Have you ever been told that the inbound leads you delivered are junk?
If you’re a marketer (whether at an agency, a contractor, or in-house), it is unlikely that your client or manager will take your side. They’ll be on the side of the sales team, even if they may not be doing a good job closing your leads.
But there is hope…
If you want inbound marketing to work you need to align with your sales team. You have to make sure inbound leads get closed and become customers. And the only way to do it is to become a part of the process. You must track, evaluate, and participate in the entire funnel to prove the value of your leads and there is no way around it.
How do you do it?
Start offering sales enablement as a part of your services.
What is sales enablement and how do you get in?
Sales enablement is a new category that has a bunch of vague descriptions.
“The processes, practices, technologies, and tools that improve the performance and productivity of the sales organization.”Demand Metric
To me, sales enablement is as crucial to organizing a sales process as phones, Diet Coke, and salespeople.
Most of sales enablement is owned by the sales leader. He or she is the ultimate decision maker and the best access point when it comes to information about CRM tools, sales rep onboarding, and closing processes. You’ve got to become buddies with the sales leader and understand their motivations and needs for every step of the funnel.
The bottom line is that you need to understand what happens with your leads once they get into a CRM and align on that subsequent process with the head of sales. You must have full visibility into the funnel so that you can have the best possible impact.
Content dictatorship: help create high-converting content
The first step of getting into sales enablement is to start owning and managing sales content. Let’s assume you’re a kick-ass inbound marketer and you’ve already built a bunch of wonderful content for a client or even for public marketing use. For example, client testimonials, case studies, white papers, data sheets, infographics, etc. But that content is typically only used on websites to get leads, not to close them.
When it gets to the bottom of the funnel, sales reps send terrible faceless quotes and/or contracts. Plain text-only PDF quotes or contracts are compared side-by-side to comprehensive, media-rich proposals delivered by competitors and… the deal is lost.
And, of course, sales reps blame the loss on the “low-quality” inbound lead.
Don’t let that happen!
Ask for feedback and suggestions on what information clients request the most, and create polished, high-converting content for the bottom of the funnel. You should be a dictator and require that the salespeople use your content in all their deals, but if you’re doing a good job, it won’t take too much to convince them. If your content produces results and impresses clients, the salespeople will go out of their way to make sure they use your collateral every time.
Make it easy for them by building a content library of professional, on-brand client testimonials, case studies, product data sheets, etc. There are a few products on the market that allow you to create content and let the reps just drag and drop relevant content in their proposals, but I’ll only advertise mine because it’s the most comprehensive: PandaDoc.
At the end of the day, you’ll deliver real value by “forcing” sales to send on-brand, effective proposals instead of plain quotes or dry, legal contracts.
Sales ops: provide quantitative and operational value
By helping with the implementation of sales automation tools and optimizing the sales funnel, you can help generate additional revenue and make your sales leaders start to take you more seriously (AKA really “like” you). You’ll be providing value and at the same time, familiarizing yourself with the tools, metrics, and processes used by the sales team so that you can easily track how well your leads are actually doing.
Do keep in mind though that sales ops is an area that the sales leaders are supposed to own. Softly advise them on different options, show them the clear financial advantage, build trust, but trust their expertise and overall strategy in order to help them be more successful.
Polishing the playbook
Once you’ve built some trust and you’re well within the sales leader’s good graces, you should tackle their sales playbook, which you can help to build or polish. Creating and editing a playbook is a half-marketing, half-sales exercise that will help to accomplish two things: align you and client’s sales leader even more, and make sure messaging is consistent from the top to the bottom of the funnel.
I recommend using something like Google Docs for the playbook because things like demo scripts, feature specifications, and onboarding instructions are going to constantly change. Use Google Doc comments, suggestions, and version control to help to save a tremendous amount of time for all involved parties.
At the end of the day let’s not forget what this is all about: making money. The more value you create in the form of closed deals, the more they will value your work. They’ll be able to measure your effect in a more tangible way once you are directly involved in revenue making, not “junk leads” making. Getting into the sales enablement game, especially as an agency, will not only increase the length of your contracts but will also increase your average monthly retainer.
Even as an in-house marketer, you’ll become irreplaceable and have less stress dealing with management and the sales team. Try it and share your story in the comments on this post.