- Catalyst Strategic Marketing Research Brief -
Overcoming Challenges in B2B Sales Enablement
What is it?
What does it do?
What are the challenges associated with it?
Depending on who you ask, sales enablement is a term that has multiple meanings. For the purposes of this brief,
sales enablement is defined as “The process of the marketing and sales organizations working together to determine
what relevant content, tools and resources need to be developed for the sales team to effectively engage customers
and potential buyers and move them down the sales funnel.”
In this brief we will address the three most common challenges you are likely to encounter in developing and deploying
B2B sales enablement.
Sales Enablement 101
Sales enablement is one of the best resources sales teams have at their disposal to help them sell, but it is also one of
the most underutilized. Sales enablement allows sales to present timely, relevant information to the customer at the
right time, in the right format, via the right channel(s). This information is critical to moving the customer down the sales
- Catalyst Strategic Marketing Research Brief -
Sales enablement has several purposes: to help increase top line revenue, to help grow bottom-line profit, to better
differentiate your product/service, to clearly articulate the value proposition, to increase up-sell or cross-sell revenue,
and to increase overall effectiveness of marketing-generated leads.
Marketing owns sales enablement and through it provides sales with the tools, resources and content they need to
successfully engage the customer at every stage of the customer journey. Sales enablement may consist of content
the customer can access or download (such as a white paper, case study or best practices), but it also includes tools or
resources that sales uses while with a customer (such as an online demo, videos or ROI calculator) or leaves behind at
the customer (such as data sheets, pamphlets or brochures).
In addition to content, sales enablement may also include additional elements such as playbooks, competitive analysis
or market research. Sales training activities (such as showing sales where to find and how to use the various tools and
resources at their disposal, or training them on new sales techniques) may also be included.
Depending on the company, sales enablement may also be used with channel partners, distributors, reps and resellers.
These auxiliary sales teams often sell for other companies in addition to yours, so they may not have the most current
content or materials about your products/services. Sales enablement helps ensure they are aligned with your business.
Overcoming the Misalignment Issue
Ensuring that sales and marketing are aligned is one of the biggest challenges that companies deal with today. For
sales enablement to be effective, sales and marketing must be tightly aligned with each other. However, alignment
requires more than just working together; they must be fully in tune with and understand not only the overarching
business goals, but also the organizational goals that support the business goals. This ensures that both organizations
have a common frame of reference and know what must be accomplished.
Since sales and marketing organizations have a similar focus (I.e., getting customers to the purchase point), their
organizational goals are often complementary. For example, if sales has a goal of increasing the number of accounts
by 10% over the next quarter, then marketing’s goal is to generate enough new leads to drive that 10% growth.
Understanding the goals and how sales and marketing must work together to accomplish them is one of the biggest
steps towards aligning the sales and marketing organizations. This type of alignment is easily accomplished through
use of the following best practices:
Regular participation in activities with the other organization (such as weekly team calls)
Provide a weekly update to the other organization of activities, progress, challenges, issues
Assign a representative from sales to be involved with marketing during the development process
Assign a representative from marketing to be involved with sales on customer-facing activities (such as customer
phone calls and customer visits)
Call to Action: The sales and marketing organizations must undertake one or more of the above steps to become
actively engaged with each other. Once begun, greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities, as well as the
challenges that are faced by each organization, will occur. This provides the basis for ongoing discussions about the
type/format of sales enablement that needs to be developed by marketing to support sales. This also fosters a closer
working relationship and tighter alignment between the two organizations.
Overcoming the Sales and Marketing Disconnect
One of the most common challenges to effective sales enablement is that the sales organization does not understand
what marketing does, what their roles and responsibilities are, or the value that marketing provides to the business. In
fact, marketing is often seen as nothing more than a source of funds to the sales organization.
On the flip side, marketing does not understand the role of sales or what it takes to bring a customer to the table and
get them to sign a purchase agreement. They don’t understand the amount of time and effort that sales must put into
qualifying and understanding the customer’s requirements and situation.
Due to these type of misconceptions, there is a continuous disconnect between the two organizations.
To resolve this problem, sales and marketing leaders must take specific actions to help educate the other organization
on what they do, as well as why and how they do it. The following best practices have proven to be effective in
- Catalyst Strategic Marketing Research Brief -
Invite sales to participate in marketing’s strategic planning sessions and vice versa
Provides insight into objectives and activities
Provides insight into the organization’s focus
Illustrates how sales and marketing activities are determined and prioritized
Invite marketing to make presentations to sales team gatherings explaining various topics such as the sales
enablement development process, the difference between lead generation and demand generation, how to
develop content tailored to a targeted audience, and how to determine which marketing channel(s) to use to
support a specific sales goal
Invite sales to make presentations to marketing team gatherings explaining topics such as prospecting and
developing accounts, sales forecasting, sales techniques, and how to close a sale
Call to Action: Sales and marketing must actively engage with each other to develop cross-functional, collaborative
processes to update and exchange information on an ongoing basis. This fosters regular communication between
organizations, which creates stronger working relationships. In addition, each department gains a better understanding
of the other, learns how to work with and support the other organization, and learns how their function supports the
overall growth of the business.
Overcoming Sales Enablement Development Barriers Through Knowledge Transfer
One of the greatest challenges sales professionals face is helping a customer understand the value and benefit of the
product or service they are selling. Sales does this through a combination of calls, meetings, demonstrations and
providing the customer with various types of content and material.
Unfortunately, this is where a breakdown often occurs, as the content or other sales enablement material that sales
provides to the customer may not be the best material for the given situation (I.e., sales did not use the “right” content).
This may occur for a variety of reasons, including sales not having the most up-to-date material, the material may be
too generic, the content may not be relevant, or the content may be too technical or too general.
Because regular communication between sales and marketing is lacking (or nonexistent), the requisite knowledge
transfer between them does not take place. This results in effective sales enablement materials not being developed.
When the organizations communicate, marketing can develop the right content, as well as additional tools and
resources such as journey maps, buyer personas, market and competitive analysis studies or other tools to provide
sales with everything required to help move the customer down the sales funnel.
To develop regular communication between sales and marketing so knowledge transfer takes place, the following best
practices should be followed:
Sales and marketing meet on a regular basis to discuss customer opportunities
Sales should provide marketing with a detailed sales opportunities document
Marketing must participate in weekly sales forecast calls to ensure that they have up-to-date information
Sales must keep the CRM tool updated with information on opportunities; marketing needs access to the CRM tool
and/or access to reports
Call to Action: Sales and marketing must commit to utilizing one or more of the above to ensure effective knowledge
Sales enablement is a powerful tool that provides sales with the resources necessary to effectively engage customers
and move them down the sales funnel. In order to make sales enablement more effective, sales and marketing
leadership must take steps to improve communication, alignment, knowledge transfer and understanding between their
organizations. These actions will ensure that marketing develops the sales enablement tools, resources and content
that the sales organization needs.