Integrating Customer Enablement Marketing with SalesJan 30, 2022
When meeting Sales Executives of companies with offerings to improve enterprise
productivity (Sales/marketing automation, CRM, etc.), I often ask: "What contribution
does marketing make to enable your salespeople to have business conversations with
decision-makers who have a high probability of needing what you sell?"
Typical answers from CSO/CROs: "In our company, marketing is irrelevant!" or "They
give us product feature PowerPoint presentations designed by product experts." When
asked for their reaction, Marketing executives typically counter with, "Our sellers don't
use the collateral we build for them. In fact, many of them make up their own
messaging!" or "We send tons of qualified leads over to sales, and they fall into a black
The most common reason we discover at Story Seekers is that “Marketing” has a lot
more product expertise that customer expertise. Customer enablement expertise.
Acknowledge the problem
In many companies, the CEO becomes the reluctant referee between the Marketing and
Sales silos. Many CEOs don't understand the specific content issues around this problem,
so their default is to manage the relationship between their Sales and Marketing
executives. There is no defined (or even 'industry standard') working relationship
between these two functions, even though their common goal is to drive top-line revenue (sales and market share), and their shared mission is to help potential new as well as existing customers buy their products and services and to collaborate on building
customer enablement expertise in the marketing department.
The key to integrating all silos is agreements, not managing personalities. Most people
and silos want to work together; they don't know-how. Agreements improve performance. If CEOs can learn to facilitate both parties' meeting of the minds, they can
agree on what marketing, salespeople, and customers need to succeed. The conflict
INTEGRATION means AGREEMENT
To me, integration means CMO/CRO agreements:
- agreement on facilitating our customer's experience
- agreement on the value of product expertise versus customer expertise
- agreement on targeted buyer personas
- agreement on why targeted buyers should be looking at us
- agreement on customer enablement/customer hero marketing
- agreement on the stages of our customer buy cycle
- agreement on our use of technology to find and stimulate buying cycles
- agreement on how (and for whom) we do both product and customer expertise training
- agreement on how to onboard new salespeople
- agreement on the definition of a qualified lead
Think about the following as a potential mutual CMO/CRO definition of a "Qualified Lead" for an enterprise B2B productivity improvement product/service offering:
A targeted buying persona (name and company) is curious how we helped
their peer job title achieve a goal or solve a problem using our offering(s).
I believe all such leads would be welcomed and worked on diligently by most enterprise
sellers I have known over the years.
Reframe your concept of selling
Traditional selling techniques offend most buyers. When we ask salespeople what they
mean by 'selling,' so many of them say 'persuading,' 'convincing,' 'getting someone else to do what you want,' 'overcoming resistance,' 'handling objections,' and 'close, close, close!'
Too many people think of salespeople as aggressive, pushy, manipulative, untrustworthy,
lying, overly familiar – PRESSURE. What kind of customer experiences do salespeople
like that create?
Your salespeople can learn to facilitate the buying process of your potential customers,
and your marketing people will like them a lot better too! Ideally, sellers commit to
making your customer's experience, pre and post contract, one of your competitive
advantages. To accomplish this, sellers will have to learn some particular skills. The skill
of emotionally connecting and building trust with strangers. The skill of guiding their
buyer through a no-pressure buy cycle. The skill of connective listening. The skill of
asking intelligent discovery questions. The skill of diagnosing your buyer's situation with
a bias toward your offering. The skill of helping buyers visualize using your offerings to
achieve goals, solve problems, and satisfy needs – BUYING VISIONS – enablement
visions. The skill of negotiating the proposal process. The skill of price negotiation.
Convert from product expertise marketing to customer expertise marketing
Over the years, the sales and marketing' integration prevention team' has been product
expertise marketing in many organizations I have worked with. But, unfortunately,
product marketing doesn't get the job done in today's market. So first, let's take a look at a primary function of product expertise marketing, and then I'll tell you why it has met its
demise and what is quickly becoming the replacement.
In far too many organizations, the mission of product expertise marketing is to promote
and 'sell' its products to employees (like new salespeople) as well as prospects and
customers. In reality, most product marketing is more like a product knowledge catalog –
information ABOUT the product. ‘Product Marketing’ usually means product expertise.
Unfortunately, most product expertise departments do NOT help people looking at their product understand WHY they need it and HOW they might use it to achieve specific
goals and solve particular problems.
Many organizations make product expertise marketing the intermediary function between product development, brand awareness, and teaching the product to newly hired sellers.
Unfortunately, most ‘product training’ by product expertise marketing is noun-oriented –
"IT DOES" training. "IT does this, and IT does that." This training forces potential buyers
to try to figure out on their own why they need it and how they would use it to achieve
specific goals or solve specific problems.
Think about selling a straightforward product – GLUE. Glue as a product noun means
expertise about bonding strength, performance through temperature fluctuations,
resistance to vibration and mold, etc. Glue as a product verb means helping your buyer
visualize enablement – how they can USE your glue in their manufacturing process—a
Most of today's product expertise marketing does not provide potential or existing
customers with enablement examples of using the product to respond to specific events. I have met way too many 'product marketing' people over the years who have never visited a customer. They have product expertise, – they can tell me all about their product – but have no clue how their customer uses it. They have no customer expertise.
Customer Enablement Marketing
Customer enablement marketing – short stories about how named customers by job
function or title have responded to specific problems or events in their world by using
your products and services. These customer ‘hero’ stories will help your newly hired
salespeople get productive much more quickly than product oriented PowerPoint
presentations and training them to give product demos.
Codify your customer expertise
The top 20 percent of salespeople are consistently over quota. They sell intuitively and
therefore struggle to explain how they do it. The other 80 percent need a structure to
follow and messaging to connect, build trust and ask questions that will allow their buyer
to want their product and visualize using it to achieve a goal, solve a problem or satisfy a
But that's impossible without a defined engagement process. Marketing wants to support sales. But first, Sales must codify its best practices, so marketing understands where they can offer support. The difficulty here is that "Sales" doesn't know how to codify its best practices because its top salespeople (and the sales managers who were top salespeople before them) come from the intuitive top 20 percent.
A Customer Enablement Marketing department would develop detailed usage scenarios
for each targeted buyer persona their sellers call on – at least one "customer hero story" for each target buyer persona. These stories have a setting, a struggle (before our
product), their customer hero's "buying vision" (she told me she needed a way to...) when
she decided to purchase the products, and the "enablement" of the story (measurable
business results and even individual results), all in under 60 seconds.
Customer enablement stories are designed to convert peer curiosity to peer envy. There is no more crucial emotional buying reason (certainly in the enterprise B2B world) than
peer envy – one of my peers has figured out how to solve a problem I have yet to figure
Adopting a more buyer-centric model
Adopting a more buyer-centric model isn't a quick process. Instead, it will likely mean
reframing your customer's experience with your organization and, therefore, your
company's approach to Sales and Marketing.
Once a seller shares a Customer Hero story and a potential new buyer wants to know
more, usage scenario discovery questions (written by situational experts from customer
enablement marketing) help sellers listen for problems and goals and tailor their message specifically for them.
But what about filling your pipeline – finding buyers who should be looking at your
offering? What about stimulating new buy cycles in specific target markets?
After generating customer hero stories for different job titles, Customer Enablement
Marketing can use the same goals, problems, and usage scenarios in their buy cycle stimulating campaigns. The customer enablement approach can be used for any lead-
generating system: targeted email, targeted social media, warm calls, cold calls, advertising, or teaching your website to qualify new buyers intelligently.
Once Marketing gets the concept of customer enablement marketing, they become part of the beginning of the sales process rather than the end of the product development process.
Sales and marketing can collaborate on finding potential buyers and helping them build
enablement visions – buying visions – of how they could achieve goals, solve problems,
and satisfy needs through the use of your offerings.
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