Salespeople are like fighter pilots. 🛸

They have a job to do. And once the action starts, they need to stay focused. Adrenaline’s high. Performance mode’s activated. They’ve no time to take their eyes off the prize and go hunting for answers.

Nope, your sales reps need copilots, ready and waiting with the answers they need to influence decision-makers, win new business, and boost that bottom line.

Enter sales enablement.

What is sales enablement?

Sales enablement is all about deal support. Sitting between sales and marketing, your sales enablement team exists to support your sales staff with key information at crucial moments. Information about competitors and about your product. All in line with your brand messaging.

Sales enablement managers collaborate cross-functionally with customer success, product, sales operations, and other relevant departments to identify the factors influencing the buyer’s decision-making process.

SE teams combine this with feedback from sales reps to weave the critical product expertise and marketing strategy into supporting content your salespeople can use while on-call. This content proves invaluable for handling objections, reframing competitor products, and increasing win rates.

Note: sales enablement pros also work with sales operations to identify effective tools that can improve the sales cycle.

Content like this is at the heart of any effective sales enablement strategy. But how do you ensure your sales enablement content is the best it can be? Since it plays such an important role in the sales process, how do you optimize it?

How to optimize your sales content

So that’s sales enablement. It should be clear just how large a part their content plays in the success of your organization’s sales strategy.

But how do you create sales content that really moves the needle?

Here are ten of our top sales enablement best practices:

  1. Get close to your sales reps.
  2. Own training initiatives.
  3. Expand your content horizons.
  4. Crowdsource sales enablement.
  5. Make data your friend.
  6. Use a sales enablement platform.
  7. Track content adoption.
  8. Audit your existing content.
  9. Create your content for its intended audience.
  10. Give your content a new coat of paint.

1 - Get close to your sales reps.

It goes without saying.

Your sales content needs to contain the right information, and you find that information by working cross-functionally.

By speaking with members of the marketing, customer success, and product teams, you get a sense of your customer’s pain points, your product’s strengths and weaknesses, and where your brand fits within the competitive landscape.

But all that information’s useless if your salespeople can’t digest it quickly. That’s why the format you use to present said information is so important.

Remember: your sales reps won’t have a lot of free bandwidth while they’re on a call to search for the answers they need.

The only way to figure out this piece of the puzzle (aside from sticking with tried and true sales enablement content types like competitive battlecards), is to test them out with your sales reps, gather feedback, and tweak based on that feedback.

Following battlecard best practices (make them scannable, put the key info up top) is another must. But make it a priority to work closely with your sales reps and get regular feedback on your sales content. What gets scheduled gets done, so schedule feedback sessions at intervals to get yourself the feedback you need.

2 - Own sales training initiatives.

Want to learn more quickly? Then fail faster.

By ripping off the bandaid and exposing your enablement content to criticism and failure as early as possible, you slash the time it takes to get from good to great.

Get feedback way earlier by holding training sessions with your reps.

Truth is? You don’t have to wait for your content to be field tested. You can get feedback way earlier and avoid sending out prototype content with a low success rate. 😌

Hold training sessions on your sales content with your reps and you’ll meet two needs with one deed. If your sales reps think something won’t be useful, they’ll tell you. But training sessions offer another incredible benefit: they’re an opportunity to get buy-in from the sales team, increasing content adoption.

If only a couple of sales reps actually use the content you give them because others dismiss it at a glance, you’ll never get the feedback you need to improve it. By involving reps in the process early on, you make them feel heard and gain their valuable input.

3 - Expand your content horizons.

Sales enablement content comes in all shapes and sizes. It needn’t stop at battlecards and templates. In fact, sales teams don’t have to use the content themselves at all. Content that helps sales win deals indirectly by warming up the buyer during different stages of the buying process is still enabling sales.

Different kinds of content are better suited to different reps and different buyers.

Different kinds of content are better suited to different stages of the buyer journey, and it all helps to prime the buyer for their upcoming call with a sales rep. So work with your marketing and content teams to produce emails, lead magnets, case studies, and other valuable content that warms up leads before they get on the phone.

Use what you know of your target audience, the stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at when they encounter your brand, and the pain points your product heals. Deliver the right marketing content at the right times and to the right people to make your sales reps’ jobs as easy as possible.

4 - Crowdsource sales enablement.

Much like competitive intelligence, valuable sales enablement insights exist in all corners of the business.

Initiate and nurture conversations between customer success and sales, between marketing and product development. Set up open channels of communication (a Slack channel works well) to keep the conversation going.

Wondering why we think collaboration’s so important here?

Collaborating with marketing

Your marketing team’s in charge of your organization’s messaging and positioning strategies. They’re the ones developing detailed buyer personas you can use to help your enablement content strategy.

Getting marketing involved ensures your brand messaging is consistent throughout the buyer journey. This helps eliminate confusion and maximizes the chances of your buyer feeling confident your product can meet their needs.

Collaborating with product teams

At the same time, the product team knows all there is to know about (you guessed it) the product. They’re the ones with plans for its future, and they can tell you if your content lines up with that future or not.

Assimilate all that information and use it to optimize your enablement content. This way sales enablement becomes a team effort, and with deals and revenue on the line, this is a simple but effective way to take some of the load off a high-stakes business function.

5 - Make data your friend.

What gets measured gets managed. And that makes data and analytics your two best friends in sales enablement. 🤝

Your organization is already using a bunch of tools to scale and automate various processes in the sales lifecycle. Your CRM, conversational intelligence software, win/loss platforms … all of these fit the bill. And they’re all chock-full of data and metrics you can use to inform the types of content you create and what you include.

In short, all that data is just sitting there, waiting to help you make better strategic decisions about which deals are most winnable and what kind of aid sales needs to communicate your competitive advantage.

Finally, your resident competitive intelligence analyst is gonna have a ton of qualitative data for you too. Work closely with them here, because competitive intelligence is another great source of intel for your sales enablement strategy.

6 - Use sales enablement software.

Don’t turn your nose up at sales enablement tools.

They organize and deliver relevant content to your sales reps when they need it. This slices the time it takes your reps to get the answers they’re looking for. And when these systems integrate with other parts of the sales tech stack (like your Salesforce CRM), they put the knowledge right at your sales team’s fingertips.

In fact, they’re a goldmine for data in general, tracking and saving all sorts of metrics in real-time. A data-driven sales enablement process is way more effective than one based on guesswork.

It’s time to invest in sales enablement tools. Here’s why.
With a cross-functional Go-to-Market strategy where sales can confidently mesh their persuasion and charisma with product knowledge, you’re looking at much higher win rates and, therefore, much higher revenue.

7 - Track content usage and adoption.

You can produce as much great content as you want, but if your sales reps aren’t implementing it, it won’t do your sales enablement efforts any good.

That’s why, on top of the all other data types we’ve mentioned, you should collect usage data. Your sales enablement platform will help you here too. Use it to track which of your enablement assets your sales reps are using and when.

Produce as much content as you want, but if your sales reps aren’t using it, nothing'll happen.

As well as sales usage, you can track what content buyers are engaging with, and which stage of the buyer journey they’re at when they do. See if the data maps with your expectations ‘cause, if it doesn’t, you’ll wanna find out why.

If there’s a mistake in your sales strategy, uncovering it lets you correct your course and get back on track delivering effective content to the right people.

8 - Audit your content regularly.

Of the content you have already, what’s a hit? What’s failing to get engagement, increase conversions, or actually come off the shelf at all?

It’s a lot easier to tweak what you have than to start from scratch. And, since this content has been circulating for a while, the testing phase is already complete. You’ll have data on how it’s working and won’t have to wait for the results to come in to course-correct (like you would with fresh content).

So schedule regular audits of your existing enablement content.

How often you audit is up to you, but at least once a quarter is a good starting point. Early on, you can audit more frequently. As you begin to find content that boosts sales performance, you can opt to review less often.

9 - Consider your content’s intended audience.

Though a lot of sales enablement content is not customer-facing, some of it is. The content you prepare for your salespeople will differ from the content you and your content marketing team prepare for customers.

At the same time, not all types of content work for everyone. One sales rep might get on great with your battlecards. Another might never reach for them at all, preferring to study more detailed reports after-hours.

What worked great for your previous bosses or clients might not work where you are now.

And, if you’ve done this before, what worked great for your previous bosses or clients might not work where you are now.

Our advice? Track everything. And always follow the numbers.

If sales folks are using your content and providing good feedback, and win rates are improving, you’re probably on the right track.

If, however, your content isn’t resonating with the sales organization, or the content you’re using to warm up prospective buyers isn’t getting downloads or converting, then you’ll know where to focus your attention.

10 - Give your content a fresh coat of paint.

Sometimes, when a piece of content isn’t working, it’s not the information it contains that’s wrong.

Today, there are infinite ways to consume content.  And the right information presented in the wrong way will have just the same impact as the wrong information.

So if your content isn’t a hit, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Should the content be visual instead of written? 🤔
  • Should it be long-form with a few graphics? 📚
  • Should my content contain statistics? 📊
  • Should this be presented as a video (pre-recorded product demo, perhaps)? 🎥

Don’t be afraid to try new things, but if you’re looking for the greatest ROI and probability of success, stick with the data and you can’t go far wrong.

We let you do the talking. 📣

Consider yourself an expert in competitive intelligence or competitive enablement? Feel like this 🤐 and looking for a platform to get your voice out there?

Look no further. The Competitive Intelligence Alliance wants thought leaders like you to get in touch.

It's your insights we're after, so if you're strapped for time we'll have a quick chat, then write the article for you. 💯