Product marketing and sales enablement teams share an ultimate goal: to help sales teams sell more. Each team has an important role in driving revenue.
Product Marketing focuses on developing content assets for the sales team to use throughout the buyer journey, and Sales Enablement ensures reps know how and when to use that content to deliver great buyer experiences and close more deals.
At successful organizations, Product Marketing and Sales Enablement act as each other's extension. That level of collaboration and alignment improves the effectiveness of each team, in turn ensuring the sales team is well equipped to grow revenue.
However, in many organizations, Product Marketing and Sales Enablement still have a ways to go before they master collaboration. Often, they plan and execute in silos, with misaligned strategies and competing priorities. As a result, neither team is as effective as it could be, and sellers don't have what they need to become trusted advisers to their prospects and customers.
The Negative Effects of Misalignment
When Product Marketing and Sales Enablement operate independently, there's bound to be conflict and misalignment. How does that affect organizations?
For starters, without a cohesive strategy, the two teams would push out conflicting information to Sales and tripping over each other. That can be downright confusing for sellers, making it difficult for them to determine where to best focus their attention.
If, for example, Sales Enablement acts as a filter for communication with Sales, Product Marketing may struggle to disseminate helpful and timely information and content to sellers. And if Product Marketing circumvents Sales Enablement by distributing content itself, sellers may not understand how or when to effectively use that content.
In addition, misalignment between the two teams leads to ineffective content. Product marketers know the ins and outs of a company's offerings and work hard to produce content that helps move deals forward. On the other hand, sales enablement teams, which spend a large chunk of their time with Sales, have a clear understanding of what reps are hearing in the field; they've got plenty of valuable insights into what is (and isn't working) for sellers and buyers.
When the two teams aren't aligned, Product Marketing produces content it thinks is helpful. But that content might not ever be used; or, even when it is used, it doesn't necessarily help deals progress. In addition, misalignment can lead to content gaps, which leaves reps without the content they need in certain selling scenarios.
For example, sellers may frequently encounter the same objection from buyers during a certain stage of the purchase journey—but not have content to effectively address it. Or sales reps may be reaching out to prospects in a new industry and so they require content addressing the specific needs of that sector. Without effective collaboration, however, Product Marketing may not even know those gaps exist.
Inefficient content (or content that's difficult to find) can significantly slow down deals—or even kill them completely. In addition, if reps can't find the content they need to move a deal forward, they often take matters into their own hands.
According to a recent Forrester report, two-thirds of sellers say they spend up to 10 hours per week modifying marketing content before using it with customers. That takes time away from reps who should be spent selling, not creating or modifying content, and it puts organizations at risk. Content created by reps may contain inaccurate information and might be off-brand, which can harm an organization's reputation. Companies in highly regulated industries even risk running into compliance issues and fines when their reps create their own content.
Five Ways to Improve Alignment of Product Marketing and Sales Enablement Teams
Collaboration between Product Marketing and Sales Enablement is a win-win for both teams—as well as the organization as a whole.
Here are five practical actions you can take to improve alignment between these two teams—and, in doing so, boost revenue growth.
1. Plan together
Product Marketing and Sales Enablement are most effective when they're working with each other, rather than against each other. Collaboration starts with developing cohesive strategies and plans that complement each other and align with the overall vision and goals of the company.
Each year, partner up for strategic planning. Share priorities, plans, and calendars for the coming year to ensure they're aligned. Ask for and deliver feedback, and rework plans as necessary to ensure priorities are aligned and everyone is working toward the same goals.
2. Stay connected
Meeting once per year for strategic planning is important, but it's just the beginning of the story. Consistent, transparent communication throughout the year is necessary to build mutual trust and improve collaboration.
A key way to stay connected is to meet on a regular basis—once a week, for example. During these check-in meetings, designated liaisons from each team can provide program updates, share progress, and solicit feedback.
3. Collaborate on content creation
Content plays a key role in the B2B purchase journey. It's important to have relevant content available for sellers to use at every stage of the buyer journey, keeping in mind that B2B buyers often do ample research before reaching out to a salesperson.
Though Product Marketing typically takes the lead on content creation, it's important to involve Sales Enablement, which works closely with sales reps and managers and has valuable insights into what the purchase journey looks like and what challenges the sales team encounters in the field.
It's best for Product Marketing to share content plans, prior to launch, with Sales Enablement to ensure content aligns with the needs of the sales teams.
4. Harness content analytics to optimize and improve
You likely hear a good amount of qualitative feedback about content. For example, sales reps may reach out to tell you what content they like, dislike, and want more of. That type of feedback is important, but without quantitative data you don't have a complete picture of what content actually works.
Use the content analytics available to you in your sales enablement platform to understand which content is being used—and which is tied to closed revenue. Armed with such data, you can eliminate content that's not being used and you can invest more in creating content that helps close deals.
5. Have fun
When you're working on improving Product Marketing and Sales Enablement alignment, it's important to focus on things like strategic planning and collaborative content creation. But it's also important to build relationships and have fun.
Catch up over coffee. Go out to lunch. Celebrate each other's successes, and give kudos when it's due.
Finally, remember that alignment starts at the top. The way your product marketing and sales enablement leaders interact and work together sets the tone for how these two teams will collaborate.
Alignment between Product Marketing and Sales Enablement is crucial to the success of both teams—as well as the organization as a whole. When these two teams aren't aligned, it stands in the way of your sellers' delivering better buying experiences and closing more deals.
Now's the time to focus on what you can do to improve this key collaboration at your organization.