Sales enablement has seen a steady rise in adoption over the years. According to LinkedIn, less than 20% of organizations reported they were using sales enablement in 2013, but by 2019 over 60% have embraced the strategy.
With that in mind, we’ve turned to the experts to learn why sales enablement is growing, and what impact content marketing can have on the sales process.
What Sales Enablement Is and Why It’s Growing
“Sales enablement means efficiently developing content, information and resources to be utilized as part of the entire sales funnel,” said Hitesh Sahni, founder & managing director of Smemark. That means it's the collaboration of marketing, sales and other related departments within an organization. Colton De Vos, marketing specialist at Resolute Technology Solutions, agrees that sales enablement means creating “materials that accelerate or enhance the sales process.” These resources could be case studies, short product briefs, free checklists, FAQ sheets and more. Any content that helps sales teams can be considered part of a sales enablement strategy.
“The reason sales enablement has gained prominence in recent times is that it has solved the age-old problem of inadequate collaboration between marketing and sales teams,” Sahni said. Sales teams need relevant content to entice new clients and improve conversations, but in the past this wasn’t immediately accessible. Through sales enablement, however, the communication gap between the marketing teams creating content and the sales teams that want to leverage it can be bridged.
How Content Marketing Bolsters Sales Enablement
Sales enablement continues to grow as organizations realize the benefits of collaboration between sales and marketing teams. And when it comes to creating a sales enablement strategy, content marketing is the backbone that fosters customer engagement and moves leads along the customer journey.
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Content Is the Backbone of Sales Enablement
“Fundamentally,” Sahni said, “the purpose for content marketing and sales enablement is the same.” That is, to improve sales by generating leads and informing potential customers about a brand’s products or services. “In application,” Sahni explained, “you may think of content marketing as the backbone of the sales enablement process.”
Most consumers learn about a brand through the content it creates and publishes. “Content marketing assists in setting up your sales enablement strategy accordingly,” Sahni explained, “which permits you to create content specific to a platform.” Content published on the platform a brand’s target audience uses complements the presence of a strong sales team, and improves customer engagement in the long run.
Content Engages Prospects Through the Sales Cycle
“Content marketing comes into play by creating these materials to address and engage prospects at each stage of the sales cycles,” De Vos said. For generating leads, content like blogs and web pages that are optimized for search engines or graphics that are easy to share on social media platforms work well. Also, lead magnets — downloadable eBooks, whitepapers, or case studies — can connect potential leads with sales teams. “Then your sales team can use [this content] to move prospects through the process,” De Vos explained, “by qualifying them, giving them pricing ranges and sharing similar success stories from other organizations in their industry.” But sales enablement resources are even more effective if they’re tailored to the individual. “The more specific and relevant the sales enablement materials,” added De Vos, “the more likely they are to appeal to your prospects.”
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Content Streamlines Consumer Inquiries
Content can also streamline the sales process by eliminating the need for sales teams to continuously answer common consumer inquiries. “The majority of the questions and roadblocks that sales teams run into from prospects are going to be the same or similar,” said Bernard May, CEO of National Positions. Potential leads usually want to know why a brand’s solution is better or more unique than the competition and how a company can support these claims.
“Creating content that answers these questions from scratch for every new prospect would be time-consuming (or better yet, time-wasting),” May said. That’s why easy access to marketing content that addresses consumer inquiries can improve the sales process by reducing the amount of time spent trying to close a deal. May recommends producing content that’s informative, yet still engaging like case studies, product comparisons, or videos that sales teams can quickly send to potential leads whenever necessary.
Consider Adopting a Sales Enablement Strategy
While many organizations have already jumped on board, 2020 could be the year for many brands to get started implementing a sales enablement strategy of their own. In the end, “Sales enablement helps shorten the sales cycle and cut through the noise of other vendors by cutting right to the chase and demonstrating the, ‘What’s in it for me’ for prospects,” DeVos said. Let content fuel the sales process and achieve greater business results.