I’m wondering if it’s time to take sales enablement away from marketing.
What do I mean by sales enablement? I heard a great definition from my former ITSMA colleague Jeff Sands the other day: Sales enablement is helping salespeople be more credible with customers.
We all know how sales enablement got started in B2B. Marketers helped salespeople put words to the insanely complex products and services they were trying to sell.
Sales enablement used to mean brochures
These words, mostly in the form of brochures, specification sheets, and boilerplate PowerPoint slides, helped salespeople—especially those new to the company—get a conversation going with prospects.
But then the internet came along.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to say, “and then everything changed,” because it didn’t. From what I can tell, the internet didn’t disrupt the basic model for the sales enablement process; it just moved much of it online. Salespeople remained dependent on marketers for information. The internet didn’t make it easy for them to enable each other. Knowledge management systems, for example, were difficult to use and difficult to keep up to date. Salespeople mostly ignored them.
Social media changes sales enablement
But then social media came along and it really did change everything. Salespeople are becoming heavy users of social media, and it takes less than a minute to set up an internal-only micro blogging network, wiki, or online community for them to share their own words with each other.
I know what you’re thinking: when it comes to anything besides selling, salespeople have the attention spans of gnats. They’ll never set up one of these things themselves much less contribute to it.
The link between sharing and fatter bonuses
If they don’t it’s because they don’t see the link between sharing information and fatter bonus checks. Yet as more salespeople start using social media, the link will become more obvious. Sharing information in a way that doesn’t overly sap productivity (hard to do before social media came along) raises all boats. Aberdeen Research has found that salespeople that share information with each other make more money than those that don’t. That same report also found that salespeople that coached one another also made more money.
Who should own the process?
So my question is, now that the center of gravity is shifting from content (brochures, specification sheets, etc.) to conversation (tips on handling an account, coaching videos from sales peers and external experts, etc.) should responsibility for all this stuff remain with marketing? If so, why?
I’d really like to know what you think.