Sales enablement is where sales and marketing overlap. It can mean different things for different companies, but it often involves content including whitepapers, pitch decks, case studies and emails (aka anything that helps the sales team educate and nurture prospective clients).
According to Highspot’s “State of Sales Enablement 2021” research report, sales enablement is becoming increasingly important and recognized in sales and marketing teams. The proportion of teams with a dedicated role in enabling sales jumped from 59 percent in 2019 to 74 percent in 2021. Even more important, the teams with a sales enablement function perform better than those without one.
Sales enablement works because it helps content connect more directly with how potential customers think and feel. Buyers are increasingly sophisticated and expect content that is tailored to them. Sales enablement does this by fueling content with insights informed by the sales cycle.
If you’re like many companies, you’re looking to ride out 2022 with a renewed emphasis on helping your sales and marketing teams work together to create an environment where sales flourish. But good intentions aren’t enough. Assembling a playbook of strategies will help you pin down the actions that work for your company and make the results you see from your sales enablement content more measurable and repeatable.
Here are some tips you can put into place to equip your sales and marketing teams to work together to close more deals in 2022.
The first thing to recognize about sales enablement is that you won’t necessarily get better results from constantly feeding marketing content to the sales team.
You might find that salespeople ask for a lot of tailored content from marketing. For instance, if they’re looking for specific information to relay to a lead or just want to feel prepared to answer every single type of question a lead could potentially ask, salespeople might reach out requesting that specific collateral be created. But this can lead to the marketing team being overextended and spending a lot of time delivering unnecessary content that might only be used once or twice.
Instead of marketing being “on-call” for the sales team, try having the marketing team put together an editorial calendar, a place where it can log each piece of content it’s producing, giving sales a clear view of the pipeline. If salespeople really need a particular piece of collateral and they don’t see it on the calendar, they can then request it.
Need help with building out your editorial calendar? This custom template can help:
Sales-marketing alignment begins with goals. If both teams are working toward different objectives, sales enablement content is unlikely to work. And many teams report this as an issue. In fact, 90 percent of sales and marketing professionals say they experience misalignment of strategy, process and content.
With that in mind, sales-marketing alignment begins by aligning the teams’ goals. Then, you can connect the dots between sales and marketing objectives by keeping a shared spreadsheet to track key performance indicators. This enables everyone to get the same snapshot of the company’s progress and trajectory and better understand how each individual department can help the team at large to thrive.
To help you envision the types of information your teams could track, here’s a screenshot of our marketing and sales KPI tracker template:
The most valuable sales enablement content is always going to be the collateral that directly speaks to your audience’s needs, wants, curiosities and pain points. However, most of the time, this isn’t the kind of content that teams produce. A poll by Janrain finds that consumers are feeling frustrated at content that doesn’t recognize their needs and interests.
One way to start turning those interests and needs into content that serves potential clients is to talk to them more. Your marketing team could sit in on sales calls and take notes on the questions and concerns that arise. These insights could directly shape content campaign ideas and the language used in your marketing and sales enablement messaging.
Your team doesn’t have time to produce every kind of content about every kind of topic, so prioritize. High-quality case studies should be at the top of the priority list because they provide real-world validation, nudging a prospective customer to trust your company. (Here are some case study examples to help you get started.)
It’s not that case studies necessarily close deals, but they do provide a crucial piece of affirmation that can help a potential client take steps toward making a purchase decision. Neil Patel claims that case studies aid his closing ratio by 70 percent. This approach is effective because if a product or service has worked for one customer, a potential customer will be able to imagine how it might work for them, too.
Sales and marketing teams can come together and brainstorm the types of case studies that would be the most helpful in the sales process. Use information from salespeople’s conversations with leads: Which services are receiving the most pushback? Are there specific results leads are looking for that your team needs to illustrate?
Marketing teams are often tasked with creative work, but sales have a role to play in imaginative content, too. In fact, sales enablement content often requires creative tweaking by the sales team in the moment. Salespeople should feel empowered to improvise and add detail and color as they learn more about a prospect.
So instead of having marketing start from scratch with a new proposal or slide deck, first ask the sales team to share any of the versions they’ve customized. You might discover more effective ways to present the content, and the whole team can take inspiration from how salespeople have personalized their approaches.
Potential clients expect content that is personally relevant to them. They want to see their pain points illustrated and their desires played out. But your team members are not mind-readers. To start making content that addresses your audience’s preferences directly, you need to create a culture of communication between sales and marketing, the two teams that have a direct line to prospects.