Why Sales Enablement is Key to ABM Success

THE MASTER MULTITASKERS

Salespeople are bogged down with a constant barrage of demands on their time, frominternal processes, discovery calls and product training to team meetings, marketing requests and contract cycles. As a result, they’re forced to become master multitaskers.

So, it’s necessary that your sales team not only has access to valuable, time-sensitive information and relevant content, but that they have tools to use dynamic signals and ROI data to more effectively sell to your prospects.

This is what sales enablement is all about.

In order to better enable your salespeople, you need to know exactly what enablement really is.

WHAT IS SALES ENABLEMENT?

First and foremost, sales enablement means processes that supply the materials and content that your salespeople need in order to increase prospect engagement. Easy access to campaign details, the latest dynamic signals, and straightforward CTAs is crucial. Of course, you’ll need to train your team in how to use these tools to find the right content.

Once your team is confident in your processes, you’ll want to track whether or not your sales team is getting the most out of your sales enablement tools. This requires programs that track both what resources are being used and where in the sales process they’re most effective. Measuring your most successful resources will help you optimize for future success. Some useful metrics might include the average length of your sales cycle, average deal sizes, and tracking which salespeople are achieving their quota.

TOGETHER FOREVER: ABM & SALES ENABLEMENT

What part does sales enablement play in Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?

ABM is about targeting high-value accounts with both marketing and sales touches, that means alignment of both marketing and sales through increased communication and the exchange of content throughout the sales funnel. Without alignment, the content that marketers generate for salespeople can be irrelevant, off-base, or it can get dropped between cracks, or miscommunicated, often left completely unused or being used at the wrong times.

Creating and using the right content at the right time can mean the difference between a bounce and a conversion. A combination of sales enablement and dynamic landing pages can create an end-to-end personalized experience.

There are more than a few strategies for creating sales collateral and useful content—let’s look at a few of them.

TRADITIONAL CONTENT GENERATION

There are different maturity levels of a sales-focused content creation program. Some of them are better than others. Which of these approaches sound the most like your team?

Content 101: The CMO (or another marketer) invents content topics off the top of his or her head. While any content is usually better than none, this isn’t ideal.
Content 201: The marketing team uses website analytics data to generate content using top-of-funnel statistics (goal completions, time-on-site, pages visited, etc). Now, the content is responsive to prospect behavior and tailored to their interests.
Content 301: The team combines Analytics and full-funnel attribution data to create a picture of what content actually generates ROI. This lets you see what is and isn’t effective, helping you reevaluate the content strategy accordingly.

Of course, you’ll need to the ability to attribute what content leads to ROI. A closed loop reporting attribution tool lets you track UTM data parameters from your links (source, medium, campaign, content, and keyword), as well as a few others (like landing page or timestamp). You can carry that data into the CRM and see which pieces of content actually resulted in closed/won deals. Powerful stuff!

ABM CONTENT GENERATION

While Content 301 is a relatively evolved form of content strategy, it is missing one key function that should be present for all ABM activities—alignment.

Where is the salespeople’s input? Where is the real-world, boots-on-the-ground experience?

In the above, contributions from salespeople are absent, and those contributions can be the key to a successful ABM content campaign. Marketing generally isn’t aware of the unique situations that salespeople see every day. Salespeople may find themselves with misaligned content or outdated content (or often no content at all). Great content at the right moment can make all the difference.

Content creation should be a joint effort. This is what sets Account-Based strategies apart.

Three Key ABM Content Factors

Account-Based content generation combines full-funnel data, dynamic signals and salespeople’s firsthand experiences. This fusion of Sales and Marketing is the missing link that is often overlooked, and enabling your sales team means giving them access to real-time data and crafting a strategy that takes their feedback into account.

Full-Funnel Data:

To amplify your ABM content generation, mine your funnel data to figure out what content resonates with your audience at each stage in the sales cycle. What stages of the funnel connect with which pieces of content?

In general, you can break a funnel down into three main stages:

AWARENESS: Within a more segmented funnel, “awareness” needs distinct content such as infographics, blog posts, videos, and even quizzes. Content like blog posts can generate an awareness of your business that did not previously exist.
CONSIDERATION: You’ve gained their attention, now you need to convince them you’re worth that attention. Now it’s time for in-depth content such as webinars, case studies, and demos and trials.
LEAD GENERATION: The intensive content you use in “consideration” can also be used for lead generation if you give it a personalized twist. Personalization is an absolute must at this stage, and content like product releases, tips and advice can help potential clients take the last step.

The type of campaign and where you are in the funnel can determine which content will be most applicable.

But when should your sales team reach out with that content? In sales, timing might be the most important element. Dynamic Signals can help you know when the time is right, and which content to lead with.

Dynamic Signals

Dynamic signals are data points, or indicators, that signal interest in your solution. These indicators come in various forms and can mean different things. It’s easiest if you have a tool to pull the data from all corners of the internet for you and put it in a central place, providing the big picture.

These signals can alert you to good opportunities and help you know which type of content to use when engaging with a prospect. Here are a few signals that can help you know when to reach out:

Engagement: Engagement signals represent a prospect’s actions online. This includes page visits, form submissions, email opens, clicks, and replies. These are the most concrete signals your sales team can possibly hope for.

Intent: Intent is determined by tracking online behavior and can be a critical component of almost every kind of marketing campaign, including paid advertising or outbound email.

This is just the beginning—there are also firmographics, demographics, technographics, geographics, conference activity, job changes, funding changes, industry news, and more. Considering how many signals there are to use for content generation, organization can get messy and data gathering can become overwhelming – usually, it’s far too much for one person to manage. Tools like Demandbase can help you gather, organize, and structure dynamic signal collection.

The last factor to add to your full-funnel data and dynamic signals is the key in ABM content generation: the experiences of your salespeople.

SALESPEOPLE = FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE

Any content generation strategy is incomplete and inefficient without the first-hand contributions of your sales team.

Neglecting their experiences can lead to decreased buy-in from the sales team, discouraging salespeople from actually using the content provided by marketing, as salespeople might feel that the content isn’t actually relevant or helpful to them.

If marketing is simply using data (or worse, only using ideas off the top off the top of their heads), your campaigns can become ineffective and bogged down. Salespeople provide on-the-ground perspectives that can lead to content creation specifically tailored to the real problems your prospects are having.

Involving salespeople can increase buy-in and oil the cogs of your marketing and sales machine, allowing processes to run more smoothly. Because good ABM content requires a rapid response (e.g. “This prospect is asking about this specific problem, do we have any content to support it?”), smoothly running processes can save you from a lost lead.

RUNNING YOUR TEAMS

Account-based sales enablement is the culmination of integrated efforts between marketing and sales. To ensure this alignment happens, regular meetings should be scheduled with a specific focus on these questions:

  • Which companies should we target?
  • What personas make sense?
  • What are the right messages?
  • What content is needed to support our campaigns?

Answering these questions will launch your sales and marketing teams forward, giving you real leverage from these meetings and building confidence. Sending email recaps and priorities with upcoming action items using programs like Slack and Salesforce can keep both teams on the same page.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

Salespeople have to do a lot in a deadline-driven environment and because of that, making sure communication is smooth between marketing and sales can make everyone’s lives much easier.

Sales enablement ensures an easy flow of resources by allowing both sales and marketing to work together to construct valuable content, and then provides access to all pertinent documents and data.

The keys to constructing aligned, ABM-focused content are full-funnel data, dynamic signals, and real-world experience.

Aligning account-based marketing, sales enablement, and the contributions of your salespeople generates more effective campaigns and, in return, increased ROI. We hope this guide is helpful to you in your ongoing ABM efforts, from aligning your teams, to building great content, to seeing the results come in!

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, Demandbase and Digital Reach have put together a guide on Account-Based Selling, which you can use to inform your own strategy. You can download it here. We’re also hosting a webinar on Friday, May 11, on the same topic—which you can register for here.