Content strategy for enterprise sales enablement | Turtl
Sales enablement is all about finding the best ways to share information that helps the buyer to buy. Content is at the heart of that.
*How to Create a Winning* Content strategy for enterprise sales enablement
Give your buyers and your salespeople the info and tools they need to convert
*Context* The role of content in sales enablement
Or should that be "buyer enablement"?
Sales enablement content:
Sales enablement is all about finding the best ways to share information that helps the buyer to buy, and – as a result – the seller to sell. Content is at the heart of that.
Sales enablement (SE) is to closing business what content marketing is to generating demand: essential strategies for growth. It's why 61% of all organizations have dedicated SE personnel or teams. That figure rises to 77% for businesses with over 500 employees (Source: CSO Insights).
Both sales enablement and content marketing come down to knowing your audience and giving them the right kind of information. In SE's case, that audience is split into two distinctive groups: your salespeople, and the buyers they are talking to. This means SE teams are tasked with equipping sales teams with two types of resources:
1. Content designed to be shared with the buyer to aid them during the decision journey, like:
- Product videos
- Case studies
- Service guides
- Blog posts (related to value proposition)
2. Internal content designed to help salespeople sing from the same hymn sheet, like:
- Email templates
- Call scripts
- Messaging frameworks
Salespeople are often just another channel
All about the buyer
Despite the title of the discipline, sales enablement is less about helping sales and more about the buyer. It's about enabling the buyer to make a decision and arming sales with an understanding of what info the buyer needs to know, when, and how to give it to them. It's in the sales enablement purview then, to be cheerleaders of customer obsession. The right sales enablement resources are created to fit the channels and contexts of the typical buyer. With so much of the buyer journey happening online, on the buyer's own terms, salespeople are often just another channel (although I suspect they won't be thrilled by this comparison). And like all channels, the relevance and quality of the content they distribute can make all the difference. This is why a carefully defined content strategy is a key part of a healthy growth engine.
Some organizations have renamed Sales Enablement to Customer Enablement as an internal reminder of who it's all really about: the buyer.
Research by CSO Insights reveals that only 32% of sales enablement functions have a content strategy in place. They also report on the benefits of having one: a 27% increase in win rate, and an 18% increase in quota attainment.
Do you have a content strategy for sales enablement?
- Yes, it's part of our formal approach to SE 💪
- No, but that's why I'm reading this 🤓
- Yes, but there's room for improvement 📈
This is impactful stuff, which is why we decided to take a look at just how to create an effective sales enablement content strategy. From content purpose to content processes, we've got you covered.
*Content purpose* What do your buyers want to know?
Every bit of content you spend time and money on needs a purpose that ultimately serves the buyer
Sales enablement teams have the dual responsibility of making sure that salespeople have:
- The resources the buyers they're talking to want in order to make their decision
- A clear understanding of how to position and embody the brand they're selling so buyers are most likely to buy and stay
Your content strategy needs to cover both of these needs.
Let's assume you've already got your hands on plenty of insights about who your buyers are and the kinds of problems you solve for them. These will be unique to your business. But the process that buyers go through when they make a decision about your offering will follow a similar series of questions no matter what you're selling.
These eight questions make up what's called the "customer decision journey", and your content strategy needs to answer them:
1. Why should we change the way we're currently doing things?
This is where content marketing ties in with sales enablement. The buyer wants to understand why their status quo doesn't cut it anymore. Research reports, blog posts, webinars, and talks by you and others making arguments for the same kind of change all contribute to answering this question. If you sell more than one solution or your solution solves different problems for different people, then you'll want to equip your salespeople with a range of these resources.
We love whipping up a template here at Turtl. Here's one to help you log your answers to these questions and list the content you have that presents those answers:
2. Why should we go with your particular solution?
To answer this you need content that explains and shows why you are different, better, and more suitable for buyers than your competitors. On the internal content front, this is where battle cards and the likes come in. More on those later.
3. What can we expect from the investment?
Buyers want to know that they'll see benefits from your solution that are of greater value than the cost and hassle of purchasing and implementing it. In other words: what's the ROI? Case studies and calculators are the kinds of resources and tools that can help here.
4. Why is now the time to invest in this change?
Even when a buyer knows that there's real value in making a change and that you'd be an excellent solution for the problem, they'll have a bucket load of other changes they're under pressure to make in different areas. They want to understand the urgency of focusing on this particular one. This is where your company needs all of the powers of persuasion, but also some solid evidence of the size of the opportunity you're presenting, or the scale of the cost attached to continuing with the status quo.
5. Why should we pay what you're asking?
Your buyer wants to know exactly what they're going to get for their money at this stage. This isn't just about access to your product or services, but the entirety of the customer experience. They want to know how their purchase will be protected. Customer reviews are important content assets here, and transparency is key. As are negotiation skills.
6. Why should we agree to your terms & conditions?
The final hurdle before a customer is acquired. This is where the lawyers step in and hash out the minute details of the agreement. There are opportunities here to use content to remind the buyers of the value and urgency of adopting your solution, to keep procurement and legal under a bit of pressure to prioritize your deal.
Optimizing value messaging is the top sales enablement priority in 2020-21
Source: Sales Mastery
With these questions answered to your buyer's satisfaction, you should now be welcoming them on board as a new customer. Your sales enablement journey continues into the sphere of customer retention and expansion. This begs a few further questions:
7. Why should we stick with you?
Help your customers recognize the value they're getting from your solution through the likes of progress reports. Nudge your customers to be more actively engaged with your services and products so they get the most value out of it. That can be done through things like regular comms, guides, knowledge portals, workshops, etc.
8. Why should we work with you in more ways?
Welcome back to the beginning of the decision journey, only this time you have the opportunity to create resources about how the company's existing investment in your solutions has paid off. You might need to convince new parts of the business that they too need to change, in which case you really are going back to question one. In other instances, you won't want to be highlighting change but consistency. Skip to question 2 and sing the praises of the new status quo.
*Content Gaps* Is the decision journey covered?
Once you've pinned down your answers to the questions in the decision journey, you need to think about the vehicles and pathways for delivering those answers to your buyers. Which ones do you have covered, what's missing or not being used, and which gaps should you fill first?
Did someone say audit?
That's right, it's time to dig into that content library of yours and find out which parts fit the decision journeys you've mapped out. What is and isn't being used? You'll likely need a combination of methods to find this out. Some of it will be evident in your content's performance data, but we'd recommend reaching out to internal users of your content to learn more about what they're using and what's working for them. Use something as simple as a spreadsheet to list everything you uncover and include as much detail as you can afford about the qualities and characteristics of the content, as well as it's engagement results and frequency of use. If you have a tagging system in place, be sure to include the content's tags in your log.
By creating a log of all the sales enablement content your business has for each stage of a buyer's decision journey, you'll be able to see which questions aren't currently being answered by existing resources. If your assets are tracked, add to your log how frequently each is sent to a buyer, and how engaged buyers are with what they receive. This will show you which of your existing assets are actually fulfilling their purpose, and which are wasted.
Where do your buyers want information?
The formats of your buyer-facing content should be decided by what's most effective and suitable on the channels your buyers prefer. Research and list these out in order of their relative influence on your pipeline. They'll include the likes of:
- Your website
- Email (incl. 1:1 with salespeople)
- Phone calls (salespeople)
- Meetings (salespeople)
- Events (salespeople)
Phone calls, meetings, events, and 1:1 email are contexts in which your salespeople act as channels for delivering information. Sales enablement needs to make sure they're channeling the right information. This is why content and training go hand in hand. Once you've got the resources, you need to make sure people know how and when to use them.
And the category is...
How you categorize and tag content is as important in Enterprise businesses as creating it in the first place. Without clear taxonomies and management systems, your content won't be easy for sales agents to find and use. If it's not easy, it won't happen.
Ways to categorize your library vary and you'll need to spend some time working across teams to identify what makes the most sense for your business. Content will belong to more than one category. Here are a few to consider:
- Decision stage (essential)
- Buyer segments/persona (essential)
- Product line
- Content format
- Sales region
- Content topic
Once you've agreed on some kind of taxonomy, it will need to be worked into the tech stack you use to manage your content assets. More on that in the next chapter.
Filling the gaps
So by this point, you know which bits of your content library contain answers to each different question a buyer has on the decision journey. You also know from your audit whether people are actually using and engaging with those content pieces. Thirdly, you know which channels are most effective for nurturing deals.
If these kinds of resources don't exist or aren't being used, then it's virtually impossible to standardize sales best practices
You should now be able to spot weak points and successes in how your sales enablement content is supporting buyers. One area to pay attention to is how you cater to different learning styles. We all have our preferences. Plan a spread of media:
- Keynote speeches
- Case studies
Then there's the sales enablement content needed to equip salespeople to deliver the right information at the right time:
- Call scripts
- Email templates
- Proposal templates
- Fact sheets
- Battle cards
If these kinds of resources don't exist or aren't being used, then it's virtually impossible to standardize sales best practices. It's also highly likely your salespeople aren't giving buyers answers that are consistent with the value propositions they've been presented with at other parts of the customer journey.
Consistency is absolutely key to building trust. This is why you need to design and orchestrate clear and accessible processes and systems that nudge sales and customer success teams to adopt the right behaviors and use the content available to them correctly. Next up we'll be looking at exactly that.
*People, tech & processes* The mechanics of the beast
In large organizations, your processes are only as robust as the tech that enforces them
The operational side of your sales enablement strategy is perhaps the most complex. It's also absolutely essential if you want to give buyers a consistent understanding of your brand's value proposition. Your operations are powered by three things: people, processes, and the tech that underpins those processes.
In large organizations, your processes are only as robust as the tech that enforces them, because It's impossible to oversee and manage the behaviors of the many, many people who create and deliver content. CIO Insight's research shows sellers still create about a fifth of the content they use. Salespeople's time is much better spent in conversation with buyers, and there's also less risk of non-branded and poorly crafted materials being distributed if materials are created and controlled centrally.
Personalizing digital touchpoints and experiences is how businesses can capture some of the conversational magic of offline selling in an online world
While quality and consistency are easier to control with centralized content creation, there are often two particular challenges:
1. Personalizing collateral
In a world where most selling has moved online, the ability to personalize digital touchpoints and experiences is how businesses can capture some of the conversational magic of offline selling.
The ideal setup is one where the accuracy of key messaging and branding can be maintained and updated centrally, but agents around the business are able to adapt collateral specifically for the context of the buyer and include personal touches like custom messages and the recipients' names. This is completely possible with the right technology in place, like Turtl (learn more about we can help here).
2. Content findability
If the sales team can't find the right piece of content quickly and easily, then the resource simply won't get used. This is a recurring challenge for all content created outside of the sales team. Sales enablement content management tools like Highspot and Seismic are designed to solve this problem.
Data as digital body language
In-person selling benefits from informal interactions that build rapport – like small talk while pouring coffee – and non-verbal communication that can reveal attitudes, preferences, and intent, i.e. body language. In the absence of this kind of communication, how do salespeople get to know their buyers, beyond the words exchanged? Data.
How buyers interact with sales enablement content is hugely revealing of their interests and intent. For instance:
- Which sections of your product brochure is a buyer spending the most time on
- Which case studies are resonating the most with particular industries or geographies
Not only do you need your systems to capture as much of this type of data as possible, you also need to implement tools and processes that give sellers quick & easy access to these insights, without them needing to be data-savvy. Equipped with this feedback, your sellers can tailor their presentations, questions, and follow-ups based on hard evidence of what the buyer cares about. That's what we like to call two-way content.
- Already doing it 💪
- Sign me up! ✔️
- I need to lie down 😅
*Monitoring & Evaluation* Do more of what's working
You'll probably have noticed a running theme in this guide: asking questions. Asking the right questions is perhaps the greatest indicator of long-term success., no matter what discipline you're in. To understand and improve on the effectiveness of your sales enablement, you need to be able to track the answers to these six:
1. Do your salespeople have what they (and your buyers) need?
Another way of thinking about this is: are your buyer decision stages catered to by your content library? You may have identified gaps as part of your strategy, but you need to keep monitoring those gaps. Speak to your salespeople regularly, and keep your ear to the ground to uncover buyers' shifting priorities.
2. Are your materials up to date?
Messaging changes, products evolve, and styles go out of fashion (even in B2B). Schedule in reviews for every asset on a rolling basis. Sales enablement tools can help you avoid version control issues by giving sellers a single source for accessing materials, managed by you.
3. Are your salespeople finding and using the materials?
This will be evident from how many viewers and downloads the materials have. If they're not being viewed, you need to understand why. Put on your investigator's hat. Your first port of call should be the sellers themselves. Are the battle cards not useful? Why? Have they not been sharing the latest case study? Why not? What you uncover will answer this particular question, but also invite others: If they have sent out the materials, why are people not reading them? Who have they been sending them to?
4. Are resources being modified, and if so, how?
Tally up the copies and versions of each material and explore the ways people are making edits to them. If you've equipped your salespeople with the means to personalize documents then it follows that a high count of copies is to be expected. But if that's not the case, and people are choosing to add in their own chapters or slides, it'll be because they feel something is missing or not good enough as is. Get to the bottom of why.
5. Do your resources engage buyers?
Your materials are of precisely zero value if no one engages with them. How long someone engages with an asset, and which parts of it they spend their attention is essentially feedback on the relevance and quality of the information you've shared, as touched on in the previous chapter. If a resource or section of a resource isn't winning any of your buyer's time, you'll need to consider whether it's a quality issue or a relevance issue and solve accordingly.
6. Do they influence business wins?
Being able to connect your sales enablement content to the bottom line is how you demonstrate tangible ROI to the business. Monitor which materials are making a recurring appearance in the journeys of contacts that eventually go on to buy. Look for patterns in how else they're influencing wins - including speed through the pipeline and total customer value. Armed with this information you can do more of what's having a real impact.