It was only during my time working for a SaaS company that I really came to understand how content worked in a Sales-enablement capacity.
Most marketers follow a linear progression in content marketing, which makes sense when building a funnel: We create value and educational material that empowers at the top of the funnel, and focus on more sales-oriented content toward the bottom.
But creating content in linear progression won't work for Sales: Prospects have varying challenges and objections that Sales need to overcome at various points in the decision-making process to convince prospects to take the next step.
Therefore, the key to sales enablement is to create content that...
- Helps prospects overcome those challenges
- Helps sales reps to overcome the objections
Understanding Sales Enablement
The key to Sales enablement is to put yourself in the mind-set of being at the service of Sales, helping it to overcome challenges and determine where content can fit into current Sales processes.
Really good salespeople care about the messages you're delivering, because they understand that the process is a joint effort between Marketing and Sales. They also know that a great piece of content can really up their game, and so they want to help make it the best it can be. Accordingly, content and marketing channels (especially social platforms) aren't just for marketers anymore.
You need to make it easy for salespeople to access those channels. Good training and the integration of these platforms into the sales process will ensure an increase in Sales effectiveness. Marketing should share its own strategies and ideas on how Sales can use social platforms (particularly LinkedIn and Twitter on a B2B level) to nurture opportunities.
Marketing also needs to understand that salespeople are pretty busy. If sales reps have ever asked you whether a piece of content exists, it's not because they're lazy; it's usually because there's an accessibility bottleneck.
The bottom line is this: Sales enablement means education. It means creating educational content that serves prospects. It also means educating your sales team to more effectively nurture opportunities.
Let's get to how you can do that.
Gathering Sales Insight
As marketers, we're usually trying to find ways to better understanding our clients and audience every day. Buyer personas are being continually refined, and we're always looking to understand the latest challenges they're aiming to overcome.
Your sales team is talking to actual buyers every day. Therefore, gathering insight from Sales is critical to your own marketing activity. But it's not simply a matter of asking them what content they want and then creating it.
Start by bringing together the teams from Sales and Marketing. You can do so in a workshop format or an informal get-together. Then start asking questions. Find out what the most common objections are, what challenges prospects are trying to overcome, and the struggles of the sales team itself.
Dig deep on every piece of insight they provide. Keep digging. If they find price is a common objection, ask them why they think that's so. Is it because prospects don't see the value or ROI of your solution? Don't stop at the surface.
Map the insights you gain to topics and ideas for content as you go along. For example, you could create a simple mind map for common objections:
Each objection is an idea for a piece of content. Share what you've got upcoming in your editorial calendar and encourage your sales reps to make their own suggestions.
When you go ahead to build the content, make sure to keep salespeople in the loop. From first drafts to the overall design, make sure they have their say.
Once the actual content has been created, you need to make it accessible. This is really where the "enablement" comes into play.
Customized Content Experiences
Top sales people use scripts only as a guide, because there is no "one size fits all" in the sales process—and, as I mentioned earlier, the same goes for content.
Sales might have one point of contact during a sales opportunity, but that contact will be touch with several senior decision-makers at the same time. A piece of content, attached to an email and intended for and tailored to the contact, doesn't solve the issue of how to reach the decision-makers with the right piece of content.
The way to get around this issue is to create a customized content experience for each segment of your audience. You can start off by segmenting by job function and industry. Another way of segmenting could be grouping content around similar objections and patterns. For example, if there are groups of people whose objections are based on price, you could include comparison tables and ROI calculators.
You could also supercharge this level of customization by allowing salespeople to create their own experiences for each individual opportunity. Doing so will take some development resources, but the result is that salespeople will have a powerful enablement tool.
(This brief guide to creating content with sales enablement is just scratching the surface, but it should give you a good understanding of how to build content and a sales enablement strategy for your teams.)
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There are two keys to getting this right. The first is to understand what sales reps are really struggling with, along with the challenges of the people they're selling to, and that means digging deep to find answers.
The second is to put your ego aside and act as a servant to Sales. Listen to what salespeople want, advise them about the best solution, and take everything they have to offer on board.
I'm always learning from people on the front lines. So can you.