or solution they are selling, so you need to make sure they understand why they should push your product or service instead of the others they sell.

2. Tell your story

When you create materials for your sales force or your distributors, this is the time to really shine and tell your story. Story telling is a remarkably powerful way to push products. The reason is that people like stories—people like to tell stories, people like to hear stories, and people can relate to stories.

Need help telling a compelling story? Talk to your PR department—after all, PR folks are the original content marketers and they can offer marketers some great tips on storytelling.

3. Create personas for your content

You may want to adjust the story you tell in your materials for different customers. Different customers have different needs and will approach issues differently. Here’s where personas come in. Personas are composites of the vital attributes of your different customers and they represent specific demographics of your key customers. Make sure all the stake holders in your sales efforts are reflected in those personas–create your messages with them in mind. Using personas can help you target your content so your pitches fall on open ears.

4. Speak your customers’ language

This may sound exceedingly obvious, but I still see examples on a regular basis of companies who don’t speak their customer’s language. I’m not talking about English or French when I say language here – I mean the way that customers think and approach situations.

For example, CFOs think in terms of numbers. CEO make think about growth or scalability.  IT folks think in terms of speeds and feeds. Those are their languages and marketing pitches directed towards those groups should be composed to emphasize the elements that are most important to the customer. The pitch to the CFO better discuss cost and ROI positively, while the pitch to the IT director should perhaps focus on information management and network security.

5. Create great content and give it away for free

Once you have created content for all your customer demographics that tells your story in your customers’ language, give it away. Create great content and give it away for free. This is the secret good content marketers know: giving discounts hurts your bottom line. Giving information away however, pulls in people who are interested in your product and they are more likely to buy from you at full price than those who will only buy when you give a discount.

Education leads to trust and trust leads to sales, so create content (like ebooks or videos) and freely give them away to your customers. Oh, and make sure that content is really great! Think quality, not quantity here and your customers will keep coming back to you.

Use these five tips to arm your sales force/channel distributors with materials so they can tell your story for you!

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Monique de Maio

About Monique de Maio

Monique de Maio founded onDemandCMO in 1998 based on the philosophy that all businesses—from SMB to enterprise—should have access to great marketing talent and ideas—when they need it, for as long as they need it, no more, no less. After 25+ years on the client and agency sides of the marketing business, she has developed the reputation for being a straight-shooter, an energetic kick starter of all things positioning and messaging and a go to resource for clients including Avaya, Intel, McAfee, NaviSite, United Way and many in between.

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