5 Lessons on Marketing's Role in Sales Enablement

One of the major reasons sales enablement is so challenging is due to interdepartmental misalignment and a lack of ownership for enablement initiatives. Marketing plays an integral role in sales enablement, but it is often thought of as a sales responsibility, causing tension between the two departments when marketing starts to get involved in sales activities and goals. We recently spoke with Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, about the importance of marketing’s involvement in sales enablement on an episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast. Matt shares with us how he’s seen enablement grow and evolve throughout his career, the challenges marketers face when it comes to enablement, and the best ways to go about proactively aligning marketing goals to the sales strategy to ensure sales enablement success.

How has sales enablement evolved?

“Enablement didn’t really exist as a function until recently, and I feel comfortable saying that because as it’s optimally designed today—as a strategic, proactive effort to improve the efficiency of the sales organization—it didn’t exist years ago,” Matt explained. “Traditionally, that type of [enablement] role existed, but we’ve called it sales operations or admin, which is a more reactive, support type of role.” Matt explains that these support and admin roles are still undoubtedly important and valuable, but the strategic element of sales support was missing. Enablement is more scalable and proactive, allowing for more opportunities for sales excellence.

Why does sales enablement matter to marketers?

The sales process today is buyer-led, and salespeople require help from marketing to succeed. And this alignment is impossible if marketers aren’t thinking about how they support the sales force. “If you’re in B2B marketing today and you’re not thinking every day about sales, what the pipeline looks like, or how close the organization is to hitting the number, then you’re not nearly as integrated in strategy—let alone tactics or activities— as you should be,” Matt shared. Enablement can be thought of as the vehicle for marketing to serve its internal customer—the sales organization.

You can’t buy a beer with an MQL.

When asked how marketing can get more involved with and aligned to sales, Matt said that it all starts with aligning marketing goals and metrics to sales goals and the business strategy. “Most marketing dashboards are set up with a bunch of activities like web traffic, conversion rates, retweets, and more. While those are fine metrics to track, they are activity metrics, not business metrics that generate revenue. You cannot buy a beer with an MQL, so as important as they are, they’re not enough.” Marketing should proactively “control and embrace” enablement as part of its own function. Impacting conversions and activities throughout the pipeline is how marketing starts to be seen as a profit center, not a cost center.

Should sales enablement “live” within marketing?

While marketing’s role in sales enablement is indisputable, the nature and organization of that involvement is still unclear. When asked where he believes enablement should reside organizationally, Matt admitted “I don’t even care [where enablement lives] as long as the role is filled and actively managed.” But Matt sees extensive value from having enablement as part of the marketing organization “because of how important the content and storyline aspects of enablement are throughout the entire buying journey.” Content for sales enablement isn’t constrained to just PowerPoint presentations and product sheets; it involves putting the right content in the right place at the right time to help salespeople win more deals.

What’s the real value for marketing?

As marketing continues to become more data-driven, it’s imperative to use those analytics and data to truly show marketing’s value to the greater organization. And this starts with the buyer’s first touch interaction with marketing collateral: “Marketing is the best at creating and developing content that continues the momentum that started with a buyer’s interaction with content,” Matt explains. Marketing’s value comes from maintaining the continuity of this story and experience through sales interactions during the entire buyer’s journey. But marketing’s involvement in enablement is so much more than just helping sales, according to Matt: “Enablement is an opportunity for marketing to demonstrably embrace a greater part of revenue responsibility; it shows the organization that marketing is no longer interested in traditional activity metrics, and that it’s ready to embrace a more integrated role with sales to impact revenue results.”

To learn how Matt advises marketing leaders approach sales through enablement, listen to the full episode.


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