January 25, 2021 Content Chat Recap: Marketing & Sales: How To Remove Silos For Sales Enablement

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is how to remove silos for sales enablement, with guest Shira Abel.

Content plays an integral role in the buyer’s journey. Customers need how-tos and educational resources to perform their jobs better, as well as details about your product(s) and how your offering is unique from others in the space.

In an ideal setting, marketing and sales teams will act seamlessly to work with customers to understand their needs, identify content priorities, and streamline resources. Unfortunately, though, it is more often the case that sales and marketing teams act independently with only brief interaction, which hurts your customer experience and drains your team’s resources.

In this #ContentChat, we’re joined by Shira Abel, CEO of Hunter & Bard, to explore how teams can remove silos and implement better sales enablement practices. Read the full recap below, where we answer “what is sales enablement,” discuss the content types that are beneficial throughout the customer journey, and share best practices for enabling greater alignment between sales and marketing.

Q1: For those unfamiliar with the term, what is sales enablement and why is it important for marketing teams?

Sales enablement is the process of partnering with a sales team to create and provide resources for any stage of the customer journey.

1/ Sales enablement is critical when you’re a B2B selling to enterprise. It’s the resources that support sales as accounts make their way through the funnel. https://t.co/BFN1pN4dXW

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A1: So often the content marketing team is creating content with the intention of sales using it. But like everyone else, the sales team is overloaded with information. Sales enablement is the process of giving them the context to put your content to work. #ContentChat https://t.co/r7jAAFrsq8

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

A1 Sales enablement boils down to providing the salesperson or team with the material/info and tools they need to best make a sale
-Alyx #contentchat

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) January 25, 2021

A1: I see or define sales enablement as listening to the sales team, what their needs are and creating content to help them reach their target audiences. #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

That’s a good definition. I usually see us as providing a warm lead for the sales team, but yours focuses on listening to what they need.. and I like that point of view. #ContentChat https://t.co/FvzaTkrcZe

— Shane Shaps (@520eastbrands) January 25, 2021

A1: Sales enablement is the provision of campaigns, strategies, and materials to better enable sales to do their job! #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) January 25, 2021

Sales enablement content can include anything from email or social media content to the systems used to distribute and track those messages.

/2 This includes everything from the emails, to the materials sent in the emails, to the system sending the emails as well as the direct mail component, the sponsored linkedin ads, and the folloze boards where the materials are placed. #contentchat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

The process involves an ongoing partnership. As content is created, the team can measure its success, review the customer pipeline, and assess what content or resources are needed next.

/3 On top of all that, it’s looking for signals in the analytics of who Sales should call. And following up with sales to see who was a fit, and who needs to go back to nurture. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

/4 content is a major part of an account-based marketing campaign (which is the main method for selling to enterprise). Having the right content at the right time with a focused message. #contentchat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Sales and marketing teams should meet and communicate regularly to ensure a successful partnership. Shira recommends meeting at least once a week.

I feel the communication part is important missed most times. Sales and marketing need to continue engage and discuss needs and fully understand the sales process and who they are trying to go after. It is also engageing with the audience to also better know them. #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

Sales and Marketing should be meeting weekly, and occasionally even more than that. Marketing needs the feedback to target better. Once Sales starts seeing better and faster closed-wins – they buy-in quick. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Q2: How has sales enablement changed in the past year, specifically given the rapid (and presumably ongoing) shift in favor of digital experiences and content consumption?

In-person events have understandably decreased in priority for customers, but digital and hybrid events and direct mail have increased in importance. Account-based marketing is especially important to reach targeted customers.

A2/ It’s less events and more digital mixed with direct mail. ABM (account-based marketing) has also become a significantly larger focus for companies that sell higher ARR products to enterprises.#contentchat https://t.co/UOn6nrDY1r

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A2-

Since moving remote definitely conducting better virtual events. Efficient communication is key! 🔑#ContentChat

— WebEnertia B2B Marketing (@WebEnertia) January 25, 2021

Audience/customer expectations have shifted this past year, and content teams must adapt to these new needs.

A2: The expectations of the audiences/customer have changed and the content strategy needs or needed to pivot as well to meet the changes in expectations. #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

A2 I’ve seen focus being put on customer experience, and who knows better what the customers are asking/complaining/raving about than the sales team? They work directly with customers, their input should be taken into account on how best to sell to them
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/F08xT1wfIt

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) January 25, 2021

Customers expect consistent interactions with brands and prefer their issues to be solved in one call if possible. It is important to implement systems and tools for sales to quickly access the right content. It is also important to train the sales team on how to read customer signals and how to navigate these content systems.

A2: In recent years, we see selling systems and content systems merging (some successful, some not) to where Sales can quickly access the latest relevant content, brand assets, and Solutions docs to support live conversations. (We build this). #contentchat

— Ed Alexander (@fanfoundry) January 25, 2021

It’s even better when Sales doesn’t have to manage that at all though. Sales should have access to the analytics to see the signals of who is interested (*and be taught how to read those signals) most great salespeople are happy to leave content to the marketing team #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Q3: What type of content do you recommend for each stage of the buyer’s journey?

Start by documenting your customer journey. Assess who is in each stage, the various channels and mediums they use, and how they consume content before contacting your team.

/2 One thing I do recommend is to reverse engineer the sales process. Where did your platinum customers go before they reached SAA? I’ve found with our clients that most read technical content on the site and did a lot of research before engaging. #contentchat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A3: Stepping back to define what you are looking to solve, who’s in each stage is, the channels/medium, what content is relevant, how you will measure #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

A3-1] When it comes to what content to use by stage, start by understanding your audience’s customer journey. Do this by talking to them. Since their buying differs from what you consider the purchase process. #contentmarketing #digitalmarketing #ContentChat

— HeidiCohen – Top Global Marketer (@heidicohen) January 25, 2021

In general, top-of-funnel content is educational and focused on helping your target audience perform their jobs better (not sell them on your product). This content can include blog posts, how-to videos, general guides, and more.

A3: We actually wrote a blog post on this. You can find it here: https://t.co/HNUsCOyWan
Start with content that helps your content. Giving away good advice shows you have expertise and builds trust. As you go deeper into the funnel people want to know specifics. #contentchat https://t.co/tFbe2sB0Rm

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A3. Yikes. Stage 1 of 5: Awareness. Content that feeds these KPIs: Opens, Clicks, Follows, Subscribes, Inquiries. It could be ANY form, format, channel. Depends on where audience lurks. Stand by for Stages 2 thru 5. #contentchat

— Ed Alexander (@fanfoundry) January 25, 2021

A3 Informational/educational and “get-to-know-the-team” for the early stages, build the “know” and “like” factors
Then informational/educational with a CTA for people further along the process, when they’re in the “trust” stage
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/nqkZz6qRrg

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) January 25, 2021

Middle-of-the-funnel content dives deeper into your customer’s needs, and will include in-depth guides, e-books, and case studies (just to name a few).

A3- This is how we look at it for our business:

👀Top of the funnel- “awareness”
Social media, blog posts & email marketing

💭Middle of the funnel- “consideration”
Case studies & downloadable content

🧠Bottom of the funnel- “decision”
Get in contact#contentchat

— WebEnertia B2B Marketing (@WebEnertia) January 25, 2021

Bottom-of-the-funnel content will be more specific to your company, your offerings, and why customers should choose you. Partner with sales to test several strategies, and review what is working to better hone your approach.

In many organizations, the top f the funnel is the easy part. What do you suggest for teams that aren’t sure what to prioritize in the decision-making stage? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

Work with sales and test several strategies. Also, back to the reverse engineer of the sales cycle to see what’s worked in the past. #contentchat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Q4: What questions should marketing teams ask their sales counterparts to better understand how content can help them?

Consider asking these questions to the sales team to better understand the type of content that will help them.

A4/ Ask about the sales cycle. Who is on the buying committee? How long is the sales cycle? Do they know the path the prospect takes before making a decision? What are the people in the account we’re selling to being judged on (KPIs)? How can we make the buyer a hero?#ContentChat https://t.co/5hdQRmk8LF

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

/2 In enterprise sales people can lose their job if they make the wrong decision. They are interested in who can work within their complex framework and bring them success – you need to know what success means to them #ContentChat
The sales team knows this.

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A4:

“What objections are you hearing and finding difficult to overcome?”#ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) January 25, 2021

A4: What latent or explicit pain is the customer trying to solve? What have they tried? What’s working now? How does our solution set improve on that? #contentchat

— Ed Alexander (@fanfoundry) January 25, 2021

A4-

What are they currently doing? What’s working? What’s not working? What are their goals?#ContentChat

— WebEnertia B2B Marketing (@WebEnertia) January 25, 2021

A valid question to explore: should marketing teams have direct access to customers? Yes! However, there needs to be an established connection with the customer, as well as executive buy-in of the strategy. If your marketing team is unable to speak with customers, though, at a minimum you should review sales call recordings and propose questions for them to ask on future calls.

A4: What problems are their customers having and what are they looking to solve. What is working and what is not. If possible, reaching out to the cusotmers themselves to also get direct feedback on the marketing materials. #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

This brings up another great point—your content marketing team 100% needs to talk directly to your customers! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

And people don’t do this either…you can gain so much plus build long term loyatly because you are actually listening to the customer #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

I have worked with sales teams that would refuse to let marketing talk to “their” customers. It makes it impossible to create the best customer experience possible. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

I have worked with sales teams that would refuse to let marketing talk to “their” customers. It makes it impossible to create the best customer experience possible. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

That level of trust needs to be established with sales first. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Yes…and it could start with giving the sales team the questions to ask of “their” customers, show them the output to help build the trust. Hopefully sales will understand the time and value of those engagements. #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

Asking to listen to the call recordings is another way to get access. Then give the questions you need to the sales team for follow up calls. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Agreed. So maybe a lot of this struggle comes from the Director and below content marketing leaders trying to make the case above their pay grade, where they don’t have as much an opportunity to build those relationships? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

This is when it’s helpful if Sales and Marketing leadership are peers, particularly at the executive level. It’s hard to say to someone with a VP or C-level title that they can’t talk to the client. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) January 25, 2021

Q5: What are the most under-utilized content distribution methods that you think teams should further explore for sales enablement?

Shira recommends Folloze to boost the amount of data you get on your email outreach.

A5: 1/ While email is a standard utilized method, I love using Folloze for the ABM side because of the data component. I can see exactly what an account looked at, and for how long #ContentChat https://t.co/KLSywxjiIJ

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A5: /2 so even if I didn’t get a response I can give a call recommendation list to the Account Executive. This helps the sales team be even more successful. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Direct mail is often under-utilized, and a tool like PFL can help with analytics.

A5: /3 Another under-utilized tool is direct mail that works with analytics, like PFL. Helpful, branded materials that are beautifully printed. It catches the buyers attention while being relevant.#ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A5] Agree with @shiraabel that #directmail has analytics & works better now due to less mail delivered via USPS. As a result, recipients pay more attention to your #marketing #contentchat #contentmarketing cc @SFerika

— HeidiCohen – Top Global Marketer (@heidicohen) January 26, 2021

A5: Snail mail. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) January 25, 2021

Erika recommends SlideShare to distribute presentations and visualizations.

A5: Marketing teams make so many slide decks, and have so many fantastic visualizations in our content, yet few groups use @SlideShare as a content distribution channel. Yet it’s where your ideal customers are likely looking for content for their OWN slide decks! #ContentChat https://t.co/a7yJpxXUyy

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

Some channels are not under-utilized, but are utilized un-productively. LinkedIn strategies, for example, can be refined.

A5 Not sure I’d say *under*-utilized as much as unproductively utilized … and that’s LinkedIn. So few salespeople add context when they share content, and as a result, what they share doesn’t engage or have reach. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) January 25, 2021

Agreed—I see that a lot! Similarly, if you are a salesperson I have connected to on LinkedIn, rather than spamming my connections with sales pitches, reach out to ME with relevant content I can share, and ask I consider referring their way. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

A5: <copout> It varies based on the audience and the product but, in sum, IMHO only a handful of our clients actually are “nailing it” on their most relevant channel(s). So, in other words, just about any channel could be cited as underutilized. </copout> #contentchat https://t.co/1kA9mAuTF0

— Ed Alexander (@fanfoundry) January 25, 2021

Q6: How does sales enablement support account-based marketing efforts? What are some typical enablement activities or tools for ABM?

Everything that marketing does in an ABM program is sales enablement. Shira and John explain more here:

A6: /1 ABM is marketing working hand-and-hand with sales – everything marketing does in an ABM program is sales enablement. Everything from building the list from the Ideal Customer Profile, to designing the ABM orchestration and the materials used in the program. #ContentChat https://t.co/cRm6uYlIF5

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A6: /2 As an agency we are platform agnostic. What we often do for customers are industry specific programs that have numerous materials from blog posts, to sponsored social posts, eBooks, white papers, videos, case studies, and more. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A6: /3 All specially designed to help the prospect that is in need. Our response rates have been significantly higher than average on cold outreach thanks to good content and a strong focus. We have that focus thanks to the sales team. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A6: /4 We build the list, but Sales has to review and approve. And we work with them to edit that list tightly. This way when we get a response – sales is hungry for it.

ABM works best when it’s narrow in focus. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A6: ABM is the key exemplar of sales enablement. It’s truly sales and marketing going full-court-press to close high-value deals. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) January 25, 2021

Q7: How can marketing and sales teams ensure ongoing alignment? What specific touchpoints do you recommend? And what are some pitfalls to avoid?

Integrate sales throughout your marketing planning and execution processes. Host ongoing weekly meetings with sales and marketing to discuss the sales process and identify any content needs or areas of refinement.

A7: Build-in sales collaboration throughout your marketing planning and execution processes. From SKOs to offsites, make sure there is ample cross-pollination and relationship building happening throughout the year. #ContentChat https://t.co/5QQHTAFtCW

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

A7: /1 Marketing and sales need to have ongoing weekly meetings, and even occasionally calls outside of the weekly meetings. Marketing needs to understand the entire sales process and cycle, and should occasionally sit in on sales calls – and listen to the recordings #ContentChat https://t.co/DtaIrtJc47

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Marketing should align with sales after any significant customer calls so that they can partner on the next steps.

A7: /2 Marketing also needs to follow up after a sales call with an SAA happens. Together they should be working on next steps – because feedback helps marketing better understand who is a good fit. #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

Be proactive in building a relationship and establishing common ground with sales. You do not want to only talk with them when there is an emergency.

A7b: Be proactive about setting shared definitions of your various lead stages, and don’t wait for issues to arise with the sales team to start building relationships with sales. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) January 25, 2021

Stop placing blame on each other.

A7: /3 Pitfalls? Both sides need to avoid blaming each other. Marketing is always complaining about sales not following up on accounts, and sales complain about marketing giving bad accounts. #contentchat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

It all boils down to this: you’re all part of the same team. You need to build and nurture the marketing and sales relationship. By giving everyone a seat at the table and actively seeking their input, your team will accelerate your content creation and better meet your customer needs.

A7: Collaboration and team work really do work, set it up to be part of each others meetings, engage often, build trust and remember, you are on the same team and both want what is best for the customer. #ContentChat

— Bernie Fussenegger #Digital360Chat (@B2the7) January 25, 2021

A7:

Sales & marketing leaders should be colleagues

They should be in the other’s team meetings

Make sure incentives align between the teams

Marketing should have access to clients

Understand that YOU’RE ALL WORKING TO THE SAME GOAL!#ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) January 25, 2021

A7: /4 The more the two sides work together through the whole cycle to closed-win the better marketing will understand who closes. Sales will get busy and won’t always follow up with strong accounts. #contentchat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

A7: /5 That’s when marketing can support sales by nurturing the account until the Account Executive has time again, but they can’t do that if they don’t know about it. Hence, constant conversation is critical #ContentChat

— Shira Abel (@shiraabel) January 25, 2021

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