2014-26-September-Flashlight-Reading.jpgGiven the rise of marketing automation software over the past five years, today's B2B sales funnel is half illuminated and half in the dark. Sales and marketing teams have near-perfect visibility into how leads interact in the top half of the funnel and the insights needed to improve the marketing process, yet they remain blind to how content is supporting sales reps in the bottom half.

Marketing organizations face the same recurring problem: sales collateral heads down a one-way street and often ends up at a dead end. Until now, marketing content has travelled down the sales pipeline only to sit in an enterprise content management system unused. With minimal understanding of what content is most effective at closing deals and accelerating sales, marketing teams have been playing a guessing game.

Overcoming the communication barrier between sales and marketing is a challenge, but tackling it benefits both parties and, ultimately, improves the bottom line. Research from Sirius Decisions shows B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams achieved 24 percent faster revenue growth and 27 percent faster profit growth over three years.

According to research group Forrester, implementing a successful sales enablement program requires working across organizational boundaries and breaking down barriers between departments. The bottom line is that marketing and sales need to work together to execute a strong sales enablement strategy and ensure they’re getting the best results.

Bridging the Gap

To facilitate development, new practices and sales enablement technologies like predictive analytics and solution selling tools are emerging, which aid in illuminating the entire sales funnel. This helps sales and marketing teams shorten the sales cycle and improve win rates. To ensure you have a successful sales enablement rollout you should:

Implement Strong Training

It may seem like a no brainer, but training is essential to the sales process. Make sure that your sales team is properly educated on not only the product they're selling, but also on how to make the best use of the marketing materials they have on hand.

When your reps understand how and when to use marketing materials correctly, they are able to deliver a more personalized and on-brand message in their pitches. Meanwhile, marketing can rest easy knowing that their content is being used correctly throughout the entire sales cycle.

Keep Content Organized

Gone are the days of searching through email and individual desktops for sales assets and presentations. Have one central place where marketing teams upload content and sales teams retrieve it that is accessible on the many access points required in today’s BYOD environment. This not only helps shorten the sales cycle, but also guarantees that reps can easily find the right content for any situation at any time.

Strengthen Communication Between Sales and Marketing

Use new social collaboration and sales enablement technologies to ensure valuable and timely feedback between sales and marketing teams. With instant feedback and analytics marketers now have full visibility into the entire sales funnel. They can see what materials sales teams are using and how successful the materials are with prospects. Without needing to have more meetings (and who wants the answer to any problem to be more meetings?), sales and marketing teams can ensure more targeted content is created and used effectively to shorten the sales cycle and improve win rates.

A happy customer is a repeat customer and a walking advertisement for your organization. Companies that create and execute successful sales enablement strategies are the ones that will spend more face-to-face time with customers and develop long-lasting customer loyalty as a result.

By delivering on these areas, marketing and sales teams put their collective best foot forward to create personalized, one-to-one messaging for prospects and existing customers. In doing so, businesses will enjoy higher profit margins for sustained periods of time.

Title image by dragon_fang (Shutterstock)