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Sales enablement is the process with which Sales and Marketing remove themselves from the mindset of working separately and learn to bring their talents together to close more deals. In short, sales enablement puts the right tools and resources in the hands of your sales reps so that they can present them to their prospects at the right time.

Because buyers today are more risk-averse, sales enablement tools are a necessity for Sales teams looking to differentiate themselves. In this article, we examine what these buyers look like, why Sales and Marketing are disconnected, and best practices for creating a sales enablement strategy that maps your tools and resources to the sales cycle. 

The risk-averse buyer

To get started, we must first understand what these risk-averse buyers look like today.

  • Knowledgeable about their specific problems, as well as their solution options
  • Make collaborative decisions when it comes to large purchases (especially B2B buyers)
  • Request customized information and solutions for their business which prolongs the sales cycle

So, how can you leverage sales enablement tools to meet the needs of these buyers? And what do these sales enablement tools look like?

Disconnect between Sales and Marketing

The ideal situation for any sales rep in the field would be to have enough content at each stage of the buyer’s journey—Awareness, Consideration, Decision—to address the specific obstacles of each stage.

However, there is a fundamental problem that many companies struggle with when it comes to enabling best practices for sales enablement tools: a disconnect between Sales and Marketing when it comes to content creation and usage.

  • 25% of B2B Marketing budget goes to content, but 70% is never used by Sales teams. (Sirius Decisions)
  • 30% of a sales team’s day is wasted searching for content. (CEB)
  • 43% of reps spent more than half a day preparing for meetings because they had to create their own custom content. (Brainshark)

The reason that Sales and Marketing teams have a hard time coming together to create a sales enablement process is due to the outdated systems (or lack thereof) that are being used to create, organize, and distribute the right content, to the right reps, at the right time. To solve this problem, Smarketing teams must invest in the advanced systems that will enable their content to be shared with one another. These systems include CRM systems and marketing and sales automation software.

Using a CRM system or marketing automation will allow you to easily store and organize all of your great content, making it easy to access at a moment’s notice. Once a content management system is in place, your teams can work to develop a sales enablement strategy.

Best practices for your sales enablement strategy

  • Create content that is mapped to the stages of the buyer’s journey and your buyer personas. For example, blog articles and eBooks that are designed for the Awareness stage, or the Top of the Funnel (ToFu), are generally broader topics that are meant to attract your prospect’s attention. While on the other end, content in the Decision Stage, or Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu), would look more like a case study or a white paper that with more buyer-ready language.
  • Use a CRM system to manage your content. Sales reps complain that they spend too much time searching for content. Store it in one central system where it can easily be accessed when needed.
  • Track and analyze content creation and performance. This falls in Marketing’s lap, with a little help from Sales. Marketing should be using their automation software to constantly be tracking the best performing content and running content audits to determine what additional content is needed.
  • Create a variety of content resources. Video is one of the highest performing types of content, so you want to make sure you have a good supply of them in stock to distribute to your prospects throughout the sales cycle. Having a variety of content will keep prospects (and sales reps) engaged and interested.

To ensure a successful sales enablement process, Sales and Marketing need to work together to create a winning strategy. According to the Aberdeen Group, 82% of sales teams met quota when they encouraged best practices, compared with 39% who didn’t. Smarketing teams work best to create content that is engaging, mapped to the sales cycle, and speaks to the challenges of your buyer personas. Constant collaboration in the sales enablement strategy is key for monitoring what works and what doesn’t.

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