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Are preconceptions killing your sales enablement assets?

Be honest. How confident are you that Sales make the best use of all those assets you lovingly produce?

Closing the deal takes a great deal of effort and the difference between success and failure is marginal.

So, what can marketers do to improve the odds?

It’s heartbreaking when expensive sales enablement assets go unused − or you end up hearing that Sales have actually been creating their own stuff.

Quite aside from the effort you went to, think about the wasted budget. Missed opportunities. Plummeting ROI.

It’s not ideal.

And the frustrating thing is: you took the time to ask them what they wanted, and still they didn’t use it. But, actually, there’s your problem.

DON’T ask what they WANT.

Creating great sales enablement assets is difficult. Not because of the creative challenge, but because of the communication challenge.

Ask the sales force what they want, and that is where you hit the wall.

Sales people aren’t marketing experts, they don’t know what can be created, all they know is what has been created or at best what they have seen… so you miss the chance to create something original and compelling, and end up with a re−hash of what has been done before.

The second issue is that sales and marketing people speak − and think − in a different language to achieve the same aims. It’s a little like Sales are from Venus and Marketing are from Mars.

As marketers we need to learn to ask the right questions − and we need to interpret the answers to produce effective results.

The right questions do not include “What do you want?”

DO find out what they NEED.

As marketers, we have to discover what is needed at each critical points in the process of closing down deals. And that means establishing effective communication with sales.

Spend time with them. 80% of communication is non−verbal, so is a quick email really going to help you get under the skin of what they do, the issues and challenges they face with each prospect? Probably not.

Remember: sales enablement has a certain place in the buying cycle. It isn’t the beginning of a sales conversation, it isn’t lead generation or brand building so marketing assets need to be specific to that moment and that point of anxiety, transforming that doubt into a feeling of confidence. Nothing more.

When you’re almost uncomfortable with some of the messages you’re leaving out, you’re probably on the right track.

Leave any preconceptions at the door.

You need to understand and trust the sales force when they tell you a task has been done, a message was delivered, a box ticked.

At this point in the cycle, your sole marketing objective is enabling the sales team to close the deal. And to do that they might need things from you that don’t even look or sound like marketing materials.

If you can focus on “What do you need to achieve?” or “What hurdle do you need to get over, here?” then you might discover the best solution is a ‘how−to’ document, or an explanatory video, or something else entirely.

As long as it’s truly ‘needs−based’ it has a greater chance of being used − successfully.

One thing is for certain. Get sales enablement right and it will build trust and respect between the two departments − and that’s the foundation of a formidable selling machine.