Equipping salespeople with the right content is critical in today’s customer-centric, experience driven world. Sales content, knowledge management content, marketing/messaging content, and product content are all ingredients. These are tools that salespeople can use to craft their value-based messages.
Sales enablement orchestrators supporting salespeople and managers have many dependencies they need to manage and to be successful. Rarely does one team build enablement content in a silo.
Here are the top 10 ways sales enablement leaders orchestrate cross-functionally to ensure content is aligned to the sales teams they are supporting.
1. Define Clear Sales Content Requirements
- Enablement content can only be as good as the business requirements toward which it is aligned. Those business requirements should align with the business outcome(s) the sales management team is looking to achieve. I’ve seen many requirements like “we need the sales team to sell our product.” While that might be a requirement from product groups, what’s the requirement from the sales management and leadership team to support that business outcome? Having written functional business requirements approved by the right leaders is critical to accelerating deployment timelines.
2. Document the Processes Supporting the Sales Content
- For content to be right, the business needs to have clarity on any processes the content supports. When processes are not clarified, there are often incorrect customer expectations. These processes need to align with revenue recognition rules, sales operations guidelines, and approaches that map to sales process steps. Understanding how these processes support salespeople helps get sales content right.
3. Clarify Sales Procedures / Methods Before Creating Sales Content
- Product, marketing, and shared services teams want sales people and managers to follow specific steps with clients. These steps need to be documented in the engagement process that sales teams use, in order to simplify the many touch points across the accounts they are navigating. For example, what are the clear resolution paths and troubleshooting steps they’re allowed to take to get the right resources to show up at the right time? Whom should salespeople call, and when? What must salespeople do, and how must they do it with different customers? If not documented, the methods and procedures are hard to scale across appropriate sales teams, meaning salespeople have to figure it all out on their own.
4. Clarify Marketing Copy and Messaging Guardrails For Sales Content
- This point is a big one, for sure. Some marketing and product teams do this well, others not-so-well. While a final draft may come out too close to the actual launch, it’s fine also to see works-in-progress. The key here is to provide the sales team with the language and the message early, not as scripts, but as loose talking points. This is so salespeople can work with the sales leadership and management team to role-play the conversations that need to happen with customers. Getting to “what good looks like” in the customer conversation is critical. Often enablement teams don’t get the product and/or marketing wording (verbiage) for use in content in time to get the sales team comfortable enough to try new conversations.
5. Critical Business Dates Driving Sales Content Delivery
- Everyone knows the business world is dynamic and changing. Yet despite the volatility and changes “upstream” from IT, marketing, and product groups, it rarely affects the agreed-upon launch dates. When launch dates don’t slide, the enablement teams still need to work backward from content due dates in collaboration with other functions, and that puts a crunch on the build time required. In that scenario, build-time can become so restricted that enablement content and communication suffers and deployment is “thrown over the fence.” Sometimes its best to re-negotiated launch dates, or manage the upstream planning and coordination better to set expectations on what it takes to deploy content.
6. View the Right Subject Matter Experts as Sales Content Sources
- This one may seem obvious; however, the key to great content often comes down to accessing the “right” subject matter experts. And the question who gets to define who the “right” subject matter experts are? Enablement teams typically want to defer to sales leaders because their teams have conversations with customers. On the other hand, product and solutions teams wish to influence the enablement content because their teams understand the expected value delivered to customers. In that regard, sales should have a 50/50 relationship with product experts who have the technical, solution, and value competence required.
7. Defining Clear Sales Content Distribution Needs
- As enablement content is deployed out to the sales team, the last mile often comes down to managers and trainers, or to sales enablement portals where content is uploaded. Remember, people usually impact and create the enablement experience the salespeople have. Whether it’s online, in the classroom, through coaching conversations or delivered through an app, the content is often only as good as the way it’s delivered (if it’s facilitated content). It’s only as good as the structure and relevance of the content (if it’s non-facilitated content). For enablement teams to be successful, they need to master both types while enrolling the support and buy-in of the management and facilitation team members who can reinforce what the content contains. These relationships are critical to ensure adoption.
8. Defining what Good Sales Content Looks Like
- There are many stakeholders involved in providing inputs to enablement content. For example, product, marketing, field, IT, legal, and sales teams all have a say. In some large companies, these multiple functions can balloon the total of interested parties who all have a stake. For enablement teams, it’s not realistic to have 100+ people sign off on enablement content. The challenge for enablement teams is separating those who have input from those who are accountable to sign off. It’s essential to have the right accountable sign off authority for the enablement content being built (preferably Director or above).
9. Creating a “Test and Learn” Environment:
- If solution(s) have a technology component, it’s likely the enablement team will need use a training environment (or sandbox) to create relevant content. This environment is where sales enablement can conduct the hands-on practice, take screenshots, and also learn what works/doesn’t work for salespeople, in order to make the content better. Enablement teams will need to log in and access training environment(s) that are realistic and integrated for use from an end-user perspective. They’ll also need to create role-play simulations with sales to try what works, and improve content over time based on reality, not assumptions. A test and learn approach is critical to creating content.
10. Finding Who Does it Best
- If the Enablement team is building training content in support of an IT Solution, they’re going to need a demo or an overview of that technology actually in play. Understanding what a good demo looks like can help. It’s tough for enablement teams to create and deliver content without a successful end to end demo of processes in the solutions that are realistic from an end-user point of view.
- In complex B2B selling environments, the conversation is critical, and many sales leaders don’t want to show a demo early in the sales process. The content early on should allow for customers to tailor the selling situation and “connect the dots” across the breadth and depth of your company’s solution offerings. Find the people who can talk about these capabilities, without jumping to “solution” to early.
This top 10 list represents a back-to-the-basics approach to getting enablement content aligned to sales conversations. It’s crucial for enablement teams to close these dependencies while ensuring consistent communication to these impacted groups to ensure everyone is on the same page. As a sales enablement orchestrator, it’s also good to have regular meetings with each team providing (or influencing) source content to ensure these barriers are addressed proactively. Not only will these actions make the project run more smoothly, but these actions will also provide proper scoping for enablement initiatives. This will minimize false starts and re-work.