The Shift to Sales Enablement

05/25/2010
Friedenberg 360

As the media economy begins to show signs of life, a new marketing mindset is subtly bubbling to the surface. As I’m out speaking with technology marketers, it is becoming more and more apparent that marketers are quickly broadening their focus from demand generation to sales enablement. Don’t get me wrong, demand generation has always been tied to sales, but what we are seeing now is marketers acting upon the need to create a continuum across all marketing and sales activities– from lead generation to awareness, to content creation, PR, AR, and sales education–to truly tie their marketing efforts to revenue growth. By focusing on all the elements which touch the sales and marketing process holistically, marketers are able to add value to the entire process, affect ultimate sales results, and show ROI.

There are a few definitions floating around on what sales enablement is, but IDC defines Sales Enablement as “The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward.” This encompasses the customer or prospect who reads an article in the trade press about a product, receives a brochure in the mail, or registers for a white paper; creating tools or process so a sales person receives a lead with the appropriate information needed to follow up in a timely, and meaningful way; or customer intelligence received by a sales person making them more effective in their interactions. Because sales enablement encompasses both internal and external points of contact, it creates more consistent messaging and effective results throughout the process.

One throwback to demand generation is the idea that marketing efforts garner leads but rather than following them through to gauge their effectiveness, the leads are “thrown over the wall” to their sales teams. Marketing efforts are now focused on generating or qualifying “sales-ready leads,” working with sales on education and training on product value so that they are more effective with reselling or up-selling existing customers and perhaps more importantly, new business. In addition, they are supporting their sales teams with the necessary air-cover in the form of traditional and new marketing tactics to allow them to access to new customers, and equipping them with information, training, and tools, to enable them to recognize the value in specific leads, and effectively follow up and close deals.

There are a number of specific market drivers affecting this shift in focus within the technology sector. Perhaps most importantly is the shift towards field, product, and program marketing and away from corporate marketing. We are now seeing marketing dollars spread throughout companies with pockets of budget focused on field marketing in direct support of sales efforts, dollars at the product marketing level, and program marketing dollars in support of partners and alliances. Because these dollars are more directly tied to specific initiatives within the company, their efforts are naturally more aligned with those specific goals and tied to results.

Primarily driven by the need of consistent messaging and to further marketing efficiencies, global organizations are centralizing global marketing initiatives. With this focus, economies of scale are being realized and perhaps most importantly, the messaging–or the delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time– can be realized across countries and languages.

The third driver is the need for companies to drive “net-new” business. As the economy recovers, mergers and acquisitions continue, and the customer landscape shifts, companies which can drive new business from new customers will be the ones to succeed. Those technology companies, who have created the appropriate level of awareness among customers and prospects for their company and products, while building a level of conversation with their desired community, all the while refining the lead generation conversion process, will be the winners in this new media landscape.

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