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Editor-in-Chief, Speaker, Host of 'Content Lab' Podcast
April 11th, 2021
What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is when you empower your sales people by giving them the resources they need (blog articles, case studies, white papers, explainer videos, buyer's guides, and so on) to close more deals faster with engaged prospects who are potentially a good fit for your products and services.
It’s the business buzzword on the tip of everyone’s tongue, the supposed solution to every problem we have – like low traffic numbers and poor lead quality. But what the heck is sale enablement really? And is it really the business version of the T-rex at the end of Jurassic Park, ready to save the day for all of us?
Now, let's dig into the details
I'm convinced that there is no other word in the English language so grossly misunderstood in a romantic relationship than the word "fine."
For example, although I hate admitting it, 30% of the time I say, "No no, you're fine and I'm fine and everything is fine," what I really mean is, "This kitchen cabinet I'm about to slam into oblivion did nothing wrong, but I'm going to be mad at it because you can't read my mind and know I'm mad at you."
Meanwhile, my poor, unwitting partner thinks I'm actually fine. It's not their fault, though. I said the word "fine," which *adjusts glasses* means, "in a satisfactory or pleasing manner; very well," and not "I will end you."
In the business world, however, this distinct Lack of Shared Definition Award 🏆 goes to the often used, yet rarely consensus-building term "sales enablement."
I can't tell you how many marketing meetings, Zoom calls, and other "watercooler" conversations I've been a party to where "sales enablement" is tossed around like confetti, even though it's clear it's being used as a catchall placeholder for something no one is quite sure how to define -- but we all sound smart using it.
This is a very, very bad thing.
Although, to many, "sales enablement" seemingly walks and talks like one of the thousands of meaningless buzzword phrases bandied about by oxygen-wasting, "synergistic brainstorming" marketing professionals just like yours truly, it's not.
In fact, if you're a content marketer who cannot immediately call forth a specific definition for "sales enablement" that doesn't beg the question, "Can you be more specific?" or "What do you mean by that?" you've got a huge problem.
You're also likely driving your sales team completely up a wall.
And that brings us to why you're here today. By the end of this article, you're going to understand:
Exactly what sales enablement is (and isn't)
What sales enablement content looks like
How to get started creating money-making sales enablement content
I could put some sort of awkward and/or inspirational transitional phrase here, but I'd rather just get right to the good stuff. Sound OK, to you? I hope so, because...
First, what is sales enablement?
Sales enablement, quite literally, is a self-explanatory term. You are enabling your sales people by giving them the resources they need -- usually content like blog articles, case studies, white papers, explainer videos, buyer's guides, and so on -- to close more deals faster with engaged prospects who are potentially a good fit for your products and services.
Unfortunately, this simple definition has failed to translate into a simple practice, in most cases. (That's why sales and marketing alignment is one of the top problems businesses say they've consistently struggled to solve.)
One of the biggest challenges the modern sales team faces is that they need "better quality leads." In fact, most sales teams report that only around 27% of leads passed from marketing to sales are deemed to be qualified. Big yikes.
Why is that the case?
Because too many well-meaning marketing teams and content creators fail to realize that content marketing should be considered a sales initiative, wherein the top goal is to help drive revenue by building a content strategy that serves the needs of the sales team first.
That's why we created our very own revenue team at IMPACT to guarantee we practice what we preach from a sales enablement content perspective. Check it out:
Since the #1 thing marketers are best at is ruining absolutely everything, I asked IMPACT sales all-star Genna Lepore this very question:
"Sales enablement content is content that does the tedious part of my job for me. It answers all of the generic questions all of our ideal buyers have about our products and services, where the answers don’t change. At the end of the day, sales just wants more educated buyers and sales enablement content should help us achieve that."
Sales enablement content is only successful, however, if the following two things are true at your company:
You are closely working with your sales team to create content (written, video, and audio) around the buyer questions they deem to be of the highest priority. (More on how to do this later.)
Your sales team is then turning around and leveraging that content with a proven sales cycle-shortening tactic called assignment selling. Assignment selling is when sales reps assign prospects "homework" of consuming specific pieces of content during different points of the sales process, with the goal of proactively resolving their questions and concerns. This strategy also decreases the amount of time sales spends with bad-fit prospects.
Sales enablement content walks and talks just like all of the other traffic-driving and audience-building content you create -- it’s the substance that’s different.
For example, at IMPACT we sell growth-driven website design services for businesses. As a result, we create content across all parts of the "funnel" for driving traffic, converting potential leads, and closing deals.
Educational, traffic- and lead-driving content looks like this:
All of those pieces of content are based around the principle of answering the questions of ideal buyers honestly and thoroughly. The only difference is that the latter group (sales enablement) are questions the sales team says they need a piece of content to answer.
They may not feel as sexy to create (at first) as some of the educational, "brand-building," keyword-researched content you're used to. But, from my own personal experience, I can tell you it's much more rewarding to create.
You don't have to wait for (potentially) weeks or months to see organic traffic gains from a keyword play you're trying to make. Instead, if you're doing your job right, you'll immediately see the bottom-line ROI your content is generating for your company. On top of that, you'll have the sales team in your corner, telling leadership how stinkin' valuable your work is.
Basically, you'll never have to prove your worth to anyone. Everyone will see it.
Finally, how do you create rockstar sales enablement content?
If you're already creating content, I have good news for you. You don't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to:
The only difference is how you source and brainstorm the actual sales enablement subject matter for your written and video content strategies. As you might have guessed, it does involve becoming best friends with your sales team.
Although I strongly urge you to create a revenue team as we have as your foundation, here's what you need to do to create sales enablement content:
Schedule weekly or biweekly brainstorms with your sales team. They cannot be canceled. Even if you think you have nothing to discuss, you will always be wrong.
During those meetings, facilitate a revenue content brainstorm by asking, "What questions are you currently being asked by buyers in the sales process that should have a piece of content created for it?" (The revenue content sandbox tool I share in this article will help you do that.)
Publish your sales enablement content at a rate of two to four pieces per week.
Once you start publishing this content, begin those brainstorms by sharing what you have recently published and soliciting feedback on what is (and isn't) working.
That last piece about ROI reporting is so critically important. Yes, the sales team will start singing your praises loudly for everyone to hear. But you need to close the loop with the rest of your company, so everyone sees the value of what you're creating together.
Because, just like Boiler Room led to Pitch Black, which segued into the sublime, timeless Fast and Furious saga for Vin Diesel, your content needs to result in qualified traffic that then segues into qualified leads, which (finally) helps your sales team close more deals with better educated buyers.
But if you don't connect those dots for everyone, they will never fully catch the vision of your content and your ability to empower sales to close more deals faster.
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