Enablement Works Best When You Think Like a Customer
Putting together a sales enablement strategy requires you to look through both ends of the telescope. The big end encompasses all of your products and services, all your bundles and solutions, and all the various elements of content that help explain them, plus the structure that allows sales to find them. The small end of the telescope, however, is one you need to keep in mind. That’s the customer’s view: a narrowly-defined set of content requirements that map to his or her specific problems and needs. The fact that you have content for myriad personas and multiple products is impressive – but not to the individual customer. He or she needs to get help in solving a problem, or to find ammunition to win an internal argument about a decision. And that’s it. That flips the process most sales enablement strategies use on their heads. Instead of having product marketing and product management sit down and chart out a path for content that explores all the things your business loves about its products, you must instead consider the pathways customers take to get to those details. You have to think about personas, and beyond that, you have to imagine the problems those personas are coping with or are being charged with solving. The content your internal experts create is still crucial – there’s no substitute for a deep bench of content, and the fact that so many roles are involved in modern B2B buying makes that deep bench ever more important. But you need to make sure that content gets used. That means knowing how your customer thinks about his or her problems allows sales to deliver content that’s created for the right stage of consideration and with the right tone and information for that first contact, the person you want to make into your champion who can then help tell your story to the rest of the decision makers and influencers in a deal. Doing this effectively means that sales and marketing need to sit down and map out personas and problems in order to devise a structure for sales content that serves up the right content for each sales contact. This is by no means sales’ favorite activity – it’s not selling, for Pete’s sake! – but it could end up being a particularly profitable one. Not only can it give sales a leg up by arming them with better content that’s more precisely targeted at the very people they’re selling to, it can help marketing (and specifically, content marketing) align along similar problems and personas. That can be extremely helpful to sales – if as much as 90 percent of the buyer’s journey is complete by the time a prospect contacts a salesperson, doesn’t it make sense for that journey to be populated by content that’s especially attuned to their concerns? Then, you need to create a structure that accommodates the way customers understand their problems. That may require a parallel structure to what we traditionally use – in other words, the way content is assembled, ordered and delivered to sales people may be different for a technical customer vs. a more strategically focused customer. The content they need to make a decision may be largely the same, but the order in which it should be delivered and the tone and content of some of the content elements may differ. This sort of taxonomy is a challenge – most businesses still lack a taxonomy to serve up a one-size-fits-all approach to sales content, after all. But it can be done – and if you understand sales enablement to be a potential competitive advantage, you should be thinking about it. Want to discover more ways in which sales enablement can make a genuine contribution to your sales performance? Attend our Sales Enablement Summit on Nov. 10, hear brand-new research from CSO Insights’ Tamara Schenk, and discover the latest ideas about how to increase the contribution enablement makes to sales success.
Chris Bucholtz | November 3rd, 2015