Gone are the days when marketing simply fulfilled sales support requests or only engaged potential buyers briefly in early stages before passing the baton to sales.
Today, industrial buyers live online, so your company’s success depends on a seamless marketing and sales journey that creates value at every stage in the industrial buying process.
As an agency partner to industrial companies who don’t always see the importance of a strategic sales and marketing alignment, we often answer questions about the role of sales enablement in a modern industrial company.
To help you take that critical next step to making industrial sales enablement a foundation of your growth strategy, let’s clear the air on some of these common questions.
What exactly is industrial sales enablement?
Industrial sales enablement is a systematic approach to aligning sales and marketing around the customer. This is critical to ensuring potential buyers can easily access the information they need to make an informed decision on whether your company is the right fit. It’s also critical to ensuring your sales team has the resources they need to make the most out of the limited opportunities they have to engage buyers before they decide.
This does not mean every marketer has to become a sales person, or that every sales enablement strategy is just another marketing tactic under a different name. It’s all about creating a collaborative program where sales and marketing join forces to create a consistent communication experience for the customer — both existing and future.
Why is sales enablement important in manufacturing?
According to Gartner research, B2B buyers spend less than 20% of their time meeting with potential suppliers (including your competitors).
Sales enablement isn’t just important to manufacturing; it’s a necessity in today’s digitally-driven buying landscape.
Developing your sales enablement strategy is key to:
- Ensuring your sales team isn’t scrambling for information when a potential buyer has questions or concerns.
- Creating early rapport with a potential buyer via consistent, targeted messaging and valuable sales enablement content.
- Empowering your sales and marketing teams to deliver the right message at every touchpoint in the buying journey.
- Building your company's brand (reputation) to give your sales team a credible foundation to develop qualified leads.
- Providing timely data on how digital marketing efforts are impacting the customer at key stages in the buying process so that sales and marketing can adjust strategies accordingly.
What are some examples of common industrial sales enablement strategies and tactics?
Before diving in, it’s critical to remember that a successful industrial sales enablement program requires a systematic approach that engages every team in a concerted, collaborative effort. This will facilitate a healthy departmental alignment that will strengthen the buying experience for the customer.
While industrial sales enablement is a wide-ranging effort that should be tailored to your company’s unique processes, there are three main initiatives that an effective sales enablement program typically contains:
Sales Enablement Planning
Before you can build or execute your industrial sales enablement strategy, there is critical groundwork to be done to lay out the vision and get the buy-in you need across the organization.
Setting the stage with sales enablement planning may include:
- Goals & groundwork: There has to be a plan in place to roll out your sales enablement program successfully. Start by identifying key stakeholders, conduct a needs assessment to determine where the current gaps exist in your sales process, and collaborate on setting overall goals and objectives so you can measure success.
- Industrial sales & marketing alignment: You can’t create a more customer-centric buying experience if marketing and sales aren’t strategically aligned. This is fundamental to a successful sales enablement plan, so spend the necessary time to cultivate a healthy departmental alignment, starting with defining KPIs to help teams stay accountable to your objectives, ensuring sales and marketing resources are easily accessible to all stakeholders, and integrating key sales and marketing systems to ensure data is transparent and actionable.
- Rollout & training: To gain buy-in, sales and marketing need to understand why sales enablement is critical to your organization. But, to ensure they not only adopt the program, but also succeed at executing it, it’s important to define and communicate expectations early and often, and to develop a strategic training process that considers both initial onboarding and ongoing education as the program evolves.
Sales Enablement Technology
The early bird gets the worm. Integrating tech systems as you develop your sales enablement program will provide sales and marketing with more timely access to data that they can leverage to drive leads and sales.
Consider adding these key technologies to your sales enablement arsenal:
- CRM implementation: Make CRM your operational hub for successful sales enablement by storing content and training documentation. This will help foster collaboration and continued adoption, provide easy access to critical customer data when it matters most, and give you a foundation for integrating key systems to increase the visibility of the customer journey across your organization.
- Marketing automation: Coordinating marketing activities in an automation platform that integrates with your CRM ensures that marketing and sales are aligned and empowered to focus their energy on the efforts that are driving growth.
- Sales content personalization: Cut through the competitive noise with personalized, responsive content that speaks directly to your buyers. This is critical today more than ever, especially so now that industrial buyers expect content from suppliers that makes the buying process easier.
Sales Enablement Content
If your content doesn’t reach every point of the buying journey, you’ve lost a customer before you’ve had a chance to deliver your message.
To get the most bang for your content buck, consider:
- Map your industrial buyer journey: Define personas and study how they move through the journey to develop content that resonates.
- Plan your content approach: Audit and leverage your existing content, explore new opportunities, and empower sales to create aligned content.
- Give sales the content they need: Equip sales with content they can easily access when and where they need it.
What is the difference between industrial sales enablement and industrial sales operations?
Traditional industrial sales operations often function in “silos,” which means your sales team is probably missing opportunities to create value at key steps in the buyer journey. Breaking down these communication barriers requires marketing and sales to interact, empathize, and learn from each other to strengthen the buying experience.
How do I get started with industrial sales enablement?
Not sure how to start your sales enablement journey? We’ve helped hundreds of industrial sales and marketing teams transition to a modern approach and meet the sales challenges of today and tomorrow.
We can help you equip your sales team with the tools and expertise they need to reach more qualified leads and close more deals.