In this episode of B2B Nation, we talk to Georgia Watson, an award-winning sales enablement expert from IBM, and Aimee Dunn, who handles the sales enablement function here at TechnologyAdvice.
Our conversation touches on the essential skills for sales enablement, whether it matters where the sales enablement function resides and the importance of marketing and sales enablement alignment.
Sales enablement roles can vary significantly from one organization to another. The role can sit on different teams, such as marketing or sales, or it can stand on its own. Sales enablement pros can come from varied backgrounds, such as learning and development, sales or marketing.
The core responsibility of sales enablement, however, is often the same: to ensure B2B sales teams understand the often complex products they sell, the value proposition for prospects and how the products help customers meet challenges and reach their goals.
Georgia Watson: As enablement and marketing, we’re both support functions and we’re supporting revenue for our business and we’re helping our clients be successful. And if you think about the resources that go into delivering a marketing campaign, why would you not want to make sure that your sales folks who are following up on any identified opportunities are the best equipped to make sure every single lead that you’ve identified is taken to a positive outcome?
You know, I think historically, we’ve seen marketing activities where we’ve seen big investment and the events are amazing and a heap of leads come in, but if the sellers don’t have the right skills to really help progress that conversation with the customers, it kind of falls dead. So we have to work together to make sure we’re really capitalizing on these types of opportunities.
So recently, I’ve had a big focus on increasing social selling expertise, with the pandemic and the change with everyone working and selling remotely. So we had a lot of effort around boosting salespeople’s expertise in this area. So last year, like many organizations, in IBM we had a massive increase in our focus on boosting our sales team’s ability to sell socially. As part of a campaign that we delivered for IBM in MIddle East and Africa, actively supporting our teams and giving them guidance on how to use their social media networks to support them in their selling.
Why would you not involve marketing in those kinds of activities? To support the campaigns they have underway and help give broader reaches to the messages that are going out there from a marketing perspective and make sure it’s aligned. From a brand perspective, where you do have this alignment with the messages that are going out, from the sales folks and also from marketing, it really helps strengthen the brand.
Aimee Dunn: How do you envision that starting? Is it more on the marketing side to have those ideas and plans in place and sales enablement to join in and support those efforts and train on those efforts? Is that how you envision it?
Georgia Watson: I think it’s very much a two-way street. I think both marketing and enablement have responsibility here to make sure this kind of joint effort really works. And it really needs to be done at a planning level as well.
I’ve worked in enablement functions sitting both within marketing and within the business and I must say, when I was working in functions that sat within marketing, it was easier somehow to make those connections because we had the same leaders and the same boss. We were always working toward the same targets and objectives. When perhaps enablement is sitting in the business, it takes a little more effort to make those connections happen. But I think it’s really important and where it does happen it really does lead to positive outcomes.