I recently came across an intriguing article titled Sales Enablement Will Be the Next Big Craze in Content Marketing. As the Content Marketing Manager for a sales enablement company, you can probably guess why this piqued my interest. But as both of these buzz-phrases become more and more prevalent in the B2B world, they are also beginning to bleed together, causing some confusion for marketers and businesses alike. To get through this maze, I’d like to share what the difference is between the two, and how the two complement each other at various stages of the sales cycle.

Sales enablement is the strategic process of providing salespeople with the tools they need to consistently have valuable conversations with customers at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle. Sales enablement includes the information, content, tools and processes salespeople need to succeed at all stages of the sale.

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, and ultimately drive profitable customer action. Content marketing is a way to interact with prospects without selling. It educates prospects before, during and after interactions with salespeople.

It’s easy to see where there is a major overlap. But this begs the question of whether sales enablement is a part of content marketing, or vice versa.

I would argue that content marketing is a larger subset that aids the sales process, therefore helping sales enablement. Content marketing contributes to the first and second stages of the sales cycle (attract and convert), while sales enablement practices typically occur in the second and third (convert and close). The content created for different stages in the funnel is the ammo that salespeople can use during their customer conversations, allowing them to be relevant and valuable along the way. This way, salespeople are not going into the conversation blindly and will seem helpful to the customer, not annoying

But content marketing is more than just customer-facing collateral. Content marketing is the voice of a company, and aims to provide relevant and useful information to the right audiences. Old-school marketing uses a more blanketed approach, while content marketing attempts to target the “right” people with the right content.

Today’s salespeople are expected to add more value to an already personalized conversation with a customer. Gone are the days of transactional, one-size-fits-all selling. Content marketing provides salespeople with the tools they need to do that, because the right content is relevant and helpful for the customer. But it also makes sure that today’s information-hungry customers are educated before engaging with a sales rep, and will remain engaged after as well.