Content Marketing and Sales Enablement: How and why the two go hand-in-hand
Shah Rukh Khan
Content marketing fuels sales enablement. The rules of the game are simple: attract prospects with content that is hyper-relevant to each stage of the buying journey, use enticing offers to motivate them to contact your sales team, and then let your sales rep convert them with content tailored to their needs, pain points, and challenges.
But as Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Consider: 65% of the content developed for sales is never used, enterprises lose over $2.3 million each year due to underused or unused marketing content, and only 39% sales of teams use the right content at the right stage of the buying journey.
Despite the repeated mantra about the alignment of content marketing and sales enablement, businesses remain unsuccessful at leveraging the combined benefits of these two functions.
Let’s dive into why this happens, how content marketing and sales enablement work together to drive sales, and key principles to create winning sales enablement content.
Content Marketing and Sales Enablement Defined
Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing media and materials that can educate, engage, and convert a prospect. Content assets can be of various types, from blogs and whitepapers to eBooks, videos, and social media posts.
Sales enablement, on the other hand, is about providing your sales team with the information, resources, and tools they need to sell effectively. Content comes under the umbrella of ‘resources’ a sales rep needs to keep a prospect engaged right from the nurture stage to onboarding, training, and retention.
How Content Marketing Drives Sales
One of the key challenges for a sales rep is to communicate ‘value’ to the buyer. And with modern buyers getting more immune to advertisements and sales pitches, content does this job effectively for sales.
Content delivers value to the buyer before they intend to make a purchase. High-quality content answers questions, addresses pain points, and provides relevant information that the buyer wants to read.
Here are the different ways content marketing drives sales and revenue:
- By bringing qualified prospects to the brand’s website
- By educating and nurturing leads
- By establishing thought leadership and authority
- By helping deliver a personalized buyer experience
- By increasing buyer engagement and brand awareness
In addition, customer-facing sales enablement content provides sales reps an edge during the buying journey by:
- Answering the common buyer’s objections during the sales cycle
- Assisting the customer in decision-making
- Informing the buyer about the product and how it competes with other offerings in detail
However, to truly leverage these benefits, it is important to have a robust strategy in place to create highly impactful sales enablement content.
We are discussing this next.
5 Principles to Create Winning Sales Enablement Content
Creating effective sales enablement content is more than writing about your product or service. It is about delivering the right message to the right buyer at the right time in the right format.
Here are 5 principles you can use to create winning sales enablement repeatedly.
1. Understand your audience
To create buyer-centric content, you need to build an understanding of who you are selling to. Think about their likes and dislikes, goals they are trying to achieve, and key challenges that your product can solve for them. Create content that helps the buyer understand how to solve a business problem or exploit an opportunity, instead of just explaining features.
Also, make sure that you have content for all the personas that can be part of the buying committee. Create content for different decision-makers and think about what specific things will appeal to them.
Here are 3 key ways to gather the intelligence you need to better understand your buyer:
- Use your own experience of the brand’s sales. Evaluate how many types of personas have been routinely involved in demos and discovery calls.
- Talk to the more experienced sales reps in your team.
- Gather key data points from Google Analytics, LinkedIn, and other platforms, such as age, gender, company size, location, industry, and more.
2. Audit your existing content assets
Not all of your existing content can pass as sales enablement content, but some of it will be.
Go through your content library and look for key assets, such as case studies, informational blog posts, demo videos, and other materials to use. Chances are that you will be able to use them for sales enablement after small updates.
A content audit is also a great way to identify any gaps in your current sales enablement content strategy and work with marketing to plan new pieces.
3. Show, don’t tell
Content that is easy to digest and contains aesthetically pleasing visuals is more effective at engaging prospects. Therefore, spend some time on making your key pieces ‘look’ good.
Review your sales enablement content assets and replace text with visuals wherever you can, particularly in your demo videos, comparison pages, ROI calculator, and case studies. Use graphs, flow charts, tables, and timelines to capture and hold your prospects’ attention.
4. Map content to the buyer’s journey
Once you have sales enablement content ready, the next step is to map each piece of content to different stages of the buyer’s journey. This is important to present prospects with the specific information they need to take the next step.
You should have enough sales enablement content for the following three stages:
- Awareness - To help prospects define and understand their problem
- Consideration - To showcase the merits of your offer
- Decision - To persuade prospects into investing in your solution
5. Track and improvise content usage
To calculate and improve the ROI of your content marketing and sales enablement efforts, regularly track content consumption, both by your prospects and your sellers.
- Which content pieces are being viewed the most?
- Are there any specific content assets that are read and shared the most? Is there a common theme to them?
- What specific areas of content are prospects interacting with the most?
- Are there any content pieces that have remained under-utilized by sellers and why?
Use these insights to optimize your existing sales enablement content, as well as to plan new content.
How to Augment the Use of Content for Sales Enablement
It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room that we mentioned in the beginning - low content consumption by sales.
Let’s face it, there is no shortage of content. But sales reps don’t use content enough because they cannot find it, don’t trust its accuracy and recency, or cannot easily share it with the prospects.
Here’s how you can overcome these obstacles and use content to drive sales:
1. Get rid of off-platform content
Off-platform content is anything that a buyer accesses and reads on a third-party platform. This can be an email attachment, a YouTube video, or a syndicated content piece on another website.
All of us are guilty of sharing off-platform content with prospects. After all, all you have to do is copy/paste a link in the chat window only. But once the prospect goes off-platform, you cannot track their activity and gauge their engagement level.
So, the first step is to get rid of anything off-platform, and move everything to a centralized hub.
2. Create a centralized digital content hub
Use a digital deal room platform to create a centralized content library for your sales reps. Aggregating all of your sales enablement content in place not only makes content easily discoverable, but also allows marketing to easily audit, update, and share pieces with the sales team on the fly.
Having a central content hub also allows you to maintain greater consistency by making sure that all the sales reps are sharing the most recent, properly branded content assets with the prospects.
3. Make content easily discoverable
Once you have all the sales enablement content curated in one place, don’t forget to add appropriate metatags to them. Tag content pieces according to industry and buyer’s journey stage to allow your sales reps to deliver hyper-targeted content with the prospects in real-time.
4. Leverage content usage data
Make it a practice to regularly review content usage data to identify which content pieces work the best for specific industries, buyer persona, and buying stages. Train your sales reps to use this data to share tailored content and sell intelligently. Also, look into the content usage habits of your top performers, acknowledge their efforts, and coach your team to optimize their content consumption practices.
The time to use content for sales enablement is now
Content is the lifeblood of not just marketing, but also sales. Your sales team needs good content to engage prospects and close more deals, and they need it yesterday. Now is the time to align your content marketing and sales enablement efforts to create, utilize, and deliver content that can attract, engage, and convert prospects before your competitor does.