We talk quite a bit about sales enablement on this blog. We love sharing ways that marketing and sales operations teams can help sales organizations improve their processes and sell more effectively. But if marketing isn’t working efficiently, they are going to have a lot of trouble helping sales succeed. This is where marketing enablement comes in.
One of the exciting sessions I attended at the SiriusDecisions Summit talked all about marketing enablement and its importance to B2B sales and marketing organizations. Marketing enablement is an emerging marketing function which normally works closely with sales enablement and/or HR departments. Marketing operations is highly involved with marketing enablement due to its holistic view across all marketing functions and its native training capabilities.
Amanda Jensen and Marcia Trask from SiriusDecisions identified three major steps in the marketing enablement process: assess, build, execute. These stages help to build an effective marketing enablement strategy, and are broken down in detail below.
- Assess: This stage involves defining and redefining marketing functions, roles, and competencies. Is every member of your team working efficiently, and are responsibilities appropriately allocated? When marketing teams are growing and developing, it can be difficult to reallocate and expand roles, so it’s important to revisit these. Further, as technology evolves, it becomes necessary to ensure that all members are able to use and optimize new tools and solutions. SiriusDecisions recommends creating a competency map to assess how well your marketing functions, roles and competencies are defined and allocated.
- Build: The build stage is relatively self-explanatory; it involves creating your enablement plan. This includes taking inventory of your marketing training assets, conducting training cost analyses, and determining your hiring versus training needs. After the assessment stage, you have a good understanding of where the gaps are in your organization. The top skills gaps for B2B marketers are typically around messaging, content strategy, technology and analytics. These normally need to be filled by adding headcount or improving your current headcount through training. Determining the cost of filling these gaps is important before you build your marketing enablement business case.
- Execute: Amanda and Marcia called this the “fun stage.” Executing your enablement plan includes building or buying your learning solutions and the actual hiring or training involved with filling your competency and role gaps. But execution isn’t just a one-and-done stop; it’s an ongoing journey that involves employee engagement and constant improvements. Just like sales enablement, there are always going to be ways to improve, refine and grow your strategy. SiriusDecisions illustrated this by showing the three major stages as the board game of Life; it’s a long-term commitment and shouldn’t be treated as a destination.
As sales and marketing organizations continue to align themselves, it is important to focus on how marketing needs to take care of its own competencies before it can help sales with theirs. The classic sales and marketing dichotomy tells us that marketing enablement is a necessity for sales success.