CMO Coffee Talk ‘Aha! Moment’: Here’s Your New Sales Enablement Secret Weapon

3 minutes
Jan 06, 2022
Sales Effectiveness

Editor's Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz...

Editor’s Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing co-hosts these dynamic, illuminating conversations with 6sense CMO Latané Conant. 

 

During one of our last weekly CMO Coffee Talk sessions of 2021, we tackled the wide-ranging topic of sales enablement. We discussed tech platforms, content strategies, social amplification, partner enablement, and much more.

But there was one strategy that clearly emerged as one of the most important, most efficient and most effective – internal certification

What is Internal Certification? 

Marketing teams have long struggled with rolling out new messages, new campaigns, and new collateral — only to have customer-facing teams ignore them, forget them, or use them inconsistently. Too often, this comes from ineffective roll-outs. 

Sending an email to members of the sales team doesn’t mean they’ll all read it, let alone grok it. And dedicating five minutes to the topic at the next all-hands sales meeting means your content will probably be forgotten amidst numerous other announcements.   

Plenty of companies are developing external certification programs, which help their customers (and prospects) understand the fundamentals not only of using their products but also the business context into which they exist. 

But now, some companies are taking that same investment and turning it inward. 

Although this strategy appears to, at least for the time being, be employed at a minority of B2B companies, it was clear that there is a very high correlation between those that have invested in internal certifications and higher, more consistent sales performance. 

How? Such certifications help ensure that customer-facing teams understand the messaging and consistently apply it in the proper customer and prospect discussion contexts. 

Tips for Rolling Out Internal Certifications 

From those CMOs who have successfully created and rolled out internal certification, a few best practices became clear during our conversation:

Get Executive Buy-In on “Why”

Without presenting and quantifying a clear picture of “why” internal certification is important, it’ll feel like just more work for everybody. Position it as an efficient, direct (and proven!) means of accelerating sales impact, and more leaders across the organization will understand its value. 

Certify on Company Story, Not Just Product

You’ll always need consistent storytelling about features and benefits for middle- and late-funnel engagement. But what about talking points about why the company exists, the problem it solves, its purpose and values?  These are worth certifying, too. 

Require It for ALL Employees

As the CMO, be the first to get certified. Then get your leadership team certified. Bonus points if you require everyone in the organization to get certified as well. Why shouldn’t the accounting and IT teams know how and why your product makes your customers successful? 

Update It Regularly

This is more than just new hire training. As your market evolves and your product/service offering evolves, so too does your messaging and certification content.  At minimum, audit and update your certification content annually. 

Tie Completion to Lead Access and Compensation

Why would you give uncertified sales reps access to your hard-earned, expensive and qualified leads?  You can also tie components of compensation (such as spiffs, bonuses, and accelerators) to getting and keeping an active certification. 

Coming Up on CMO Coffee Talk… 

In our next CMO Coffee Talk meet-up (which is just around the corner!), we’ll deep-dive into sales kick-offs. For many companies, this traditional concept has evolved to Field Kick-Off and other iterations that actively engage the entire go-to-market team. 

What are companies doing to create successful, cross GTM team momentum into 2022?  How is the COVID-19 omicron variant forcing organizations to readjust plans — virtual, hybrid and otherwise? Find out soon! 

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