If you work in sales, chances are you’ve recently heard the term sales enablement. Although it’s a hot topic, there seems to be some confusion around whether it’s just another vague buzzword or a specific field of practice that’s delivering real benefits to sales organizations.
With that in mind, we set out to answer four basic questions about sales enablement:
- What is sales enablement?
- Why is it important?
- How is sales enablement practiced?
- Who owns sales enablement?
Some of the best posts we read this week:
Good post on all of the vendors who are pushing hard into the CMO’s office (and budget). We think the real battle will be about point tools versus a consolidated suite. For various reasons, we think point tools win for the foreseeable future. The Battle for the Marketing Cloud
A lot of small businesses have no idea where their customers come from. A great post on the very cool Huckleberry Bicycles highlights the challenge: “But why do more new people walk in each day? I don’t really know.” Starting a Bike Shop
Understanding the customer experience is one of today’s hottest topics and for good reason. Companies that become truly customer-centric (given that we focus on sales and marketing, we prefer the phrase buyer-centric) tend to outperform their peers on a number of fronts, including faster revenue growth, higher conversion rates, shorter buying cycles, and lower churn. Of course, the first step in becoming a buyer-centric organization is to understand the buying experience. For more information on how to really understand your buyer, check out our recent post on buyer research.
But there’s a second step that’s just as important to becoming an organization that is built around the buyer. This step involves taking everything you’ve learned about the buyer and operationalizing it. This has implications for the entire organization, but you need to pay particular attention to the sales team, given that they are on the front lines of many buyer interactions (it’s also important that marketing get on the buyer bandwagon, but we find that this is less of a challenge given that marketing often spearheads the buyer research effort).
Five of the best posts we read this week:
“This is it. This is what matters. The experience of the product” are the opening words of Apple’s Designed in California” commercial. It doesn’t make for good copywriting, but isn’t it really the experience of the person using the product that matters? In 20 years, We’re All Going to Realize this Apple Ad is Nuts
An incredible story of how a CEO saved his company by completely changing target markets. Marlin Steel went from manufacturing wire bagel baskets for bagel stores to supplying industrial grade baskets to the world’s largest manufacturers. The Road to Resilience: How Unscientific Innovation Saved Marlin Steel
Here are five of the best posts we read this week..
Did you know that a bow tie could be your secret weapon at trade shows? Rather that outfitting sales and marketing personnel with traditional, corporate polo shirts, Visage employees wear bow ties, vests, and jeans. They’ve become recognizable and approachable as a result. B2B: Boring, bland, boorish, beige, bummer? Or bow ties?
Can nacho pricing teach us anything about the rumored iPhone Lite? Rags Srinivasan thinks it can, although my impression is that Apple feels like it just needs to penetrate developing markets. Appetizer pricing and the iPhone Lite
Our recent post, Content Marketing Process: The Process and Plays Required to Scale Content Marketing, provided a standard framework and detailed set of plays that marketing can use to create good content at scale. This presentation provides a visual summary of that post and highlights how marketers can adopt a standard content marketing process. It’s a critical challenge for many marketing organizations. A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute highlights how content marketing putting marketing organizations under pressure. The study found that marketers face three primary challenges: producing high quality content; producing enough content; and producing content on a limited budget.
Paul Graham of Y Combinator has written an excellent post called Do Things that Don’t Scale. I think it’s one of the most important posts of the year. The gist of the post is:
Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off. There may be a handful that just grew by themselves, but usually it takes some sort of push to get them going. A good metaphor would be the cranks that car engines had before they got electric starters. Once the engine was going, it would keep going, but there was a separate and laborious process to get it going.
That’s a powerful idea for a few different reasons. First, Paul’s right – achieving success in a handful of areas, even if it requires serious effort, can have a transformative impact on a business (and not just startups). Second, it’s a really accessible recommendation because just about everyone I know is capable of doing things that don’t scale. Third, I’m a fan of contrarian ideas as a competitive differentiator in business and this is definitely a contrarian idea.
This is particularly true when it comes to building relationships with people who can help make your company successful. Of course you can build relationships with lots of different people. Examples include your employees, investors, and influencers. But in my mind, the relationships that you build with your customers are the most important. That’s why the first thing I thought of when reading Paul’s post is that we should do things that don’t scale with our customers.
Over the last few years, we’ve spent tens of thousands of hours working with hundreds of different marketers. When you spend this much time with people in a certain role, one of the more interesting things you can do is try to determine the skills that make someone successful in that role. This is particularly interesting for the field of marketing simply because marketing has changed so much in the last decade. While successful marketers can exhibit a wide variety of traits, we’ve identified 11 marketing skills that really stand out today.
The buyer-centric company puts the buyer at the center of everything it does. While understanding the buyer can make just about everything a company does better, buyer research usually has the biggest impact on sales and marketing. A deep understanding of the buyer can and should be the foundation of the sales and marketing team’s process, key activities, organization, metrics, content, communications, and technology. It’s a simple, but powerful strategy that can transform a company’s ability to achieve its revenue objectives.
That’s because buyer research that helps companies understand who the buyer is, what they want, and how they make decisions has the potential to improve a variety of metrics in the revenue chain. Some of these metrics include improved conversion rates, shorter sales cycles, and larger average order sizes.
A few weeks ago, we wrote a post, How Images Drive Conversions: 15 Ways Images Can Improve Conversion Rates, that described how marketers can use images to increase conversion rates. This presentation is based on that post and summarizes the 15 tips contained in the original post as well as some additional examples that highlight how marketers can put these techniques into practice. While images are an afterthought for many marketers, it’s important to remember that many studies show that images have a significant impact on various conversion points associated with things like landing pages, product catalogs, and emails.