The 4 Basic Truths of Good Sales Enablement Content
“What exactly are you doing here?”
That question was lobbed at me—politely—by Contently’s senior sales director when I sat in on his departmental training. In his defense, I had been tucked in the corner of the conference room while he doled out advice to our newest sales development representatives (SDRs), scribbling ominously in my notepad. I looked up, alarmed to have been directly addressed, and realized the sales trainees had all turned toward me. They all wanted to know why someone from marketing and editorial was creeping on their session.
“Well,” I said, “the marketing department thought it would be benefit me to sit in on some of the SDR on-boarding process. When I write for our site, I’d like to be able to draw from a knowledge of what your team needs.”
“So you’re going to work on content that drives lead generation?” our sales director asked.
I nodded, circling that phrase in my notebook. This was one of the terms I had picked up in my first few months in the job—marketing qualified leads, sales enablement, top of funnel—and I had come to learn that the concept acts as connective tissue between two departments that need to be in alignment.
So, yes, I wanted to learn how to support the sales team more in my writing. In addition to listening to our sales managers training new recruits, I sat down with Dillon Baker, the product marketing specialist on Contently’s marketing team, to capture some of his top rules for good sales enablement content. He told me the processes of writing and creating needs to evolve as content travels down the sales pipeline.
Here are the most important insights about sales enablement contentI learned along the way.
Before you start, ask the sales team
Before brands create content, they should know their audience. That’s non-negotiable. For sales enablement content, you may not be able to survey or interview leads directly, but you can talk to the next best audience: your sales team.
Too many content marketers put precious time and resources into creating the works they assume sales reps are going to use. That wasted effort could be avoided if marketers approached their sales teams for input before plotting out their editorial calendar full of case studies and product marketing assets.
Companies of all sizes tend to struggle with marketing and sales alignment when they’re launching content programs. And once both teams are set in their ways, it’s hard to catch up. But there are a few simple ways to start this conversation: Sit in on a sales meeting sometime or invite sales people to weekly editorial meetings.
Don’t be afraid when it’s time to talk product
Content marketers are usually most comfortable crafting compelling narratives, offering insights from experience in an industry, driving engagement, and building trust with an audience. That’s why the idea of sticking selling points about products and services into our content can give writers hives.
But there’s a point in the customer journey when avoiding your product starts to sound awkward, misleading, or even dishonest. All parties involved, given enough time, understand why they’re in the room talking. Granted, it’s tricky determining where the line in the sand exists, but eventually, potential customers traveling through the funnel want to answers to direct questions. How much will the product cost? Do you have proof that it works? Do you have clients with similar goals that have succeeded?
The answers to those questions need to exist in your sales decks, one-sheeters, and case studies. Sales reps want punchy, clear examples to give their prospects, which means their ideal case study format is simple, relatively short, and stocked with a few key statistics relevant to the buyer. For example, here’s a recent case study we did about Marriott Traveler.
If your prospect is so far along in the pipe that they’re actively comparing options and preparing to commit, your content needs to explain why your solution will help them the most.
Figure out how much you need to explain
B2C companies often have the benefit of selling recognizable goods, but B2B companies—say, content marketing software brands—often require content that explains what they’re selling in addition to why it’s useful. If you’re looking for a new refrigerator, you don’t need to read a long explainer video on the history of refrigeration when you’re shopping online.
On the other hand, you may not know how to decide between Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, Workplace by Facebook, ooVoo, or WhatsApp when you determining how your team at work will communicate.
If you’re creating sales enablement content at a B2B company, don’t worry! The knowledge gap give you room to get a little more creative. It frees you up to write thought leadership articles, coax stories out of your executives and experts, and use content to stake out your place in a complex industry.
There’s ample room for a B2B brand to define best practices through content and publish instructive series and original resources. For instance, Hubspot launched Hubspot Academy, which provides instruction on inbound marketing for customers. Leads can take courses that show the tools in action and offer tutorials for getting that most out of the solution.
Keep creating even when the deal closes
I didn’t learn about the importance of retention and upsells until I made the switch to Contently earlier this year. It seems simple, but it’s easy to overlook that brands need persuasive content even after a contract gets signed.
A sales rep here may secure the interest of an executive in one department at a Canadian bank, but that doesn’t mean the relationship stops there. For larger companies, there are other departments that could be ideal customers. So the rep can’t sit idly while that manager tries to convince other bank executives to invest as well. It’s the sales rep’s job to send over supportive content to grease the wheels: project proposals, internal presentation deks, and tutorial demos all come in handy.
If you’re a B2B content creator, you should have a suite of proposals, presentations, and training templates that your sales team can tailor to each prospect. When done right, your sales enablement content should communicate that your brand understands a client’s problems and has developed a unique path to solving them.