How Small to Medium-sized Businesses Can Tackle the World of Sales Enablement

The decision has been made, this is the year your company is going to crush the competition. Although your reps have made great strides in closing more deals, siloed content and inefficient processes have resulted in missed opportunities.

Opportunities that could have taken you that much closer to reaching your goal, if not achieving it. What if you could put processes in place that will help sales increase conversion rates?

According to CSO Insights recent study Sales Enablement Grows Up: 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study, companies with sales enablement reported a more than 22% increase in the number of sales reps achieving quota, and win rates for forecast deals rose by 14%.

While sales enablement consists of numerous components, there are a few key areas that can make a nearly immediate impact on sales rep’s success and your bottom line.

Align Sales Processes to the Customer’s Buying Journey

Do you know your targeted buyer persona’s, their research and purchasing preferences? A customer-centric approach to sales enablement requires looking at your processes from the customer’s vantage point.

Your sales processes need to be tightly aligned to each step along the customer journey and appropriate for your targeted buyers. But, since customer needs and desires are dynamic, a static sales approach could result in prospects abandoning their journey.

To keep prospects engaged, you need the ability to quickly adapt to an increasingly dynamic environment.  

Let’s take a high-level look at the key stages of the buyer’s journey Awareness, Consideration and Decision/Purchase, and how sales enablement can keep prospects advancing through the funnel.

Awareness Phase: Decision makers at this phase of the journey are looking at their competition and asking questions such as ‘what are they doing’, ‘how do my products or services stack-up?’, and ‘what would give me a competitive advantage’?

When their competitors are already using your products, questions such as ‘what type of products are they?’ and ‘how can they also help me?’ begin to surface.

During this phase, you should focus on delivering high-level and industry-specific content.

By providing prospects with an array of informational material such as blog posts, infographics, eBooks, LinkedIn articles, editorial content, and industry white papers, prospects will be armed with the knowledge they need to move to the next step in their journey, the consideration phase.

Consideration Phase: During this phase, prospect engagements should focus on how your products will solve their challenges.

Nurturing prospects through this phase requires an intimate understanding of their issues and laser focus on delivering the right content, at the right time. Throughout this stage, material, webinars, and presentations shouldn’t be too salesy, but rather emphasize the benefits of your products in relationship to the prospect’s pain points.

Material such as product sheets, case studies, product demo videos, and product comparison white papers should be shared. This phase is all about making a strong business case for your products.

Decision/Purchase Phase: The final stage in the buying funnel is when prospects need validation and reassurance that the decision to go with your company is the right one.

By this phase, you should have built the foundation of a trusting relationship with the prospect.

To make the final buying decision, prospects want to be assured that they are receiving a quality product, the best value for their money and that your products will resolve their challenges faster and more efficiently than your competitors’ products.

To help sway the purchasing decision your way, content should include competitive analysis, return on investment (ROI) / total cost of ownership (TCO) information, customer testimonials, third-party data, detailed product literature, and when possible free trials or incentives.   

So, the journey has come to an end? Far from it.

Now that you’ve won the customer, you’ve entered the post-purchase phase. Continued engagements can be the difference between a loyal customer advocate and one that cuts ties with you and moves to a competitor.

Ongoing nurturing is not only essential to keep your hard-won customers, but it can also have a positive impact on recurring revenue.

While you don’t want to overwhelm customers with a constant bombardment of material, it’s vital to keep them informed and educated.

For example, upgrades, new purchases or expansion opportunities can lead to additional revenue, while at the same time making your customers feel nurtured and empowered.

Content can and should include newsletters, product sheets on new or enhanced products, white papers, analyst reports, industry news, event invitations, etc.  

Enable Sales with Sales Enablement

With such a wide variety of content at your disposal, how can you be sure you’re sending the right material, at the right time, to the right buyer persona.

And when questions arise, are you able to quickly respond with the most appropriate and up-to-date material?

If we take another look at the buyer journey, what would happen at the awareness stage if you combined an eBook with a detailed competitive analysis?  Or, what do you suppose the prospect’s reaction would be if you sent a highly technical white paper to the CMO? Chances are either of these scenarios would raise serious concerns about your ability to be a trusted partner that could resolve their challenges.

Enablix takes the guesswork out of what material to send, when and to whom. Sales reps no longer need to sift through multiple apps or sites to find the content needed.

They provide a centralized hub that not only delivers a single source of relevant material for easy discovery and access, but it also infuses intelligence into the content process ensuring the material is appropriate for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Since decayed content is no longer in the collateral mix, your reps are assured that they are sending the most up-to-date content available.

With Enablix, SMBs are gaining content clarity, allowing them to sell as much as 3x faster. Download the Minimize Sales Barriers with a Winning Content Management Strategy guide to learn more about the vital role content management plays in your sales enablement strategy.

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5 Benefits from Consolidating Access to Trusted Content

Businesses of all sizes are investing more time, resources, and money into content than ever before. According to this 2017 study, most successful B2B marketers dedicate around 39% of their marketing budgets to content. Furthermore, with B2B marketers enable their sales teams with the right content is a big part of their content spend.

However, with an ever-increasing focus on content, it is not uncommon for marketers to find themselves in a sea of content that is spread across different applications within their organization. Common reasons why companies end up with content in disparate systems:

  • Content Formats: Marketers are investing in different formats. Videos, Slideshares, Blogs, Articles are common formats adopted by organizations of all sizes. To support these varied formats, companies end up with multiple content management systems. You are more likely to have your videos hosted on YouTube than on Google Drive or Sharepoint.
  • Team Preferences: It is quite common to find different teams use different cloud storage apps or content management systems to store their team content.
  • Content Security: Even with the popularity of cloud applications, there could be circumstances where companies don’t publish their content outside their firewall.

Having your organization’s trusted content in multiple systems is a significant drag on your organization’s productivity costing your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars. A  practical approach to address this challenge is to consolidate access to your company’s trusted content.  Here are five benefits you gain by consolidating access to trusted content.

1 – Productivity, Productivity, Productivity

This is a no-brainer. A central place for all the essential and trusted content can deliver a much-needed shot in the arm for your organization’s productivity. Not only this helps scale your content beyond tactical engagements, but it also helps keep your customer-facing team members on message. For one, you will stop seeing those redundant and repetitive requests for content in your email inbox or slack channel. Furthermore, your colleagues can have access to the right content when they need it.

Cloud storage apps are notorious to become dump ground for everything and anything. By centralizing access to trusted content that is on the cloud app, you can separate your valuable, accurate assets from the sea of drafts and half-baked ideas that feed to the clutter.

2 – Avoid Duplication and Leverage Investments

The primary benefit of centralizing access to your content is you don’t duplicate content. Content continues to reside in their original content management system. YouTube videos stay on YouTube and WordPress blog posts continue to exist on WordPress. You don’t move assets. You only consolidate access to those assets.

This also helps align with different team’s preferences. If your customer success team prefers using Box to store its digital assets, it can continue to do so. This non-intrusive approach helps adoption.

3 – Integrations

Companies are investing in providing their sales team access to the right content at the right time. However, when your content is spread across multiple systems, delivering the right content to the sales reps can significantly increase integration costs. A central access point for all your content helps reduce the integration cost. Instead of integrating with individual content management systems, organizations can simplify sales enablement by integrating into one central access point.

4 – Reporting and Tracking

When your digital assets and content is spread across different systems keeping track of those assets becomes a difficult and laborious process. Additionally, tracking engagement on that content is even more challenging. With a consolidated access point to content, marketing can easily address these challenges.  They can benefit from a single application to,

  • measure content coverage across different systems.
  • track and report on engagement to make future content investment decisions.

5 – Content Maintenance

Content maintenance is an integral part of marketing operations. Content maintenance includes,

  • Re-branding content
  • Refreshing content
  • Retiring or archiving irrelevant content

It is much easier to maintain content assets when you can access and measure them from a central access point.

Content will continue to be a focal part of any B2B marketing team. However, the proliferation of content can be overwhelming and result in content chaos. If marketing can centralize access to this ever-increasing and evolving content assets they can not only help their colleagues in sales but can also significantly reduce the time and resources to maintain and scale their content.

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What is your product marketing’s “release to sales” process?

New products and major revisions to existing products are always exciting. Without a doubt, they are an important milestone for your company. So it is natural that a lot of investment goes into building a new offering and bringing it to the market. However, organizations seldom pay required attention to the last leg of the process. Releasing the offering to your customer-facing team members. In a typical B2B technology company, your product is taken to the market by three primary constituents:

  • Sales – This team includes your account executives and sales development reps.
  • Customer Success – The members of this team are plugged in with your current customer base and many times a new product offering can have a potential to make serious money in your existing customer base.
  • Partners – Your organization’s partner community (if there is one) is an important channel to take the product to the market.

Companies do invest some time in updating these parties about the new offering. For the internal community (sales and/or customer success), they will have a session to update them on the new offering. And for the external partner community, companies will have a webinar to bring them up to speed on the offering. And they stop there and wait for revenue to roll in for the new products. However, this half-ass effort rarely results in any success in the field. Unless companies do not enable their revenue channels with the right information when the channels need it, they will see poor results for their new offerings.

Moreover, doing a “release to sales” process right does not take any extra resources than what is already being expended to support the release process. One just has to make a shift in two areas: timeline and enablement approach.

Here are some best practices to release a new (or upgraded) product to the market:

Start Early. You want to start planning and acting on your “release to sales” activity much earlier than the product release date. Something is majorly wrong if your product is released in January and the enablement activities are happening in March/April timeframe. You have just wasted a full quarter of the market and revenue opportunity. In our experience, if it is a major upgrade to an existing product or an altogether new product offering, you should start at least 3 to 4 months before the scheduled release date.

Create a “Release to Sales” Kit. Create a shareable, reusable, content kit for your “release to sales” activity. If you use a cloud storage platform, designate a folder on Google Drive or Sharepoint which will include all the customer-facing and internal & confidential collateral for that release. Bring that content and information together in one place.

And please spare the customer-facing teams with other irrelevant content like test plans, bug reports, project plans, etc. This kit should only include documents and content that will help enable the constituents to drive conversations in the markets and bring revenue.

Follow a Timeline. We show here an example timeline for a well-executed “release to sales” process. In addition to the key milestones (highlighted by bigger circles), the product marketing team has to continuously drip information to the different constituents to keep this upcoming release front and center in their minds. One needs to make the information stick in the minds of those who are on the front lines selling and discussing this product with potential buyers.

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Involve Other Teams. Product marketing alone cannot execute a successful “release to sales” process. You need support from other teams to make the release a true success. Your sales engineering and customer success partners can have valuable input to help you arm the revenue teams with the right assets.

The above practices do not require a company to pour in extra resources to execute a successful “release to sales” process. The content highlighted in the example timeline is already discussed and put down in documents, spreadsheets, and slides. What is needed is a simple process to bring that content together and distribute efficiently. These changes will not only help accelerate the sales pipeline, but it will also reduce the ongoing enablement burden on the marketing team.

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A cloud storage app is not a content portal.

With the advent of cloud storage applications, organizations increasingly use them as storage systems for all their digital assets. Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, etc, have made it very easy to securely store documents and other digital assets on the cloud and make them available to your company/team.

However, these cloud platforms are not an ideal destination for sales content. These cloud storage apps are nothing but a better version of Windows Explorer or Mac Finder on the cloud. And it is not their shortcoming that they are not suited to be your sales and knowledge portal. They are not meant to be a sales portal.

We love these apps. We use them at Enablix. They offer lots of storage, provide a decent search capability, and because of their popularity, there is (almost) zero learning curve for your team members. But using these apps as content portals for your customer-facing teams and expecting them to drive any value is a far cry.

Here are some negatives that render these cloud storage apps less desirable when it comes to helping your customer-facing teams with their content needs.

Too much content

  • We are a small team at Enablix, and in the last 18 months, our very small team (less than 7 members) has managed to accumulate more than 1000 files on our Google Drive folder.
  •  When we talk to marketers and team leaders, we often hear “we don’t have a lot of content.” And while that may be true, it is also true that even with very little content, you don’t have it organized in one place. It is somewhere in the clutter of your cloud storage along with a sea of drafts, and half-baked artifacts.
  • You don’t need a whole lot of content to start making a measurable impact on your customer-facing team’s productivity and efficiency. Read The 80/20 rule of enabling sales with content. But if you don’t do a good job of managing those few vital assets, then clutter is going to take over.

Only files

Most of us are using cloud storage to store files. But increasingly our content is in different formats. We are investing in blogs, press releases, articles, videos, slideshares, etc. Cloud storage apps are not the ideal platforms to store videos and URL links to your blogs and news articles. This means your customer-facing teams now need to access different applications for different types of content. An absence of centralized access to all the digital assets dilutes the value to the end user.

No control on quality

Just take a look at your cloud storage app. You are bound to find stale and irrelevant content in less than a minute. Files from last year that are no longer relevant are still lingering on your cloud storage application. You are also bound to see draft versions of the files scattered across the cloud file system. There is no way to control quality. There is no way to ensure that trusted and current content is available for your customer-facing teams.

No ownership

Cloud storage apps have democratized information sharing. Anyone and everyone in a company can contribute to the content stack. However, in the absence of centralized control, these storage apps become a playground to dump anything and everything. Restricting read/write access to folders is not practical. Such restrictions become the bottleneck to maintaining quality content.

No insights

The cloud storage apps provide you no insights on the usage of your content. Measuring internal and external content engagement helps you make informed decisions. It is very hard to manage and drive a content library without measurable feedback.

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A content catalog can significantly help re-branding.

In today’s ever-changing digital marketplace, rebranding is an inevitable milestone for most companies. Digitization is on the rise, new and agile competitors are entering the marketplace, and well-executed companies are broadening their market. These changes are resulting in a rebranding movement in the B2B industry.

Unlike the consumer space, B2B rebranding efforts are not limited to logos, website colors, and taglines. A B2B rebranding exercise usually includes a strategic shift in the company’s go-to-market strategy. It signifies an important stage in a company’s growth. Moreover, it offers an opportunity for better customer satisfaction and increased profitability.

However, a rebranding exercise is a costly undertaking. Research has shown that a rebranding exercise can cost between 10% to 20% of a company’s marketing budget and may take several months to execute. Moreover, the success of a rebranding exercise is directly dependent on how effectively a company rolls out the brand internally and externally.

In our experience, we see that a well-managed content catalog helps companies reduce the cost of their rebranding exercise. It also helps with internal and external communications and lowers the potential barriers to the adoption of the new brand.

In general, a rebranding process involves four important steps.

branding_process

An up-to-date and trusted catalog of digital assets helps rebrand faster and cheaper. Here is an outline of how a well-managed catalog helps the rebranding process steps.

Research

A big part of research is understanding your company’s current brand, the target market, your company’s position in the market, and your competitive landscape. These insights will feed into your rebranding strategy. Moreover, if you are taking help of a branding agency, then they will benefit from the research. Your content catalog can speed up this process for your internal stakeholders and your external rebranding partners.

  • The current assets will help inform the research participants about your company’s current positioning, and branding.
  • Recent market news, analyst research, customer case studies and win/loss analysis will help get a pulse on your company’s target market.
  • The performance of your recent webinars, blogs, and whitepapers will help you gauge the market sentiment of your current brand.

Plan & Document

When planning, you need to answer two important questions for the stakeholders and senior management.

  • What are we rebranding?
  • What is the estimated cost of the rebranding exercise?

A content catalog can cut down the emotional noise and help quantify your effort upfront in the planning phase. Furthermore, it can offer you options to manage the estimated cost of the exercise. E.g., you can prioritize where you spend on rebranding. If you are anchoring the rebranding exercise on a specific solution, you can spend more dollars on creating and rebranding digital assets for that solution than refresh all your digital assets.

Additionally, your content catalog can help you plan a phase-wise rebranding exercise. This iterative approach can reduce the initial budgeted cost. Senior management wants to see results before they sign a big check. An iterative approach delivers results on a faster timeline without spending significant dollars.

Catalog

Imagine, you had your content catalog in control. A snapshot of your catalog (similar to the above image), can help answer important questions that can lay the foundation of your company’s rebrand exercise.

  • Do we have an inventory of existing assets?
  • Do we create new assets or refresh existing ones?
  • How do we retire existing assets?
  • How many assets will we rebrand?

A solid rebranding plan and documentation not only reduces the cost and timeline, but it also helps keep everyone on the same page. By embracing data-driven decisions, you minimize personal bias.

Build

In the “build” step the rebranding team, including your agency partners, does the work. A “build” step includes everything from creating new logos, graphics, website layout, messaging to updating your prioritized assets to adopt the new brand. A strong plan based on a trusted catalog can drive significant savings in the “build” stage.

  • You can create new assets faster by referring to the existing ones. It is much quicker to rebrand an existing Case Study than to create an entirely new one.
  • You can leverage externally authored assets to support the new brand. Analyst research and market reports that align with the new brand will help you enhance your newly created assets.
  • You can identify opportunities to repurpose existing assets. E.g., you can take a couple of existing blogs on a particular topic and convert them into a compelling white paper that supports your new brand.

Rollout

Without a proper “rollout,” your brand’s success is left to chance. Moreover, it is important to launch your brand internally first, before introducing it to the world at large. Your employees are your brand’s most important ambassadors. It is a prime opportunity for senior management to rally the troops behind the vision. However, a new brand rollout is not an easy task. Moreover, many companies end up faltering at this last, but an essential, step of their rebranding journey.

A well-managed content catalog can help fail-proof some important tasks in the brand rollout universe.

  • Manage the switch. When you are moving from an older brand to the newer one, it is not only important to promote the new brand, but it is equally essential to deprioritize the older brand.
  • Don’t mix new and old digital assets. If your company is using content management or knowledge management system to distribute collateral, it is important that your employees have a clearly identify newer assets from the older ones.
  • If you can, separate the access to, the newer assets from, the older ones. This distinction is important when you are in the midst of a phase-wise rebranding exercise. You will have a period where the newly branded assets and the older assets (that are yet to be rebranded) will co-exist. To avoid confusion, separate the access to the newer ones. The goal should be to eventually retire the older assets and switch all assets to the new brand.

Old habits die hard. Therefore, even after the rebranding exercise is complete, companies should continue to educate and re-train the minds of their employees, their partners, and their customers to adopt the new brand. A quality, up-to-date content catalog of the newly branded assets will drive faster adoption.

 
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The 80/20 rule of enabling sales with content

The 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto’s Principle) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. To give an example, research in 2015 showed that consumers spend over 80% of their smartphone time in only 5 apps. Similar arguments have been made about MS Office Suite where a majority of the MS Office users only use 20% of the available features.

So, what does this 80/20 rule have to do anything with Sales Enablement?

We say everything. We see that 20% of your digital assets can help enable your sales teams’ 80% of the conversations. What does that tell you?

You can start small and still have a significant impact on enablement. 

The typical reason we hear from companies for not investing in any sales enablement process is – “We don’t have enough content.” The reality is that you don’t need a whole lot of content to drive enablement. To start, you need to help sales answer the following questions:

  • Who are we (the company)?  – Corporate Overview
  • What is our offering? – Data Sheets, Solution Overview, White Papers, Videos
  • How does the offering help the buyer? – Introductory Sales Deck, Detailed Sales Deck, White Papers, Case Studies
  • Why we are a better choice than others in the market? Competitive Analysis, Case Studies
  • What are the terms and conditions of the offering? Pricing, Support Policy, T&Cs

Some may argue that we are oversimplifying the process. But the truth of the matter is that the digital assets to support these questions can help with the majority of your sales conversations. Ask your sales team in your next QBR?

Could sales benefit with more assets? Absolutely yes. But the absence of those assets should not be a deterrence to kick-off enablement. We have found the following principles have worked for our customers and us:

  • Focus on quality over quantity.
  • It is an iterative process. But it is a process. There needs a method to the madness.
  • Focus on content pull before you focus on push. Give your sales colleague an opportunity to find assets before you start targeting them with relevant assets.
  • Don’t wait for content creation to define your process. Organize assets as they get created. You will never have the time in the day to sit down and organize your assets.

It is natural to be overwhelmed with content. We, at Enablix, realized this, when our small team started generating content to help our sales and customer success efforts. It was evident to us that if we, with a relatively smaller operation, were losing time and productivity in staying on message, the companies out there were in a far worse situation.

The 80/20 rule can help us score small, tangible victories in enabling our customer-facing teams. And it allows you to lay the necessary foundation that you can iteratively build upon as your content grows.

 

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Sales Kickoff – An opportunity to up your content!!!

Sales Kickoffs are ultra-important. Organizations spend a ton of resources and money on Sales Kickoffs every year. Not only do companies have their entire sales teams in one single location, but they also take other sales-supporting members to help with the kickoff. Everyone huddles down for multiple days to chalk out future plan and strategy. HubSpot defines Sales Kickoffs in this blog post and shares some useful tips for having a successful Sales Kickoff. Today, it is not unusual for some organizations to conduct more frequent (semi-annually or quarterly) kickoffs to keep the ball rolling. In a nutshell, these kickoffs are an expensive affair.

Sales Kickoffs are not just about numbers and broad strategy. On the contrary, we see that Sales and Company management tries to maximize this opportunity of having everyone’s undivided attention for 2 or 3 days and invests in enablement and training. To meet these objectives different teams invest a lot of time and energy in building content – videos, presentations, etc. In the weeks leading to the kickoff, there is a lot of activity and effort from different groups to support this kickoff.

And usually, these events are amazing. Sales engagement is at an all-time high and the sales team is inundated with some high-value information and intelligence. There are battle cards, competitive intelligence, role-play sessions, live feedback, demos, product roadmaps, etc. discussed by the entire group.

But then the kickoff ends and people forget. And just like that, in a very short duration, all that content and knowledge starts evaporating. The organization goes back to its inefficient and unproductive ways of operation.

But it need not be so ineffective. We believe Sales Kickoffs are a huge opportunity for marketing and product teams to up their content game. The sales supporting teams are already investing time and energy to build some timely and relevant content for the kickoff event. Why not leverage this content and enhance your content library? Why limit the use of this content to this 2-day event?

Here are some specific opportunities to revamp your content on the back of a Sales Kickoff event:

Product

It is common to have a targeted session during the Sales Kickoff that is focused on your product (or solution) offering. This is where the product owners share newer product updates and discuss future product roadmap. The purpose of this content is to excite the sales reps with new features and giving them strong talking points to target their market. Marketing should use this content to build and refresh:

  • Data Sheets: With new product features, it warrants refreshing the data sheets. Especially if there are key important updates that the sales reps can leverage in their dialogues with their prospects.
  • Product Roadmap: If you are a product company, you recognize the importance of product roadmaps. And the more upmarket you sell, the more crucial product roadmaps are. So if you are going to have product teams present the roadmap at the kickoff event, make sure they know that they are also supposed to share a customer facing product roadmap deck for future use.
  • Product FAQs: This is a good time to refresh product FAQs. There may be new FAQs that you need to add to the current product FAQs or you may need to update existing FAQs because the responses may have updated.
  • Demo Scripts: On the back of product updates, you may want to share updated Demo Scripts with the sales and sales engineering teams. This is crucial. And since you are already demoing the kickoff audience on the new features, why not record that script and share it for future use?

Competitive Intelligence

Your company’s competitors are on the top of the mind of your sales reps. And they are eager to know how to beat the competition.

  • Battle Cards: Competitive battle cards are a staple and an important content asset for sales. The are these short one-page guides that provide a playbook to compete with your key competitors.
  • Feature Comparison Sheets: Feature comparison sheets are a great sales tools. Not only they help sales understand your products strength and weaknesses, they also help sales respond to competitor-related queries.
  • Competitor Profile: If you are focusing on your primary competitors, why not build their profile? Competitor profile is a great asset to help sales understand the competitive landscape for an opportunity.
  • Case Studies & Win/Loss Analysis: A great time to build case studies or win analysis where you beat your competition.

Win/Loss Analysis

A part of Sales Kickoff is to learn from the past. Sales teams will try to analyze past deals that they won and lost. This is to understand what worked and what didn’t work. In short, they are doing a win/loss analysis. Make it part of your sales enablement library.

Training

Your Sales Kickoff is going to include training activity. Great!!! Use that content and structure it such that it is not a one-time only-for-sales-kickoff training. Build the training content so that it can be used for onboarding and continuous enablement. Here are some tips to make this happen without breaking the bank:

  • Record Presentations – If product team members are already presenting product updates and/or features at the kickoff, record these sessions. And include them in your learning paths.
  • Role Playing – It is common for sales teams to engage in role-playing during a kickoff. Record these role-playing sessions. If nothing else, these sessions will be a great guide for new reps and for anyone who wants to refresh their knowledge.

Marketing is always strapped for resources. There is no good time to revamp your content. We believe that refreshing content should be a continuous activity for marketing and sales enablement teams. However, Sales Kickoffs offer a great opportunity to up your content game. Not only will you help the kick-off event but in the process, you will have refreshed content to help sales accelerate their pipeline and close more deals.

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Why storing sales content inside CRM does not pay off?

If you are like any marketer, you are always hounded by your sales colleagues for latest collateral and intelligence that they can use in the field. In today’s world of specialized sales roles of SDRs (Sales Development Reps), AEs (Account Executives), Inside Sales and event Customer Success reps, everyone is looking for information and content to help them achieve their sales goals. Therefore, having one single place where these reps can get all their content and intelligence is essential and a no-brainer. It is also true that for any decently sized sales organization, they are already using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. And today’s CRM systems offer options to manage your sales collateral library in them. Therefore there is always a strong case for having the sales content stored in the CRM content library. Plus,

  • Salespeople are already spending their time in CRM.
  • Your company is already paying for the CRM system. And most CRM systems are not going to charge extra for storing the content. So it makes economic sense.

However, when we speak with marketers, in almost every instance, we find this strategy does not scale. If you step back and look at the entire end-to-end sales enablement process, storing the content inside CRM system is bound to create more work for marketers and not pay the expected dividends.

Here are some challenges that you should consider before you go down this avenue.

You end up creating information silos. 

If your company’s CRM usage is like the majority of other companies out there, a specific segment of your employees has access to your CRM system. It is usually limited to salespeople, marketing, and a select few executives. A very valid reason for this limited access is the cost of the CRM system.

This directly results in silos of information pockets. Your product team starts using a wiki to store their content. Your sales engineering team starts using a cloud storage system to store pre-sales content. Your architects and subject matter experts start creating their own folders on your cloud storage platform or, even worse, on their desktops. Soon, you end up with content and intelligence distributed across different systems and platforms. And this naturally adds a barrier to get all relevant content centralized in the CRM application.

You are missing out on a lot of content. 

When we think of content, we usually think of slide decks, white papers, and case studies. But there is so much more to content than just powerpoint presentations and pdf files. According to a recently published article by Tamara Schneck, only 40% of the content comes from the marketing team.

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Less than 40% of the content comes from marketing – From Tamara Schneck

By storing content inside a CRM application, you make it difficult to capture those different nuggets of intelligence which are not in powerpoint files or case studies.

Sales reps are overwhelmed. 

Here is a message from one of my ex-colleague who is an AE in a growing startup. “All of our content is in Salesforce. My biggest complaint is there is so much content that it makes it hard for me to know what content to use when and what to send to prospects.” Sales reps are after all humans. And they are humans with relatively low attention span. They are not academic and research oriented. Very soon all your content that makes its way into CRM system is too much to handle.

CRM systems are feature poor when it comes to content management. 

CRM systems are specialized in helping with deal flow. They are great at many things to help sales execute. However, they are not built with necessary enablement features that help salespeople succeed.

  • Poor search
  • Poor organization capabilities
  • No quality control
  • No workflow
  • And most importantly there is no analytics to see what is working and what isn’t.

It is resource intensive. 

All the above challenges can be overcome. How? By brute force. If marketing or sales enablement managers can,

  • Ensure all information from different silos makes its way into the CRM application
  • Keep content up to date.
  • Communicate with sales reps when new content is available.
  • Ensure quality control on content

However, these tasks are quite resource-intensive. You are opening avenues for low productivity and inefficiencies to creep into your sales enablement efforts.  And marketers don’t have spare time. Their time is well spent in generating leads and creating top-notch content. Not in organizing and distributing content.

Several organizations do attempt to drive enablement by storing content inside their CRM systems. It may initially make sense for all the right reasons. However, it will hurt your efficiency and will not deliver the desired outcome. We have seen this approach not scale.

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How to churn out awesome Case Studies?

Everyone agrees that Case Studies are effective and super-important.  Yet, marketing teams could be creating more Case Studies. We always find that there are only a handful of Case Studies in a given organization, even though there are several customers and success stories that should make their way into compelling Case Studies. We do understand that building Case Studies can be expensive. Especially the super-slick ones. However, that should not be a barrier to building case studies.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Sales need Case Studies to establish credibility and push their pipeline. Actually, they love Case Studies.
  • Prospects and customers need to hear about your success. They want to learn from your successes and drive their own strategy.
  • In outbound sales, content trumps format. That is, a slick Case Study is not a pre-requisite. Of course, a visually compelling Case Study (or for that matter any collateral) is always preferred. But even a decently formatted Case Studies that gets the point across is super-useful and does the job.
  • Case Studies need not be verbose. On the contrary, in today’s busy world, a lot of words may dilute your Case Study message.

We believe marketers and organizations should be building more Case Studies. And building actionable and effective Case Studies should not be a chore.

Here is a framework for building actionable Case Studies that will drive the pipeline and help sales win more deals.

The framework is based on three core principles:

  • Keep It Simple
  • Make It Repeatable
  • Seek input from others

A Template (Keep It Simple)

A simple, easy-to-follow template allows you to take the guesswork out of formatting your Case Studies. Furthermore, a template speeds up the process of Case Study creation. It’s like the difference between writing a story from a clean slate versus filling in the blanks in a pre-defined structure of a story. The Template need not be super-fancy. A powerpoint or word template will suffice. Some other points to consider:

  • Have a set of stock images that you can include in the template to add visual appeal.
  • Include your company branding in the template.
  • Follow the rule of 3, where applicable. Anything more is going to add noise and dilute the message.
  • Answer the following questions in your template. Where applicable, limit your input to 3 bullets. It is possible that some of these points are not relevant to your business or a particular Case Study. Feel free to customize on-the-go.
    • Who is the Customer?
    • What was their problem? (3)
    • What was the process of selection? (3)
    • How did your offering address their problem? (3)
    • Where are they today? (3)
    • Where are they going? (3)
  • When possible, try to use quantitative numbers.

Trigger Points (Make it Repeatable)

Once you have a template in place, you need to identify the triggers to define a Case Study. Waiting for your sales team or product team to demand a Case Study is not a smart strategy. Instead, identify those trigger points when a Case Study has to be created. Two of the most common trigger points for creating a Case Study are:

  • When an opportunity is won.
  • When your customer achieves a specific milestone with your offering

If you can, try to automate this process. It could be as simple as having an integration into your CRM application and on every win, it putting a “Create Case Study for XYZ Customer” task on your marketing calendar.

And try to keep a tab on your progress. Not every trigger point is going to result in a Case Study. But measuring your progress will help you and your team identify opportunities and address known gaps.

Leverage Other Teams (Seek Input)

Building quality content is a collective task. Yes, marketing tends to be the owner of content creation, but the inputs required to write quality content comes from all corners of your organization. Similarly, marketing teams cannot develop a quality Case Study in isolation. Especially if you want to make it a repeatable activity, you ought to seek input from your colleagues in sales, sales engineering, customer success and product teams. And having a template for the Case Study can be a big help to achieve collaboration. Some other notable points when involving others in the process,

  • Introduce the initiative to your sales and product colleagues. During one of your quarterly meetings or company’s monthly lunch and learns, make sure you announce this initiative. Tell your colleagues why you are doing and how you are doing it. And that you are counting on their help.
  • If you are building a Case Study after winning a deal, you need to seek inputs from the sales owner and others who were involved in driving that deal home. Similarly, you need to rely on the inputs from customer success teams when a customer meets specific milestones.
  • If you are tracking engagement on the Case Study (which you should be, if you are not), share these insights with your colleagues outside marketing. Particularly, highlight contributions and give credit where it is due.

Case Studies are important assets for the success of your business. Following a process to create strong, actionable Case Studies should be an essential element of your content strategy.

 
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Tips for managing Marketing and Sales Content on Dropbox

Marketing and sales collateral is essential to your company’s success. And for young and small organizations, using Dropbox to store their sales and marketing content becomes a natural choice. Most of us already use Dropbox in our personal lives (and love it). And it is a handy tool for storing your sales and marketing content since it is on the cloud, you can provide mobile access to your sales and customer-facing teams on the go, and keep everyone on the same page when it comes to content.
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But things can really go out of hand quickly. You wouldn’t realize, and within few months finding content on Dropbox will be a nightmare. Your sales team will stop using it, and they will start coming to you to request content.

But it doesn’t have to be this bad. Here are some useful tips for managing your sales and marketing content on Dropbox:

Filter Your Content

Not all content in the organization is relevant to your sales team. But in this age of hyper-communication, everyone wants everything to be available to everyone. This strategy backfires. Instead, take a disciplined view of what content is relevant to sales success. Sift away everything else because to your sales team it is NOISE. Following the 80-20 rule, you will realize that 20% of the content is relevant for 80% of the scenarios. Focus on that content then. Don’t try to fit in every piece of content. Start small and then grow your content catalog.

Dedicated Folder

Continuing with the idea of filtering, you want to have a dedicated folder on your team’s Dropbox repository to store content. Pick a name for that folder that is easy to identify and stands out. Some easy to identify names that we have seen are:
  • Sales Collateral (or Content)
  • Sales & Marketing Content
  • Sales Enablement
Even better, start that name with a “_.” This way when Dropbox displays the folder list, this dedicated folder will be on the top and not get buried in the midst of all other folders. Make it easy for your audience (sales) to find the folder.

Read Only

Make that folder and its content read-only. Dropbox allows you to control read/write permissions on folders and its content. Use this feature and provide write permissions only to select few in the organization whom you trust will not create a mess of that folder by dumping everything and anything that comes through their email inboxes.

Folder Structure

It is important that your folder structure makes sense and remains consistent. Don’t worry too much about boundary scenarios. Think about 80% of the use cases and create a structure for that.

Folder Structure: Define Your Business Dimensions

You need to define your business dimensions. Business Dimensions are parameters of your organization with which you go to the market. For, e.g., commonly used business dimensions in B2B software companies are:
  • Products
  • Solutions
  • Industries
  • Partners
  • Competitors
I hope you get the point. If you are confused, refer to your website. You may have already structured your site with similar business dimensions. Also, do include a General folder for content that does not fit into one single dimension. Say you are a B2B software organization with a couple of products selling into few different industries. In that case, your folder structure will look as below:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • Solutions
    • Industries
    • Partners
    • Competitors
    • General
Inside each of these folders have folders for different business dimensions of your business. Something like this:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • Solutions
      • Solution A
      • Solution B
      • Solution C
    • Industries
      • Industry A
      • Industry B
    • Partners
      • Partner A
      • Partner B
    • Competitors
      • Competitor A
      • Competitor B
      • Competitor C
    • General
Important Note: Even if you do not have content for some of the folders, we encourage you to create a folder to set the stage when content is available.

Folder Structure: Store By Content Type

Now that you have your business dimensions in place start uploading your content. But before that start segmenting your content by its type. Say you have two Case Studies, one Data Sheet and one Battle Card for Solution A, you should store it as follows:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • Solutions
      • Solution A
        • Battle Cards
          • SolutionA_BattleCard
        • Case Studies
          • SolutionA_CaseStudy
          • SolutionA_2_CaseStudy
        • Data Sheets
          • SolutionA_DataSheet
If this makes sense to you, then follow a similar structure for rest of the dimensions. You will come across scenarios where you have a Case Study for Solution A, and it is for Industry B. That is quite likely. In fact, this will happen more frequently. Rarely documents will belong to a single business dimension. That is where the General folder helps. So if you have a Case Study for Solution A in Industry B, you should store it in the General folder as follows:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • General
      • Case Studies
        • SolutionA_IndustryB_CaseStudy.pdf
Two important points to note here. First, any Case Study that is relevant across multiple dimension should find its place in the Case Studies folder in the General section. Second, the name of your Case Study should include your business dimension value. I know we are asking for longer names. But if you want your sales team to use this content and make it easy for them to find this content, you need to make these names simple to follow even at the expense of making them longer.

File Naming Convention

A few valuable tips here for naming your files:
  • Follow a strict naming convention.
  • Include the business dimension values consistently in the name of the files.
  • When you name files consistently, Dropbox’s default sorting will work for you. And it will be easier to search for them in Dropbox. Imagine you naming a file SolA, and the Sales rep is searching for Solution A. You want to avoid that. Be consistent. It will pay dividends.
  • If there are shorter names for your business dimension values, use them from the beginning. If your product name is Awesome Reporting Product, then use the name ARP when naming folders and files.

If you are reading this post and you are already suffering from a weak structure on your Dropbox instance, you must be thinking “How the hell do I get from where I am to this structure?”. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. But there is a silver lining. Start small. Anyway, your current mess is not helping anyone. So if you have 100 documents strewn across your Dropbox file system, start moving 10 files every day. It will take you less than 10 minutes to do this task. 10 minutes a day and in 10 days you will have a good set up to build your future content structure on. Your sales team will appreciate this structure and the consistency.

Dropbox may not get you to your goal of getting your content perfectly organized. But that is not an excuse to make a complete mess of it. We hope you can follow these steps to reach a more useful and easy to navigate structure for your sales and marketing collateral.

We at Enablix strive to help B2B marketers effectively organize, manage and distribute sales and marketing content to enable sales. After facing challenges in our professional lives using commonly available content management systems, we built Enablix to help marketers address this content chaos and simplify sales content management. If you are ready to look beyond homegrown processes on Dropbox, please contact us at support@enablix.com to find out how Enablix can help you get to a state of simplicity and efficiency.