Content has been used for centuries by marketers to tell stories about brands, threading product names and information into the public consciousness with the goal of growing a following and converting those hooked to a good tale.
Content therefore often sits squarely in the marketing department, with content marketers leading the charge in how words, images, video and audio assets are used across all customer facing collateral. Different types of content get sent out to marketing personas at different stages of the buyer journey, along the way educating the audience as to how your brand, product or service solves a problem in their lives.
But content has another use: turbocharging your sales team by arming them with the right content that helps drive home a sale.
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is having the content, tools (technology), data and processes that empower sales teams to sell efficiently and at high volume. You could also see it as some of the glue that holds sales and marketing teams together, ensuring they never diverge from their shared purpose of attracting, converting and delighting more customers.
What content does your sales team need?1. What your customers want or need to know
Speak to your existing customer base either through a survey or during a catch-up call. Find out more about why they converted in the first place, what content they engage with, and what content they would have liked to have seen to improve their decision-making.2. Consider what the data tells you
Every time your marketing team sends an email, it collects a huge amount of data that can be used to measure the effectiveness of the email’s content. Check which emails got ignored, or have a higher than expected engagement rate. HubSpot’s analysis of emails give you a handy heatmap of engagement, showing you where the user clicked, and importantly where they haven’t clicked.
Tap into your search analytics to learn what customers are looking for and identify gaps in your knowledge base. Then use those insights to create missing content and evolve your knowledge base into a more comprehensive customer service resource — for both your customers and your team.3. Content that fits into the customer journey
The customer journey should always be referred to when producing new content. At what stage of the journey is your content helpful? A content audit will help identify gaps, and help the sales team understand what content can be used to help prospects make a decision.
Sales enablement collateral that Informs content
Below we detail some different types of collateral that sales enablement teams can use to support sales:1. Persona document
We know that aligning content with buyer personas is a crucial part of the sales process, so any details and research that can help salespeople better understand and target customers should be included in a persona document.
An effective sales script helps salespeople take leads through to making a final purchase decision, so they’re an important part of the sales enablement process.
They are particularly useful for new team members and should include talking points about different topics that might come up during a customer interaction. You can also add frequently asked questions and questions for the sales team to ask prospects.
3. Product and service information
The best salesperson is one who understands what they’re selling, so content designed to educate on the full value of your product or service can become invaluable. This could be the same content that you publish on your blog, and can be printed into quick reference guides and product sheets.
Connecting content to sales
Marketing teams are brimming with content that can add value to sales teams, and the opposite applies too. Holding regular catch-ups with your sales team will ensure there’s a constant flow of feedback between teams. Since sales teams are always talking to customers, the questions they get asked and the comments they get can fuel your next content campaign.
But this raises a timing issue: if your content isn’t part of the sales process, and isn’t easy to find, it won’t be used. To get around this, Jamie Shanks, CEO of Sales for Life, told HubSpot:
‘One of the audits a marketer can do is grab a stopwatch, walk over to a sales professional's desk and get a role-based scenario. Say, "You've been trying to talk to this particular chief marketing officer. Here's a pitfall or challenge they just told you over the phone. As you hung up the receiver, you thought to yourself, 'Hold on a second. I think I've seen an infographic that can debunk the myth of what that person just said on the phone. Let me go find it and share it with him.'" Start the stopwatch and if in under one minute that sales professional can't find your content library, and then ultimately find that particular asset to share, he'll never do it.’
Constant audits, regular conversations, and team meetings that spend time analysing the value of content to the sales enablement process will ensure salespeople get the most out of your content efforts. And in the words of the Harvard Business Review: when sales and marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.
Further reading: 5 quick wins for aligning your marketing and sales teams