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The Proven 4-step Sales Enablement Content Strategy Framework

By August 20, 2020 No Comments

At first glance, it might appear that Sales and Marketing are camped out at opposite ends of the buyer journey map, but some of the most successful B2B tech and SaaS marketers today are using content-driven sales enablement to turn that theory on its head. The results: Millions of recouped dollars in pipeline and recurring sales, plus tremendous spikes in conversion-to-meeting rates. 

Intrigued? Here’s how they do it.

1. Plan and Strategize

Resources Global Professionals (RGP), a leading global consulting firm, was in the midst of a transformation. Poised for growth, the company needed to enable consistent and cohesive marketing communications and empower Sales with the tools they needed for success.

The company decided to invest in building out its B2B content and sales enablement assets, including the development of buyer personas and campaign strategies to better communicate the company’s unique value to executive buyers. Their decision paid off, resulting in marketing and sales enablement efforts directly contributing to $7M in additional pipeline for RGP.

So how did they start? Content-driven sales enablement success stories like RGP’s begin with the creation of ideal customer profiles (ICPs), buyer personas, and a buyer journey map to help inform and guide an audience-centric approach to planning, strategy, and tactics. Here’s a quick refresher on each of those terms.

ICPs—Overviews of the kinds of accounts Sales wants to land, described by firmographics like industry, employee headcount, maturity stage, revenue, and buying triggers.

Buyer personas—Semi-fictional profiles of the people who will make or influence the decision to purchase your products or services.

Buyer’s journey map—An outline of the Marketing and Sales interactions a prospect engages in when making a purchase decision, including a differentiated path for each buyer persona.

Need more in-depth explanations? Download The PMG Ultimate Guide to B2B Digital Marketing Strategies to gain deeper insight and glean pro tips for the creation of each. 

Content audit and gap analysis

As RGP learned, when you better understand your buyers, it’s easier to see gaps in existing content and recognize opportunities for the kind of targeted sales enablement that can help reps convert leads into customers. Take a full inventory of your content organized by persona and ask Sales what has, and hasn’t, worked at each stage of the funnel

Content customization

The benefits of customized content are twofold: Sales reps are better positioned as knowledgeable subject matter experts, and content is more likely to resonate with buyers. RGP customized its content for executives, but the same process could be applied to a variety of personas by customizing titles, cover pages, and background images for specific industries, verticals, or job titles.

Channel strategy

While B2B sales enablement is traditionally more concentrated at the bottom of the funnel, building a healthy content library with relevant assets for each stage can hasten the overall customer journey and close deals faster. Consider how each piece of your key content can be repurposed into multiple formats for different channels, enabling Sales to share the assets they think will be the most useful for moving leads closer to a sale.

Sales enablement toolkits

Too often, siloed sales and marketing teams mean fewer tools for front-line sales reps and countless missed opportunities as a result. You can help reverse that trend by creating content-driven sales enablement toolkits that include elevator pitches, easy-to-memorize messaging and positioning statements, battlecards, and other assets customized for any use case, industry, target account, or buyer persona.  

Content strategy playbook

At the end of your planning and strategy stage you should be able to compile your ICPs, buyer personas, buyer journey map, content creation and customization priorities, channel strategy, and sales enablement toolkit into a playbook that shows an overview of the who, what, when, where, and why of your program.

2. Develop and Prepare

When business intelligence SaaS provider GoodData pivoted its business to target other cloud-based independent software vendors, its marketing team opted for a creative, content-driven approach to drive sales. That included everything from new first-meeting decks, a premium buyer’s guide, product briefs, and case studies, to social selling tools and a creative 8-bit-inspired gaming experience customized by persona.

GoodData content marketingThe integrated cross-channel campaign was so successful that it remained active more than three years later—generating more than $8 million in pipeline and $3.4 million in annual recurring revenue during that time.

A secret to their success? The phased rollout. Depending on your timeline, phased rollouts can create opportunities to learn and optimize early in the process. Here’s what that might look like.

Phase 1: Begin with early touchpoint content, including social media, blog posts, awareness videos, infographics, case studies, landing pages, and email campaigns to nurture new leads.

Phase 2: Next, focus on in-depth content like white papers, eBooks, on-demand webinars, and video demos that can help inform and nudge interested leads closer to a purchasing decision.

Phase 3: Finally, customize content for specific high-value personas, enabling Sales to have conversation starters for every lead, regardless of funnel stage.

Team rollout

Your sales enablement content strategy will only work if Sales remembers it exists. After building out the content library, Sales and Marketing will need to reconnect so there’s alignment on when and how to leverage specific assets. Consider internal campaigns to promote new content, host training sessions, and invest in tools that make social sharing of content easier for Sales.  

Need help visualizing your sales enablement campaign launch activities and key dates? Enter the Gantt chart. This handy tool can help illustrate how activities fit into the bigger picture and provides transparency that allows you to stay focused on the work that needs to be done before implementation. You can also use it to track cross-functional efforts so everyone is aligned on timing and impact. 

3. Launch and Implement

For telecom service provider GTT, the move to content-driven sales enablement came from necessity. The company’s sales reps were having challenges setting meetings with busy CIOs, and they needed creative ways to get first meetings on the books. GTT opted for a comprehensive account based marketing campaign that included direct mail, new B2B content assets, and a sales enablement playbook packed with tools for the Sales team to use across the funnel.

The result? The program rolled out with an instant 20% conversion-to-meeting rate.

Of course, Marketing and Sales couldn’t have done it without a launch plan defining how they would increase conversion rates, along with a clear implementation timeline and key milestone dates. The launch plan included briefing sales reps and providing them with customized LinkedIn headers and messages to use during the course of campaign outreach. 

LinkedIn for B2B content-driven sales enablement

Speaking of LinkedIn, for B2B marketers focused on using content to drive sales enablement, it solidly remains the go-to social media platform of choice. Use it to help prepare for launch by uploading contact lists in advance. Then, when it’s time to implement sales enablement campaigns, you’ll be ready to provide support with paid B2B content targeting precisely the people Sales wants to reach. 

4. Track and Optimize

Integra Telecom (now part of Zayo) had a problem: It needed to find creative ways of communicating the value of fiber-based networking solutions through the lens of the customer. It also needed a way to link  engagement to Salesforce to inform Sales’ approach during follow-up activities. The solution: a comprehensive B2B content and distribution strategy. 

PMG paired high-value content with social, digital, and email channels for maximum exposure to potential customers. A mid-funnel buyer’s guide and bandwidth calculator then generated sales leads through Eloqua forms. These were integrated with Salesforce, including valuable data on customer needs entered into the calculator. From there, database segmentation allowed for curated email campaigns to nurture prospects and upsell existing customers. Each stage of the strategy also enabled analysis and optimization of marketing tactics. 

In total, the campaign generated $9.6 million in pipeline and $4.2 million in annual recurring revenue. The lessons are clear: In order to have a solid understanding of performance, it’s essential to have comprehensive lead tracking in place while measuring the right marketing KPIs.   

Know your metrics

How will you know if your content strategy is influencing sales outcomes? Look for correlations in your data to connect campaign tactics to KPIs that Sales uses to measure success. You’ll want to show how new content created for sales enablement affects the sales cycle, contract values, and lifetime customer value over time.

Optimize for success

Review content performance to gauge overall success and identify what to change or test. The simplest way to do this is to look for outliers. If you see any content with an outsized impact, or that is surprisingly underperforming, dig a little deeper to understand why. Once you have a good baseline for what works, there are a plethora of opportunities to optimize.  

For B2B marketers, a solid sales enablement content strategy can lead to tremendous ROI—from millions in the pipeline and in recurring sales, to jumps in successful conversion-to-meeting rates. It can help Sales more effectively communicate the value of your products or services, provide buyers with relevant information when they need it, increase sales velocity, and reduce customer acquisition cost. Isn’t it time you empowered your Sales team with the relationship-building tools they need to turn leads into customers?

Turn strategy into action with PMG

PMG partners with tech and SaaS marketing organizations to drive business value through high-impact content and digital marketing programs—helping companies define their strategies, deliver on their objectives, and smash their KPIs. Contact PMG today for a free 20 minute consultation.