Why do you produce content? Of course, there is likely more than one answer; to drive traffic to your website, to increase engagement, to widen your audience on social media, and so on. However, the usual primary focus is to drive sales. Depending on the stage of the buyer’s journey the customer is at, you may also be focusing on retaining customers who have made a purchase or moving them onto being advocates.
Yet, whatever the primary focus of your content is, it still always has the potential to increase sales. A viewer may see a piece of content on your referral or loyalty schemes, find it interesting, and look into your brand and products more, ideally making a purchase at some point. So, no matter your reason for making a piece of content, you should always have the idea of sales somewhere in your thinking.
How do you always keep sales in your thinking even when creating content not directly related to sales? Below, we look at some top ways to ensure that sales enablement is part of your content creation process while following retail or ecommerce trends.
The simple answer to this is ‘everywhere’. Even if you are creating a niche, specialist piece of content, then at some point in that content, there should be something that plants a seed in the reader’s mind and makes them consider whether to purchase at some point. The majority of the content you will be creating will be addressing one of the following stages of the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness: Where potential customers become aware of your brand and product and learn more about them.
- Consideration: Where those potential customers look more closely at details of your brand and products.
- Decision: Where customers are ready to make a decision and look at finer details such as reviews.
- Retention: Where your sale is made but now you want to retain the customer.
- Advocacy: Where, in this final stage, you want to turn customer loyalty into customer advocacy.
While these stages may have very distinct differences and will often feature very different content, the common thread running through each stage is that you want them to drive sales. From the moment a potential customer first becomes aware of you to the point where they are recommending you to others, the ultimate and primary goal is increased sales and conversions.
Again, the simple answer to this question is ‘everywhere’ but there are some types of content where sales enablement is ‘easier’ than others. You should always remember that you are telling a story, a brand narrative that seeks to guide customers through your sales funnel. It’s a case of constructing a roadmap that serves that purpose while encouraging and enabling sales.
1. Blog posts
Blog posts can serve a wide variety of purposes and they may be guest blogs or written by your own team. While you could argue that in most cases, the purpose of a blog is to inform and educate, the whole idea is that you are informing the customer so that they can move towards a purchasing decision.
Blogs also seek to establish your authority in a particular area. For example, if you write a blog on hosted phone systems (and write it well), then a customer is more likely to trust your recommendations and to follow any embedded links, especially if the blog is written from an unbiased perspective. Good blog posts also make excellent reference materials for your sales teams.
2. Case studies
Case studies are another form of content that can both educate customers while driving them through your sales funnel, and can also serve as great reference material for salespeople. Case studies are honest examples of how your product or service has benefited real customers and should be well researched and presented.
If you want to discuss how to review a mobile app, then what better way than showing how a particular mobile app has had real life benefits for the people who bought it? You can discuss the reason people made the purchase and how well it has worked for them, thus showing potential customers the challenge to solution to result roadmap that could persuade them to buy.
3. White papers
White papers may not suit every product but they can be great as both informational and sales tools when you can use them. They can help to inform potential customers on something they may not know a lot about. For example, with increasing moves to automation, a white paper on virtual agents would be useful to your demographic targets to let them know how they work.
This is an area where your sales agents can work closely with your content creators to identify areas where a white paper could fill ‘gaps’; gaps that contain questions that potential customers have been asking and that salespeople have not always been able to answer. Thus, white papers can be a great tool for your sales teams and customers alike.
4. Product specifications
Product specs should be content that both enables your sales teams but that are also easily accessible (usually on the product landing page) by potential customers. They should cover all of the most relevant details that customers want to know, such as pricing, features, benefits, and any pertinent technical information where required.
As well as informing customers, product specs should help educate new and existing sales staff. Where you have a limited range of products, staff should know as many details as possible. When you have a wide range of products, then spec sheets can serve as good reference tools that can help answer customer queries quickly.
An infographic can be a fantastic way of presenting product details in an entertaining but informative way. People don’t always want to read text-heavy posts that contain a lot of information so an infographic can present that same info in a way that is colorful and easily digestible. Sales staff can also use them as easy reference guides when extolling the virtues of your product or service.
You can use infographics at most stages of the buyer’s journey but they are of perhaps most use at the consideration and decision stages. Here you may want to present the reader with figures and statistics (such as comparisons with competitors) and an infographic is a quick – and fun – way to do this.
Top tips to enabling sales through new and existing content
It’s one thing to know what areas you should be looking at when it comes to helping to enable sales through content, but another thing to actually do it well. These tips can help you focus on achieving that.
1. Audit and optimize
Before you even start with new content, you should consider the existing content you have, which could comprise a lot of material. You should start by auditing all your existing content and see where sales enablement is already achieved and where you can improve things. As already mentioned, this is easier with some content than others and you will identify content where any sales enablement is minimal.
This is another area where your sales reps can help. Ask them to list the most commonly asked questions from potential customers. These can be from emails, phone calls, website queries, and so on. You can then look to see if those questions are covered in any of your content and, where they are not, you can then optimize your content to include the relevant answers.
2. Listen to your agents
At the end of the day, you want your company to have good customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores. One contributor to that is ensuring that customers can find answers and information easily. No matter the type of sales model you operate, your sales teams should know what information customers want. Therefore, they should be consulted when it comes to creating sales enabling content.
Another good source of those ideas can be your customer support teams as they will often field queries regarding ‘missing’ information. By utilizing these two sources, you should then have a list of information and data to either include in new content or to add to existing content. Of course, finding a good fit for that information will not always be easy but that’s part of the challenge of content creation
3. Think about format
Another thing to consider is how you will present any information that helps to enable the sales process. Format can be a crucial factor in presenting information and can depend on the type of information as well as customer needs. Think about the information you want to communicate and consider the different ways you could present it.
Not all your content needs to be text-based. Content with visuals receives 94% more views than content without. That means you should be considering both visual content that complements your written information. like infographics, and also visual content, such as how-to videos, that informs and entertains at the same time.
4. Never forget your buyer’s journey
You should be thinking about each step of the customer’s journey and how they progress through your sales funnel. Even at the advocacy stage, while you may not be focusing on that customer making a purchase (after all, they are now hopefully a brand advocate and loyal customer), you are thinking about how to get them more involved in promoting your brand.
What that means when it comes to tying content creation to sales enablement is to make any information relevant to that stage. For example, at that advocacy stage, you want your loyal customer to be encouraged to recommend you or to actively pursue sales from others through loyalty and referral schemes that offer tangible rewards including cash or future discounts.
5. Track, analyze, and re-audit
As you change strategies to embrace sales enablement in as much content as possible, you will of course want to know how successful any new strategies are. That means you need to identify relevant KPIs such as conversion rates and closely track them and how they tie in with the new or adjusted content you have created.
You should be looking at your analytics and re-auditing all your content on a regular basis until you find the right balance. Revisiting your plans also includes getting feedback from your sales and customer support teams who should be seeing a decrease in queries that customers can’t find the answers to (or new questions you can use in future content).
The way we work is constantly evolving and changing. We are seeing an increasing shift to remote and hybrid working that means brainstorming by the water cooler is less common than it used to be. However, with those changes comes an increase in the utilization of cloud communications that can enhance and boost productivity regardless of your working model.
At the end of the day, your content creation team wants to make things easier, both for customers and for sales agents. You want to help create a streamlined sales funnel that provides a smooth and painless customer journey where making a decision is as easy as being able to esign documents for free.
As a content creator, you wear multiple hats. Your job is to inform, to inspire, and to educate, but also to help make your sales agents’ jobs easier and make it easier for customers to make that all important purchasing decision. By identifying and including relevant information that helps enable the sales process, you will have achieved all of your aims.
Of course, how and where you include that information to optimize the sales process and to help your sales team may vary a little according to product types, working models, and so on, but by using this guide as a general template, you will make great strides towards optimum enablement of the overall target of increased sales.