Content for sales enablement – what you need to know

How do you know you are developing the right content for sales? Having content for sales enablement is not enough — you need a strategy.How do you know you are developing the right content for sales? Having content for sales enablement is not enough -- you need a strategy.

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.

And then you wonder, do you need a sales asset management system to manage and deliver that content to your teams. 

As always, let’s start from the beginning and get into the meat of the topic.

What is sales content?

Sales content is any type of content that supports the sales process. This could be product sheets, one-pagers, FAQs, guides, how-to articles, case studies, webinars, or even blog posts.

What is a sales asset management system?

A sales asset management system (SAM) is a software platform designed to help customer-facing teams (primarily sellers) find and use the right content at the right time.

Most sales asset management systems support features like:

  • Storage of the sales assets
  • Access to the content via search functionality or other organization means (folders, for example).
  • Reporting on content usage and effectiveness.
  • Some degree of content curation and customization.

What is content curation?

Content curation is the process of evaluating the total content available and identifying and presenting the up-to-date pieces to the sales team.


Tips to determine what sales content your teams need

Sales content is being created all around you.

Content marketing teams are busy creating content.

Product Managers, Customer Marketings, Enablement, and other teams add to the pile of assets.

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).

How does Enablement do this?

Understand business goals

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 a request that best matches their understanding.

When sales make a request for additional sales assets or customized content pieces, you must determine:

  • Why is this content needed?
  • 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?

See our article on mapping the customer 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, and 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, when, during 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 that 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 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 into 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.

Evaluate AI-based content writers to scale your efforts

Always use a checklist to confirm you follow your own best practices

Use a checklist like this one for your content development efforts.Content Development Checklist 

Types of content for sales enablement success

With those specific needs in mind, and 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.

Training materials

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 mobile 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. Use The Surrounded Learner Technique to overcome this challenge.
Case Studies

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 the 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, with vital information both groups need to succeed.

White Papers

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.

Battle Cards

There is a lot to be said for battle cards, so we wrote this article on creating competitive battle cards.

Persona documents

As noted earlier in this article, if you are unclear about how to build out personas, check out this fantastic Hubspot post that includes free templates.

Sales Playbooks

In many organizations, selling is complex.

Read our article on creating sales playbooks to get started on the right foot.

Sales Champion Content

If you have set up a sales champion program — you need content to support it.

Your champions rally the troops to understand the importance of your programs and they help you build adoption. Sales champion content that they can use to spread the word and educate the sellers in the field will go a long way.

Product or Data Sheets

Your product sheets or data sheets should focus on the features and benefits of your solution.

Many times, these documents will live on your website, but it is helpful to have copies that you can easily share with prospects and customers without them having to search for them. 

ROI Calculators

For larger organizations with more complex sales, an ROI calculator can be a critical piece of content to help buyers understand the potential return on their investment in your solution.

Some organizations will build these into their website while others will create them as downloadable assets.

Learn more about interactive content (like ROI Calculators) in this video from Outgrow.

Blog posts

Use your blog to help buyers along their journey and customers along with theirs too.

General categories of the blog posts should include:

  • How-to guides for your products and services
  • Best practices for solving the problems your solutions are bought to solve.
  • Customer success stories featuring how customers are using your solutions successfully
  • Comparisons between yourself and competitors.
Insights from analysts and industry thought-leaders

For many products, analysts and thought leaders provide information that buyers use to make decisions.

How can you partner with them to ensure your story gets told correctly?

Call scripts and other sales scripts

Your inside sales teams need access to approved call scripts. These may reside in your enablement tools (your sales asset management system) or in other tools they are using regularly.

In some organizations, Enablement develops these call scripts and the cadences used by those teams, in others, the SDR team does it for themselves.

Email templates

Similar to call scripts, email templates that are used by sales, customer success, marketing, and other teams connecting to customers need to be developed, stored, and updated.

Cheat sheets for new sales reps

Regardless of how good your onboarding and ongoing training is, people need access to easy to find cheat sheets to cover topics such as:

  • SMEs for given project areas.
  • Tips for using key selling tools such as your enablement software, SAM, CRM, and so forth.
  • Sales compensation details.
  • Your sales methodology.
  • Objection handling
  • Vertical level language and insights
Demo and How-to videos

You can’t be an expert in everything.

But it’s nice when you can see how the experts use your products and services and having video demos are the next best thing to sit down with your SMEs in person.

ADVICE, KEEP IT SIMPLE

Keep it simple, and short.  Use a solution like Loom, as I demonstrate in this simple example, to share brief overviews with your team.

 

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    Pitch decks, Pitchbooks, and Sales Pitch presentations

    Your sales teams should have access to the latest versions of your approved pitch decks, pitchbooks, and other sales presentations.

    They should be able to easily customize them as needed for their particular prospects and customers.

    Choosing the Right Sales Enablement Content Types

    What are the typical sales enablement content types?

    • PDFs
    • Videos
    • Office or Google Documents
    • HTML5 web applications

    There are many other potential sales enablement content types, but based on my experience, PDF and video files are the 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.

    The technology options

    In our most recent analysis of sales asset management systems, here are the results, and following that is a side-by-side comparison.

     

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