In B2B technology product marketing, one of our most important jobs is sales enablement: giving reseller reps and channel partners tools that ignite buyer discussions, and that help the keep momentum going as they progress throughout a sale. The materials we create also need to position our partners as experts and trusted advisors to customers. Which is not all that different from how brands use content marketing to maintain leadership over competitors’ offerings. And like content marketing, each deliverable has its time and its place in the customer journey.

More than a Portal

Our philosophy is “make our resellers 20% smarter than prospects.” That means the Sales Enablement tools that product marketing creates can’t be just marketing collateral, spec sheets and brochure-ware – which are all really product data that customers (and competitors) can find anywhere. It drives me crazy when Sales Enablement in a company is lamely defined as the given portal to upload those things, when anyone in the world can find them publicly anyway. Rather, the best tools are the ones that make our resellers experts in how using our solutions will make their customers more successful. By using a “drip method” to provide progressively instructive and actionable materials for resellers to use themselves and to share with prospects at events, in email, and in person, we can gain precious and incredibly valuable mindshare from both. Each type of tool has a purpose, depending on a few factors:
  • what level of knowledge the customer has,
  • whether they can articulate a specific need,
  • how far along they are in their purchase,
  • whether they’re evaluating other solutions
– all these kinds of variables of the situations they’re going through, that only the reseller or channel partner would know from their discussions. At some point, by design, there’s a turning point when the materials allow a key stakeholder at the prospect organization to become the resident expert. That’s the moment when our leave-behind (or online) materials can “walk the halls” of the company on our behalf, even when a partner is not on site, continuing to expand our influence and gain momentum in that organization. To help illustrate what a more-or-less typical customer progression would look like, we created the infographic below using the real-world example of a recent year-long Sales Enablement project that culminated in a training webcast to teach resellers how to use the different tools. Because you don’t just create all those tools, upload them to a portal, and expect success.