It was once suggested to me that the way to tell how well a marketing department was doing was to watch how much sales complained about marketing or how often sales people made their own collateral or adjusted marketing pieces created for them. The theory behind this being, if marketing did everything right, that the sales team would not have a need to create such materials and would spend more time selling. The marketing department at this company responded, creating infinite numbers of variations on a standard presentation, uncovering testimonials for every product within every industry, and editing brochures and fact sheets on each sales person’s whim, creating multiple variations by locations, products and regions.
Sales began thinking of marketing as an administrative function, coming to them for help with every presentation, a new brochure for every prospect, etc. This caused sales to spend too much time creating materials for each prospect instead of filling their pipeline and planning for future sales. It also made it impossible for marketing to keep all materials up-to-date all the time, so now, instead of sales asking for more materials they were complaining about the ones that were out of date or not as ‘fresh’. Finally, it left sales frustrated with the leads they were receiving from marketing, since marketing couldn’t focus on creating sales worthy leads while constantly updating materials.
Also, when a phone number changed or new office opened, the amount of redesign work on the hundreds of documents was almost impossible to update. This created confusion for prospects when receiving incorrect information. This also increased the turnover of designers, because as artists they became frustrated that they weren’t creating new and exciting viral pieces and designs, but instead constantly updating the same documents they had already worked on.
What happens after this is predictable. This poor, reactive marketing often creates a cycle that results in a drop in sales and replacement of marketing and/or sales management, and the disposal of many of the documents that were created to keep sales ‘happy’.
When creating sales enablement tools, the objective is to look at the characteristics of your most qualified or sold leads, and then follow the path those leads took when learning about your company. These are going to be the pieces of collateral that are most successful for sales. And these are the documents that should be updated and frequently refreshed. This can also be done by creating buyer personas and creating materials for those personas. Then marketing must spend time teaching sales how to speak to each of these pieces, so they know all of the materials available to them and how each is properly used. By taking this approach you will not only save marketing valuable time, but also keep sales selling, which is what will truly keep them happy.