What is Marketing’s Role in Buyer Enablement?

buyer enablement and marketing

Buyer enablement is the shared responsibility of the revenue team and marketing departments are well-positioned to adapt to the new buyer’s journey by adapting content marketing programs to how buyers actually buy

Have you had to buy something recently that you really didn’t know anything about? For me, that was shopping for engagement rings. The more you try to learn about diamonds, the more complicated it gets. Anytime a purchasing situation challenges your intelligence, you’re likely to have a terrible experience. This happens in B2B all the time. Though buyer enablement is a term anchored in B2B, its true purpose is to undo a counterproductive division between B2B marketing and the rest of the world. 

Buyer enablement is a framework to get marketers, salespeople, and customer success professionals to think more like the people that will eventually do business with them. Essentially, buyer enablement is a framework for operationalizing empathy, which is good because when done right, businesses can 3.0x their win rates. 

Something clicked for me in my search for a ring–and it’s a key component to understanding marketing’s role in buyer enablement. What clicked for me might seem simple when shopping for a ring—but it’s going to be huge for B2B. 

While shopping, I was feeling overwhelmed (alternative stones, cushion vs. radiant, VVS2?), and in the meantime, I was being pounded by advertisements. Looking back, I remember that most of my attention went to the vendors that made this complicated process make sense. They helped me understand that I wasn’t buying the features of a particular diamond or looking for the best brand; I was trying to get engaged. That was the job I was trying to complete, not write an ethics paper, or complete a gemology degree. 

Marketing’s job in B2B should be to position solutions to problems, but there’s a disconnect with how buyers buy and how companies create their marketing programs. Buyers are more informed than ever; however, they are more overwhelmed with content than ever.

Marketers are key to a buyer enablement strategy. 

According to The 2020 State of Marketing Report from Salesforce, “when buying for businesses, customers now expect the same type of empathy and engagement as they do when buying for themselves.” 

This is great news for marketers! Marketing departments are uniquely positioned to get close to the customer and build that empathy bridge. However, marketers first need to address the elephant in the room. 

A feeling of ‘content overload’ with your buyers can have very real business implications. If you’re trying to make a difficult purchasing decision and you’re unable to make sense of the purchase, the risk associated with the purchase becomes inflated. In sales, risk kills deals.

Today’s content exists in a marketplace. Competitors are always on the lookout for your content, and the content marketing landscape has matured. The compounding effects of a competitive content marketing marketplace means buyers are more informed than ever. However, this has created a side effect that is hurting businesses.

Too much great content is making buyers feel overwhelmed and less confident about making a purchase. As marketers, that’s egg on our face.

According to Gartner, “Many marketers focus too heavily on quickly moving prospects toward a sale and ignore the complex, nonlinear reality of B2B buying and the jobs that need to be done. This overwhelms buyers with information and sets up purchase regret.”

Gartner introduces an important concept. It’s called “jobs to be done,” and it’s critical to understanding your buyer and executing a buyer enablement marketing strategy that wins you more customers and increases revenue. 

Jobs to be done is the new buyer’s journey

So, as marketers, we have a lot of work to do. Too much content is further complicating an already complicated purchase for our buyers. Marketing not only needs to adjust, but and the way forward clearly positions marketing departments as the best department to lead the initiative in mapping the new buyer’s journey to revenue.

Let’s return to that complex purchase and the decision you made. I’ll bet you didn’t make this purchase only because the ads you saw were so well targeted, or because one company’s offering had the best features. What you probably did was hire a product or service for a job you needed to be done. 

That’s what the Jobs to be Done framework is. It’s an empathetic frame for understanding what your customers need to get done before they make a purchase. Your product or service should be positioned as the best way to get that job done.

The new buyer’s journey is collection “jobs” buyers are seeking to complete before completing a purchase. 

The jobs to be done in the new B2B buying journey

  • Problem identification 
  • Solution exploration 
  • Requirements building
  • Supplier selection 
  • Validation 
  • Consensus creation

Many deals in B2B are held up for a variety of reasons, and many salespeople know exactly why but do not leverage their marketing team in creating content or experiences to address the same problem each time it pops up. This is the new content opportunity facing marketing teams.  

Work with sales to lead buyer enablement programs

Buyers do not arrive at a purchase in a linear fashion, so it does not make sense to document the buyer’s journey in a linear way, nor does a linear marketing program. 

Marketers can address content overload largely by shaping perception, not with more content but with better content. That content needs to help buyers complete their six jobs that buyers need to complete before purchase. 

Revenue leaders should be excited by this because it means marketing and sales will be working closer together. Sales and support teams can be great insight engines for marketing teams looking to create content that helps buyers buy.

A new category of sales enablement content will come from marketing departments who are now creating content that addresses hurdles in what was traditionally referred to as the bottom of the funnel.

Gartner describes this content, “marketing leaders should rebalance their content efforts, capitalizing on their deep industry knowledge and customer empathy to develop and deploy information to help buyers buy.”

Likewise, sales will need to be better equipped with content to handle buyers who are channel-agnostic, who do not prefer to speak to salespeople or do research online, independently. A nonlinear buyer’s journey means salespeople will be talking to buyers who researching rather than buying now.

Driving revenue with custom content experiences

As a marketer, there’s nothing like creating content all day to make one feel at least a little overwhelmed while consuming content with the little extra time they have.

Most people at holiday gatherings most people don’t really know what your company does. However, your buyers need to get it, and just like I did when shopping for an engagement ring, they have a job to do. It’s our job as marketers to create experiences that lead people towards the completion of these jobs and enable sales to deploy market insights in a personalized way at scale.

That’s the ethos of buyer enablement. Marketing to buyers needs to change and buyer enablement opens up great opportunities for marketers to drive more pipeline and get closer to the customer than ever before. First, we need to get more critical about our content marketing strategies. It’s no longer about the content you create; it’s about the experience you create with that content.