Buyer , Startups , Scaleups — 05.01.2023

Align Sales Enablement and Product Marketing to Boost Sales

Maria Otteson, Senior Product Marketer

Regardless of your company’s stage, selling your product will always be a top priority. Without the correct words and tools, the selling process can be draining, inefficient and defeating. But when you equip sales and marketing with the right tools they need to resonate with buyers, you’ll win deals faster and more often.

Because they are closely related and often executed by the same teams, product marketing and sales enablement are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are distinctly different functions.  Understanding the difference between product marketing and sales enablement helps you invest in the right solution based on the pains you’re experiencing.

Sales enablement equips your sales team with all of the tools, resources and training to talk about your solution, prove your value and ultimately sell your product. 

Product marketing is the foundation for defining your product strategy and messaging, helping you internally and externally articulate your value to your customers so it’s clear why your business and your product matter.

If you’re a product company, product marketing is essential for going to market with a product customers will want to buy. If you’re selling a product, sales enablement is key to scaling your sales team and equipping them for success. 

How to Know You Have a Problem 

For many companies, the economy has proved difficult to navigate. Budgets are tighter and it’s challenging to reach quality stakeholders, so deal cycles are getting longer. Deals that used to be slam dunks feel like uphill battles. 

To know if you have a product marketing problem, ask: 

  • Does it take several meetings for buyers to understand your solution?
  • Do buyers see your product as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have?
  • Is there dissonance between what sales promises and customer success delivers?
  • Is it unclear why you’re winning or losing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your product’s value is difficult to articulate or understand. It’s time to revisit your product marketing.

To know if you have a sales enablement problem, ask:

  • Are there major inconsistencies across seller performance? 
  • Does it take too long to onboard new sellers?
  • Are we stunted by legacy knowledge and unable to scale out of founder-led selling?
  • Are our sales and marketing materials scattered, inconsistent and outdated?

Yes? Then you’ve got a sales enablement problem.

While you may feel more pain in one or the other, you’ll most often need to revisit both sales enablement and product marketing to maximize impact.

When product marketing and sales enablement problems aren’t solved, your entire organization feels the impact. Sellers get frustrated, bad prospects turn into bad customers and goals become harder to reach.

How to Solve the Problem

Solving problems in your sales cycle requires a combined effort of product marketing and sales enablement.

Without a strong product marketing foundation, any sales enablement efforts will be wasted. The key to successful sales enablement is a clear and consistent value proposition that sets you apart from competition in the market. 

Here are three steps you can take to level up your sales enablement tools with more effective product marketing:

  1. Evaluate your current positioning and messaging. How are you describing your solution in market today? Is everyone saying the same thing? Is your messaging unique and defendable against your competitors? A strong positioning and messaging framework makes it easy for everyone, internally and externally, to understand what you offer, the value your product delivers and why customers should care. Your positioning and messaging framework isn’t built to last forever. If it does, you’re either lucky, or it’s not specific enough. Whenever your product undergoes significant changes, new competitors enter the market, or target personas shift, it’s time revisit your positioning. 
  2. Level up sales enablement tools. Create and update your sales enablement tools to reflect your current positioning and messaging. The exact tools you create for your sales team will vary depending on the tenure of your team, the complexity of your product and the needs of target customers. Start by identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement with your sales team.  Avoid building new materials in a vacuum. Earning stakeholder buy-in from your sales team is critical to rolling out new materials and getting your team to actually use them. You don’t have to update all of your sales enablement materials to make an impact. Focus on updating messaging in sales decks, your website or creating a product overview one-pager to drastically improve your sales and marketing functions. 
  3. Build a program to track and test. A successful sales enablement function constantly seeks opportunities to remove barriers for sellers and tests creative ways to improve pipeline efficiency. Implementing a sales enablement program will help you onboard new team members more efficiently, track the success of your current materials and messages and equip you to identify optimal areas of opportunity for your team. Updating product marketing and sales enablement isn’t a one-time investment. As your product grows and evolves over time, positioning, messaging and sales enablement tools should evolve too.

Why It Works

When you have a strong product marketing foundation and connected sales enablement engine, sellers are more successful, you attract more qualified leads and the sales process is far more effective.

Many SaaS sales cycles include long and arduous explanations about what the solution is and how it works. Strong product marketing provides a consistent, repeatable and scalable messaging framework that instantly clarifies value. When paired with effective sales enablement materials, product marketing equips teams to have more productive conversations about pricing and contracts, ultimately shortening the sales cycle. 

A well connected product marketing and sales enablement engine relieves the burden on your sales team to clarify value. When you use the right words to explain the product, buyers get it right away, making sales conversations more meaningful. And when those words are coupled with the right tools, materials and processes to enable sales, you’ll gain traction and scale to new heights.

Need help building a product marketing foundation and aligning it with sales enablement? Find out how we can help.