September 14, 2020 Prafull Sharma
The most successful companies know that communication isn’t just a one-way conversation between the marketing department and prospective customers. It’s a big, bustling event, with multiple discussions happening all the time — between stakeholders, the press, influencers, employees and — an often-overlooked group: the sales team.
The sales team are often those who are the direct point of contact between your brand and the outside world. Yet, it’s surprising how often this group doesn’t communicate with the marketers — the other department that talks directly to the customers.
In an ideal world, these two should be working together: the marketing department starts the conversation, and the sales team seals the deal. To help you out, we’re going to explain how to foster a stronger relationship between the two — and how to use content marketing as a key part of your sales enablement strategy.
What is Sales Enablement?
According to LinkedIn, fewer than 20% of organizations reported using sales enablement in 2013. By 2019 that figure had grown to 60% as more and more businesses embraced it.
Sales enablement is a term that describes the collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Sales enablement content is anything that fosters a conversation between your business and the intended audience. It doesn’t rely on aggressive sales-style tactics designed to confuse and dupe, à la The Wolf of Wall Street. It should be, first and foremost, helpful, informative, and have real value. Let’s run through some of the most popular formats:
Blog Posts, Articles, and Thought Leadership Pieces
Blog posts can be used throughout the sales funnel. They are valuable sales tools that educate, build brand awareness, and foster a sense of community around your business. They’re easy to create and share, and can double as reference documents for your sales team.
E-books and Whitepapers
Considered lead magnets, these tools help your sales team provide value to high profile contacts. They contain in-depth information about how the brand will answer the prospect’s needs and can also work as a pitch document for salespeople. They can be linked to your website, or shared digitally via email, on social media, or at a virtual networking event.
Case studies are customer-focused pieces that help both sales teams and prospects gain a better understanding of your customers and their needs. They should make it easy for your salespeople to explain how your business has demonstrated its value, made a positive impact on customers, and satiated a market need. They’re often used as proof of value for late-stage prospects.
Social Media Content and Email Marketing Campaigns
Social media and email are high-converting channels for markers and sales teams alike. Marketers create useful, entertaining, and informative content, which is then used to foster relationships between prospects. They count as both lead generators at the start of the funnel, and relationship-building communication at later stages of the funnel.
Creating Content for the Sales Funnel
When creating content, remember to match it not just to the audience, but to different stages of the sales funnel.
Blog posts, social media updates and newsletters are ideal for generating leads. They are optimized for search engines to make them easy to find and should always encourage readers to share them. Leads magnets, like whitepapers and ebooks, work in a similar way and can put sales teams in contact with high-value leads.
Supplemented with webinars, FAQ sheets, surveys, and emails, this valuable content can attract new customers as well as save your sales team having to answer numerous questions at later stages of the sales funnel. This means you’ll have warmer leads coming your way, and your sales team’s job will be much easier.
How to Make Sales Enablement a Part of Your Sales Strategy
Well-executed, content marketing helps your business garner attention, start conversations with high-profile prospects, and close deals. So, how do you use your content to do all of this? Let’s look at the barriers standing in the way.
What Are the Barriers to Sales Enablement?
According to SiriusDecisions, 65% of content goes to waste. In addition, sales teams have to look in an average of six different places to find what they need. Here are three of the main issues:
- The marketing team creates loads of great content but doesn’t share it with the sellers.
- The sales team doesn’t find or study marketing content.
- Both teams are too busy and don’t communicate with each other.
Overcoming barriers is never easy: old habits die hard and if your organization currently struggles with silos and/or a hectic schedule, then it’ll be tough. The good news is, it’s not impossible.
Change the Relationship Between Sales and Marketing
We need to change the way sales teams and the marketing department see — and communicate — with each other. It may be helpful to think of them as being on the same team: they’re both there to show the customer how useful your business is. The marketing team creates the answers, then, armed with helpful content, the sales team communicates these solutions to the customer.
Three Tips on Fostering Collaboration Between Sales and Marketing:
- Align the teams by introducing them to each other. Encourage regular catch-ups or opportunities for information-sharing.
- Let the sales team know where they can find content and train the marketing team to explain that content to sales.
- Take advantage of content experience software. Tools can empower sellers to customize their outreach and let marketing teams maximize the value of the content they create.
Why Content Marketing Should Be a Key Part of Your Sales Strategy
Content marketing and sales enablement have the same goals: to generate leads and boost sales by telling customers about products. The best content for these purposes aligns with the overall goals of the business and enables salespeople to develop mutually beneficial relationships with customers.
Creating content — from blog posts and how-tos to whitepapers and e-books — should be a key part of your marketing and sales strategy.
Whether you’re topping up your blog stash or catching up with clients on social media, keep your audience’s needs at the forefront of everything you create. That way, when the sales team uses it, they can position themselves as the kind of supportive, helpful people customers want to talk to.
Prafull Sharma is the Founder of content marketing agency LeadsPanda. He shares tips to 2x your content marketing results on the LeadsPanda blog.