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John Jantsch: Marketing has never needed sales more and frankly, sales people have never needed marketing more than they do today. In this connected world, where people can find out whatever they need to find out, do they really need sales people? In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, we talk with Pam Didner. We’re going to talk about effective sales enablement, collaboration, getting marketing and sales together. Check it out.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Pam Didner. She is a content marketer, author, speaker, and has a new book called Effective Sales Enablement: Achieve Sales Growth Through Collaborative Sales and Marketing. So Pam, thanks for joining me.
Pam Didner: My pleasure. And you are based in Kansas city?
John Jantsch: I am in Kansas City, Missouri.
Pam Didner: How is the weather today?
John Jantsch: It’s beautiful today. Well, I don’t know, it’s actually, summer’s hanging on a little longer than I’d like to do. It’s about 90 and humid.
Pam Didner: Oh my gosh.
John Jantsch: So, we’re waiting for that first fall cool weather to break.
Pam Didner: It’s coming. It is coming.
John Jantsch: All right, so let’s define the term sales enablement. That’s one of those terms that I bet you could get a whole bunch of people that define it in different ways. So what’s your definition of sales enablement?
Pam Didner: Yeah. In general, if you talk to anybody in sales anywhere in the world, they tend to define that it’s related to sales development and sales training. But for folks who are listening, if you actually look for a sales enablement definition, it’s usually related to development and the training of a sales team.
And my book was written from a marketer’s perspective. Interestingly enough, I was never a sales person, but I have done multiple different jobs supporting indirect sales, and also the sales team. And I feel that there are things that marketing can do to actually support sales.
So the way I defined sales enablement for my book is to deliver a positive customer experience by equipping sales with knowledge, skills, processes, and tools, through cross functional collaborations, obviously that’s between sales and marketing, in order to increase sales velocity, sales retention, and also productivity.
It’s a little bit long, but if you’re thinking about the purchasing cycle in the continuum, obviously via time we’ll pass the baton from the marketing to a sales team. At the end of the day, we want to make sure we deliver that seamless customer experience.
John Jantsch: That’s interesting. I have a little history with this. I actually wrote a book called Duct Tape Selling. The sub title is Think Like A Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar. I was actually writing to sales people saying, “Hey, you need to start acting more like marketers.” So maybe a little bit similar.
Here’s what I kept hearing from people when I’d go out and speak about this. That’s great, but sales and marketing have different goals, different priorities, different support systems, they’re even compensated differently. That was the pushback of hey, how do we get these guys together? So what have you found, how have you found, because I’m sure you’ve heard that same thing?
Pam Didner: Yeah. You are totally right. It’s interesting enough that sales and marketing work in the same company. They even have the same business goal. Drive revenue. But they always have some sort of a misalignment, and I think a lot of the misalignment has to do with two things. First one is long term versus short term, right? If you talk about sales people, they have to meet quota every single quarter. Then if you talk to the marketers, they are building a brand awareness. Obviously it’s a much longer term beyond just one quarter.
Another thing is the top of the funnel versus the bottom of the funnel, because the marketers tend to focus on the demand end, especially in the very beginning of the purchase funnel, and also building the brand awareness. Again, that’s on the top of the funnel as well. But if you talk to sales people, they tend to focus on the bottom of the funnel, right? They want to drive conversion, they want to drive the sales closure.
That also cause a little bit of the misalignment between the sales and marketing. With these short term versus long term, top of the funnel versus bottom of the funnel priorities, that obviously have a huge impact on the resource and the budget allocation when you move down to a technical level.
The way that I see that both sales and marketing work together, is you need to find some sort of commonalities within the misalignment. One of the great way to actually drive that is account based marketing. Obviously, especially for the technology and the complex sales, that they are specific accounts the sales people go after. And account based selling is nothing new, but what about working also with the marketing people to tailor and customize some of the marketing campaigns and outreach for a specific account. That’s just one example, if you will. It’s looking for commonality within misalignment. I think that will be the first step to do.
John Jantsch: Okay, here’s the really tough question to get us both in trouble. In that description, and in the traditional sense, do we even need the sales function anymore, then?
Pam Didner: That’s actually a very good question. I still think sales function is absolutely necessary, and I am a marketer. I never can qualify myself as a sales person. And I think marketers need to think that the sales is just another marketing channel, and sales people need to think that marketing is another hidden sales force. Does that make sense? They complement each other in a way, and I loved supporting my sales people when I was in the corporate world. But I don’t think I can do their job. I still think that sales people provide a huge amount of value, and to bring the revenue actually to the company. I don’t think marketing can actually take that 100%.
John Jantsch: [inaudible] always described the difference between sales and marketing is that marketing controlled the message and sales typically controlled the client relationship, and was much closer to the client. How do we get marketing closer to the client?
Pam Didner: I think there are multiple ways to do that, but before I talk about that, John, you brought a very good point. Traditionally, marketing tend to focus on messaging and sales focus on client relationship. With the rise of digital, especially in social media, don’t you think that marketing is actually doing some of the customer services? And also managing the client relationship, right? Because you have to talk to the customers and it’s no longer just one way communication, it’s actually a two way communication. So I actually see the modern marketers are taking on some of the client relationship on its own, naturally, just because of digital technology. That’s one way I’m looking at it.
John Jantsch: Not to mention the data that we now have. I think that the segmenting is better, personalization of content is better, and so I think all of those elements have … I think a lot of people are missing the boat by not using those elements to get closer as well.
Pam Didner: Yes. You are totally right. Leveraging data is actually a great competitive advantage, if you will. Unfortunately, to be honest with you, my generation, probably along with yours, we kind of grew up with traditional marketing. So data, looking at data day in and day out is not necessarily what traditional marketers do. I have to intentionally learn, and make an effort to do that. I agree with you that something, especially probably for the millennials that come into the workforce, that will come naturally to them. But at least for the existing workforce that’s currently in the marketing field, this is something that we still have to learn. Does that make sense? But I do agree with you 100%.
John Jantsch: What does today’s, I mean I made my comment earlier about do we even need a sales function, and I agree with you. I was actually just opening that up for, so a lot of sales people listening can say, “How dare you?”
Pam Didner: Yeah, John. How dare you?
John Jantsch: What does today’s sales person need from marketing, though, so that they are relevant?
Pam Didner: I think there are multiple things that the sales team needs. In the past, I think sales people can be a super hero. They can do a lot of client relationship, accelerating the purchase funnel on their own. But in the current modern world, you need a team to support you. You cannot do anything on your own anymore, if you think about it. I think the marketing team can be the back end to actually support a sales team, and there’s multiple ways that the marketing team can do, right?
In addition to give the sales people MQL, which is marketing qualified leads, marketing people have done email marketing inside out. They probably know how to optimize that, and I know a lot of sales people do many email marketing campaigns on their own for their prospects. So getting the tips and tricks from the marketers doesn’t hurt.
And social media, obviously, marketing people are pretty much on the front of that. Again, tips and tricks and teaching sales people how to do that better doesn’t hurt.
Social selling is related in terms of how to do research of your prospect on LinkedIn, on social media, and using the hash tag, and what of and keyword search. How do you use keyword search, how do you use hashtag properly? Again, marketers can provide some help. On top of that, there’s a lot of messaging, even content, that marketers create.
If you think about it and try to map the customer journey along with the sales processes and also methodology, there may be some content on the marketing side that can also be used on the sales side. If it cannot be used, obviously it can be modified and customized in certain way. So the content sharing between sales and marketing is another way that marketing can contribute.
And the last one, if you will John, a lot of the stuff that marketing people are doing can easily be part of a sales on boarding, and so is training. How to do social selling better, how to actually do research better online. All this can be part of the on boarding training and continuous training of the sales people. So there are multiple ways that marketers can contribute. I’m just sharing with you several examples.
John Jantsch: Now, one of the things that I’ve encountered in talking to a lot of sales people over particularly the last five to seven years, is that some of them got tired of waiting for the company, for the company culture, to shift and bring sales and marketing together. A lot of very successful sales people have said I’m just going to go out and build my own reputation. I’m going to blog, I’m going to participate in social media, I’m going to get speaking at maybe regional conferences where my customers might be there. In your opinion, should companies go as far as elevating their sales people in those veins?
Pam Didner: I think it’s actually good, but there’s a couple of things I want to address. If you are actually in a small business or, I would say, a mid size company, and having sales people speak and talk about the brand, is probably not their thing. You want everybody to talk about your brand and also your product, and you become a brand ambassador or your company’s ambassador to promote your products and services.
However, in the bigger enterprises that be hundreds or thousands of a sales force, they usually have a policy and also processing place to do that, and you need to understand your corporate policy and make sure there’s no code of conduct violations, or whatnot. Right? And if you actually go out and talk about your products, sometimes you have to use examples. And say if you talk about specific accounts, will the other accounts be mad that you didn’t mention them?
So there is always a fine line in terms of should you do that or not? My recommendation is always look at your corporate policy and check with your senior management, especially VP of sales. Some of them welcome that, some of them feel, you know what, you should not do that and you should use your time more effectively making calls. So that’s when-
John Jantsch: “Those idiots in marketing aren’t sending me any good leads!” I can hear people screaming that.
Pam Didner: Yeah. This is something that, you’ve got a good point, John. From my perspective, if that’s the case there should be a very honest conversation between sales and marketing. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have a come to Jesus meeting. You know what I’m saying? And the sales people need to be very frank and say I’m doing all this because you are not giving me stuff. And now, what can we do or what can you do, to actually help us out?
So I think at the end of the day, it’s the service level agreement that needs to be finalized and also communicated, so sales can do their jobs. But if they feel that being a brand ambassador or company’s ambassador that can get them leads, I don’t know. It may not be a bad thing. What do you think, John?
John Jantsch: I’m a big fan of it, but I do know that it’s like everything, it’s fraught with land mines as well, potentially, when you’ve got shareholders and things to consider. But in the small business, which quite frankly, I have a lot of small business owners as listeners, and I think that they should find ways to … If I was considering making a purchase and the sales person from one company was speaking at a conference I was attending, and the other people were just sending me brochures, to me that would be a great competitive advantage. But again, it’s probably individual considerations.
Pam Didner: I do agree. And individual company considerations, yes, absolutely.
John Jantsch: Absolutely. I’ve always said that one of the best sources of lead generation is happy customers, and a lot of companies are investing pretty significantly in customer experience and service. So how could a comamonas use that investment as a way to help sales?
Pam Didner: You’re talking about customer services, right? You’re talking about wholesales, specifically? I just want to be-
John Jantsch: The kind of stuff that would generate raving fans and referrals, and things like that.
Pam Didner: Yeah, I totally agree that customer service or the post sales experience is incredibly critical, and this is so true, so true for technology companies or SaaS based products, because when you offer any kind of SaaS based products, there’s always a learning curve, right, that the user has to go through to get familiar or get competent and efficient with your tools.
The post sales is very critical in terms of getting cross sales and also up sales in the future. And fortunately, the customer service department is not a necessary part of the sales team or part of the marketing team. They tend to be a team of its own. What I have come to realize, especially working in the marketing side of things, at the end of my job in the corporate world, I got a chance to actually work with the customer service team, because understanding what kind of questions they ask actually helped me to determine what kind of content I should create. Does that make sense?
We also feed that kind of information back to the product team. So when they created next version or next generation of their product, some of the features can be incorporated. On top of that, some of the key learnings or the questions that were asked as part of the customer service team, we tried to feed into a sales team so they can get kind of like first hand information and just give them a heads up that when they implement certain tools, there’s a couple glitches they may encounter, and the sales people can prep their contacts.
It’s interesting how customer service in the past tends to be a division of its own. Now a lot of the data they collected, and John you mentioned how important data is, that is feeding back to the marketing for the content creation, and feeding back to the sales team to improve their client relationship, and even the product development. So I think it’s very critical to actually have that relationship with the customer service team as a marketer.
John Jantsch: So if we are going to have effective sales enablement, what does the new sales-marketing-service team look like? Does it have to fundamentally be changed in how we structure that in organizations?
Pam Didner: That’s actually a good question. In an enterprise, it’s almost impossible, right, to change the organizational structure and the sales team and the marketing team will continue to actually have their differences. I don’t think we can overcome that overnight, per se. And the way that I recommend it in my book is, you need to take some baby steps. If there’s a huge or there’s a big gap between the sales and marketing, is it possible you could find some sort of commonality and start it with small initiatives, for example.
The second thing is, if there’s already some sort of misalignment but can you make that alignment even closer and drive multiple different joint initiatives together? I don’t think the two circles will completely overlap, and my recommendation is make an effort to align as much as possible, but be aware that the sales and the marketing team always have different goals.
John Jantsch: But you know what? Get somebody from marketing and go get them in the car, and go call on some accounts with them.
Pam Didner: Actually, I do agree with you, and that’s one of my recommendations in terms of trying to understand sales processes and sales methodologies is to shadow the sales person for a day or for a week. If nothing else, they can get a sense of the pain of the sales people for the continuous rejections. But yes, it is very important to actually try to understand sales issues and concerns in order to better support them.
John Jantsch: Speaking with Pam Didner, author of Effective Sales Enablement. Pam, where can people find out more about you and your work and your book?
Pam Didner: Excellent questions. You can always google Pam Didner, D-I-D-N-E-R. And I also have my own website, pamdidner.com. Just go there, check it out, I blog and I also have a podcast, Seven Minute Marketing With Pam, and the book Effective Sales Enablement will be launched on October 3 in the UK, and on October 23 in the US. And you can obviously pre order on Amazon. The things I really want to share with your audience is that if you purchase my book, and you read the book, and you discover absolutely nothing, nothing usable in the book, schedule a call with me. More than happy to actually help you out. Tell me your challenges, I will see what I can do.
John Jantsch: Awesome. That’s about as good a guarantee as you’re going to get from an author, so Pam, thanks for making that offer and we will obviously have links to everything in the show notes when you check this out, so Pam, thanks for joining us. Maybe we’ll catch up with you out there on the road sometime soon.
Pam Didner: My pleasure. Thank you so much.