In an ideal world, sales and marketing work together like a well-oiled machine. Marketing delivers a constant pipeline of high-quality leads, sales follow up on these leads within 24 hours and the teams consistently smash their quarterly KPIs and revenue goals.
However, more often than not, proper sales and marketing alignment is much more difficult to achieve. Marketing is focused on filling the top of the funnel but lacks visibility over what happens to them after they are handed over to sales. Meanwhile, the sales team is overwhelmed with notifications and tasks, making prioritisation a constant uphill battle.
A strategic approach to b2b sales enablement can help organisations plug the gap and get sales and marketing teams working together towards shared commercial goals. When designed well, sales enablement is an extension of your marketing strategy and provides your sales team with the processes, technology and content it needs to sell more efficiently and at higher velocity. In fact, sales enablement can contribute to a 14% overall increase in annual contract values and deal size!
And while such a massive increase in revenue should be convincing enough to make b2b sales enablement a priority in your business, there are a few tell-tale signs that you have some gaps in your sales and marketing processes.
Sign #1: Your sales team treats all MQLs the same
Lifecycle stages tell us at a glance where a contact is in their buyer journey. But that doesn’t mean that everyone arrived at this point on the same path - and this can be a big issue when leads are handed over to sales. Which is usually when they have become a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
MQLs can be generated through direct demos or contact requests by a prospect or, more indirectly through lead scoring in your marketing automation system and triggered by interactions with content on your website.
As you can imagine, starting a sales conversation after someone has explicitly asked for one is significantly easier than reaching out to someone who’s just been doing a bit of research on your website. Consequently, MQLs that arrive in your sales team's task list via different paths need to have a different nurture and engagement approach. Treating every MQL equally is a recipe for frustration for your sales team and potential customers.
Sign #2: KPIs and tools are siloed in departments
Having different KPIs and tools for each team or department is pretty common. Traditionally, marketing is responsible for generating top- and middle-of-funnel leads. Then they are handed over to sales to convert them into customers. The process sounds pretty simple in theory but is a lot harder in practice.
More often than not, marketing systems and CRMs are not properly integrated, meaning that marketing gets limited or no feedback at all about the leads it generates. This makes it almost impossible to optimise campaign targeting. On the flip side, if sales keep getting leads from marketing that aren’t really qualified, they will likely stop following them up altogether and just stick to their own prospecting.
Having shared KPIs is the first step to working towards better alignment between both teams. It’s also a good starting point for developing clearer processes and expectations around lead follow-up and lead hand back.
Sign #3: You’re becoming more marketing-driven
Another telling sign that you need sales enablement is if you’re traditionally a sales-driven b2b company and are now shifting to a marketing-led approach.
And so, you might begin to transform marketing processes and ramp up production. But then you’ll start to see that your sales functions actually need to change as well, calling for greater alignment across both teams (see sign #2).
Sign #4: Your organisation is going through a big transformation
Sales enablement also becomes crucial when your organisation goes through a bigger transformation. For example, if you’re moving from a fairly transactional product to something that is more solutions-driven and requires a consultative approach to sales. Sales enablement will help you achieve joined sales and marketing goals to increase net new revenue and sell more to existing customers.
Setting the right KPIs
As mentioned, shared KPIs are the crux for good sales and marketing alignment. Here are some KPIs we recommend tracking:
⭐ MQLs - These are your leads showing signs of buying intent, either through demo/contact form requests or lead scoring. They are important indicators of how well your top-of-funnel approach is working.
🎯 SQLs - This is essentially an MQL your sales team has deemed ready for further pursuit. Knowing your MQL to SQL conversion rate helps you ensure you’re generating the right kind of leads.
💵 Cost per lead - This one is pretty straightforward: your total marketing spend divided by the number of leads generated within the same period. While this metric is important, it’s most useful for understanding how effective your marketing efforts are in generating new leads. So, you need to be able to attribute leads to marketing channels or campaigns in order to guide them along the customer journey and hopefully convert.
🏆 Cost per opportunity - This KPI is for counting the SQL opportunities and is calculated similarly to cost per lead. The key difference here is that these opportunities are more likely to lead to conversions. Hence, it’s a good idea to compare the two to help assess the overall quality of your leads coming through.
🤝 Customer retention - This indicates how well your business can retain customers over time. So, if one marketing approach or channel tends to attract repeat customers, they’re avenues worth pursuing. This metric effectively shows where you tend to lose customers so you can make changes accordingly.
💸 Customer acquisition cost - This is the overall cost to bring in a new customer. Having visibility across your marketing and sales teams will highlight the most profitable routes to convert.
Marketing ROI - While this is an obvious KPI for marketing teams, it’s not often easy to link sales back to marketing efforts which can muddy the real marketing ROI. This is another important area where marketing attribution can provide clarity and help link closed deals and sales back to marketing.
💰 Revenue - An obvious metric but a necessary one in helping you identify targets for the future and highlight growth opportunities. This is an important shared KPI for sales and marketing as both functions work towards bringing in new business.
👻 Ghosting rate - Not the official term for it but an appropriate one nonetheless. It’s a good idea to record the number of prospects you never hear back from. Take this one step further and find out why you might be getting ghosted. For example, you can send out an incentivised survey to get more intel from the ones that left you hanging, to find out why you never hear back from them.
Select the right technology to support your b2b sales enablement strategy
It’s crucial to choose the right tools that will help your team throughout the sales process rather than weigh them down. In our experience, having one tool that can do it all and has a range of scalable integrations is the best option.
For us, Hubspot CRM works a treat! It has really useful task management capabilities and lets you have separate queues for separate leads. So, for example, you could have a standalone task queue for your open deals and highest-priority MQLs, and then you can easily sort them through the different stages of the sales funnel. Systematically working through different tasks enables your sales reps to stay on top of everything and take the appropriate actions for the right leads. Here are some other HubSpot CRM features that we rate highly:
- The Vidyard integration lets you send a video to a prospect with your typical sales spiel. Presenting your sales pitch in a video format will help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate that you’re actually putting in the effort to make your prospect feel special.
- The quoting tool is pretty useful too because it connects directly to deals. So, as soon as a quote is signed and a deal is closed, it updates all your forecasting, making the process way more seamless.
- Chatspot is something that we’re particularly excited about at the moment. Using generative AI, it helps find relevant things in the database, implement a task to follow up on a new contact, draft a sales email in natural language - even create reports inside HubSpot CRM. It’s really the closest thing to magic.
To learn more about how you can maximise your marketing potential with an effective b2b sales enablement strategy, get in touch with us here.
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