Marketing and sales are codependent, even if the two teams don’t always act that way. To maximize their effectiveness, they must be integrated. The evolution of digital has only amplified that need. In a healthy program, the two functions align on which accounts to pursue, communicate their efforts, and share data to empower each other and inform future action.
Marketing helps scale and accelerate pipeline generation and nurture efforts, but marketing doesn’t work without follow-through – and that’s where sales enablement comes in. Marketing has to consider what happens with their leads after they pass them to sales. Sellers don’t just need data about the lead in order to be effective – they need content.
95% of buyers choose a vendor that gives them content to support each stage of the buying process (DemandGen).
Sales enablement content connects the experience customers have with sellers with the marketing content that led them there. And for sellers, it saves them time and guides their outreach with information relevant to the prospect.
So, when it comes to sales enablement, what content works best? First, it’s important to separate your sales enablement content needs into three categories: pre-sales priming, in-the-moment facilitation, and follow-up.
The 3 stages of sales enablement content
During this stage, you’re softening the market to your sales pitch. Buyers respond better to brands they already know, especially if they see the brand as playing an active role in the market.
To succeed, you’ll want non-promotional content. The key is showing people you have deep, relevant experience and you understand their problems. Thought leadership plays extremely well here in showing a commitment to certain industries – it can also help attract prospects through SEO and lead generation programs.
Sellers can’t close if they don’t have materials. They need content to guide prospective buyers through your value proposition and the components of your offerings.
Visual aids work well here. While decks, solution briefs, and spec sheets are the most common resources, case studies can be powerful punctuation to back up your claims. Guided interactive experiences also let sellers pick and choose exactly what content is relevant for the prospect. One thing to confirm beforehand is whether or not they’ll have wifi – field sellers often benefit from content that can be downloaded and consumed offline.
B2B buyers are doing more thorough evaluation year over year, so it’s important to power your sellers with the ability to keep the conversation going. When you’re planning follow-up content, make sure you have a good spread of formats that will work for email, digital ads, in-person, and at events.
Customer references are strong in this stage because they work across so many channels. Value calculators and assessments are also strong because they let prospects more deeply explore what your value will be for them.
Now that we have the stages laid out, what content works best? We’ve collected a few of the consistent performers below along with stats to back them up. These are the types of content that sellers and buyers find most useful during the sales process.
The four most valuable types of sales enablement content
1. Customizable content
90% of sellers avoid using content because it’s outdated and not customizable (Content Marketing Institute).
Empowering your sellers is critical. You want them to spend time selling and building relationships, not presentations. Streamlining the process by creating templated assets allows your sellers to create customizable content for multiple touch points whether it’s the first pitch, the third (i.e. a more-targeted / personalized presentation) or a technical briefing.
And, in theory, you’re killing two birds with one stone because…
- Sellers want the ability to customize and edit.
- Customers expect a personalized experience.
PowerPoint is an all-too-often underutilized resource. By setting up a template with interactive navigation, animation, and beautiful imagery, you can create a distinguishably different sales experience for your customers. The best part— your sales team can change the content within the slides, creating a personalized interactive for their customer while maintaining the “wow” elements.
- Dynamic onboarding presentation (Interactive…)
- Master template pitch presentation
- Product / service overview presentation
2. Use cases and case studies
77% of B2B buyers in the evaluation stage cited use cases and case studies as the most influential types of content (Hawkeye).
Ensuring your digital channels are populated with use cases and case studies will set your sellers up for success, as customers tend to do their research online before talking to a sales rep. Additionally, this content can be utilized via your direct sales channels to use as conversation starters via email, 1:1 discussions, or as leave-behinds.
Side Note: We find “use cases” and “case studies” are frequently confused as the same or used interchangeably. So we want to differentiate the two by providing a definition of each:
- Use cases give you the flexibility to show potential customers a story to help them visualize exactly how they would use your product or service.
- Case studies are more specific as they describe an experience of a particular customer by providing social proof.
- Static/interactive digital brochure
- Product live-action walkthrough
- Product screen capture / animation walkthrough
- Short-form written case study
- Live-action video
- Animation / b-roll video with client VO
3. Product demos, assessment tools and calculators
75% of buyers say they need a more detailed ROI analysis (Business2Community).
B2B buying cycles are becoming more and more complex, with buyers conducting intensive research and evaluation and bringing more stakeholders into the decision-making process.
Online demos / tutorials, assessment tools, and value calculators allow potential customers to experience your value when researching online and serve as a tool for your sellers to use in presentations.
Demos and tutorials
- Product overview video / comparison page
- Live-action product tutorial; SME walkthrough
- Animated product demo; Screen capture
- Multi-media experience with demo videos (interactive experience)
Assessments and calculators
- Self-assessment quiz; identify needs/gaps and potential solutions
- Maturity assessment
- ROI calculator; projected value for use case
4. Thought leadership
64% of buyers say that an organization’s thought leadership is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competency than its marketing materials and product sheets (Edelman / LinkedIn).
Thought leadership isn’t just a nice to have for B2B anymore – it’s becoming how brands defend their value propositions and demonstrate value. Thought leadership content plays such a vital role in sales enablement because it abides by the “give value in order to get value” principle. Before asking someone to click a link or listen to a pitch, you first need to show them you understand their problems and are able to help.
Thought leadership is also valuable because it’s fleeting. While budget-conscious brands over-prioritize evergreen content, time-sensitive expertise shows an ongoing commitment to lead your clients. It’s also a great way of keeping the conversation going during long sales cycles when you need to keep pushing out fresh material.
- Blog posts boosted on social
- Byline articles
- Speaking engagements
At Centerline, we understand that alignment between sales and marketing teams is critical to improving customer experience, increasing pipeline, and reaching revenue goals. To learn more about our experience, check out our sales enablement resource hub.