No sales process is complete without an intensive Q&A session between the buyer and the seller.
While reps should be able to answer all of the customer’s questions effectively, sometimes the word of a salesperson on its own is not enough. That’s why businesses rely on sales enablement to help win more business and close more deals.
Sales enablement is a popular, yet loosely defined, term for businesses. Depending on who you ask, sales enablement can be described as any, multiple, or all of the following:
- A process aimed at helping align the buyer’s journey with your sales process, improve your sales training process, and reduce the sales cycle.
- How sales teams access relevant content, tools, and strategies to drive conversations with their prospects, from start to close.
- Sales and marketing working cross-functionally to create educational materials about your product, service, and/or business.
- Segmenting and tailoring content to your various audiences and use cases.
- Creating easy access to the most up-to-date positioning, language, and terminology on your product, service, and/or business.
- Whatever it takes to help sales focus on their customers and conversations — most commonly a library of tools to utilize when needed
In this article, we’ll walk through the steps your business should take to ensure your sales team is enabled with the right content, information, and processes.
What Does Sales Enablement Do and Why Does It Matter?
Companies that employ best-in-class sales enablement strategies see a 14% increase in annual contract values and overall deal size.
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement can be best simplified as giving sales the tools, resources, and content that it needs to close more deals. Sales enablement comes in the form of software, knowledge, and content like videos, case studies, blog posts, and datasheets. These resources are to be wielded by sales throughout the buyer’s journey to win more clients and generate more revenue for a company. If utilized successfully, sales enablement can reduce the sales cycle and increase company’s bottom line with more Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).
Is Sales Enablement Part of Sales or Marketing?
Sales enablement is a shared responsibility between the sales and marketing teams. However, the typical breakdown sees the marketing team responsible for creating sales enablement content, and the sales organization responsible for utilizing the content and reporting back its usefulness to the marketing team to alter the content based on sales’ feedback. This relationship varies by organization, with sales enablement acting as its own department in large enough companies.
How to Build Sales Enablement Tools into Your Marketing Program
In this section, we’ll walk through the steps you should take to bring the minds of the sales and marketing departments together to ensure reps have the best collateral available to help close deals and grow your customer base.
1. Audit Existing Resources and Content
Somewhere, in the depths of your blog, content library, or YouTube page, you probably have content that can be tweaked – or even utilized as is – for sales enablement purposes. Think about your demo or explainer videos, product comparison blog posts, or bottom-of-the-funnel eBooks or content offers, like a buyer’s guide for your product or software.
This is why we suggest performing a content audit and categorizing content into three different buckets from a sales enablement perspective.
- Collect existing assets: This includes product one-pagers, case studies, testimonials, educational videos, blog posts, and white papers.
- Review for accuracy: Is the information up to date? Good sales enablement content should ensure sales reps have the most up-to-date messaging on your product
- QA the branding: Is this piece of content aligned with our brand standards? Does it use our colors, fonts, logos and tone of voice?
- Analyze its effectiveness: Does it answer the buyer’s questions? Is it compelling?
- Align it with a stage of the buyer’s journey: At what point in the buyer’s journey would a prospect get the most value from this?
By completing this audit, sales enablement will be better equipped to speak to what gaps there are in sales enablement content, which sales and marketing can then collaborate on creating.
2. Determine Your Ideal Sales Enablement Tools
Depending on your industry, your buyer personas could respond to some content types more positively than others. For example, video sales enablement content might work better for products that need to be seen in-use, while side-by-side comparisons might make sense for a SaaS business that offers more product features than its competitor.
Review these popular sales enablement tools and determine – based on your successful existing content and your content gaps – which types make the most sense to prioritize.
Video content is essential for sales enablement in the 2020s. By showing your product in action in a demo video, or by bringing a happy customer’s story to life in a case study, video elevates any piece of sales content.
Video content is eye-catching, can be utilized on multiple distribution channels, and can show your product/service in action that other content cannot do nearly as well. However, it is typically the most expensive content to produce, and it’s more difficult than other content types to alter if information is changed down the line.
In less than two minutes, Airtable clearly outlines how and why their product should be used in a visual, interactive way that copywriting or imagery cannot always get across.
A datasheet boils down the essential selling points of your product onto a single document. This piece of content is perfect for simplifying complex B2B technologies and explaining the ROI. You may find it worthwhile to create datasheets for each of your products, depending on the size of your product suite and the diversity of the needs of your buyer personas.
Slide decks are ideal for demos, whether pre-recorded or live over video conferencing software like Zoom. In the slide deck, the bulk of the presentation can stay the same, and the rep can change certain content for each demo or video. The raw files of a slide deck can also be sent right to your prospects, allowing them to look through the content on their own time.
A whitepaper is “a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution.” Similar to a datasheet – but longer and more detailed – a whitepaper adds more background to the data points for your product, includes more imagery, and may be more product agnostic.
For those concerned with securing their content, Hitachi wrote this thorough whitepaper on how its software promotes security – with plenty of charts and convincing data points included.
For further down the pipeline, case studies are an optimal piece of sales enablement content. These customer success stories add a personal touch to your sales team’s claims. Great case studies include customer quotes, convincing data points, and even video to add legitimacy to the use case being presented.
Battle cards equip your sales team with side-by-side comparisons to one or more of your competitors. If your competition comes up during a conversation with your prospects, referencing or sharing your sales battle cards to explain where and how your product differs from a competitor’s is an effective way to win more deals.
Blog Posts and Longform Content
In short, any content type can be used for sales enablement, including blog posts, eBooks, buyer’s guides, and more. It’s up to your marketing and sales teams to collaborate on ways to determine which content types are most appropriate for your buying process.
Sales Enablement Reporting
One of the not-so-easy parts of the sales enablement process is determining how successful your sales enablement content is. However, if you’re using a sales enablement software that can attribute wins and losses to specific pieces or types of content, you’ll have the necessary insights into which content is or is not working, and which content you should prioritize creating.
To prove the impact of your sales enablement efforts, you’ll want to report on each of the following metrics:
- Time to revenue: A well-oiled sales enablement machine should limit the overall amount of time it takes from someone to go from a website visit to a paying customer. This is especially true if you have great content on your blog and an efficient marketing automation process.
- Quota attainment: If reps are hitting or exceeding their goals after you’ve improved or implemented a sales enablement program, you may be able to attribute this success to the enablement collateral available to them.
- Time spent actively selling: By definition, sales enablement content should do much of the persuasion in lieu of your reps. With enough of the right sales enablement resources, you should see a decrease in the time spent actively selling on a prospect-by-prospect basis.
- Content usage: Track pageviews and engagement with your sales enablement software to connect the dots between these metrics and close rates. If your sales reps are sending over PDFs or offline versions of your content, have them make a note in your CRM to ensure interaction with that content is recorded.
- Sales funnel transition rates: Tracking conversion rates from lead-to-MQL, MQL-to-opp, and opp-to-deal can inform your sales enablement prioritization. For example, if your lead-to-MQL rate increases, but your MQL-to-opp conversion rate stays flat, you may want to invest in the creation of more middle-of-the-funnel sales content.
- Win rate: Win rate is certain to go up as a result of effective sales enablement. A wide collection of content, customized for different buyer personas and use cases, should be able to convince more prospects of your business’ worth to them.
- Attach rate: As your content library expands, you’ll find yourself with content specifically designed for cross selling and upselling. This should result in a stronger attach rate.
- Deals closed: Last – but obviously not least – is the number of deals closed. It goes without saying that an increase in all of the above metics with the help of your sales enablement content will generate more deals for your business.
Sales Enablement Optimization
As your company evolves, your sales enablement priorities will shift. Here are some steps you should take to continuously optimize your sales enablement process.
Update Content Regularly
To keep your sales enablement content relevant, keep an eye on how often each piece of collateral is used and how effective it is. That way, you’ll be prepared to edit it as needed, or remove it from your library if it’s no longer needed.
Additionally, keep an eye on your competitive landscape. If a competitor updates its software, make sure your battle cards, case studies, and comparison sheets that mention your competitor reflect whatever changes were made.
Develop an SLA
If sales and marketing are jointly responsible for the production of sales enablement content, draft a service level agreement (SLA) that both parties agree to. This SLA will eliminate any ambiguities surrounding expectations of duties and deliverables.
For example, your SLA may note that sales is responsible for providing first-hand intel from prospect conversations about which content to create, and sales will agree to loop marketing in with data points on which content works best. Conversely, marketing would be responsible for writing, designing, and publishing sales enablement content and altering the sales team as to its publication. By having clear lines clarifying who is responsible for what, both teams can focus on doing their part and generating more business.
Join Forces for Optimal Content
If your company doesn’t have a dedicated sales enablement team, have marketing, sales, and even product sync regularly for a status check on the state of sales enablement. Sales can alert marketing to their biggest gaps in content, and product can inform marketing which updates are on the horizon so that content can be made accordingly. Bringing these three teams together can result in all of your sales enablement bases being covered.
Use Sales Enablement Software
Sales enablement technology is a no-brainer for companies that have the budget. Sales enablement software can identify which collateral is the most valuable to your reps and your prospects during the buyer’s journey, giving your team the insight to prioritize creating and updating the right content moving forward.
We recommend using a sales software that connects to a CRM like HubSpot. While not exclusively a sales enablement software, HubSpot tracks and reports on user activity on your website and prospects’ interactions with your content, giving your confidence into what role collateral plays in the sales cycle.
Set Your Sales and Marketing Teams Up for Success!
It’s time to take your sales enablement to the next level. By creating more intentional, customized sales enablement collateral of various content types, your sales team will be better equipped to speak to individual prospect needs, reduce time actively selling, and close more deals to create a more trusting and tailored-to customer base.
Do you need additional firepower to get your marketing and sales teams set up for success? Partner with a HubSpot Agency to take your sales enablement strategy to the next level.