The Content Dimension of Sales Enablement: Marketing is only part of the story

A few weeks ago, I started to share some impressions MBA students have about sales enablement. Another misconception that’s out there in the market is that sales enablement is all about sales content only, about “marketing content,” and the related enablement technology.

Many people see sales enablement as being another word for all things sales content, and often refer to the term “marketing content.” You can look at it from two ways to get more clarity. One is to say that “marketing content” is content that is created by marketing. The other one is to say that “marketing content” is content that is used for marketing purposes. Either way, content that is traditionally created by marketing serves various purposes like brand awareness and demand and lead generation. By definition, it’s focused on the early stages of the customer’s journey. Whatever perspective you may share, it’s obvious that salespeople need much more than “marketing content.”

Let’s look at a salesperson’s selling challenge from a content perspective.

  • In the early awarness phase of the customer’s journey, they need content to address the prospect’s business problem and its entire impact, to show different approaches to tackling the challenge and the potential business outcomes that could be achieved. Content that is used in this awareness phase often comes from marketing. Think about case studies, success stories, high-level presentations, white papers, etc.
  • In the buying phase of the customer’s journey, new buyer roles show up, and our salesperson needs different content types. The future project manager requires more detailed content regarding the solution, the options, and implementation strategies. The procurement role requires detailed pricing information, SLA agreements, contract attachment, and other details. User-oriented stakeholders want to match their uses cases with the potential solution. And the executive buyers are interested in the solution’s impact on their business case. And our salesperson also needs, for instance, proposal templates (hopefully automated for different use cases), SLA agreements, contract attachments, statements of work, calculation tools, etc. for various selling scenarios.

In addition to these client facing content types, they also need internal content types such as playbooks that point salespeople along the entire customer’s journey to the specific pieces of content. Tailored value messages are ideally included in such a playbook. I will stop here –… you are getting an idea where this is going.

Where does this content come from? Please have a look at Who creates all the content salespeople need along the customer’s journey? for details. You will learn why only 39% of all content salespeople need, comes from marketing. All other required content types have different additional sources, such as product management, sales operations, sales enablement, legal, finance, etc. This is why reducing the content dimension of enablement to “marketing content” is misleading and doesn’t add any value to the discussion.

Let’s sum it up:

  • Content should not be labeled by the function that creates it:
    So-called “marketing content” covers only 39% of all the content types salespeople actually need along the entire customer’s journey. Let’s start labeling content types according to the purposes they serve and the target audiences they have been created for.
  • Content has become a complex challenge, and must always be considered in context: Content is more than content types (white paper, case study, reference, etc.) and content formats (pdf, docs, xlsx, pptx, video, etc.). Content can be client-facing and internal, and it can be training content, and it is required along the entire customer’s journey.
  • Content that salespeople need has different ownerships in the organization:
    Therefore, sales enablement is best positioned to orchestrate all things content along the entire customer’s journey for the sales force. That does not mean that sales enablement is doing all these things; it means that sales enablement ensures that the necessary content is made available for salespeople at their fingertips (what they need, when they need it, regardless of where they are).

 

In order to do so, sales enablement leaders should develop a formal enablement vision, mission, and purpose, and a formal collaboration approach with all other departments involved (marketing, product management, sales operations, finance, legal, sales training, etc.). Only then can they develop a content management framework that covers the entire customer’s journey for client-facing and internal content types.

Effective content doesn’t happen by accident. Instead, it is always based on a strategic, holistic, well-structured content management framework that maps out all content types and formats along the entire customer’s journey, tailored by various criteria, combined with ongoing analysis of what’s working and what’s not.

Related questions:

  • How do your approach the content dimension of sales enablement?
  • How do you structure the content salespeople need along the entire customer’s journey
  • How do you collaborate with the different functions that own certain content types?

Related blog posts:

No Comments

Post A Comment