How do you ensure that you are developing the right content for sales teams to be successful?
You need content that supports your business goals, such as driving new sales, reducing customer churn, and ensuring you remain on brand and in compliance.
In this article, we’ll share with you the following:
- Tips to determine what sales content your teams need
- Sales Enablement Content Types your teams need to understand when and how to use
- Tips for maximizing the success of the content you are delivering
Tips to determine what sales content your teams need
Sales content is being created all around you.
Sellers work with content marketing for sales.
Others work with Enablement, Product, Operations, and others throughout your business.
Regardless of where your content is coming from, your Enablement team must work closely with the content creation teams to curate and transform the content to best meet the needs of your customer-facing teammates (i.e., sales, customer success, channel partners).
If you are unclear what I mean by curate and transform, stay tuned to further down in the article.
How does Enablement do this in a manner that amplifies the outcomes from your efforts?
Understand business goals
Fellow Enablement Practitioners and Leaders lean in close.
Sellers do not always know what they need or understand what the buyers need to move forward.
It’s not because they are foolish or lazy; the reality is that building this understanding goes beyond a single conversation with a customer. Recency bias, lack of time, and urgency to close deals leave them focused on the ask, and you will receive approach.
It is your job when anyone comes to you asking for content for sales, to ask:
- Why is this content needed, what decision is it helping a buyer make?
- What is the potential value of the deal that this content will support?
- Is this a piece of content only one buyer will ever need, or will it help multiple customers move forward now and in the future?
- Who is asking for the content? Your CEO? Ideally, the answer to this question will not matter, but the reality is that sometimes it does.
If it costs you a thousand dollars to create the content, and it is only for one prospect, with no value to other current or potential buyers, for a deal worth two hundred dollars, should you create the content?
Analyze the buyer journey as well as the customer journey
People often throw terms like buyer journey and the customer journey around without truly understanding them.
Many view them as linear pathways or view the sales funnel as the best representation. Neither are accurate pictures.
Depending on your viewpoint and level of analysis, you may better understand it as a circle, where the buyer randomly moves through the journey, revisiting steps, jumping forward and backward in equal parts.
Suppose you go deeper and look at the number of individual stakeholders in the buying journey. In that case, you see various people entering and exiting, some following similar paths, some only in and out of the process for a short time.
And, on the customer side, it’s no less chaotic.
From a content perspective, please don’t get confused about the actual path; instead, focus on what the specific person/role/persona needs at any given point in the journey.
- What are they looking to accomplish?
- How much time will they have to review the material?
- Or, will the material be used to share up/down/across the organization?
- What are the best sales enablement content types for this need/audience/use?
In addition, consider listening to Chuck Marcouiller’s interview where he discussed some fantastic tips for aligning enablement with the buyer’s journey.
Don’t just focus just at the top of the funnel, or the middle or the bottom
If you have a deep understanding of your business goals, the buyer and customer journeys, this may already be apparent to you.
The content you create is a tool to invoke a response by the people consuming that content.
You may be attempting to motivate them to fill in a lead form, accept your security policies, or leverage a new feature in your product.
So, ask yourself, where in the journey is this content to be consumed?
Top of funnel
This part of the funnel is where you most often work with content marketing for sales content. The content at this stage is attempting to convince the audience that you understand their challenges, and they should reach out to you to find a potential solution.
- They don’t need product screenshots or functionality checklists.
- They often don’t care about your case studies yet.
They want to be sure that if they receive an email or phone call from you, they are likely to speak to someone who may educate them a bit further.
Middle of funnel
The buyer has committed to going deeper with you, understanding your product capabilities, learning if you can work within their environment, and solving problems like theirs for other customers like them.
They are no longer happy with high-level thought leadership, they need to feel like they are working with a knowledgable consultant, and the members of the surrounding buying committee will have questions you need to answer for them. Perhaps they want to see information about your security posture? Maybe dig into your ability to integrate with other parts of their technology stack?
Bottom of funnel
You’ve made a great impression and are likely leading in the deal or down to competing with one other vendor.
- Do you have content that helps them understand financing options?
- Are there guides for what your onboarding process you can share?
Your goal at this point is to ensure they are comfortable in doing business with you. You’ve jumped through all the other hoops, don’t blow it now.
Understand the buyer personas and their needs at the various points along the journey
Who is your standard buyer? A Chief Marketing Officer? Head of Enablement?
If you are unsure how to build out personas, check out this fantastic Hubspot post that includes free templates. However, here are a couple of ideas to keep in mind:
- Understand what the top problems are for someone in their position.
- Now go a level deeper; what are the top issues for someone in their role in their industry.
- Dig even deeper into their business challenges, and how does it shape their view of their challenges?
At each level, the key is to take a generic understanding of a group of people and narrow it down further and further until ultimately you understand what a given human being needs to feel comfortable doing business with you.
What content is the marketing team already delivering for these various personas at different places on the journey?
You have already collaborated with the marketing team on the buyer and customer journey and around the personas.
Sit back down with them to review what content they provide to cover the needs.
What content is your sales department and customers sharing during emails, sales calls, in-person meetings, and elsewhere?
Once you’ve sat with marketing, now sit with sales (sales leaders and individual sales reps) to identify their use.
Are you responsible for developing this content?
Even if the answer is no, you need to ensure a consistent message across your business at every touchpoint.
If customers hear one message from marketing and a different message from sales (or the same message but with a different tone/feel), it will be confusing and likely reduce your ability to close deals.
Take a good look at the existing marketing content and sales content.
Some will be good, some will be garbage, and some will provide you with insights on the content the teams like to use.
What do you need to rebuild, what needs minor updates, and what is missing altogether?
Okay, you’ve taken the time to do the hard work, understand the business needs, and hopefully understand how it impacts your sales enablement materials’ needs.
Now, partner with the go-to-market team to prioritize what you do first.
Need help with your Content Audit?
Types of content for sales enablement success
With those specific needs in mind, priorities aligned across the teams, you should consider the various types of content as you go along your journey.
The following list is not exhaustive, but hopefully, it provides enough to think through the content you need to create.
Yes, sales training content may fall on a sales training team, learning and development professional, or the enablement content team.
Regardless of who creates the sales training, consider:
- Focus on delivering small chunks of learning, called microlearning that is easy to consume and understand.
- Make it easy to access based upon need. If the training is related to using the cash register in a retail store, ensure sellers can bring it up on their mobiles phones while at the register to refresh their memories.
- Reinforcement is king. The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve of human learning will destroy the impact of your efforts without proper reinforcement.
Before buying almost anything, people want social proof that they are making a good decision.
Case studies can be an essential tool to provide that proof.
Case study formats vary, but, at the least, your case study should:
- Make it clear what industry the case study represents.
- Call out personas and job roles of those using your solutions or products in the study.
- Provide a baseline of the state of their business before using your solutions.
- Call out, clearly, the benefits they received, compared to that baseline, by working with you.
- Highlight any key quotes that speak to your value proposition.
Covering the above provides your buyers and sellers, vital information both groups need to succeed.
White papers are more prevalent in some industries than others.
These content pieces can deliver exceptional levels of detail, especially in very technical fields, providing researchers, IT teams, clinical, and similarly detail-oriented roles with the information they require to be comfortable doing business with your company.
There is a lot to be said for battle cards, so we wrote this article on creating competitive battle cards.
As noted earlier in this article, if you are unclear how to build out personas, check out this fantastic Hubspot post that includes free templates.
In many organizations, selling is complex.
Read our article on creating sales playbooks to get started on the right foot.
And so much more…
And the above doesn’t even do this list justice. You will probably need to create some, if not all, of the following types of content.
- Product Sheets
- Informative blog posts
- Valuable insights from analysts and industry thought-leaders
- Call scripts and other sales scripts
- Cheat sheets for new sales reps on everything from the structure of your sales department, information on each stage of the sales process,
- Guides for your sales enablement platform, CRM, and other key sales tools
- Demo videos.
- Content snippets for use on social media platforms
- Email templates
- Content pieces with brief insights about each vertical you service
Choosing the Right Sales Enablement Content Types
What are the typical sales enablement content types?
- Office or Google Documents
- HTML5 web applications
There are many other potential sales enablement content types, but based upon my experience, PDF and video files are most common.
Centrally Store and Deliver Sales Content
Your sales teams need to know where to find the content you are creating.
No, duh, I know.
However, in far too many organizations, content is stored in multiple repositories, local desktops, and file servers.
In most businesses, this is a mess.
To be successful, define a content governance policy, ensure all content is kept up to date, and delete the old assets no longer offering value.
Living Enablement as a practitioner and as a leader. I’ve seen the confusion and frustration that many practitioners live. From working in other areas of the business, I’ve also seen the genuine need for the capabilities that enablement provides.