This is a topic I’m not only passionate about, but also one we execute directly: I spoke about it last year at INBOUND 2018, and my team also uses these tactics internally. Aligning our marketing and sales teams to create content with sales in mind has armed our sales team with ways to back up conversations, save time, and ultimately close more-educated customers. This, in turn, increases our overall client lifetime value.
Why Should Marketing Care About Sales Enablement?
Most marketers are evaluated on their department’s ability to generate new leads for the sales team to solicit. But more sophisticated companies are also evaluating their marketing departments based on how many of those leads actually convert to sales. This means marketers must go a step beyond just generating leads by actually helping the sales team close more sales.
While we don’t recommend pulling the phone from a salesperson’s hands and taking over a call, there are ways that marketers can infuse themselves (and their messaging) into the sales process. Specifically, they do this through awesome sales enablement content that successfully educates and engages your target audience.
But the only way to create usable sales enablement content is by working collaboratively — both marketing and sales — in a highly structured process. While the phrases “structured,” “process,” and “sales department” don’t always belong in the same sentence, this article will provide exact steps to ensure buy-in through the creation and deliverance of awesome content:
1. Make communication easy. Communication is key to any good working relationship, and sales and marketing departments are no exception to that. To make communication flow naturally, break down any physical or virtual barriers that currently exist between teams.
If you’re not sure where the barriers exist, ask yourself the following:
- Do the members of your sales and marketing departments sit in the same room?
- Do they have a shared instant messaging channel (e.g., Slack) on which they can collaborate?
- Do they even know each other’s names?
If your answers were less than positive, get to fixing the situation: Move people closer together, create messaging channels, and conduct icebreakers. Opening up communication lines is sometimes as simple as making introductions.
2. Hold content brainstorm sessions together. These sessions are content-specific brainstorms where marketing leads the discussion by asking pointed questions to determine what constitutes a solid piece of sales enablement content. There’s a whole list of awesome content brainstorm questions in our sales enablement guide, but here are a few favorites:
- What is the most common question you get on sales calls?
- What is a sentence you say on sales calls that you can tell people respond well to?
- What aspect of our product or service do potential customers find most confusing?
- What is the most common reason you hear clients say they aren’t signing up with us?
The answers to these questions can turn into the topics for blog articles, guest-contributed content, whitepapers, and email newsletters.
3. Create an outlet for your sales team to easily suggest content ideas. Once you’ve held a content brainstorm (which should occur quarterly), you’ve likely lit a fire under your salespeople, and now they’re coming up with awesome content ideas all the time. (At least that’s the hope!) For the downtime between quarters, don’t let those ideas go to waste. Create a place for your sales team to regularly submit these ideas.
We use a simple survey that covers topic idea, best content format to use, and willingness of a sales rep to be part of the content creation process for a particular piece. That last question is key: It gauges a salesperson’s commitment to ensuring a piece of content gets created.
4. Shadow sales calls. One of the best things our marketing team does is shadow sales calls. When you’re able to actually hear what prospective clients are saying, it inspires a treasure trove of new content ideas. It can also help train your salespeople on ways to provide even more content ideas (as well as how to use existing content) because, after the call, you can suggest, “When the lead said X, it made me think of a topic idea for Y,” or “They asked about Z, and we actually have an awesome blog post you can send in your follow-up email on that very topic!” Ultimately, shadowing creates more collaboration between teams.
5. Use a knowledge-sharing process to help sales create bylined content. The final step? Involve your sales team during actual content creation. We call this the knowledge-sharing process: Marketing interviews sales reps about specific topics and uses their answers to create the content. The interviews can be done through email, in-house content marketing software, or simply an in-person or phone interview.
This knowledge-sharing process accomplishes a few things:
- It gets buy-in from the salespeople — if they’re invested in creating the content, they’re more likely to use it.
- It ensures marketing and sales are on the same page with messaging.
- It creates exposure for members of your sales team by having them byline some pieces of content published to your company blog or external publications.
- It takes some of the heavy lifting off of the marketing team.
Once you’ve done the interview, the writing process starts. Then you can send the content back to the salesperson for a final review.
Putting This Content to Use:
Through these five steps, you’ve worked with your sales reps to create some awesome sales enablement content. Now, get them to use it. We have a few suggestions for that, too:
- Create a resource bank for your sales team where all content is stored and tagged to make it easy for salespeople to find content on different topics.
- Send a weekly email informing the sales team of new content you produced and how it can be used in the sales process.
- Incentivize your sales team by creating a contest for the salesperson who uses a piece of content in the most follow-up emails in a month.
When your sales and marketing teams work hand in hand to create sales enablement content, your sales reps get the content they need to educate their leads, answer their questions quickly and thoroughly, and earn their trust. And your marketers have the satisfaction of knowing that their work is helping to close sales instead of ending up in the discard pile.