When you think about whether to certify sales reps on the sales process, the answer is obvious – of course you should! Reps use the sales process every day and need to understand how the sales stages relate to the buyer’s journey. Reps also use the sales process as an activity checklist to drive intended outcomes. Reps are coached on the sales process, which is reinforced by first-line managers, and success is confirmed by buyers’ actions.

However, one group that often is forgotten in the certification process is marketing, especially marketing roles who create content for reps. Unless they have gone through sales training, they may be unaware of how reps and buyers actually engage with one another, and how reps use and present content during those meetings. Yup, classic misalignment.

Marketers might produce great content, but unless those assets were created with the sales process in mind, you are forcing your reps to guess which piece of content to use and when. While a rep may believe that a white paper is a perfectly good document to use at any stage of the sales process, we know that white papers are typically designed to move buyers from the status quo by getting them to think of options beyond the tools they currently use. If content isn’t aligned to the sales process, first-line sales managers and even sales trainers may find it difficult to determine and communicate which pieces of content should be used at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Some companies have made the logical decision to have their marketers take the organization’s standard sales training. While this is not a bad approach, it doesn’t focus on how marketing should provide the right tools for reps to be successful. A more advanced method is to adapt the sales training classes for marketing, focusing on how marketing activities support each sales stage (e.g. the types of content that a rep would use when facing the competition in a deal).

After learning the steps that reps go through to prepare for competitive questions, marketers have a better understanding of the information and exact delivery method necessary to be successful. This reduces wasted effort producing generalized content and focuses marketing’s efforts on producing targeted content for specific sales situations and sales plays. We also recommend that marketers go on ride-alongs with reps (see the post “Why Your Staff Needs to Go on a Sales Call Today”). This allows marketers to see how reps actually work in the field, the material they use and the challenges that they face.

Sales enablement can help bring marketers and sales reps together. Marketers work hard to produce content for reps, but without understanding the context of how that content is used, they will find it difficult to produce the right content. When marketers understand the amount of work that reps must do to be successful, they are inclined to help create more streamlined processes that reduce the amount of time that reps spend guessing what content to use and allow the reps to focus their efforts presenting the materials to their buyers.

Do you know how to leverage the latest sales enablement best practices such as using the latest social tools and tablets to enhance buyer conversations to drive productivity?