By Brendan Cournoyer, Brainshark
When people talk about sales enablement, the word "content" tends to come up a lot. There’s a reason, of course. Sales enablement is all about putting salespeople in the best position to have more successful conversations with buyers, and reps rely on great content to help nurture and move those conversations forward.
So where is that content coming from? More often than not, it’s becoming the marketing team's responsibility to deliver it. This makes sense because content is the core of most B2B marketing strategies these days. It only makes sense that those content-creation responsibilities would extend to sales enablement as well.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean marketers always do a particularly great job at it.
In a recent blog post on LinkedIn, sales enablement thought leader Scott Santucci wrote about a conversation he once had with a CMO who (unsurprisingly) wanted to know about ways his team could better support the sales organization. The story goes that the marketing team was creating a lot of content (and they were), but the sales team wasn’t taking advantage of those resources.
This is an incredibly common scenario — but it’s not always the sales team’s fault when a content strategy fails to achieve results. Marketers can be to blame as well. No matter how much content you create to support sales enablement, if you forget the “strategic” part of your strategy, you’ll never achieve the results you’re looking for.
With that in mind, here are a few reasons some marketers fail at sales enablement:
Poor Understanding Of The Buying Cycle
Marketers are typically great at creating content and messaging to fill the very top of the sales funnel. Branding, traffic drivers, lead generation, “first touch” — this type of content tends to fall right in the marketer’s wheelhouse.
The problem is that there’s a whole slew of interactions that happen after this to consider as well. You can’t just create a bunch of early-stage content and leave reps with nothing to work with later in the sales cycle. Effective sales enablement requires marketers to understand every stage of the selling process — not just the beginning — and map appropriate content to conversations all the way through to the closed deal.
Lack Of Context With The Selling Process
Another gem from Scott’s article deals with the concept of “random acts of sales support” (a topic he’s dealt with in great detail in the past). This speaks to uncoordinated efforts where everyone in the company pitches in to support sales, but the result is just the opposite. Content is delivered randomly from all angles, and reps become overwhelmed and confused over what to use.
This is an important lesson for marketers as well. Even if you’re creating the right content, you can’t throw it all at sales and expect them to know what to do with it. To be effective, that content needs to be easily accessed and delivered in context with the conversations they’re having — by job title, industry, selling stage and so on. This way, reps can easily identify the right content and understand when to use it.
In other words, don’t confuse your reps. Make sales enablement easy on them.
Not Enough Focus On The Product Or Solution
This might seem silly, but a lot of content marketers make their living not talking about their companies’ products. In fact, this is a hallmark of some of the best inbound marketing strategies out there.
The problem from a sales enablement perspective is that eventually, the rep needs to talk about the product — in great detail. Customers want to see what they’re going to buy. This can require content that speaks to the value of specific product features, how it works and more.
That’s not to say that thought leadership doesn’t play an important role in sales enablement as well. But if you want to support reps with the content they need, that includes product-specific resources later in the sales cycle.
Lack Of Sales-Marketing Alignment
Of course, for any of this to be effective, the content and messaging that marketing delivers needs to be aligned with the conversations reps are having with buyers. This is not a new concern; the lack of sales and marketing alignment persists as one of the top challenges for organizations.
Sales enablement is no exception. An open line of communication is absolutely essential to ensure the content being created actually answers the questions reps are hearing from buyers. As a marketer, it’s you’re responsibility not to guess; make the effort to know.
What else can marketers do to succeed at sales enablement? Share your thoughts in the comments below.