After investing time in creating an asset, the last thing any marketer wants to see is it sitting around unused. But, all too often that can be a cause of misalignment between marketing and sales teams: marketers never see sales utilizing the sales enablement content they created meanwhile sales feels like marketing isn’t supplying them with the materials they need.
When marketing and sales aren’t working together in sync, prospects and customers are the ones who ultimately get hurt — along with your company’s bottom line.
To solve that, marketers need to make sure their sales enablement efforts are centered around the needs of their sales team and that the sales team is equipped to leverage the available content.
According to New Breed Content Manager Nick Frigo, there are three components to ensuring your sales enablement material is successful: ease of access, ease of use and training.
Ease of Access
If members of your sales team cannot find your sales enablement resources, they’re not going to use them. You need to establish an extremely limited number of places where assets will be stored and communicate that to sales reps.
Create a shared database
“It might be stored in a knowledge base; it might be stored in [Google] Drive. Simply not knowing where collateral is located might result in a salesperson messaging you to ask for examples,” Nick says.
Ideally all the sales enablement materials a rep could need should be accessible through a single place, and that location should be as close to where sales reps work as possible. If you can house the sales enablement collateral directly in your team’s sales acceleration tools, that’s the best option. If not, for most companies, Microsoft Office or Google Drive will be the next best choice since they can contain a variety of asset types and are searchable.
Storing sales enablement content in a shared, cloud-based database makes it the most accessible for the entire team. This can also prevent you from having to re-create or re-share the same resource more than once.
“If you’re sending a direct message to sales with a piece of collateral to share with a prospect, try to never do that more than once,” Nick says. “If you do that in a pinch, fine, but make whatever you sent available to everyone else, too. Tell that person and their peers ‘Hey, I sent this to someone ad hoc, but you should all know we have this and this is where it is.’”
Organize your content around sales’ needs
Once sales reps know where to go initially to find sales enablement content, they also need to be able to easily navigate the assets available. They shouldn’t be scrolling through a listing page with hundreds of documents hoping to find something useful. Instead, the materials should be grouped together based on how your sales team functions.
“How does your sales team think about the market? How is the sales team organized?” Nick prompts.
Make your content searchable
On top of having an easily navigable organizational structure, you should also make your sales enablement content searchable. In most cases, document titles will dictate the searchability of your resources, so use consistent naming conventions and include keywords in your titles.
“Naming conventions are really important,” Nick says. “If you can train someone to search for something the same way every time, it’s a fast way to make sure they find what they’re looking for.”
For example, include the asset type in the name like “Call Script | Inbound Follow-Up First Outreach”, “Product Comparison | Competitor 1 vs. Our Solution” or “Presentation Template | Demo”. Utilizing a common naming convention like that enables reps who know exactly what they’re looking for to bypass your folder structures and find what they need as quickly as possible.
Ease of Use
The best sales experience for prospects is one that’s personalized, so it’s important that the sales enablement content you create can be adapted to each individual deal.
Provide multiple variations
As you’re developing assets, think of the needs of different types of buyers and companies and make sure you accommodate for all common use cases.
“It’s much easier for people who aren’t designers to reduce; to be sculptive instead of additive. Try to give sellers too much stuff to choose from and let them erase what they don’t want to send,” Nick says. “Give them a bunch of different ways to tell the story they’re trying to tell.”
For example, in a presentation deck, provide 10 stats even though they only need three. Create different variations of one sheets and case studies that can be leveraged for different pain points. Maybe even have template variations targeted to each ICP.
As you make your materials customizable, there is a fine line to balance between providing too much and not enough. You don’t want to overwhelm your sales team with options but you also don’t want them to constantly need to ask you for more variations. Finding the right balance for your sales process and team members might take some trial and error, so don’t be disheartened if you have to keep tweaking your internal resource library.
Make it effortless to uphold your brand
When providing your sales team with materials they can edit, it’s also important to ensure that all your brand guidelines are the default so sales reps can make the changes they need without worrying about brand alignment.
“Make sure all the fonts and colors are right. If you can, give them only the options of your style guide and nothing outside it,” Nick says.
In their focus on customizing materials to the prospects’ needs, reps might not notice if they use the wrong shade of a color or a font that’s not part of your branding. But, those small inconsistencies can create dissonance for prospects.
By creating guardrails in the files you make for sales reps that force brand adherence, you ensure branding doesn’t become a friction point that gets in the way of them doing their job.
Training and Guidance
Sales isn’t a cookie-cutter process, so marketing shouldn’t be dictating to sales reps exactly when and how to leverage sales enablement materials.
“The success of sales enablement content depends on the salesperson who’s going to use it. That’s the biggest variable in whether it’s going to be effective or not,” Nick says.
New hires might need more guidance around what materials align with different stages of the buyer’s journey and what assets can help combat different pain points. However, a more experienced sales rep at your company will be familiar with that already and instead need to know where everything is and what they’re allowed to share.
The training and guidance you provide should be based around those different needs. For new hires, incorporate sales enablement material into their onboarding process. Set up a meeting during their first month to go over all the assets available and where they’re located. Additionally, provide documentation like buyer’s journey content maps that help them understand how materials can be used.
For the rest of the team, conducting periodic check-ins to remind them about what sales enablement content exists can be beneficial to keep it top of mind. Additionally, ensure you communicate when you create new materials.
You should also encourage sales team members to ask for help so that they do come to marketing when they need some specific content to win a deal. Fostering that collaboration will ultimately benefit both teams because sales will receive the assets they require and marketing will gain a better understanding of what types of sales enablement content are needed.
That understanding can help marketing develop sales enablement materials before sales reps even need to ask for it, strengthening the trust between the two teams.