This article was adapted from Sapphire’s appearance on Leading the Way: The Sales Enablement Podcast.
Having spoken to many people in the PMA community, I've found that data and system limitations are one of the biggest challenges product marketers face when trying to understand the performance of their sales enablement content.
Some people simply don't have a tool for sharing content with sellers. They’re still using their intranet or just sending things out on Slack when what they need is a dedicated system to give sellers access to content. Worse, they don’t know which assets sellers are using or how.
These can be huge challenges to overcome because IT teams are often so bogged down that when sales enablement folks ask for a tool they can find themselves at the bottom of the priority list.
On top of this, as anyone in sales enablement will tell you, it’s hard to get sales reps to use new sales enablement assets and build new behaviors. It's not just about having a system to make content available; it's about making it consumable and actionable.
Part of the problem is that marketers often have less-than-great relationships with sales. We can be so focused on creating awareness of who we are and what we do that we forget about what comes next. There's definitely a gap there, and we need to bring them down the funnel, so to speak.
And it’s not just about building relationships with sales – our customer success, professional services, and support teams are in the trenches every single day.
When they don't trust that we understand what it's like for them to be in the trenches, they’re probably not going to want to use the new marketing assets that we’ve created.
In this article, I'll focus on:
- How to build the case for investing in sales enablement analytics
- How to measure the success of your enablement assets
- How to use data to improve your campaigns
- How data has helped me to optimize my content
How to build the case for investing in sales enablement analytics
So, how do we fix this? How do we create awesome, actionable, and relevant content that our sales teams will actually want to use?
This was one of my first projects when I joined Pluralsight as a product marketer back in 2017. But first, I needed to build trust and understand what content was already available and how it was being used.
I started by going to the sales leaders and saying, "Look, I know your teams are using some sort of content, whether we provided them or they created it themselves. Who are those sellers that are super high performers? Who are those sellers that are in the middle of the road? And who are those sellers that are struggling and need a little bit of help? Can you give me five names from each of those groups? I'm going to talk to them and figure out what they're using."
In those sales interviews, I’d ask them questions like, "When you get a lead, where's the first place you go to look for content?” and, “What content have you used, and what's been successful?"
Through those conversations, I was able to uncover a lot of the issues they were facing, which often included not knowing where to find relevant content.
Then, on the marketing side, I reviewed about 200 assets that we had created, and I mapped them to what the sales team told me they were using.
I found a massive gap between the volume of content we were creating and what they were actually using. From there, I could see which content was helpful and identify the content we were missing.
Armed with all that manually gathered data, I had a very straightforward conversation with my leadership and sales leadership.
I explained all the assets we had available and how they were mapped to different conversations. I also showed how challenging it was for the sales team to access the content we had created.
Plus, I made sure they knew that despite there being a lot of content available, there was no data to show how it was being used or if it was successful.
Not having that data helped me create a vision of what we could achieve if we had data and analytics. I painted a picture of how we could use data to show which content was helpful for a first-line sales call or a competitive conversation.
Sales leaders would then be able to help their teams by suggesting content that could help them when they were running into challenging conversations and better coach their team to success.
Going through this process and showing the value that the right data would bring set me up for getting the sales enablement analytics we needed.
How to measure the success of your enablement assets
Every time we go into a campaign, I look at what assets our reps are actually using. If I know we created a series of content for this campaign for sales and they haven't used any of it, I need to figure out what's going on.
Do they not know about it? Are they not confident in it? There could be so many different reasons that content is not being used.
In other words, internal usage is my leading indicator. I want to know how many reps are using the content, which segments they’re servicing, and how frequently they are engaging with it.
This information helps me understand if we need to do some additional training or enablement to ensure that people are aware that this content is available.
What’s even more important is understanding how internal usage maps against external engagement.
For example, while it’s useful to know if a sales script has been used 100 times, it’s even more powerful for me to know that it has led to a second conversation 80% of the time.
By mapping out usage data and external engagement like this, you can better understand if you’re hitting your goals.
Let’s say you’re launching a product and you want to drive adoption, so you’ve created assets to help your customer success managers with onboarding and product adoption – first, you want to see if those assets are being used, then you’ll want to see if that’s leading to higher adoption.
While it's not always perfect, having a sales enablement platform provides valuable data that allows you to map how goals were defined, who used the content, and how customers or prospects engaged with it.
It might be that there’s a particular vertical or persona that your content resonates with. That’s great to know – all of those insights will feed back into your marketing engine.
Once you have data aggregated over time, you can start benchmarking the success of your assets and nail down what good looks like.
Let’s say one asset saw an average engagement rate of 50% over the last six months, but one of your CSMs says it doesn’t work – well, 50% of the time it is working, so let’s talk about why it's not working for that person.
How to use data to improve your campaigns
Having data on how your sales reps are using your content and how customers are engaging with it gives you a really good starting point for figuring a few different things out – for one, who you should be targeting with marketing.
If you know that this specific talk track and messaging are working well in sales reps’ conversations with people in financial services, then you know that you should probably make sure that vertical is a focus for this campaign.
Not only does having this data help you see who you might want to target; but it also shows what's resonating. A lot of the time, the content that marketing teams create (and I say this lovingly) is not very actionable for sales. There's no real way for them to follow up on it or send it to somebody to add value.
Using data to understand what resonates with prospects and customers is super important. It helps us figure out what makes follow-up conversations easier, what topics we can build on, and ultimately inform our marketing strategy.
For example, we noticed that a lot of sales reps ask discovery questions in the sales cycle, and customer success managers conduct planning sessions with customers where they talk about their goals and challenges and map the platform to that.
These conversations usually happen later in the funnel, but by using data insights, we were able to bring those topics and areas of discussion earlier into the funnel and put in place some best practices.
We built planning worksheets to help customers make the most of 2022. The content of those planning worksheets mapped exactly to sales’ discovery questions and customer success’ planning process.
That marketing content perfectly sets our customer-facing teams up for conversations with customers and prospects. That gets us all on the same page and makes sure we provide a consistent experience for customers at every touchpoint.
How data has helped me to optimize my content
To wrap things up, I want to talk you through a few examples of how data has helped me with my content creation process throughout my career.
Speaking the sales team’s language
When we first launched our new sales enablement platform and started to gather data, we saw very low usage. We initially thought that was just because changing behavior is hard.
However, as I dug deeper into the issue, I realized there was more to it than that, so I talked to our sellers to understand why. They explained that the platform was built around top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel content, but nobody knew what that meant.
This allowed me to go back to the drawing board and realign my content to the sales cycle. It was a fast learning experience for me at the start of my product marketing career.
Filling content gaps
The second big thing we noticed was a steep drop-off in content usage when folks started going into the proposal stage. That helped me recognize that we didn't have a good proposal template.
Of course, not every deal needs a proposal, but there’s no harm in sending a very well-thought-out document outlining exactly what we're going to do for the customer.
Once we recognized that content gap, we were able to create a proposal template for reps to use, and they started using it and driving more deals.
Now, as a product marketer, I love to access our enablement platform because I know our sellers are using our content and representing our product with the messaging and the value we intended.
Optimizing my team’s time
The third huge benefit we’ve seen is the optimization of our PMM team's time.
We’ve all experienced sales reps requesting any number of assets from us – often assets that we’ve already created or assets that we’ve tried but turned out not to work. Having that data helped me and my team optimize our own time and respond to those requests better.
It also helped us make sense of the other data we’re tracking. Imagine we're seeing closed-lost rates ticking up, but when we check the content usage, sales reps aren't using our battle cards – maybe part of the reason we're losing more deals to competition is they're not using the stuff we’ve already created for them.
Now, if they ask us for fresh content to help turn this win-loss problem around, we're not going to do that. Instead, we’ll start by training reps and making sure they know how to use these battle cards and that they're actually accessing them.
Sharing sellers’ stories
Sellers want to hear from other successful sellers. That's one of the biggest things we've been able to make happen thanks to our sales enablement platform. I can go into the tool and see that Sally used these 10 assets, shortened her sales cycle, and landed a bigger deal. Plus, I don’t have to tell you about it – Sally's gonna tell you about it.
We let sellers lead those conversations. That saves time for my team and provides way more credibility. Getting sales folks to tell stories about how they’ve used the assets you’ve created will do wonders for you and the work that you do as an enabler.