Selling is critical to any business's success. Companies have gone to great lengths to support their sales teams, providing extensive training and equipping them with tools that include sales automation, customer relationship management, and lead management software. Another sales support tool rapidly gaining prominence is sales enablement content, material teams can use to answer questions and close deals.
According to consultancy firm CSO Insights, the proportion of businesses using sales enablement exploded from under 20% in 2013 to over 60% in 2019. And it's not hard to see why: companies using sales enablement have an average win rate of 49% on forecasted deals, compared to a win rate of 42.5% for those without sales enablement.
Interested in joining these companies and closing more deals with sales enablement content? Let's get into a comprehensive overview of the sales tool and its importance.
What Is Sales Enablement Content?
Sales enablement content is material that salespeople can use during the sales process to close deals. These materials help sales team members improve their techniques and effectiveness, educate potential customers on product features and benefits, answer questions, overcome objections, provide use cases, and offer social proof to instill trust.
Different sales enablement content can have different audiences. Some materials, such as buyer personas and sales scripts, are for internal consumption to meet sales team needs and improve productivity. Other types of content, such as explainer videos, case studies, and user testimonials, are for distribution to potential customers to help them better understand a company's products and services.
Among the sales enablement materials designed for external consumption, the most appropriate content type can depend on the role of the audience, where they are on the customer journey, and the specific interaction between the sales pros and prospects.
For example, a company that sells cloud database management systems may offer product sell sheets and blog posts to the engineers of a potential customer since they'll be using the product daily and can benefit from more detailed technical information. On the other hand, case studies and whitepapers that provide a high level view of the product can be more appropriate for management decision-makers, such as the CTOs and IT directors. Similarly, webinars and explainer videos work well in the early stages of the buyer's journey, while sales presentations are more suitable for potential customers close to making a purchase decision.
The Importance Of Sales Enablement Content
Sales enablement content can improve your team's productivity and alignment with the marketing department. It can also help you scale your sales organization quickly and optimize your sales process continually.
Saves Time for Salespeople
Ideally, you want your sales team to spend as much time as possible on customers. But in reality, the average salesperson spends almost 60% of their time searching for information and creating content to send to prospects.
By creating a standard set of sales enablement content your team can draw from when needed, you can save them a lot of time and help them to focus on their core job: selling.
Increases Sales Effectiveness
Despite spending most (60%) of their time finding and producing content, sales professionals struggle to satisfy their customers' requirements. According to sales enablement platform developer Seismic, 78% of buyers say the quality of the materials they receive from salespeople doesn't meet their needs.
By establishing a dedicated sales enablement team focused on understanding your customers' information needs and creating first-rate materials, you can improve your sales content's quality, ensuring your customers are satisfied.
Aligns Sales and Marketing
One of the biggest challenges in sales and marketing is to get the two departments to work seamlessly together. The production of sales enablement content provides an opportunity for your sales team and marketers to collaborate closely and understand each other's needs, leading to improved alignment between the two functions.
For example, by working on a case study together, salespeople can better understand the company's market positioning, while the marketing team can gain valuable insights into the selling process.
Supports Sales Training and Onboarding
In addition to educating potential customers on your product's features and use cases, you can also use sales enablement content for sales training and sales rep onboarding.
Materials such as sales scripts and playbooks help sales team members hone their techniques, while explainer videos and product sell sheets can get new hires up to speed on product knowledge. And with improved training and onboarding, businesses can scale their sales organizations more rapidly and effectively.
Optimizes Sales Process and Content
With a standardized set of sales enablement content, you can experiment with varying versions of the materials to optimize your sales process.
For example, you can create two sales script versions and assign them to salespeople randomly for A/B testing. By tracking each version's result, such as sales cycle length or conversion rate, you can compare effectiveness and adopt the higher-performing one.
You can also run similar A/B tests for email templates and sales presentations to improve their performance. Using this approach, you can continually optimize your sales process and content, leading to higher sales performance and revenue growth.
Types Of Sales Enablement Content
To save you time and help you focus your sales enablement content strategy on the most impactful areas, we've developed a list of the top 13 types of materials that have the most effect on closing deals and improving sales.
A customer persona is a hypothetical profile that describes and represents a specific type of customer. Each persona is a short one-pager that contains essential information about a fictional customer, such as:
- Short description
- Demographics: age, education, location, gender, etc
- Job title
- Needs and pain points
- Customer journey
A business typically has multiple customer personas, representing different decision-makers and stakeholders in the buying process.
For example, an IT security consulting firm may have a customer persona, "John," who's a system administrator with the pain points of defending his employer's computer system against hacking attacks and getting paged in the middle of the night to deal with emergencies. A second customer persona is "Jenny," a CTO who needs to juggle her IT budget and justify to her CEO any money spent on security with a detailed ROI analysis.
Customer personas should be the foundation of your sales enablement content strategy, as different customer personas may require different versions of a content type. Using our example above, the sales script for John, the system administrator, should focus on how the consulting firm's services can help him perform his daily tasks more effectively and make his life less stressful. Meanwhile, the sales script for Jenny, the CTO, should concentrate on how the consulting firm can meet her business' strategic goals.
A whitepaper is an in-depth, authoritative report or guide that offers a detailed analysis of a specific topic. Its goal is to educate the readers on an issue and help them make an informed decision. As a type of sales enablement content, whitepapers also need to address the customer's pain points and persuade them to adopt the proposed solution.
A whitepaper should be based on hard facts, research, or quantitative data. As different customer personas can have varying needs and pain points, you may need to create distinct versions of whitepapers for your various customer personas, each focusing on their unique needs.
For example, a wealth management firm may produce a whitepaper on growth-oriented investment strategies for its younger clients. On the other hand, a different whitepaper focusing on protecting nest eggs and reducing risks can be more relevant for the firm's older customers near retirement.
Whitepapers can also serve as sales training materials by helping sales professionals understand their customer's pain points and become experts in the solutions they sell.
Case studies are customer success stories of how they use your products to address their pain points. They're highly persuasive pieces of content for selling because they show how your product solves real problems in the real world while offering social proof to instill trust in your company.
Your case studies should be concise and to the point. You can use a standardized case study template including these sections:
- Customer background: For a business customer, provide information about its size, location, and industry. For example, your case study is about a medium-sized law firm in Boston.
- Pain points and solutions: What problems did the customer try to solve? How can your product meet their needs and address their pain points? For example, the customer needed to store and retrieve their legal documents, and you offered a cloud document management system to meet that requirement.
- Project details: How did the customer implement your solution? How long did it take? How much did it cost? What changes did they need to make? For example, it took less than a week for the customer to get up and running on your system since, as a cloud-based app, it didn't require any installation or customization.
- Outcomes: What results did your product deliver? Provide specific numbers and metrics if possible. For example, your cloud software cut document retrieval errors by 70% while providing a 35% ROI.
A sales script helps your sales reps interact with and sell to customers by providing a structured guide on what to say and how to redirect. It can be as specific as a detailed dialogue or as open-ended as a conversation overview with key talking points.
Your sales script can vary depending on the customer interactions, with phone calls and in-person meetings requiring distinct styles of exchanges. Customer personas may also impact sales scripts. Selling to a finance manager can be very different than talking to a CFO, calling for varying sales scripts targeted at the two roles.
Blog posts can boost your sales productivity. If a potential customer asks a question, your sales rep can spend a lot of time finding information and crafting a response, or they can point the customer to a relevant blog post, saving time and effort.
To get blog post ideas, ask your sales team and customers what kind of content they want. You can also use content research software, such as BuzzSumo and Exploding Topics, to find trending topics in your industry.
High-quality blog posts can also attract visitors to your website as part of your content marketing effort. To increase your blog visibility, run SEO on your posts by building backlinks and including relevant keywords. Share your content on social media to drive traffic further.
A sales playbook collects your best practices and customer communication tactics in one place to increase your sales team's ability to close more deals faster.
To create your sales playbook, interview your sales professionals for their war stories and insights. Distill that knowledge into a set of rules and guidances for various sales situations.
To make your sales playbook easier to use, store it in a CRM system, such as HubSpot or SugarCRM, to turn it into an interactive software tool your salespeople can query on demand. Such a system is also an effective tool for sales training and onboarding.
Like whitepapers and blog posts, ebooks can educate potential customers on your products and answer their questions, saving your sales reps time and freeing them to focus on selling.
Ebooks can also serve as a lead-generation tool. For example, many businesses ask anyone wanting to download an ebook to provide their contact information before granting access. A sales rep will then contact the downloader in a follow-up sales call.
In general, ebooks are longer and more comprehensive than other types of sales enablement content. To keep the readers' attention, keep the material concise and include visual elements, such as charts and infographics.
Product Sell Sheets
Product sell sheets are one-page documents that showcase your product's features and benefits. They should be visually interesting to grab the audience's attention.
Given the limited space, product sell sheets don't need to include all product functionality and information. Instead, decide on a few features you want to highlight and focus on them. The highlighted features can also differ by customer personas.
For example, a moisturizer may target both "nature lovers" and "skincare addicts" as buyers. For the first persona, you want a product sell sheet stressing the moisturizer's all-natural ingredients. For the second persona, a sell sheet focusing on the product's anti-aging function can be more effective.
Explainer videos function like product sell sheets to describe your product's features, benefits, and usages. But it can potentially reach a much bigger audience, given how many people prefer watching videos to reading text.
While you can hire actors to create live-action videos, a simpler alternative is to make animated or whiteboard explainer videos using a video-making tool, such as PowToon or Mango Animate.
Start with writing a script. Focus on the product features or benefits you want to highlight to keep the video short, preferably under 3 minutes. Hire a professional voice actor or video editor if needed.
A professional and polished sales presentation can impress potential customers and set your company apart from competitors.
To create a high-quality sales presentation, interview your top salespeople to learn their approaches and techniques. Distill them into slides that all salespeople can use.
Incorporate videos, animations, and interactive elements into your presentation to increase customer engagement. Train your sales team on delivery techniques to optimize their effectiveness.
Email is an effective way to reach potential customers on a large scale at a low cost. You can save your sales team time and effort by giving them standardized templates they can use to generate personalized emails.
Before designing email templates, study your sales reps' previous emails to assess their effectiveness. You can run A/B tests on various template designs to find the highest-performing one. Track your email campaign using quantitative metrics, including open and response rates, and adjust your template design to optimize performance.
Create different templates for different types of customer interactions, such as initial contacts and follow-up emails.
In addition to showcasing your product and explaining how to use it, webinars also offer the opportunity to engage with your potential customers, answer their questions, and address their concerns directly. As such, they're great for building trust and relationships with prospects.
While the host of your webinars can be a marketer or salesperson, you may want a product expert, such as a product manager or engineer, present to provide in-depth product knowledge.
You can host a webinar for free using an online video platform, such as YouTube Live or Facebook Live. There's no limit on the number of participants, and you can record your webinar for replay later.
To improve audience engagement, incorporate interactive elements such as Q&A sessions and polls into your webinars.
Testimonials provide social proof to assure prospects that choosing your product is the right decision.
Customer testimonials can be in various formats, including text quotes in infographics or case studies and video footage of customer interviews. No matter what format, they should be concise. You can create multiple customer testimonials for multiple market segments and buyer pain points.
For example, say your company sells cloud HR software to both enterprises and small businesses. Create a testimonial from a small business owner on how they save money using your software. In addition, get the SVP of HR at a large company to talk about how your application helps them comply with government regulations.
Ready To Start With Sales Enablement Content?
To learn even more about sales enablement, check out our article "How To Do Sales Enablement To Boost Your Bottom Line." Leave your comment below if you have any questions or feedback, and don't forget to join our mailing list for updates on the latest best practices to maximize your revenue.