February 6, 2019

The 5 + 1 Sales Enablement Strategy

Jeff Marcoux | Vice President of Prodcut Strategy & Marketing, TTEC, GreenFig Instructor
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Jeff Marcoux | Vice President of Prodcut Strategy & Marketing, TTEC, GreenFig Instructor

The 5 + 1 Sales Enablement Strategy

In my career, I have seen good sales enablement, and poor sales enablement, the difference in results are evident as is the quality of the relationship between sales & marketing. What is interesting is that great sales enablement can be distilled down to just a few simple focus areas, what I have termed the 5 + 1 strategy.

1.    Sales & Marketing Alignment

Most of the issues that come up between sales and marketing are due to misalignment. Misalignment on what is a good lead, when a lead is ready to convert and be worked by sales, when the hand off between sales and marketing occur, etc. It is critical that marketing and sales work through the lead scoring methodology, definitions and what truly makes a lead good vs. bad and what it is ready to be worked by sales. All too often for the sake of efficiency and speed, marketing will go into a vacuum and set all of these rules up by themselves independent of sales...don’t be one of those marketers.  

Ensure your sales leaders are at the table helping you to ensure alignment. Several additive elements I have used to help with this are utilizing our account-based intelligence to become more data-driven, and using a fit score based on a positive and negative set, along with intent and surge data, both can help to ensure you’re not just working from opinions but rather, a data-driven approach.

2.    Setting your SLAs

The second key to a successful sales enablement strategy is ensuring timely follow-up by all parties. One of the biggest frustrations a marketer can have is to deliver an amazing qualified lead based on all the criteria agreed to in #1, only to have it sit there for days, weeks, months. This is even more critical if you are utilizing intent and surge data given that active data is showing you there is an opportunity with the lead. Working together with sales leadership to define these follow-up times, agreeing on what activity will be logged in your CRM, and most importantly, what happens if a sales rep does not meet the agreed upon SLAs.  

In my business, every lead that is qualified by marketing and our inside sales team has to have one of three actions taken:

1) Qualified out and the reason why it’s documented so that fit models can be refined accordingly.

2) Lead will be worked by the sales executive.

3) Sales executive identifies that while a great account, the lead will need to be more developed over time.  

Sometimes there is a 4th option that comes into play. This happens when a sales executive does not have time to work with the lead due to current deals in flight and some of the work they are doing with legal and other departments to close those active deals, so we simply assign the lead to another sales executive.  

The last part here is to answer the question of what happens if the SLA is not met. My favorite answer here is to use a rolling escalation reminder. First a reminder to the rep within 1 hr of missing the initial deadline, then after a set window a reminder to them and their manager, then them and their skip level, and eventually going to senior executives. While not a fan of a stick methodology like this, it is effective. This all does depend on your company culture, but regardless you need to define and set up SLAs to ensure that leads are followed up with.

3.    Moving beyond fluffy metrics

One of the reasons that sales and marketing often are at odds, is due to how they are measured. Traditionally sales are measured by closed-won deals, actual dollars that impact the company while marketing is measured on, what I like to call, fluffy metrics like opens, clicks, engagement, likes, and if your lucky number of AQL and MQL leads. To have solid alignment between sales and marketing is important, it is critical that the marketing team is on the hook for closed-won revenue and has the ability to track from lead to revenue. What is the % target of closed-won that you want attributable to your marketing and demand generation teams? Be a revenue marketer, not a fluff and stuff one.

4.    Make your Sales Team Look Good

This one is a softer strategy, but the elements are just as important as 1-3. It is marketing’s job to ensure that sales shows up with the right assets for the deal, including, an aligned persona and buyers journey that is appropriate for the opportunity and the meeting that the sales executive is going into. Do they have the right deck, right demo, right competitive intelligence, etc. Make sure your team is going in there with a winning plan and a confident mindset vs. hoping for a hail mary of a deal.

5.    Feedback Loops

Setting up a feedback loop is the last of the core sales enablement strategy This is because without some feedback mechanism you get the same old thinking and the same old results. I recommend a blended approach to establish your feedback loops, a mix of data-driven and anecdotal inputs. From an analytics perspective, looking at the pipeline stage duration, conversion rate and asset utilization is important for marketing to ensure everything they are putting forward is being used and impacting pipeline velocity or conversion rate.

The second part of the feedback loop comes from interviewing and surveying your sales teams on what they need, what is working, and what isn’t. I set up a monthly meeting with my sales leadership team where they bring feedback from their teams and share input across product, marketing, and demand generation through an open and candid dialogue. Having the mix of verbal feedback and analytics is key because it helps to round out the picture, making sure you know that your time spent is effective.

Executing on these 5 elements will ensure that you have a successful sales enablement program and solid alignment between the teams. So if that list above seems like a lot of work to do based on where you are, go get started, but if you want to add in that +1, that extra bit of magic, keep reading.

The +1

Sales teams are under immense pressure to hit numbers on a quarterly, semi-annual, and annual basis. I like to hold back a little funding and work with the sales leaders in a region or product line that is behind and work directly with them to inject a bit more love where they are weak.  This can come in the form of new leads, focused pipeline close activities, or other elements you agree upon with the sales leader.  Doing this helps to show them that you are invested in their success and want to help them when they are behind. It is a great way to reach across the aisle and have a great relationship with your sales team.

So that is it, the 5 + 1 Strategy that can take your sales enablement and alignment to the next level. What am I missing? Do you agree with these or disagree?  


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