Content has not only disrupted marketing, it has forever changed the way we sell, too.
B2B companies are in a constant battle for relevancy with customers and prospects. Content is the one thing that, if done well, can help you win them over; if done badly or not at all (gasp!), it will send your prospects straight into your competitor’s outstretched arms.
This creates a unique challenge for CMOs and marketing leads. The success of your content marketing program doesn’t just hinge on the creative, which you’re probably already doing well. It relies on your sales team’s ability to deliver that content in ways that influence a prospect’s decision. They need to know what to say, and when to say it, for the process to work the way it should. It’s up to you to make it easy for them to do.
Guess what? If it’s not easy, the sales team won’t do it.
If you’re struggling with sales enablement, you’re not alone. eMarketer reports that the majority of marketing decision makers are trying to figure out how to get the most relevant content to the sales team to support specific selling situations. The other big challenges are reducing the amount of time the team spends looking for the right content to share, and making sure they stay on message.
When we work with B2B companies who face similar challenges, we make four recommendations for building a content marketing program that supports sales enablement:
1. Create Content That Builds Trust and Credibility
Your prospects will do most of their research on your company and its offerings before they ever reach your website, so it’s crucial that you have a voice in the marketplace. Establishing thought leadership is where building content for sales enablement should start.
What does this look like in real life? It’s content that actually helps your prospect make a decision or solve a particular pain point they’re struggling with. At Scribewise, we see clients have the most success at this stage with research reports backed by data, interviews with the company’s subject matter experts, and articles written from the C-suite (or ghost-written by us) that appear in industry trade publications. Anything that establishes your voice, gets recognition, and makes your prospects think “yeah, they know what they’re talking about.”
2. Establish a Consistent, Relevant Message
This is the crux of the problem identified in the eMarketer research. For a message to be the most relevant in a specific selling situation, the sales team frequently customizes it themselves. This is a brand consistency killer. Before you know it, you have 20 sales presentations with slightly different messages – it’s like playing a game of whisper-down-the-lane where the original marketing message gets garbled and diluted through iteration.
This work needs to be done up front by establishing customer personas. This is a strategic exercise that you should to spend time on, since it will help you anticipate all the different targets and sales situations where the content will be used. It’s also an ongoing task that should be revisited frequently to accommodate new customer types and situations as needed.
3. Use the Right Content at the Right Time
Content also helps sales enablement by nurturing prospects through the funnel. They’ll go from completely cold to slightly warmer as they find your thought leadership pieces, all the way to the point when they’re asking your team for product specs as they weight their final purchasing decisions.
[Want to know more about this? Read about the Buyer’s Journey here.]
You’ll need to experiment with what content of type works well to move your prospects through the funnel. However, the clients we work with find that a “slow build” works best for them. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first date (we hope), and you shouldn’t be hitting your prospect with product features before they know who you are.
4. Give Sales Another Reason to Reach Out
A consistent cadence is also important to a successful content marketing program. At Scribewise, we’ve seen our own website traffic increase by roughly 20% by doubling the number of blogs we post a week. Now, don’t post low-quality content just for content’s sake, but do try to keep your cadence up.
This gives your sales team another reason to reach out, especially if the content is relevant and helpful to the prospect. However, you’ll need to give your team two to three talking points about the new content so they can speak intelligently about it. If follow-up questions extend beyond those talking points, make sure the sales team has a subject matter expert on the team to reach out to.
Building a content marketing program that supports sales enablement isn’t easy, but it’s also not that difficult to do either. You need a solid strategy based on these steps, a willing sales team that you communicate with regularly, and the tools for content management, distribution and measurement – which we’ll tackle in a future post. Stay tuned!