Meet Melissa Madian, Frontierswoman in Modern Sales Enablement

4 minute read

Upland Admin

Never heard of a “VP” of Sales Enablement?

You can’t talk about sales enablement without talking about Melissa Madian (follow her on Twitter), Vice President of Sales Enablement at Vision Critical.

Melissa Madian is a frontierswoman in modern sales enablement.

Madian has logged almost 20 years in sales, sales development, and developing corporate structures to make sales teams more effective.

Melissa Madian Sales Enablement Headshot

She was one of the first people, 7 years ago, to pioneer the “sales enablement” role within the enterprise corporate structure.

Forward-thinking companies that have adopted the “new sales funnel”—in which marketers are responsible for filling the top and nurturing the middle, and sales teams are responsible for the bottom—strive to create a consistent conversation through the buyer’s journey.

To do this, something, or someone, in the company needs to be responsible for sharing the stuff that marketers are producing with the sales team.

That’s the role of the sales enablement position.

It’s like a track race, Madian says. The baton is the customer.

As marketers hand off the prospect to the sales team, there needs to be a well-defined process by which marketers let go of the baton, and sales grabs it and runs.

If there’s no communication, the baton’s at risk of being dropped. The deal falls cold. The revenue is lost.

Here are Madian’s 2 tips for better sales enablement.

1. Appoint a Sales Enablement Person at the VP-Level

Sitting as a peer, in association with the VP of Sales and Marketing positions, the role of the VP of Sales Enablement is to communicate between the two departments. This person has one ear on conversations sales reps are having with prospects, and one ear in the marketing department listening to key campaign launches or marketing releases that might assist in sales calls.

What Exactly Does VP of Sales Enablement Do?

  • Sets up sales training for new marketing campaigns, updating messaging and sales skills development
  • Communicates feedback between sales and marketing departments to facilitate the creation of more relevant messaging, and implements marketing materials into sales calls
  • Develops and implements processes and tools to help sales become more productive

Who’s Good for the Role?

Melissa says if you’re hiring for a sales enablement position, try looking for someone with a background in sales first. Having a sense for marketing is important, but sales representatives tend to be the harder bunch to break into.

“You need to know what it’s like to be on the phones all day,” Madian says, “It builds street cred with the sales team.”

2. Use a Multi-Prong Approach

Sales teams are notorious for not reading marketing materials. It infuriates marketers.

But Madian wades these waters strategically. She understands that sales teams have a lot on their plates—often juggling 30 or 40 prospect conversations at various stages of maturity. Their calendars might be chock full of appointments, phone calls, or travel to meet with prospects. Reading a blog post isn’t really a strong contender for the top spot on a to-do list.

Instead, Madian suggests sales enablers should use the multi-pronged approach.

“Just like in marketing, sales enablement is about using as many channels as possible,” Madian says.

Communicate to sales in the ways they want to hear the information. It’s not unlike how marketers get their messaging out to the greater public: channel diversity and strategic messaging are key to delivering content to the right people at the right time.

4 Ways to Do Multi-Channel Sales Enablement

4 tips on sales enablement

1—Monthly newsletters. Each month, Madian enlightens her sales team about:

  • WHAT marketing efforts are coming out
  • WHY it’s an important asset
  • HOW it’s going to assist them in their sales calls

2—Monthly Internal Webinars. Are your salespeople too busy to read? Or they just don’t want to? Madian has a once-per-month webinar to explain the same stuff that went into the newsletter, and also opens it up to a 15-minute open-mic session, in which sales teams can ask questions.

3—Record and Post the Webinar. In all likelihood, many of the sales reps didn’t read the newsletter, didn’t attend the webinar, and still want to know what’s going on in marketing. Madian’s thought of that, too, and publishes recorded webinars online so that sales reps can tap into the information when it’s convenient for them.

4—Use Something like Salesforces’ Chatter. Incidental chat tools allow marketers or sales enablers to announce new releases much like news reporters did in the 1920s. Breaking! News flash! Bulletin! Announcements posted in incidental chat boxes are immediate, and don’t get lost under piles of email or other corporate communications, Madian says.

The ultimate goal for the VP of Sales Enablement is to effectively empower sales teams with marketing assets. Don’t let that baton drop.

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