The Case for Marketing Enablement

B-to-b marketers are very familiar with the concept of sales enablement. As external ambassadors to prospects and customers, salespeople need to speak knowledgeably about an organization’s products to different buyers, and be able to match solutions to their needs. The benefit of a well-trained sales force is pretty obvious – it means a quicker path to closed deals and greater revenue.

Because this is so important, organizations put significant time and effort into sales enablement (e.g. new hire orientation, sales methodology training, sales portals stuffed with content, annual kickoff events).

But what about marketing?

Marketing might not be showing up to onsite prospect meetings, but in today’s business environment, marketers need to demonstrate many of the same competencies as sales. Buyers now engage online, well before interacting with a vendor’s sales force. Marketing delivers much of the material buyers consume and is directly involved with the online interactions they have. Instead of just talking “at” the buyer, marketers are now expected to have conversations with buyers through their messaging. Marketing needs to understand target personas, their problems and needs, and be able to connect product features and benefits to the value they provide, regardless of the buyer’s stage in the buying cycle.

This is starting to sound a lot like sales.

But unlike with sales, there is no concerted organizational effort to train marketing. Marketers attend the general employee new hire orientation and – if they are lucky – can access an intranet portal that contains a haphazard and frequently out-of-date set of materials for the department. Maybe they even get a list of company acronyms as a bonus!

This is a growing disconnect that gets scarier when you look at some SiriusDecisions research data:

  • Eighty-five percent of people currently in b-to-b marketing positions were not professionally trained in marketing prior to stepping into their roles.
  • Seventy-five percent of marketers learned on-the-job through trial and error. Only 20 percent have taken advantage of opportunistic or ad hoc training, and a mere 5 percent have been systematically trained as part of a professional development program.
  • Eighty-one percent of b-to-b organizations spend $1,000 or less annually on marketing training and development. Only 3 percent spend more than $2,000 annually.
Time for a change?

Given that marketing is now required to support and drive impact across the entire buying cycle – and in fact the entire customer life cycle – and engage with buyers earlier and longer than sales, isn’t it time to put some thought, ownership and investment into marketing enablement? 
 
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