Sales Enablement is a broad discipline that covers several different use cases and processes. Sales content management, sales training, coaching, sales process optimization, etc. fall into this general category. G2 Crowd lists more than 170 products/services in the Sales Enablement category (check out the crowded G2 Sales Enablement grid).
Gartner says that since customers spend roughly two-thirds of any B2B buying journey learning from whatever information they can find, the type of information they encounter matters. And that it is the information and not the individuals that make the purchase process easier.
Today, relevant content is essential in every phase of the buyer’s journey. When content services are mastered, companies achieve impressive sales results. We refer to this process as Sales Content Enablement, a core pillar of the Sales Enablement discipline. Sellers need to help buyers with relevant information, and sales content enablement makes that happen.
However, there is a debate on who owns an organization’s Sales Content Enablement charter. Since Sales Content Enablement is a core pillar of the Sales Enablement function, it is natural for organizations to assume that the Sales Enablement team owns the charter. However, there are some arguments to be made against this choice.
Instead, the Marketing function is better suited to own the Sales Content Enablement charter with close collaboration with the company’s sales enablement team. In this post, we discuss why Marketing should own sales content enablement and where Sales Enablement fits into the content enablement equation.
Marketing Owns Messaging
Organizations are increasingly investing in personalizing their content to their buyers. The more personalized and targeted content you share with your buyers, the more likely they will see you as a trusted advisor. However, offering this personalized experience is challenging. Organizations are guiding their website visitors to relevant content by either offering them intuitive choices to drill into or by asking them targeted questions through landing page forms. Still, there is a limit to the degree of personalized content you can offer to your buyers on your website.
Marketing (including Product Marketing) owns messaging in an organization. Marketing is responsible for defining messaging and positioning. Who are your buyers, Who are the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), What markets should we target, How do we differentiate from our competitors, etc. are vital components of messaging. And these details form the foundation for the enablement content.
Every piece of content must align with the company’s messaging and positioning. Every customer-facing (and non-customer-facing) team member must be on the same page about messaging and positioning. If the messaging foundation is not solid, the content will not be relevant to the buyers and will miss the mark.
Marketing is in a position to ensure adherence with messaging and consistency across the organization.
Marketing Owns Branding
“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”American Marketing Association
Marketing owns branding too. And branding has a direct impact on the content.
Branding is not just colors, fonts, logos, and styling. Branding is a strategy designed by organizations to help people quickly identify and experience their brand and give them a reason to choose their products over the competition by clarifying what this particular brand is and is not.
Like messaging and positioning, marketers want to ensure that the prospects and customers have a consistent brand experience when interacting with the organization.
Marketing Contributes Majority Of The Content
Today organizations need to enable sales teams with a variety of different types of content and information. Reps need customer-facing and internal-facing content to support buyers in the purchase process. Additionally, with an increased focus on training and coaching, sales organizations create their content that is important for enablement and sales success.
A 2018 survey conducted by CSO Insights showed that only one-third of the content, salespeople need along the customer’s path, comes from marketing.
Marketing is no longer the sole contributor of enablement content. Increasingly enablement content is originating from different teams. Still, marketing continues to be the largest contributor of the content. And since marketing owns messaging and branding, it is positioned to control the quality of the enablement content and ensure alignment with messaging.
Marketing Is Better Aligned With Other Revenue Teams
In today’s subscription revenue model, content enablement is no longer limited to marketing and sales teams. Customer success and product teams are increasingly driving significant revenue for an organization. Therefore, a content enablement process cannot be limited to the sales team. It has to take into account other teams that have an impact on revenue.
Based on where marketing sits in an organization, marketing is better aligned with these additional revenue-impacting teams than the sales enablement team.
Today’s Buyers Demand Consistent Experience
The majority of your customers start their buying journey in a domain owned by marketing.
- Events/Trade Shows
- Social Media
And they progress into the domain owned by sales.
- Discovery Meetings
- Product Demos
- Negotiations & Contracts
Then, why would you break your buyer’s experience?
A success content enablement initiative needs to serve this entire process. It does not make sense to have marketing own the enablement process half-way through the buyer’s journey and then pass the baton to the sales enablement team for the other half. This change in ownership is bound to introduce inconsistencies and confusion for your buyers. And can negatively impact your sales results.
Where Does Sales Enablement Fit In?
Sales Enablement continues to be a pivotal function in the content enablement process. Sales Enablement specialists and managers are key stakeholders and play a complementary role in content enablement.
Sales Enablement professionals are responsible for sales training programs. A lot of content for sales training comes from product and marketing teams. And it is shaped by the foundational messaging and positioning. Sales enablement professionals can expand on the delivered content to build training and learning kits for the sales reps.
Similarly, Sales Enablement has a better pulse on the short-term needs of the sales teams. They are better aligned with the quarterly priorities of their sales teams. And therefore are best equipped to define tactical playbooks. The content for these playbooks is coming from the content enablement process.
The simplest way to define the dynamics of Marketing and Sales Enablement teams in the context of the sales content enablement process is – “marketing owns the ingredients and sales enablement owns the recipes.”
It Is A Partnership
- Sales content enablement is a team game. Sales Enablement professionals rely on other teams to enable the sales team. They are orchestrators. They are the glue between the background machinery and frontline activity.
- Marketing is one of the prime partners of Sales Enablement. Lack of a healthy relationship with the marketing team can seriously compromise the enablement efforts.
- When we talk about marketing owning sales content enablement, we are not discounting Sales Enablement’s role in Sales Content Enablement. On the contrary, Sales Enablement is crucial for the success of sales content enablement.