What Is Sales Enablement? Everything You Need to Know

by Travis Keith

What is sales enablement? It’s one of the most crucial components in a strong buyer journey, but it’s also one of the most neglected. If your marketing team isn’t creating good sales enablement content, you’re only hurting yourself, your sales team, and your audience. But what is good sales enablement content? Why do you need it? And how do you create it? You’re about to find out. 

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The Problem with Marketing vs. Sales

Before we talk about sales enablement, let’s talk about one of the biggest problems in practically every organization: sales and marketing departments are often at odds with each other. 

  • Salespeople often have preconceived notions that the marketing team is just the group that hosts events, goes to golf tournaments, and forces employees to dance in the breakroom for the company’s TikTok account.
  • Marketing often perceives salespeople as lone wolves who would do anything, say anything, and promise anything just to get an X on the bottom line of a contract.

If I may be so bold (and perhaps a bit reductive), one reason for this tension is that these two teams are often organizationally siloed. I’ve had dozens and dozens of conversations with marketing teams at some of the biggest B2B brands in the world, and in almost every case, these marketing teams have almost zero relationship with their sales teams.

It usually goes like this: Marketing creates a ton of content to generate brand awareness, promote their brand story (and, by default, their brand promise), and get the audience excited about their potential future. But as that prospect moves further down the buyer journey, that shiny brand story often comes to an abrupt end once it hits sales. And herein lies the problem. Sales has no idea what promises marketing is making, and marketing has no idea what promises are actually viable because these two teams are drastically fragmented. This is why I tell my team, “Sales is expected to keep the promises that marketing makes.”

But before I type out a 10,000-word thesis on why you need to rethink your entire organizational structure, let’s talk about what sales enablement is and why it’s the missing piece in most organizations today.  

What Is Sales Enablement?

Maybe a good start would be to tell you what sales enablement is not. Sales enablement has often and lately been relegated to whitepapers, presentation decks, battle cards, and other content that marketing hands off to sales. While that isn’t necessarily false, I think it’s a bit narrow-minded to reduce sales enablement to just a set of deliverables. Sales enablement is a collaborative process in which marketing and sales work together to arm the sales team with the proper resources to close more deals. 

What Does Sales Enablement Content Look Like?

Of course, sales enablement content can take many different forms, including:

  • Product Collateral: Think brochures, product guides, and spec sheets that provide detailed info about your products or services. 
  • Case Studies: Case studies showcase real-world examples of how your products or services have helped customers solve specific problems or achieve their goals. 
  • Decks and Presentations: This type of content helps explain processes, products, or other relevant information. They often function as a useful template to guide conversations with prospects.  
  • Whitepapers and Ebooks: These longer-form pieces dive deep into industry trends, challenges, and solutions. They help position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Blog Posts: Blog posts can cover a ton of topics, from industry news and trends to tips and best practices. They’re a great way to attract prospects to your website and provide valuable info.
  • Email Templates: Personalized email templates can help your sales reps quickly and effectively communicate with prospects. 
  • Social Media Posts: Sales enablement content for social media can include both written and visual content that is informative, engaging, and tailored to the platform and audience.
  • Video Content: Video content is super helpful to demonstrate products, provide tutorials, or share customer testimonials. It’s especially helpful for explaining complex concepts or showcasing product features.

You probably already have versions of some of these pieces, but think of other content opportunities that can enhance your buyer journey. In many ways, it almost doesn’t matter what form sales enablement content takes as long as it serves its purpose: to support sales.

Who Creates Sales Enablement Content?

Sales enablement content is usually created by marketing teams in collaboration with sales teams.

  • The marketing team has expertise in content creation and is best positioned to understand the target audience’s needs and preferences. 
  • The sales team plays a crucial role in informing the content creation process because they are the ones on the front lines, interacting with prospects, navigating their pain points, and offering solutions. Sales provides valuable insights to help the marketing team create content that resonates with the target audience.

By working together, these teams can create strategies and content that directly support sales.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “I’m entirely sold on the assertion that sales enablement is a shared responsibility of both marketing and sales.” But it is not the sales team’s job to create it. 

50%-90% of a B2B-buying journey is completed before a buyer can interact with a sales rep. (Spotio)

That puts sales enablement in the hands of marketing—with sales’ help. If you’re a marketing professional who’s been tasked with creating sales enablement collateral, and you haven’t had a conversation with the sales team, you’re probably not going to be super successful. (Revolutionary, I know!)

How Does Sales Enablement Content Benefit Your Brand?

Sales enablement gives you the support you need to fill gaps, answer questions, and move buyers along the journey. It’s especially awesome for:

  • Building Trust and Credibility: If you can create high-quality, informative content, you can turn your brand into a trusted authority in your industry, making prospects more likely to consider your offerings.
  • Educating Prospects: As you educate prospects about your products or services, you can directly address their pain points and demonstrate how your offerings can meet their needs. This makes conversations more natural and inviting.
  • Facilitating Sales Conversations: Good sales enablement content gives you the perfect blueprint to start and guide conversations, whether that’s through a well-crafted email, a compelling case study, or a product demo video.
  • Addressing Objections: The more you can anticipate your audience’s needs (and hesitations), the more you can make them feel at ease. Sales enablement content can lets you address issues proactively, helping prospects overcome objections more effectively and close deals faster.
  • Improving Sales Efficiency: By giving your team access to a library of sales enablement content, you make everyone’s lives easier. Sales reps can quickly find and share relevant content with prospects, saving internal time and effort. Prospects can get quicker answers and have more productive conversations with sales. Plus, by providing sales teams with the training, support, and resources they need to succeed, you can help them feel more valued and motivated to succeed. This can shorten sales cycles and lead to lower turnover rates and a more engaged sales force—a huge win-win-win for your customers, team, and business. 
  • Measuring Effectiveness: Sales enablement content uses analytics to measure effectiveness. By tracking metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, you can gain insights into what content resonates with prospects and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Collectively, sales enablement content gives you stronger ROI because it allows you to create more tailored, targeted, and effective content that empowers your sales team. 

How to Create Good Sales Enablement Content

No matter what type of content you’re creating, it’s important to create that content intentionally and strategically with a clear understanding of its purpose. Here’s how to do it.

1) Align sales and marketing to identify opportunities.

Your sales and marketing teams have to work together make strong sales enablement content. This includes aligning on goals and strategies, brainstorming, and sharing insights and feedback. I suggest you have a quarterly meeting (at a minimum) to talk about potential content opportunities, debrief on what’s working/what’s not, etc. (For more tips to do this, find out how to align your sales and marketing teams.) 

2) Brainstorm ideas that make you more effective.

What knowledge gaps can you fill with content? What type of information do you often repeat? How can you better package information into a more compelling format? These are helpful questions to identify your best sales enablement opportunities. 

3) Know your audience.

What are their key pain points, objections, or hesitations? Your content should address these naturally to effortlessly move people down the path to purchase. (If you haven’t already, use our guide to create personas to identify your audience and their key emotional drivers.)

4) Choose the most effective format.

Do people want to slog through a long brochure, or do they want a short, snappy explainer video? Your content should help both your audience and your sales team interact more effectively, and the format matters as much as the message. 

5) Add personality.

Every piece of content you create is an opportunity to showcase who you are and build a relationship. It should reflect your brand personality and make people excited to learn more and/or work with you. 

6) Use the right tools.

Technology can play a key role in sales enablement, providing sales teams with the tools they need to work more efficiently. This includes customer relationship management (CRM) systems, sales automation software, and analytics tools. These technologies can help sales teams track their progress, identify areas for improvement, and streamline their workflows. (AI can help automate many of these tasks. See our roundup of 50 handy AI tools to find out how.)

Above all, your goal should always be to create a seamless buying experience from start to finish. To cultivate internal bipartisanship, keep reaching across the aisle (whether cubicles or Zoom screens) and chatting with your salespeople. Remember: Your sales team has the best insights into what prospects are ultimately searching for, which will help you not only create better sales enablement content but stronger content marketing in general. 

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