If you’re a marketer putting together content to create brand awareness, you might think sales enablement content sits outside of your remit – or at least, that it comes to a few steps further along in the customer journey. But, when it comes to content creation, keeping marketing and sales teams separate can be a mistake, and in fact, means both are losing out.
In this article, we’ll look at five types of sales enablement content, as well as tips for creating it and integrating it with your content strategy.
What is sales enablement content?
So first of all, what exactly is sales enablement content? Put simply, it’s any content that reinforces your brand narrative and provides an experience to your user or audience, leading up to making a sale or converting your prospective customer.
While either the marketing or sales teams might be directly responsible for creating their content (and remember, even if there are shared roles, it is important to delineate the sales and marketing department functions), each department should be informing the other. To the same end, it’s also really important to know and communicate the difference between sales managers and marketing managers. Collaborating on sales enablement content means the sales team can work productively with their assets, and the marketing team can focus closely on delivering content that works to assist the sales funnel.
How to create a sales enablement content strategy
The next question is, how do you create sales enablement content? As with all marketing and sales efforts, it starts with a strategy – and that means creating a well-structured and detailed sales and marketing plan.
While the marketing team should bring a deep understanding of the target customer to life, the sales team should be able to inform the content strategy with data and statistics. Together, you should decide on your goals for sales enablement content. Do you need to improve your lead generation with long-form content? Do you want to build trust with your audience by better leveraging your testimonials? Or, do your sales presentations need to be working harder?
Types of sales enablement content
With a strategy in place, you’ll be ready to get started on the content itself. Sales enablement content can be anything from explainer videos, testimonials, and case studies, to blog posts and white papers, interactive content, presentations, or sales scripts. Here, we’ll look in detail at five types of sales enablement content you should be developing.
Case studies & testimonials
Often, the most convincing way to build trust with new and potential customers is by sharing positive feedback from existing customers. This is an age-old strategy for both marketing and sales: it involves showing rather than telling.
While not developed directly as sales enablement content, testimonials and case studies can and should be used as part of a cohesive content journey.
If you’re struggling with the kind of content you have so far, try to develop testimonials that address salient parts of your service or product. In other words, you can try prompting customers with specific questions, instead of using an open-ended prompt, such as ‘how was your experience?’
For example, on the website homepage for meal kit company HelloFresh, the testimonials featured highlight some of the brand’s key USPs: healthy food, convenience, and quality tasting meals.
With case studies you have a little more control. Typically, marketers use three types of case studies: client case studies which cover (at a high level) the approach and outcomes of the solution you delivered; implementation case studies where you will take the client case study and go into the execution in detail; and explanatory case studies, which look at a company’s strategy and why it worked (usually, this is written as an observation).
As a general rule for any of these types of case studies, make sure you provide solid details. This anchors the case study in real insight and communicates what a customer can expect to get out of a transaction with your brand.
eBooks and white papers
Long-form written reports, such as eBooks and white papers, are great sales enablement tools that are often overlooked.
First, a white paper is a detailed report that outlines the best approach to a particular problem and justifies why that is the best approach. For any kind of commercial company, they can help to establish a brand as an expert voice in the field. If your marketing informs your sales team and vice versa, your white papers will be more effective – and good white papers should be working for lead generation. For example, the following whitepaper was released by Google, explaining the efficiency of Google Cloud products in keeping a user’s data secure. It’s authoritative and well researched, and importantly, simply designed and easy to read.
Similarly, eBooks can be used as a lead generation tool, as they’re downloadable, and can provide more value for your customer compared to reading a blog or watching a video. An eBook also allows you to go into a greater amount of detail to build your authority, as you deep-dive into comprehensively answering your customers’ questions or pain points. Beware though, this kind of long-form content runs the risk of being skimmed over – so a simple and clear design (as in this example whitepaper from Google) will serve you best.
Sales scripts or playbooks
A sales script or a playbook is a more traditional type of sales enablement content, which essentially sets out prescribed or likely talking points for the sales team to use. Unlike lead-generating content, such as eBooks and white papers, sales scripts come in at a later stage of the sales funnel. They should equip your sales rep for challenging situations, providing a guide to the best way to approach various eventualities. As they come at a crucial stage where the customer is making the decision to convert, it’s even more important to get the content right.
There are a few key things to focus on in any sales script. Firstly, you should ensure that anything included is consistent with the information that has come before. There should be no surprises, and ideally, it should include new, persuasive information to bring your customer across the line to the purchase decision.
Continually improving the sales script is also important. Leave room for improvisation, and if you’re a marketer writing the script, make sure you’re inviting regular feedback from your sales team. Highlight the benefits of your product or service, but ensure you’re ready to address common pain points (solving a problem is very likely the reason your customer is talking to you!)
Sales presentations should not be left solely to the sales team to create. Equally, if marketing is the only team working on these presentations, it’s easy to end up with a deck that lacks cohesion or doesn’t follow the typical journey for the customer.
As well as communicating the right ideas, the presentation itself is vital. You can skip a whole lot of design time (and expertise, if you’re not working with a design team) by using templates for your decks. Using presentation templates also helps with consistency, especially when you’re creating a range of decks at pace. That said, you can still use a pretty high level of customization – take a look at this guide to presentation templates.
For an example of a sales presentation that’s tightly on brand and communicates the sales message, look to this one from Snapchat Advertising. It clearly calls out its main selling points, backs them up with stats and examples, and presents everything in a highly visual way with graphs, charts, and success rates.
We’ve touched briefly on explainer videos as a type of content that adds value for customers, but you can take this further by creating a webinar. Similar to a white paper, eBook, or blog post, a webinar can help you delve into a particular topic in a more immersive and interactive way.
For an easy approach, a webinar could be based on a product demonstration. In fact, we’re seeing more companies using sales demonstrations to increase conversions. This can be a live event, giving your customers a real-time, authentic look at what your product or service can do for them, which you can record and make available for on-demand future use.
A webinar with interactive elements can also help to gather more information for both the marketing and sales team to ensure they’re on the right track – for example, by using polls throughout the session or with a few key feedback questions afterward.
As an example, software company Sprout Social focuses on social media management and analytics and offers a suite of live training via webinars. With classifications from ‘Fundamentals’ up to ‘Power Users’, customers can sign up for live sessions, or tune into recent recordings to get the content right away.
To wrap up…
Now that you have an idea of what makes for effective sales enablement content, your next step is to get some of these assets in place. Start small – you might already have testimonials or case studies ready to repurpose – and then start thinking about how long-form or interactive content could work for your brand. Most importantly, make sure you build and nurture a collaborative relationship between your sales and marketing teams.
This article is written by RealBusiness and originally published here