This article is part of our “Channel Marketing series” – with tools, tips and tutorials to help you create and manage an effective channel partner program. Click here to see more articles from this series.
I had the opportunity to speak with Gerard Sample, founder of Third Wave Interactive last week. Gerard is an interesting guy with solid background in sales enablement for enterprise technology. His has taken his sales enablement expertise and founded his company to help other businesses nationwide with sales enablement.
Sales enablement, like marketing, is a term with a broad range of meaning. For some organizations, particularly sales enablement software companies, the term addresses the specific gap in the flow of prospect data from marketing automation to the CRM program.
For sales enablement practitioners like Sample, the term includes a broader range of the marketing-sales continuum, starting from deep inside the marketing automation process all the way through the sales process. According to Sample, and based on my experience I agree, that “today’s B2B sales professional has access to a massive arsenal of information, applications and engagement tools that directly enhance their ability to engage with prospective and current customers.” At the same time buyers have access to the same content which allows them to evaluate multiple solutions, pre-qualify vendors and progress towards a purchase decision more efficiently. This “educated’ buyer may now see the function of the traditional “solutions selling” professional as a lower value. A common fact, used by inbound marketers as well as sales force enablement folks, is that 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier.
As the options expand for tracking the buyer’s journey from Top of Funnel (TOFU) prospect through to the closed sale, the task of doing so becomes at times dizzyingly complex. Professionals such as Gerard Sample can guide the marketing and sales teams to create effective paths to using technology and tools, to shorten sales cycles and improve results.
The question now becomes how can we leverage the sales force enablement lessons through to the channel marketing process. What tools does a channel marketing director provide to the channel to facilitate their insight into the buyer’s journey and enable a smooth, efficient process toward a close.