This article was originally published on Sales & Marketing Management.
What’s the No. 1 investment a B2B company can make to improve its sales cycle? The research points to sales enablement content. Content typically represents the first impression made on sales leads and the most valuable time saver for the sales team.
The research bears this out: A 2020 study conducted by CSO Insights found that roughly one-third of companies with content marketing strategies enjoyed 27% higher win rates than companies without them. A well-documented and well-executed B2B content marketing strategy is one sharp sales enablement tool for your arsenal.
Sales enablement content can empower your sales team to sell more and faster. Nothing bogs down sales more than answering long, question-laden emails. If the sales team has easy access to content – case studies, checklists, one-pagers, blog posts and more – that answers a concern or tells a story, it can leave prospects impressed with the sales rep’s expertise. They’ll feel educated and confident in doing business with the company. And the sales team will be happier because they can thoughtfully and efficiently address questions, which means spending less time in their inboxes and more time selling. Ultimately, that means more sales closed and better sales commissions.
Lead nurturing content comes in multiple formats, but any sales enablement content should strive to accomplish the same few goals. First and foremost, your content should be educational so that customers can better understand what your company does and why it’s important. Next, your content should help overcome common objections your sales team hears. Finally, your content should lay the groundwork for a strong relationship moving forward, priming prospects to become great customers. Ultimately, a well-planned content strategy is crafted with all these goals in mind.
Sales and marketing team alignment is key to success as well. For example, if your sales team is unsure what content to use for lead nurturing, have them look at what your marketing team has created for help connecting with new prospects and following up with leads. On the flip side, if your marketing team hits a creative slump, have them consult with your sales team. All those long emails your sales reps are sending are chock-full of information prospects are looking for. Taking that information and turning it into content saves sales reps time and helps move prospects through the buyer’s journey.
So the importance of B2B content marketing as a sales enablement tool is established, but how does a company implement lead nurturing content through the sales process? Good question. Consider a few examples of how my team uses sales enablement content to nurture leads:
On-site pieces of content like blog posts are useful tools to educate prospects about the company’s business and processes and how its work can help prospects’ companies. These pieces of content answer the most common questions that arise. With those questions answered, sales reps can spend more time going over a prospect’s specific needs and ideating strategies to help them reach their goals.
Ideally, the sales team is speaking with prospects when they’re at the education stage of the buyer’s journey, but oftentimes, leads will collect information independently online. That’s why it’s helpful to populate your website with educational articles. For example, our team has taken care to create content that answers who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why. Without these pieces of on-site content, prospects wouldn’t understand the company’s value and would be more likely to work with a competitor that makes these answers readily available.
After introductory calls with clients, my team always sends over a custom sales deck that provides an overview of our pricing, team structure, software, and case studies. This makes it easier for prospects to remember key points we discussed in our initial call and provides an easy way to share information about our company with their team’s decision makers before our next meeting.
Having a customizable sales deck saves our team a huge amount of time. Rather than spending hours scanning our resource library for the perfect case study or educational article, all the content we need is right in our deck. This also saves us time communicating with clients. Because our sales deck answers many of the questions clients may have about our pricing model or project workflow, we can spend sales calls discussing strategy and the nuances of their business.
My team uses case studies in every step of the sales cycle, and we’re not alone. According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing Report 2020, 13% of marketers use case studies as their primary piece of content within their content marketing strategies. So, why do we love case studies? They provide proof that we don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk. Case studies demonstrate that we’ve helped clients succeed in the past, increasing a prospect’s confidence that we can help them reach their goals.
While case studies are always helpful, there are some instances when they’re absolute game changers. Let’s say a prospect is worried that a particular solution won’t solve their pain point. Sending a case study that highlights how you worked with a similar company and faced a similar problem demonstrates your familiarity with the challenge. As another example, let’s say a prospect is worried about your company’s price point. You could send a case study showing how you helped a company of a similar size increase revenue or save money. In either example, a solid case study could make the difference between closing the sale or losing the lead.
If you’re looking to level up your sales cycle, it’s time to start investing in sales enablement content. By creating a compelling B2B marketing plan that prioritizes content, you’ll improve your sales team’s efficiency and make a better impression on leads.
I'm a VP at Influence & Co. I like my coffee black, my whiskey straight, and travel when I can afford it. I think most people just want to feel heard, and I’m happy to comply. I've also taken a sworn oath to never eat sushi.