The true mark of a working sales enablement strategy is a sales force that constantly maintains meaningful conversations with prospects and customers. It doesn’t matter how many documents the sales enablement team puts out or marketing materials they utilize. The key is to provide the sales team with collateral that is relevant and helpful at each stage of the sales process.
What collateral you should create depends on the particular needs of your reps. Given that B2B sales processes are often pretty sophisticated, various forms and types of content will be required. Remember, buyers are still people. Their decisions are not purely business-driven. You need to earn their trust and speak to them in a language they understand.
Regardless of who owns the sales enablement function in an organization, it’s crucial to know that creating these content types and fostering a better relationship between sales and marketing are crucial in optimizing the ability of the sales force to generate revenue.
We have moved way past the days where sales enablement needs to be defended and made the case for. The question now is, what do we need to do?
In this post, we put together the different collateral / content types that sales enablement teams should be able to source, create, and provide to give topnotch support to sales.
Examples of Sales Collateral
Laying out detailed buyer personas ensures everyone is prepared to help customers uncover and solve their problems. The skeleton of a persona document is a breakdown of a semi-fictional character representing a typical customer. Basic information like general background, age, gender, job description, size of the company they work for, their decision-making power in their company, personal interests, personal aspirations, and any detail that helps form a better understanding of the customer should be included in this type of sales collateral.
Salespeople should exactly what they sell and the added benefits for the buyer that address their specific pain points and challenges. A clueless salesperson talking to a decision-maker who has substantial experience in the industry would be easily “outed”, and will be hard to recover.
This sales collateral content type enables sales represententatives to dive deep and address specific pain points and focuses on the technology benefits and value and investment by eliminating those challenges.
Sales enablement teams will work with customer facing teams to identify customer testimonials. These help companies impress and win the trust of their potential buyers with the work they have already done.
Internal Success Videos
Unlike case studies, internal success stories are quick, witty videos recorded by your top reps. They explain how they won specific deals so new hires can see what smart selling looks like.
These help a company deal with any questions that might arise from customers regarding the more technical specifications or documentation of their products / services.
Buyer’s guides are an important part of the sales cycle. They are great for the middle of the funnel, helping push prospective buyers closer to your product or service, while still providing useful information. Buyer’s guide help your seller act as a trusted advisor rather than an average salesperson.
These are an essential part of an online marketing strategy, especially for demand generation. However, newsletters can improve relationship development with potential customers.
Sales scripts are used by sales representatives to increase the efficiency of buyer experiences and as a result increase buyer engagement. Having strategies in place for each step in the sales cycle helps buyers progress through each stage.
Email Templates and Call Scripts
Emails templates are common tools that help sellers build trust with prospects and can be personalized based on the prospect’s pain points and industry. When sales reps are looked as a trusted advisor, buyers are more willing to engage with a salesperson. The key here is to make it easy for your seller to fill in the gaps on the template. Highlight or use colors to make it easy for them so they can focus back on core selling activities.
Multimedia (Videos or Podcasts) Customer Stories, Product Demos, etc
These files can either be external-facing assets for reps to share with prospects, or internal assets meant for sales training. These include webinars, conference session video recordings, and podcasts.
These are generally comprehensive internal-facing guides that show the most effective way for reps to sell, often broken out into separate playbooks for each sales stage.
These concise, internal-facing documents establish a company’s competitive differentiation. Reps use sales battlecards to handle objections and advance through the negotiation stage of opportunities.
Customer Success Stories
These are external facing documents, helpful for prospective customers looking to see proof of product performance. They allow businesses to present real-world use cases and results – this can solidify product benefits to prospective buyers.
A fact sheet provides a 2-3 page overview of one of an Asset Manager’s Investment Strategies. It’s a critical document to convey key overview information about the Strategy to potential investors.
Pitch Books are used by Sales teams to present an overview of themselves and their firm and stimulate a discussion with a prospect about potential solutions they can offer.
Client reviews are documents presented quarterly or annually to drive a discussion about the relationship between the firm and their client. These are useful to showcase the mutual successes they’ve experienced and present additional opportunities to partner.
In Wealth Management, Financial Advisors often create Investment Proposals in the early stage discussions with a prospect. These proposals serve to highlight the unique and differentiated solutions offered by that Financial Advisor.
Surfacing the right marketing materials and sales collateral at the right stage of the modern sales cycle is at the core of sales enablement and alignment.
Consider the following stages commonly attributed to a customer’s buying journey and see how marketers can leverage internal and external content to drive prospects through the sales funnel.
Content for the awareness stage
Awareness is about making your brand known and attracting appropriate potential buyers. Prospects want to gain knowledge about the industry landscape and familiarize themselves with your organization and the products/services it has to offer. The ideal content is quick, graspable pieces that position you as an industry expert and highlight your prominence in the marketplace.
Key content: blog posts, articles, videos, press releases, infographics, social media
This stage is when you begin to build a relationship with your prospects. They have recognized that they have a need and begin to explore solutions. They are also aware that your organization could help them solve their problem but are not yet ready to make a commitment. Content at this stage in the process should include more in-depth pieces that provide key information about the industry, the buyer’s need, and how your organization fits as a solution.
Key content: whitepapers, ebooks, research reports, webinars
At this stage, it is important to leverage content marketing in educating the prospect while building trust and reinforcing the need. Prospects are ready to buy and are evaluating you and your competitors, but they need information that will help them make a decision and then feel confident that they made the right one.
According to a DemandGen study, almost 2/3 of B2B buyers indicate that the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their purchase decision, and 63% said that the winning vendor’s content was more conducive to building a business case for the purchase. It’s important that content for this stage adds value and makes a case for your company.
Key content: product information, data sheets, testimonials, case studies, product reviews, ROI business cases, product demonstrations
Gaining a new customer is not the end of your content marketing activities – don’t stop engaging with the prospect once you have closed the deal. Continue to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and keep adding value to the relationship. It’s particularly important at this stage to provide educational content so that the customer can successfully onboard, incorporate your product into their workflow, and attain the maximum benefit from it. Further, Bain & Company research shows that it takes 3x the resources and costs 6-7x more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, highlighting the need to hold on to customers. Frankly, retention is the most practical way to maximize the ROI for your investment in each customer.
Key content: FAQs, knowledge base, onboarding and user guides, user seminars or forums, product-focused articles, workshops, product updates, customer newsletters, engagement/satisfaction plans, activity-triggered emails
Advocacy and retention stage
When a customer is happy, has had success with your solution, and begins to share positive opinions about your organization, they have become an advocate. A Forbes survey reveals that 80% of B2B purchases include some form of word-of-mouth recommendation during the purchase cycle, emphasizing the importance of brand advocates. These recommendations also have 3-5x higher conversion rates than other marketing methods. At this stage, your content should promote trust, encourage two-way dialogue and communication, and build community.
Key content: promotions, loyalty program, events, surveys, feedback opportunities
The key in customer lifecycle marketing is to remember your audience’s needs and interests at each stage of the buying process and to consider how you can continue to add value. According to the 2014 DemandGen study, 82% of B2B buyers viewed 5 or more pieces of content, and 61% of B2B buyers agreed that the winning vendor delivered a better mix of content for each stage of the purchase process. This variety enables the seller to touch on multiple issues that may capture the prospect’s interest in a solution. Two-thirds of buyers also agreed that the winning vendor provided higher-quality content, and the research found that the amount of content available was not as relevant to buyers as the quality.
Lastly, targeting your content marketing efforts to each stage of the purchase process offers the opportunity to better tailor marketing efforts and to gather better information about prospects throughout the sales process.