Content and Its Role in Sales Enablement for B2B Industrial Sales & Marketing Teams
As we discussed in our last article on website content and its role in ABM for industrial & technical B2B companies, generating quality content can be resource-intensive. It’s worth your while to make sure that every piece of content is repurposed, amplified, and utilized to its full potential. The content on your website is useful for engaging and informing website visitors, attracting inbound leads, and deploying as a tool for engaging ABM target accounts. It’s also a great tool for your sales team, and ultimately, the prospects that they talk to every day.
- What is industrial sales enablement?
- How is sales enablement relevant to B2B technical, manufacturing, and industrial marketing?
- How does content support an industrial sales enablement strategy?
- Which pieces of content can be repurposed?
- How can I get started with sales enablement? Or wait, am I already doing it?
- How will I know whether my industrial sales enablement strategy is working?
What is industrial sales enablement?
According to LinkedIn, sales enablement can be defined as “equipping your sales team with strategic resources it needs to excel, from tools to technology to content and beyond.”
As defined by HubSpot, sales enablement is “the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals. These resources may include content, tools, knowledge, and information to effectively sell your product or service to customers.”
Our simplified definition of sales enablement for industrial companies is: “Creating content, assets, systems and technology that help your salespeople inform prospects and close deals.”
How is sales enablement relevant to B2B technical, manufacturing, and industrial marketing?
When you’re selling to technical prospects, they don’t want a sales pitch – they want information they can use to evaluate their options and fully understand your approach and your offerings. To give these prospects what they need, you’re faced with two pathways: either spend a lot of time creating one-off presentations and answering the same questions over and over from scratch, or systematize your approach and build a library of content and assets that you can repurpose, both within the sales process and within your marketing.
Is your sales team frequently scrambling for information? Does your marketing team face a constant barrage of urgent asset creation requests? If so, there’s likely an opportunity to be more strategic and aligned as a team around what assets and content are needed, and how they can be centrally housed and easily accessed and personalized. Over time, you’ll build a shared understanding of what types of content and assets help to close more of the best deals – helping your entire industrial sales and marketing teams work more effectively.
How does content support an industrial sales enablement strategy?
An industrial sales enablement strategy is primarily composed of two things: systems and content. Systems can include an asset library for photos, case studies, brochures or other presentation/proposal components, as well as CRMs and marketing automation tools. Content lives within these systems, as well as on your website. Whether static assets (website articles, brochures) or customizable assets (sales presentations, proposals), content really becomes the key component of any industrial sales enablement strategy.
If content for sales enablement sounds like a lot to generate, start by auditing what you already have. Go through your existing website content and make a list of articles that are helpful to send to prospects during the sales process—these are often answers to questions, descriptions of processes, or product or service pages that more fully describe something discussed in a meeting. As you look at this list, what’s missing that you already know could be useful? Start another list of these items and begin building them into your content calendar.
Does your sales team commonly write lengthy emails that answer questions and guide prospects through complex processes? If those questions and answers are not yet represented on your website, you might have a treasure trove of raw content that can be turned into helpful website articles with just a little polish.
Sell Sheets & Brochures
You might already have sell sheets and brochures that are sent along as follow-ups within the sales process. These may seem old-fashioned at this point, but they continue to serve a purpose in the sales enablement process. As long as they’re consistent with the language and messaging on your website, these pieces further inform customers within the sales process, and also serve as easily digestible pieces of content that can be shared with higher-ups who haven’t spent as much time on your website as your direct prospects. It’s worth keeping these pieces updated and relevant, although they’re more likely to be electronic than printed, and their page count might be lower than in the past.
Chances are your sales team already has a presentation deck of some kind. Ideally, you have (or can plan to create) one or more “master” decks that contain broad information about your positioning, process, and outcomes of your key services, along with a library of interchangeable assets that your sales team can use to personalize presentations for specific prospects with relevant data, case studies, service information, or other elements. If your salespeople are working from their own individual decks and making it up as they go along, there’s a great deal of value in creating a consistent “base” or “master” presentation and asset sharing repository instead, so everyone isn’t constantly reinventing the wheel. Having a base deck to start from actually makes it easier to tailor and customize any presentation on a per-prospect basis.
Which pieces of content can be repurposed?
Any time you create a content asset, think about what other contexts and purposes it might serve.
A library of answers to common questions is extremely useful within the sales process. By cataloging common questions and answers that come up (which you can do in a brainstorm session or by reviewing your outgoing emails to prospects), you can begin to build a library of useful content that answers prospects’ questions—even before they’re ready to talk to sales—and attracts organic traffic to your website.
This library is also helpful after your sales team answers a question during a sales call, making it easy to send a follow-up email with a link to an article that answers that question more deeply. Now, the prospect has a useful resource to refer back to.
These same types of articles can work well as part of an email campaign or ABM strategy.
Sales presentations are often tweaked more frequently over time than marketing brochures and website service pages, as your sales team is closest to your clients’ current needs and pain points. These presentations and the language used within them, when reviewed regularly and shared throughout the team, create great prompts for refreshing the language of your website and other assets.
How can I get started with sales enablement? Or wait, am I already doing it?
Chances are, you’re already doing a few things that would qualify as “sales enablement” even if you’re not consciously implementing a sales enablement system. In our view, sales enablement is more-or-less synonymous with doing sales and marketing well.
Defining Your Customers
One of the first things needed to do any sales and marketing well is a good understanding of your customers, documented as high level personas and an ICP (ideal customer profile). If you’re ready to embark upon improving your sales enablement approach, this is a very important step.
Aligning Goals & Objectives
After that, you’ll want to align your sales and marketing team so that they’re working from the same understanding of your goals and objectives. Audit your existing sales process and the content that’s used to supplement it. Discuss what’s working well and what’s not. Where is there friction, scrambling for sourcing information, reinvention of the wheel, or missed opportunities? In many cases, salespeople are working in silos—their own personal silos, creating similar sales presentations and writing really great emails to prospects that only that prospect sees—instead of efficiently sharing assets and using them to build up a library of content that others can source from as a starting point. Look at what you have, and formulate a plan for what areas are the highest priority in terms of creating efficiencies, capitalizing on opportunities to better engage prospects, and implementing easy, “low-hanging fruit” improvements.
Using CRM/Marketing Automation
Are you using a CRM and/or marketing automation program, or looking at implementing one? If so, these are some of the key technical components to a good sales enablement program. Some CRM/marketing automation tools create a great place to house some of the assets used. For instance, sell sheets and brochures can be saved as HubSpot “documents,” which then allows you to 1) easily access them and 2) track when and how often your prospect views them, providing useful sales intelligence.
How will I know whether my industrial sales enablement strategy is working?
Sales enablement is a way to bring sales and marketing closer together, both working toward the purpose of a common goal. The more closely these teams work together,
- the more you’ll see marketing metrics functioning as a true leading indicator of sales performance, and
- the more content ideas you’ll get from the sales team that become high-performing organic traffic magnets for highly qualified prospects, despite potentially low “keyword volume” from a standard SEO report.
As your sales enablement approach gets more sophisticated and built out, your salespeople will also be able to work more efficiently and effectively, which allows them to spend more time with today’s prospects and devote time to contributing content that brings in tomorrow’s prospects.
At the end of the day, what metric does a solid sales enablement strategy reflect the most? Closed sales.