This article comes from our expert panel, ‘Enablement vs product marketing; Who should own what?’, at our Austin 2023 Sales Enablement Summit, to hear the insightful discussion in full, click here.
Have product marketing and sales enablement ever felt like ships passing in the night at your company? You're not alone.
Even at sophisticated enterprises, tension and misalignment often simmer between these interconnected functions so pivotal for revenue growth.
In a fascinating panel discussion, our industry leaders, Katie Pariseau, Director of Enablement at TrustRadius, and Abhinav Joshi, Director of Product Marketing at Red Hat, traded insights on how the two departments can shift from friction to strategic collaboration.
Across the complex sales journey, marketing owns the strategic messaging while enablement translates that for customer-facing teams.
When firing on all cylinders together, they wield the power to revolutionize sales productivity, client relationships and ultimately, the bottom line.
Yet as Katie and Abhinav related through hard-won experience, a myriad of hurdles always seem to surface - from conflicting priorities to inconsistent messaging, to stretched bandwidth.
The good news? By using best practices uncovered here, enablement and product marketing can start operating less like disjointed siloes and more like the unified revenue engine they’re meant to be.
Let’s dive in to extract actionable lessons on how you can iron out those widespread pain points!
Defining the interconnected roles
Product Marketing: Owning strategic messaging and positioning
In the panel discussion, Katie defined enablement as “the last three feet of marketing”, focused on intimately understanding sales reps’ daily challenges.
Meanwhile, product marketing plays the role of “partner in crime” and subject matter expert, arming enablement with the raw intel and building blocks needed to resonate with the field.
Enablement: Translating complexity into clarity
At Red Hat, Abhinav’s product marketing concentrates on market positioning, honing messaging, analyzing competition and foundational content creation.
Enablement then serves that crucial “last mile” function - making complex messaging relatable, actionable and relevant for customer-facing roles through sales skills reinforcement and content amplification.
As Abhinav added, product marketing supplies the crucial “raw ingredients”, while enablement elevates them into “snackable” assets catered to the reps’ limited bandwidth between customer calls.
When strategically coordinated, the specialized strengths shine brighter collectively than individually.
Marketing supplies the critical building blocks while enablement elevates them into digestible assets catering precisely to reps’ limited attention between calls.
Yet this interdependency also underscores why friction so easily erupts when not grounded in a shared vision.
Just as reps struggle to convey disjointed messaging confidently to prospects, competing product launches and priorities quickly inundate enablement with overwhelming requests to juggle simultaneously.
Best practices for strategic coordination
Laying the groundwork upfront
With specialized focus areas, consistent collaboration proves vital for executional excellence. Katie finds it blossoms by first identifying mutual priorities and desired outcomes.
For sizable product launches or rebrands, smart upfront planning requires both departments divide and conquer responsibilities under a unified banner while validating progress rigorously at each checkpoint.
Embedding inclusion in both directions
Abhinav embeds inclusion through enablement’s active participation in product marketing’s inner circle – attending team meetings, collectively celebrating successes and tackling challenges.
This facilitates rapid feedback loops so insights translate into continual content improvements while confronting issues in lockstep.
When recruiting product marketing talent, enablement leaders could consider competencies like adaptability, vulnerability and creative problem-solving skills as complementary to technical subject matter expertise.
With the ability to challenge ideas respectfully on both sides, strengths meld synergistically.
Overcoming misalignment roadblocks
🤼 Competing internal interests
A common frustration raised stems from uncoordinated, warring priorities across product lines.
Enablement gets caught in organizational cross-fire attempting to juggle an overload of competing requests.
🤷Mixed messaging baffles sales
When marketing messages clash or contradict, sales reps struggle to communicate confidently to customers.
Abhinav shared that this duplication of effort perplexes reps navigating where to find definitive answers needed in the field.
🎯Centralizing content for simplicity
Katie advised constructing one reliable enablement portal, prominently featuring product marketing support contacts to resolve questions.
Recording and reviewing sales calls also helps marketing anticipate what complex customer inquiries to expect and prepare for.
Constructing a maturity model for scalability
Katie outlined a four-stage continuum where rigid status quos mean relationships stay siloed and inconsistent.
Progressing to a working relationship provides communication alignment but not interlocked strategic orientation. Reaching the level of integrated partnership involves jointly architecting major launch roadmaps to multiply effectiveness.
Abhinav injects financial accountability through sales plays tracking asset usage and messaging back to accelerated deal closures.
When product marketing quantifiably demonstrates enablement’s assets that are accelerating revenue, respect is cemented.
No matter where teams fall currently, using the maturity model to spot gaps, while securing quarterly relationship reviews centered on mutual goal progression, you can build the foundation for scaling success in the long-term.
Adopting a tailored, modular content approach
With salespeople squeezed on bandwidth, relevance and accessibility are non-negotiable for enablement content adoption.
Abhinav’s Red Hat tailors training specifically for account executives, pre-sales engineers and digital marketers. With ultra-targeted modular assets mapped to personas, retention and recall soar.
For customer-facing teams bouncing between calls, microlearning and on-demand content get maximum mileage, in comparison to imposing lengthy live sessions.
That said, virtual instructor-led workshops remain crucial for product capabilities requiring a two-way dialogue.
Katie emphasizes drilling down to specifics on how new features impact individual sellers’ quotas or team commissions, framed around enabling their roles.
When tied directly to their success and incentivized structures, motivation to absorb concepts skyrocket.
By combining granular personalization, differentiated learning pathways and reinforcement through usage metrics and feedback surveys, enablement content stays laser-focused on directly improving productivity.
When sales consumption increases, so does marketing’s content reach. Together they unlock a flywheel propelling mutual objectives forward.
At its core, both teams share one unified vision: ensuring salespeople have the arsenal to drive mutual revenue success.
With executive buy-in, shared metrics and processes, enablement and marketing can interlock synergistically to execute high-impact initiatives as one.
So when these specialized functions actually sync up, magic happens.
Reps master effective storytelling. Prospects feel understood, trusting knowledgeable advisors tailored precisely to their needs. Deals accelerate as customer value hits home.
By setting off with an autopsy of pain points, constructive future visioning grounded in shared metrics and responsive agility toward sales’ ever-changing reality, you can start strengthening partnership foundations now.
With gaps filled, completely new doors for influencing revenue open through your symbiotic superpowers. The question is – are you ready?