Sales enablement has moved up the list of priorities for many marketing companies. In its State of Inbound 2018 report, HubSpot noted that 37% of marketing leaders placed it as one of their top initiatives, as it has provided companies with a more efficient and effective approach to the traditional sales process.
When it comes to understanding what sales enablement is, there are a number of different definitions to choose from — so don’t get too caught up in that confusion. Regardless of which definition you choose, sales enablement is essentially the process of sales and marketing agencies or teams working together to achieve a singular goal.
In the past, sales and marketing often operated in silos and, while they supported one another’s efforts in theory, there was little communication or interaction between the two.
Sales enablement provides salespeople the tools and resources they need to maximize their efforts. That support can come in many forms, including technology tools, specific marketing information and resources targeting their ideal customer. One of the best ways to do that is through developing sales enablement content.
When the marketing department focuses on developing effective content for the sales department, they can resolve one of sales’ biggest challenges, which is spending time on non-sales related activities.
A survey by SiriusDecisions found that sales people spend an astonishing 65% of their time involved in activities other than selling. It’s not surprising, then, that the average sales cycle has lengthened by 24% even as everything else in the marketing world seems to have become faster and more compacted.
Implementing a strong sales enablement content strategy can help marketing and sales work together to improve the ROI as they streamline processes. Key in creating that strategy is determining which type of content is most effective for the sales team to use.
The type of content used will vary throughout the buyer’s journey, so it’s critical for sales and marketing to work together to develop resources that are relevant to different stages of the sales process.
Here’s a look at seven types of content that are essential to the sales enablement process.
No. 1: Blog Posts
At first glance, blog posts may not seem like a sales tool; they’re typically viewed as more of an inbound tool for marketing. However, when you consider that 47% of buyers will look at three to five pieces of content before they engage with a sales rep, you can see the value of using blog posts as a tool for sales enablement.
What differentiates a sales enablement blog post from your standard blog posts developed by the marketing department? Communication. In this case, marketing takes its cues from the sales department to develop topics. What kind of questions do their customers ask? What are their hesitations and pain points?
Understanding what objections and obstacles the sales team has to overcome allows the marketing team or content marketing agency to write content specifically designed to overcome the objections and ease their pain points.
No. 2: Videos
Video marketing has progressed far beyond having a YouTube channel and a video or two on your website. However, if you’re not also using video as a sales tool, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. Video from a professional video production company should become part of the sales team’s toolkit for many of the same reasons it is such a successful marketing tool.
Sales teams that employ video enjoy an accelerated sales cycle, email click-through rates that are as much as 300% greater than standard emails and triple the response rate.
Sales and marketing can work together to develop video content that can be used at various stages of the sales cycle. The key is to keep videos short, engaging and persuasive to encourage viewers to take the next step on the road to buying.
No. 3: White Papers and E-books
Similar to blog posts, white papers and e-books are powerful assets when sales and marketing work together. Armed with information about what customers are most interested in, your marketing department can craft longer form content like white papers and e-books that take a more in-depth look at questions and concerns of real customers.
When sales and marketing are talking about this content in advance, it ensures that the marketing department isn’t wasting time writing something that customers won’t find relevant, and it gives the sales team specific, targeted content to help move the customer through the buyer’s journey.
No. 4: Case Studies
For a customer who is working through the consideration stage, a case study is a powerful way to highlight what your company offers and help them move closer to a decision. Research from Publicis Hawkeye found that 77% of B2B buyers in that stage found testimonials and case studies to be the most influential types of content.
Case studies are effective because they relate to the customer with a real-world element. Rather than just making a promise of what your company can do for them, you’re showing how someone with similar problems and challenges was able to overcome them with your company’s help. And, since case studies include data of the actual results, they can see a measurable positive outcome.
A well-written case study is recognized as a popular marketing tool, but when done properly and with collaboration between sales and marketing, it can become an equally valuable component for improving sales, too.
No. 5: Sales Scripts
The first mention of using sales scripts might be met with a bit of resistance, because nobody wants to sound like a telemarketer reading through their assigned sales pitch. But well-written sales scripts are much more than that, and they can provide invaluable support for the sales team.
A sales script isn’t a word-for-word script for the sales person to read during a sales call; instead, it hits the essential points of a conversation. It can help keep the sales person on track, particularly when the customer goes in a different direction.
One of the benefits of using sales scripts is that they automatically ensure that the sales team is more prepared. That’s because the sales team and marketing department will need to work together to make sure the right messages are being conveyed through the script.
As part of that process, the sales team will further define what’s important and what objections they are likely to face. At the same time, marketing is going to get a clearer understanding of what challenges the sales team faces — and that’s going to influence the content they develop in the future, too.
No. 6: Social Media Messaging
Social media plays a fundamental role in content marketing, but it shouldn’t be overlooked as a sales enablement tool. Customers interact on social media several times a day, so providing the sales department with messaging for tweets, LinkedIn posts or whatever channel your customers are using is a simple, effective and free way to connect.
Investing time into developing a B2B social media strategy for your sales team to use can provide measurable results and is one of the most effective ways to generate leads.
No. 7: Testimonials
As mentioned above, testimonials—along with case studies—are among the most effective types of content. Customers care about more than just the product; they want to know about the entire experience. That’s why online reviews that share personal experiences carry so much weight among consumers.
Sales can provide the customers for marketing to talk to and craft testimonials that convey what the customer experience is like and to encourage others to do business with you. They add legitimacy and social proof to your marketing efforts, and tap into our natural human attraction to storytelling.
Tip: If you want to add more power to your testimonials, incorporate video testimonials.
Bringing Sales and Marketing Together for Great Content
The idea of the separation of sales and marketing teams is an outdated one; sales enablement is the bridge that can bring these two departments together to fuel sales and deliver better outcomes. If your teams are still operating in silos, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to maximize the efforts of both departments and deliver meaningful, measurable results.