Account Executive, Services, 10+ Years of Sales Strategy and Account Management
September 10th, 2019
Before I joined IMPACT, I ran sales enablement for a global health and wellness software-as-a-service (SaaS) company. But long before I supported the success of sales teams, I was a salesperson myself, and my tenure was long and vast.
I say all of this to point out that it wasn’t until I removed myself from directly selling that I understood the importance of having synergy and harmony across sales, marketing, and operations teams.
I would tell them what I needed. But (unfortunately), as hard as they tried, the results rarely met expectations. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why they weren’t able to take my ask and translate it into a piece of collateral that enabled me to do my job more effectively.
Then I was put in charge of sales enablement — a hybrid role that bridged the gaping hole between marketing and sales.
I realized that part of the reason that marketing was unable to hit a content home run was due to them not being on the front lines with sales. They were only taking what I was asking for and producing a product-, persona-, or problem-specific piece of content.
They didn’t really interpret content like a salesperson. Instead, they addressed each topic from the perspective of a marketer.
More specifically, I would tell marketing what I wanted and they'd produce something with the end customer in mind. But rarely did they answer it through the lens of an end customer.
For instance, I would ask for a one-pager on the common problems that plagued my prospects and how our solution solved for it.
What I would receive was a product spec sheet listing features, benefits, and a few anecdotes on how we may be able to solve for the problems the prospect was facing.
This wasn’t what I needed.
Sales wants common objections, questions, concerns addressed so they don’t have to spend their time on a sales call educating prospects.
Sales wants an educated buyer.
While there may be dozens of pieces of material would fit the bill of being truly designed for "sales enablement," I have narrowed down the list of the top three things marketing teams should produce that will help their sales team infinitely.
The most common questions buyers are asking
It’s funny. In my past sales roles, mid-call, I catch myself repeating myself and actually losing track of who I was talking to. When you start to say the same answers over and over again, it’s hard to delineate one prospect from another.
Which is why the number one thing I want from sales enablement material is content that does this tedious part of my job for me — answering all of the generic questions all prospects have that serve as a prerequisite to more specific and situation-specific sales conversations.
Here at IMPACT, we call these topics The Big 5. They are the top five categories of content all buyers (regardless of industry) are clamoring for — more so than any other topic — when making a purchasing decision.
Personally, my favorite sales enablement content revolves around price. I’m talking about content that explicitly states what you cost, and explains factors that can drive the price up or down.
This kind of transparency does two things.
First, it disqualifies prospects that can’t afford your service or solution. Second, it builds trust, because you demonstrate you are a company that talks about price and has nothing to hide.
As a buyer, I am more apt to call a business that displays its costs outright than one that doesn’t. And I bet you are, too!
Videos that address frequently asked questions
One thing I have learned in my tenure as a sales rep is that people learn and digest content differently. I could send a followup email with a bunch of bullets and posts to read, but sometimes prospects just want the information in a short and concise format. Call it a give it to me straight type of way.
I have found that the best solution for the "I have no time to read" prospects is video. (In fact, we're a huge fan of using video for sales here at IMPACT.)
We use Vidyard to send videos embedded in my email follow-ups to my prospects. I find that videos help me articulate what I am trying to convey through text.
Video is crucial for salespeople because it enables them to make better use of their time on a sales call, and it's been proven to shorten the sales cycle:
And if this video is on your website, it can be a really valuable asset. A video doesn’t sleep. It is a 24/7 salesperson. It also has the ability can disqualifytire-kickers before a real salesperson ever gets involved!
Can I get a hallelujah for more time on your calendar and more qualified leads?
Case studies of real world success with clients
I need to start this section by saying that I am not a huge advocate of sending case studies to prospects. Reason being, very rarely do clients find direct apples-to-apples comparisons between the case studies you share with them and their own situations.
We've found that if a prospect is asking us to share one of our case studies, they are very far along in the decision-making process — basically they are looking for validation that you can solve their problem.
There are times and places for case studies. Often, a buyer will use the results to sell your service or solution to the person who is cutting the check. Case studies help decision-makers quickly understand the ROI they are going to receive from partnering with you.
(Which brings up another topic about spending your time selling to the wrong person, which is a whole other topic for a different day.😉)
Having real results at your fingertips is super helpful. It proves your expertise and ability to take a client from point A to point B.
Including facts and figures is important. Talking about where the customer started is also crucial. But what is most important is to structure the case studies via the lens of a customer.
In other words, remove the fluff.
Give them the facts, the how and why, because nothing else matters to a customer.
None of this is revolutionary — or is it?
While you may be reading this post and thinking, “I’m already doing all of this, tell me something I don’t know!” I encourage you to pause for a moment and ask yourself:
How involved is the sales team in marketing’s content brainstorming?
It is nearly impossible for a marketer to create solid sales enablement material without sales involvement. Sales knows what customers or prospects are asking throughout the sales cycle in a way that marketing can’t. The content needs to be written as if it were part of a natural sales dialogue.
Otherwise, sales won’t use that content. Or worse, they will include it, but it won’t be what a prospect needs to get them over the finish line to becoming a customer.
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