You want your sales team to have every possible tool at their disposal in order to close business. That’s not exactly rocket science. But is your sales enablement collateral really helping? Are the case studies on your website actually aligned with the features your prospects care about most? Do your slicks reflect your existing pricing structure? And when was the last time you updated your testimonials?
Chances are, your sales enablement efforts aren’t where they need to be. If that’s the case, these efforts might even be turning prospects off, rather than nurturing qualified leads down the funnel. Still worse, sales reps today say they’re spending about 43 hours each month researching information. And as revealed in our forthcoming Enterprise Sales Salary Report, if your typical account exec makes just north of $155,000 per year, that means those 43 hours are costing your business $3,225 per rep every month.
Take a moment and let that sink in. We’ll wait.
Now—deep breath—let’s dive into some common sales enablement pitfalls and look at how you can avoid them.
You aren’t listening to your reps
The first step is the simplest: Ask your reps what they need. This seems like a no-brainer—and yet it’s all too common for sales enablement teams to have their own agendas and certain features they want to push. Unfortunately, if those features may not be what your prospects care about, that content isn’t helping the sales team close.
So start by learning what sales reps are hearing on the ground. Ask about the most common objections they’re hearing at every stage of the funnel, and tailor your content to help them overcome those objections. You might even consider creating a simple FAQ page or PDF that the sales team can direct prospects to.
While you’re at it, loop in product marketing, and have a heart-to-heart about messaging related to new and upcoming features. In fact, you should work with both functions to have a content strategy in place that addresses all of the upcoming features in your product roadmap.
You haven’t updated your content in way too long
Once you have a handle on what your sellers are struggling with, it’s time to update your content accordingly. If your sellers are calling on prospects using two-year-old slicks and links to case studies that are old enough to start kindergarten, they’re in for a rough time. That may be why, according to Forrester, 90 percent of B2B sellers don’t use marketing content—because it’s irrelevant, outdated, or not customizable. Not only is that a lot of wasted opportunity, it’s a lot of wasted marketing budget spent on content that does nothing to move the needle.
Bear in mind that as of 2016, 51 percent of buyers were relying more on content than they were the year before, and that trend is only increasing with time. And as more and more millennials come to assume positions with buying power at enterprises—a cohort know for conducting independent research before reaching out to sellers—having up-to-date, informative sales enablement content will be more important than ever.
You aren’t arming reps with the right content
Not all content is created equal, and that’s especially true of sales enablement content. Awareness-level content is great at the top of the funnel, but once your reps have set up a meeting with an SQL, you should use valuable insight from a member of your network or an industry expert to arm your seller with content that addresses the prospect’s specific priorities and challenges. That could mean, for example, case studies that highlight ease and speed of integration, or testimonials touting your approach to data security in order to allay potential concerns from procurement teams. And since research shows that reps use, on average, more than 17 unique pieces of content to enable the selling process, you’re going to need more than just a brochure if you’re truly going to give your sellers what they need.
This doesn’t mean you should be creating custom content for every prospect in the funnel. It does, however, mean you should have a quiver full of content that addresses the most frequent pain points and objections they encounter. Your sales enablement content should have a healthy mix of the following:
- Clear, transparent pricing: According to HubSpot, 58 percent of buyers want to talk pricing on the first sales call. Giving your sellers a one-pager that covers pricing in clear, understandable language is a lay-up. It’ll also help prospects get a handle on your pricing from the jump.
- Case studies for common use cases: Research shows that 78 percent of buyers access case studies when researching purchases, so this needs to be a top priority. If you’re selling into IT, for example, have three to five case studies that showcase how your solution performed for different IT organizations with varying needs. Each of these should be no more than two pages in length, and ideally they’ll follow the classic challenge>solution>result format. Try to work in actual customer testimonials whenever possible.
- Distilled analyst reports: Whenever possible, leverage analyst reports from Gartner, Forrester, and the like to showcase your brand position among the competition and highlight key features. A report from Sirius Decisions found that analyst reports were the most impactful content types at every stage of the funnel. In fact, they were the most impactful at the top of the funnel—with no close second.
- Articles/blog posts: Tried-and-true blog posts are simple ways to show off features and functionalities in a variety of ways, and these are great assets for sellers to use as “learn more” content to drive conversations and add context to follow-ups.
Your reps can’t find the content they need
Once you’ve got content in place, make sure your reps can actually find it—and find it quickly. Sounds obvious, right? But a whopping 65 percent of sellers say they can’t find content to send to prospects. This shouldn’t be a problem, and yet somehow it is.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: Institute a central repository for all of your sales enablement content. This can live on your website or on something as basic as Google Drive. Just be sure it’s searchable, with all your content named and tagged appropriately so that sellers can find assets quickly. The litmus test is this: Can a rep hear an objection during a meeting and find the right content to addresses that specific objection during that meeting? If not, you’ve got some work to do.
Your reps have generic information
There are hundreds of sales enablement tools out there to help equip your sales team with account background. Whether you’re looking for an org chart or information on a prospect’s IT infrastructure, there’s a tool for you.
The problem with these data-driven sales enablement tools is that they fail to paint the full picture. While understanding a client’s org chart can certainly help your rep get in the door, it won’t ensure they close the deal. More often than not, deals are won and lost based on tacit knowledge that can’t be learned through data alone. So how can you help your sales rep understand the company culture at their top accounts? How can you give them insight into unspoken politics that might be at work?
At Emissary, we understand the immense value of tacit knowledge, so we connect sales reps directly to former executives from their top accounts. Doing so effectively unlocks the hidden knowledge that wins deals. Help your sales rep gain competitive advantage by uncovering the information that your competitors can’t find on LinkedIn alone.
Everyone knows sales enablement content is an essential tool in any sales team’s arsenal. Yet many enterprises simply aren’t getting it right. In far too many cases, the content is out of date, difficult to find, or doesn’t align with prospects’ needs—and that can have clear bottom-line consequences. In this article, we not only break down five common pitfalls when it comes to sales enablement content, but arm you with the inside insights you need to start getting it right.