How to Create a Content Strategy Focused on Sales Enablement
Too often, sales and marketing teams work in silos, failing to share customer and user data, helpful marketing and sales tools and — yes — content.
Sales creates a lot of content to turn leads into customers and customers into brand loyalists. Marketing and content teams can help Sales focus on selling by creating sales-enabled content for them.
What Is Sales Enablement?
It’s a pretty simple concept, actually. To help the sales team do their job effectively, marketing teams can provide content, analytics and tools to help them.
Here are some examples of how that works.
Content: Marketing can provide digital content of all types, at every stage of the buyer’s journey, to help Sales qualify leads and encourage people toward converting.
Sales Enablement Software, Analytics and Data: Analytics like click-throughs on emails and landing pages, scroll depths on blog posts and downloads of white papers will also help Sales qualify leads. Instead of cold calling a large pool of possible leads, sales teams can save time by homing in on those that showed interest via your website.
Sales Enablement Tools: Your sales team will save hours of time if they have on-brand email and slideshow templates, demo videos and case studies at their fingertips.
You can see a running theme, here. Sales enablement is all about allowing Sales to focus on qualified leads that will yield results. In doing so, Marketing and Sales work together to increase revenue and cut down on the time and cost of content creation.
The Role of Content in Sales Enablement
Did you know that, more often than not, Sales is creating the content they need to close deals? According to Hubspot, sales professionals create 61 percent of the content they use. And 90 percent of the content created by Marketing is never touched by the sales team.
That means Sales is spending a lot of time on content creation and not on selling. While Marketing is the keeper of the style and branding guides, with a well-structured content creation process, you can guess that not everything Sales is creating is consistently on-brand.
But that’s not their fault. They just don’t have access to the content and documentation they need to succeed at their job.
While I called out content as its own category in sales enablement, it’s really the foundation of everything you’re doing to help your sales team. At every step of the buyer’s journey, content is key to guiding potential customers through, getting that conversion and turning them into repeat customers, even brand loyalists.
And marketing teams should be sharing their content library as well as future campaigns with Sales. They should be integrating Sales needs and feedback in their content calendar, and they should be sharing analytics and data that can help sales reps target the right people to reach out to at the right stages in the buyer’s journey.
Mapping Content to the Buyer’s Journey
So let’s travel through the customer journey, and look at the different kinds of content, analytics and tools Marketing should be creating for their sales team to turn leads into customers.
Top of the Funnel
At the top of the funnel (the beginning of the buyer’s journey), you’re pulling in an audience through your SEO-optimized content and through Google Adwords. Really, what you’re doing is taking the first step in qualifying leads for Sales.
As long as you’ve created quality content that addresses user intent, you’re drawing in potential leads who will most likely take the next step in the customer journey.
At this stage, you’re providing Sales with analytics on the content categories that are drawing the biggest audience, getting the longest time on page and producing the highest number of pages per visit.
That gives sales professionals a smaller audience to work with. If, for example, you’re an ecommerce site for car parts and your content on brake pads is getting the most attention, the sales team has a place to start when reaching out to mechanics and auto body shops.
The topics you choose to cover will, of course, come from your own content research and auditing. But they can also come from your sales team. They’re out there talking to existing and potential customers. They can tell you what people are talking about, what they’re pain points are and what they’re interested in spending their money on. Take that input and turn it into topics for your SEO-optimized content.
Finally, provide the tools that will make your content work for Sales. Include live chat on high-interest content pages. Place CTAs that invite users to schedule a call with a sales rep, or an email link to ask a sales rep any questions.
Middle of the Funnel
At this stage, where potential customers are considering you, comparing you to competitors and looking up your reviews, providing more in-depth content can help both you and your sales team pull people further down the funnel.
Content, here, can be used both online and as sales material to send to prospective customers and clients. White papers, case studies and video demos all fall into this category.
These are the materials Sales is making on their own, but Marketing should really own this content. Integrate them into your content calendar. Use your already existing assets and resources to help make the best mid-funnel content that reflects your brand persona, your message and your voice.
If you’re that ecommerce site and you have a number of high-performing articles on brake maintenance and replacement, pull them together into an ebook. Gate it behind an email signup to gather leads for Sales. They can also use the ebook as a complementary handout when they meet with potential and existing clients.
If you have a newsletter to keep people’s interest, share data from those newsletters with Sales. Who has signed up? What are people clicking on from the newsletter?
Answering questions like these gives sales reps some background information when they reach out to prospects.
It’s important to mention that there will still be instances where Sales will have to put something together on the fly. Make sure you’re sharing all branding and editorial guidelines with them to make content creation easier. Provide slideshow and email templates.
In fact, make sure all marketing and sales content materials live in a shared folder or asset management system.
And don’t forget to provide CTAs for people to reach out to your Sales reps in every mid-funnel piece you create.
Bottom of the Funnel
The bottom of the funnel is where your sales team shines. This is where they focus their energy and work to make that conversion.
But marketing can still play a big role. Creating email surveys for customers and sharing results with Sales will give them testimonials to share. Creating on-brand fact sheets and templated emails for leads at this stage of the funnel will save Sales time.
Planning Your Sales Enablement Content
You know you need content that facilitates sales enablement, but you’re worried it will add to your workload. But sales enablement content creation is not any different from planning and creating your marketing content — nor should it be.
Planning and creating sales enablement content should be integrated with the rest of your content planning for 3 reasons:
- It will create consistency in messaging and branding across all content
- It will help you prioritize, map out and budget the kinds of content you need to create
- It will allow Marketing and Sales a view into all content created so both teams can use all assets to their advantage.
So when you’re planning out your content each quarter, or each year, simply keep Sales in mind. Get their input on the types of assets they need and keep them abreast of what you’re creating as part of your marketing plan.
Then, follow these steps.
1. Audit Your Content With Sales in Mind
When conducting an audit of your existing content, determine which pieces might be useful to your sales team. If you have case studies, testimonials or even blog pieces that Sales could use at any stage of the buyer’s journey, bring it to their attention.
Get their input on what they need at each stage, as well. If you don’t have content that covers their needs, prioritize it in your calendar. Work with your team to figure out how both Marketing and Sales can use the new content to prevent repetition.
2. Plan Multi-Purpose Content to Fill the Gaps
Content pieces like white papers, ebooks, case studies and product demos can serve both the sales and marketing teams. Sales can use them directly with potential customers while Marketing can use them in their content marketing plan to pull in an audience and create more qualified leads.
Plan as much of those types content as you can to maximize your time and your budget.
Make sure you include content assets exclusively for sales, as well. Providing templated emails and other materials may not seem like a marketing goal, but it really is. Giving your sales team solid content to work with draws in conversions just as much as your content marketing strategy does.
3. Assign Sales-Enabled Content
Some content will be created in-house, but demo videos, ebooks, white papers and even email copy can be outsourced. Create a content brief for each piece. When it comes in from your content creator, leave time for both you and Sales to give feedback.
4. Measure Your Content
The assessment of content success will be both analytical and anecdotal. Pull analytics on sales-enabled content online to determine how well it’s being received by your audience. Look at your click-throughs on CTAs as well as the number of demo requests and emails to Sales.
Anecdotally, Sales should be able to tell you which materials are getting a good response from potential clients and any feedback their getting while in the field.
Sales-enabled content should be just another piece of the puzzle in your content strategy. You and your team are the content experts. You have the data and knowledge to create engaging content that draws in potential leads and helps them to convert.
Use your expertise to help Sales free up their time and focus on what they do best: selling your product.
Laurie is a freelance writer, editor, and content consultant and adjunct professor at Fisher College. Her work includes the development and execution of content strategies for B2B and B2C companies, including marketing and audience research, content calendar creation, hiring and managing writers and editors, and SEO optimization. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.