Knowledge professionals are inundated with a higher volume, velocity, and variety of content than ever before, and this is especially true for professionals in market facing and monitoring roles. Cutting through the noise to discover insights critical to informing others has become increasingly time consuming. Here we look at the role content plays in sales enablement and how Cronycle’s unique mix of artificial and human intelligence can improve an organization’s use of curated content in the sales cycle.
The Stellar Rise of Sales Enablement
Sales enablement as a strategic discipline has undergone a massive evolution since Forrester Research first formally defined it back in 2008. The biggest evolutionary leap came in 2016/2017 when the number of organizations indicating they had a formal sales enablement effort nearly doubled. Today sales enablement is a mature discipline with a proven ability to impact an organization’s sales performance. That maturity has led to a clear picture of what is and is not effective.
For five years the Miller Heiman Group have been formally studying the discipline of sales enablement. Their CSO Insights: 2019 Sales Enablement Report is littered with key points to establish the business case and inform your strategy:
- In 2019, 61.3% of organizations reported having sales enablement.
- Organizations without sales enablement reported win rates of 42.5%, compared to 49% for those with sales enablement.
- Three-quarters (74.6%) of organizations with sales enablement have formal or even dynamic sales processes, compared to 45.2% without sales enablement.
- Sales enablement has an even stronger impact on customer relationship levels than it does on sales processes. Average win rates for those considered Trusted Partners were 59.9% versus a mere 39.5% for those who were considered Approved Vendors.
What is Sales Enablement?
Forrester defined sales enablement as:
“a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle to optimize the return of investment of the selling system.”
A simpler definition is that sales enablement is a concerted effort to align the systems, processes, tools and information to help sales professionals sell more effectively. Building a sales enablement effort requires developing a clear strategy that:
- Outlines the cross-functional interplay between all functions that touch the customer including sales, marketing, customer success and support.
- Aligns and integrates key technologies to enable a scalable, barrier free sales process.
- Developing enablement services to empower the salesforce with content serving all stages of the customer lifecycle, education and coaching.
- Ongoing governance and measurement of the effort.
Content is Key!
Anyone starting down the path of developing a sales enablement initiative quickly realizes that content plays a vital role. The interplay between functions that touch the customer is largely about producing and curating content to inform, educate, nurture, convert and support customers. The alignment of key technologies largely focuses on how we leverage and distribute content throughout the sales cycle to advance a relationship. And enablement services largely focus on amassing and using content marketing to develop the sales professional as a trusted partner / subject matter expert.
The interplay between functions that touch the customer is largely about producing and curating content to inform, educate, nurture, convert and support customers.
Sales content comes in many forms but can often be grouped into one of two categories: content that will end up in the hands of prospects/customers and content that will be used to help enable the salesforce to be more effective.
Content – A Massive Time/Labor Investment
Content comes from many different sources, with sellers themselves being the second largest producer. “Sellers still create about one-fifth of the content they need on their own: 21.3% this year compared to 20.7% last year.” That equates to 10-16 hours a week spent sourcing insights to produce content, curating references and examples, and producing original content.
Other key highlights from the 2019 Sales Enablement Study include:
- 28.1% of respondents said they don’t know how much they invest in content.
- Only 31.8% of respondents reported having a content strategy in place.
- Having a formal content strategy led participants to a 27.1% increase in win rates and a 18.1% increase quota attainment.
Using Cronycle to Empower Your Sales Enablement Effort
Cronycle pairs a powerful content discovery and curation process powered by human and artificial intelligence with a digital workplace for teams to make sense of, annotate, discuss and share content.
Cronycle is capable of supporting the entire sales enablement content lifecycle; serving as the de facto environment for market intelligence, compete strategy formulation, third-party content discovery and aggregation, internal knowledge development and sharing, and marketing content repository.
The Cronycle Approach to Discovery
Cronycle is a market leader in using artificial and human intelligence to discover content at scale. Our approach starts by letting machines understand the world as it is versus as how we would artificially structure it. We do that by feeding millions of pieces of content into our topics discovery engine every month. That engine builds a graph database of related topics complete with semantics that are being discussed via content.
We then use those topics to source an expertise network, i.e. a human powered network composed of individuals, publishers and organizations sharing content relevant to those topics. Our proprietary algorithms assign entities in the expertise network a relevance score. We then automatically build communities of the top entities with expertise on a topic. We follow those entities online, aggregating content shared by them into topical feeds.
The approach solves a key challenge that has limited the efforts of content consumers since the dawn of the internet… the dynamism of sources.
Creating a Filterable Hub for Content from Anywhere
In addition to content sourced by the expertise network, Cronycle allows users to build on top of that foundation with content from known sources (RSS feeds, websites, newsletters, automated web searches, etc.). Users can then create advanced filters applied against all of those incoming sources to produce finite streams of highly relevant content. Collaborators from across the organization can play a role in selecting the most valuable content from feeds to engage with.
Supporting Sales Enablement Content Management
External content plays a vital role in sales enablement. It is often redistributed by sales professionals, and frequently serves as the research behind original content. Cronycle’s boards provide a powerful place for all stakeholders that collaborate on and leverage content to store, discuss and evolve content. Collaborators can build boards that serve as dynamic libraries for each audience (internal, channel partner, customer segment), customer relationship lifecycle stage, intended distribution channel, product offering, etc. Those boards store not only the curated content, but also internal documents, presentations, videos and more.
Within the board environment, users can filter content by key dates, contributor, format and tags (fixed schema or folksonomic). For example, users can easily search competitive battlecards.
They can make sense of content by extracting insights, summarizing content and discussing items. Related content items can be grouped into arcs to allow for meta discussion. Insights can be extracted from a single item, group of items, or from an entire board to quickly compile key research points.
Cronycle enables organizations to leverage the content stored on boards in a multitude of ways. Sales and marketing professionals can use the boards as robustly filterable repositories. When one or more pieces of content is needed for a campaign, direct customer interaction, or to research a particular subject, not only is the content there, so to is any discussion it has triggered. Users can push content from boards to content management systems, email campaign platforms, research and business intelligence platforms and content production platforms. To enable external audiences, extend access to boards via board subscriptions or integrate with other relied upon channels such as Microsoft Teams, Slack.
Formalize Your Content Strategy
The business case to invest in a formal sales enablement content strategy is an easy one to make. Organizations looking to develop a robust sales enablement content strategy need to invest time in understanding:
- Who are the key internal/external stakeholders that will collaborate on and benefit from the effort
- What types of external content are needed to inform and enable your efforts around each stakeholder and each stage of the relationship lifecycle with them
- Which criteria will be used to determine which third-party content can be passed on to external stakeholders, and what third-party content would become source material for native content
- What native content will the organization need to produce to augment third-party content for each stakeholder segment and relationship stage, and who will be responsible for producing it
- What channels will be used to distribute content to each stakeholder and how much automation/integration can be leveraged to reduce that work
- Who will manage the lifecycle of content used to inform, educate, nurture and support each stakeholder
At Cronycle we have seen a wide range of organizations start the journey to build a robust sales enablement content strategy. We are learning and adapting as they are. Our topic models currently span nearly 60,000 topics and new ones are being added all the time. To explore how Cronycle can empower and accelerate your effort, schedule a one on one call with us.