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Data Snacks | Jul 23
Jessica Malnik on June 25, 2021 (last modified on June 23, 2021) • 16 minute read
Tell me if the following scenario sounds familiar.
Your marketing team spends months conducting market research and putting together elaborate buyer personas, battle cards, and one-pagers for sales. 3 months later, you found sales never used any of the new material. It is now buried in Google Drive.
This happens way more than you might think and is the result of sales and marketing operating in silos.
When sales and marketing aren’t aligned, the end result is always wasted time, money, and effort for all involved. In the worst cases, it can even create a toxic work environment – like depicted in this parody video.
However, it doesn’t need to be this way.
Creating useful sales enablement content should be a collaboration between sales and marketing.
Your SDRs and AEs are on the front lines talking to prospects every day. Marketing should have processes in place to collect these insights, and then package them into polished assets that the entire sales team can use to close more deals.
In this post, we’re sharing the processes and types of sales enablement content that tends to perform best.
Let’s dive in.
Sales enablement content is any content that helps your sales team close more deals. In order to do this effectively, this means arming your sales team with the right content at the right time depending on where the prospect is in the sales process.
The most common types of sales enablement content produced these days are blog posts, customer testimonials, email templates, and case studies.
Not all sales enablement content is created equal. Here are more than dozen different types of content you can create to empower your sales team to close more deals.
The best case studies showcase how your product or service helped one of your best-fit customers reach a particular goal or solve a problem.
Aaron Agius of Louder Online starts off by saying, “Our approach to sales enablement content is very flexible here at Louder Online, and we switch it up depending on the client and their needs. In most cases, creating a few powerful case studies does the job. Case studies are awesome sales enablers that are always helpful for the sales team in closing the leads. A good case study is never wasted, and it can always be repurposed for some other content.”
Estrella Alvarado of Brafton adds, “Social proof, and in particular, case studies that we can condense into slides are our most important sales-enablement assets. We can add these slides to sales decks used at the point of sale. It looks SO good to be able to have each presentation punctuated with an example of that product working well. In some cases, we might not have the time to create a complete case study and publish it on our site. But we do have time to put together a few slides about the success story.
As for how it’s helped drive sales: It’s shorted the sales cycle by reducing the number of reference requests. The prospects have all the references they need right there in the deck.”
In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a B2B sales team that couldn’t benefit from having a handful of well-executed case studies at their disposal.
“It’s definitely our customer case studies, and the results have been great,” says Vimal Bharadwaj of Optmyzr. “A lot of our prospects read case studies from our top customers and come to realize they’re not the only one facing those problems—be it excessive ad spend or low PPC conversion rate. But once they see that a certain company just like them was able to significantly optimize their PPC spend using our tool, they’d come to a conclusion that we are a viable solution for them.
Case studies are so powerful because they clearly show your key benefits without blatantly pitching to your prospects. To craft a great case study, look for those customers who absolutely love you.”
Chris Gaudio of Branch & Bramble says, “We make a concerted effort to create case studies from every successful client we have. We’ve found, as a small agency whenever pitching a new client, they always ask about our past projects’ performances. By offering detailed, creatively-packaged case studies, more often than not we’re able to sign clients and then upsell them on our retainer packages.”
While case studies can be incredibly effective, they require a lot of time, resources and coordination. After all, you need to find a customer, interview them, write the case study, design any accompanying assets, and get approval from the customer.
And if you’ve ever had the experience of writing a case study that showcases an enterprise company or a company in a highly regulated industry, you know the process of getting approval to use the case study can involve several departments, including legal, and take months.
A much lighter lift that can still work well is to use customer testimonials.
“Putting together customer testimonials and reviews is a major sales enablement content we’ve produced,” says Casey Allen of Barista Warrior. “A lot of our first-time customers build trust and click the purchase button after reading the experiences of our existing customers. As we’re a small business that doesn’t spend too much money on branding, this type of content is key in improving conversions.”
Joshua Tatum of Canvas Cultures says, “At Canvas Cultures, our most important sales enablement content is our customer testimonials. With thousands of five-star ratings, in-home hang-style photos, and rave reviews, our customers’ feedback on their art purchases helps drive sales for our artist partners, turning their passion into profit.”
Stephanie Eck of Green T Services adds, “Customer testimonials are essential as a family-owned business that services the local community. They establish credibility, add a personal touch, and serve as great examples of the work we’ve done. With customer testimonials, our sales team is able to help the local community relate to our other customers and feel secure in their decision to choose Green T Services for their home improvement projects. Our employees come from a variety of backgrounds and customer testimonials are an easy common denominator. No matter the background, we all have a common goal of providing excellent service to our local community.”
Producing polished product demo gifs and videos can work especially well for SaaS companies.
“The best way to sell your product is by showing it off,” says Jasper Juhl of Better Estimate. “Demos are great because they let the customer see how easy and intuitive your product is without having to spend any money or time on training. Our team recently produced a great demo which proved to be one of the most important sales enablement content to showcase our product (Real Estate CRM) to new clients. I think that demos are something that all SaaS companies should consider doing as part of their sales enablement strategy and product marketing strategy, especially if they want to compete with other products in their space.”
Lucas Travis of Inboard Skate says, “One of our most effective marketing and sales strategies is conducting product demos for free. Giving customers access to experiencing our product gives them a glimpse of what they would have missed if they decide not to purchase. This is our way of piquing their interest as we are confident that experiencing our product is the best strategy to market it. While a lot of people think it’s luxurious at first, it’s the satisfaction after experience that prompts sales.”
Natasha Rei of Explainerd adds, “Our product demo video may be one of the most successful content we have produced. We use animated videos to showcase our product since we know that animation is great for breaking down complicated messages into smaller chunks. The 3-dimensional animation, for example, allows our target audience to understand what we’re trying to deliver even better. Not to mention that video content itself is an excellent attention grabber, so we receive engagement pretty easily.”
Not all content marketing content is sales enablement content. However, any content marketing assets that tie back to your product or highlight specific use cases can be effective sales enablement pieces.
“Blog posts are the backbone of Zen and our clients,” says Mehvish Patel of Zen Media. “Content has been a huge tactic to drive in organic audiences and it has driven sales immensely. For one of our Aesthetic School clients, memberships and course sign ups have increased in the past three months more than ever before due to the high quality informational blog posts being put out.”
Casey Crane of CodeSigningStore.com says, “We write informative blog posts that educate readers about industry resources and best practices. These blog posts are useful both in terms of lead generation and sales enablement.
Our goal is to help customers resolve their pain points and make their jobs a little easier. Part of our approach involves tying in products that we offer that can help them accomplish their goals.”
One type of blog posts that can work well are pillar pages.
“We find that publishing detailed and informative blog posts provide the best ROI for us,” says Brodie Schroeder of Demand Machine. “This is because it’s a multi-purpose piece of content which is an excellent force multiplier.
For example, if we publish a detailed “Pillar Post” on a specific topic, it helps us rank organically for keywords that our ideal customer profile is likely to be searching for at the top or middle of the funnel in addition to being a sales asset we can send out to prospects to demonstrate our authority on a specific topic (and build natural backlinks in some cases if the prospect shares it somewhere).
We also offer the option to download the blog as a PDF which helps us capture leads and nurture them throughout our funnel.”
Katheriin Liibert of Outfunnel adds, “We made a super clear and succinct guide to the main benefits of Outfunnel. It’s a practical blog post, with lots of real-life examples, with a formatting that’s easy to follow. We see great engagement for it and have seen correlation between people visiting the content and sales.”
Another popular type of sales enablement content are lead magnets, like whitepapers and ebooks.
“The tech landscape can be a minefield, even for those working in it, so we place a lot of value on helping people to make sense of it,” says Kashif Naqshbandi of Tenth Revolution Group. “For us personally, our brand career and hiring guides are an invaluable source of sales enablement content. We run annual surveys to give cloud professionals of all levels the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences of working in the industry, delving deeper into aspects including average salary brackets, common perks, and much more.
By analyzing and collating this data into a digestible guide, our recruitment consultants always have access to up-to-date information about the industry they’re recruiting for, so they can build better relationships with companies looking to hire through us. As well as this, the guides also add to our own company’s authority and expertise from a public point of view. This is especially the case for some of our brands in particular who focus on software such as Microsoft, as the work we do for these guides is recognized by the vendor themselves.”
If you are marketing a SaaS app, especially one with a free or freemium plan, creating free templates can be an excellent lead generation tactic.
This is the strategy that Ruben Gamez uses for Docsketch.
“We created contract templates for a lot of scenarios and gave it away for free,” says Gamez. “We went from 4,000 unique visitors a month to 73,000 unique visitors a month in less than a year. We saved our target audience a lot of time and effort by creating these templates. As we added value to their professional lives, they started trusting our brand and started using and promoting our e-signature app.”
Editor’s Note: At Databox, we also have a template gallery full of 100s of free templates that people can use.
For example, if you want to measure the quality and volume of leads generated by your marketing team, you can use this HubSpot Lead Generation Dashboard.
Sales decks and presentations are particularly helpful for agencies and consultancies.
For example, Shawn Plummer of The Annuity Expert says, “It is a strategy deck that breaks down each of our client personas and the mix of annuity and insurance products that best meets their needs, along with side-by-side comparisons of specific popular insurance policies and annuity products.
This makes it much easier for our salespeople to engage prospective clients and start a conversation with them when they fully understand the client’s needs and what we can offer to solve their pain points.”
Decks can be time-consuming to produce, and become outdated quickly. That’s where one-pagers and worksheets come in handy.
“We created a series of one-pagers that provide information about specific areas of our product,” says Casey Paxton of Parlor.io. “This allowed us to specialize and personalize the content that we send to prospects in order to ensure that they’re receiving the most valuable and relevant information possible!”
Joe Baker of Boots Empire adds, “Deep-dive product material can be filled with one-pagers on features and benefits, spec sheets, or even product pages on the website. Deep-dive product information might be a critical sales need, especially if you have a technical product or a broad product suite, or if you’re in a commoditized market.
Help documentation may also aid this endeavor, whether it is used alone by the sales staff to answer questions or shared with prospects prior to a sale. Because specifics are expected to change regularly, I believe you should streamline the update of this content as much as possible. Webpages are easier to keep up to date than PDFs, and if content is already being updated by a technical support team, take advantage of it.”
Empowering your sales team with polished proposal templates can save a ton of time and help close more deals.
For example, Anatolii Ulitovskyi of SEOtools.TV says, “The most important piece of sales is our presentation or a commercial proposal. My sales team found that 80% of all questions are the same. The main problem was to adapt answers with each potential project. We spent a few hours creating the responses manually. That was time-consuming! Then we created our tool that gathers data from Serpstat, Google Keyword Planner, PageSpeed Insights, Ahrefs, and our website audit tool. The UX audit is only one parameter left that we provide manually. Today, it takes 10-15 minutes to provide a commercial proposal.”
Editor’s Note: Want to quickly monitor your sales pipeline? Use this Pipedrive CRM Dashboard to see how deals are progressing through different stages.
Another type of sales enablement content is quizzes, ROI calculators, and custom software applications.
Stephane Gringer of Chameleon Collective explains, “ROI calculators are amazing tools because not only can you easily write self guided content around them but sales reps can use them on calls to glean discovery data.”
When executed well, buyer personas can align sales and marketing on the core attributes of your best-fit customers.
“Persona documents are the most crucial piece of sales enablement our team has ever produced,” says Harriet Chan of CocoFinder. “Our sales team understands that creating content aligned with buyer personas is an essential part of the sales process. Laying out detailed buyer personas ensures everyone is prepared to help customers uncover and solve their problems. In addition, buyer personas give the sales team a peek into the minds and lives of potential customers.
In the document, the team included any details that give them a better understanding of target customers—starting with basic information like general background, age, gender, job description, job titles, size of the company they are employed, their decision-making power in their company, personal interest, motivations, aspirations, etc.. Without this information, they won’t be able to empathize with the prospect, which is a key trait for a sales rep. While creating the personas, we also incorporated infographics, spreadsheets, articles, and even videos.”
If your sales team is regularly showing up on social media, you may want to invest in creating messaging scripts and templates for different channels.
“My team has produced social media content and messages for sales enablement,” says Eden Cheng of WeInvoice. “Social media channels offer a high converting platform for both sales professionals and content marketers. Therefore, such professionals of my company benefited a lot from this. The best messaging aspects of these channels are mainly crucial sales enablement solutions. This is because these provide a cornerstone for meaningful prospect engagement.”
If you have a longer sales cycle, doing anything you can to proactively manage customer expectations and help them maximize the ROI is a worthwhile endeavor.
For example, Ben Richardson of Development Academy says, “In my opinion, customers want to know that after the sale, they will have a great experience that fulfills the promises made by the salesperson. As a result, providing visibility into the post-sales process in your sales enablement materials might be beneficial. You can walk prospects through the onboarding process, give worksheets or timelines that customers frequently use, and even introduce them to their future account manager.
Post-sale materials can both reassure and excite prospects, as well as assist set realistic expectations. Use your customer success team to determine what specifics should be included in these documents – the things that surprise and excite them are excellent topics to emphasize.”
In sum, the types of sales enablement content that you create will depend on your company, customers, sales cycle, and team resources. However, the best sales enablement content is a tight collaboration between sales and marketing.
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