3 Reasons Content Marketers Fail at Sales Enablement

July 22, 2014 | Brendan Cournoyer
3 Reasons Content Marketers Fail at Sales Enablement

Last year, HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report found that only 24% of marketers surveyed had a defined lead handoff agreement with its sales teams. This prompted B2B marketing writer and speaker Tony Zambito to post that 76% of content marketers were forgetting about sales enablement.

Tony makes some great points in the article, but it’s also an interesting take that speaks to the evolving perception of sales enablement amongst B2Bs.

It’s hard to deny that over the past year (and starting well before that), sales enablement has emerged from a relatively abstract descriptor to real-life market all its own. Businesses offering sales enablement solutions and services are increasingly common now, and new articles covering sales enablement strategies hit the web every week.

Related Article: Is Your Sales Enablement Content Creating Too Much Noise?

While definitions may vary, the fact is that sales enablement is now a THING; an accepted practice that goes well beyond training or lead management. Even more specifically, it’s become a common function of many B2B marketing organizations – particularly the parts dealing with content.

Of course, that doesn’t mean content marketers always do a particularly good job tackling those sales-related responsibilities. That brings us back to Tony’s article, in which he examines why this is.

I agree with a lot of his points, and it inspired me to come up with these top three reasons why many content marketers fail at sales enablement.

#1. Poor understanding of the buying cycle

It should be no surprise that many content marketers are primarily concerned with the top of the sales funnel (i.e. raking in visitors and lead opportunities with thought leadership resources). This is great for raising brand awareness and generating demand, but content also plays a key role in what comes next.

There are a few different ways to look at this problem. In Tony’s post, he writes about the need for marketers to understand the various buying scenarios, which is certainly valid. Personally, I find it helpful to look at sales enablement content as “selling tools.” These are assets reps need to engage with prospects and have better sales conversations, and different stages of the buying cycle require different types of resources. (This infographic takes a closer look at the sales enablement content path.)

Content marketers that don’t understand the process that follows a lead conversion are less likely to provide salespeople with the tools they need further down the funnel.

#2. Lack of sales and content marketing alignment

You always hear about sales and marketing alignment, but for a sales enablement strategy to work, content teams need to work closely with sales teams as well.

Tony absolutely nails this point, writing, “The throwing over the fence of content for sales to use is not working.  Rather than focus on the ‘content pieces’ sales needs from marketing, focus on what supports buyer goals, their buying scenarios, and helps them complete their path-to-purchase.” 

This requires collaboration between content marketers and sales so that content creators are prioritizing resources that reps actually want and will use. Of course, there’s still no guarantee if you fall prey to mistake number three…

#3. Failure to raise awareness with sales teams

This is a big one. Picture this: content marketers do everything right, study buyer behavior, work with sales and create high-quality content for every stage of the sales cycle – and reps still don’t use it!

This happens all the time, often because reps simply aren’t aware of the great content being created, when it’s being completed, where to find it, and so on. It’s a common breakdown in communication, but it’s typically up to content marketers to find ways to fix it (I offer a few ideas here on the Eloqua blog). After all, sales enablement content can’t enable anyone if the reps don’t know it’s there.

These are three mistakes that can cause a lot of content marketers to fail at sales enablement, but keep in mind – a lot of content marketers are also really new at this. Sales enablement has only recently become a B2B content responsibility (at least in the formal sense), and I’d fully expect things to smooth out as time goes on, and with the help of the right solutions.

What are some other common sales enablement content mistakes? Sound off in the comments and share your thoughts!

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