Buyer enablement vs. sales enablement - are they different strategies?

Profile picture for user barb.mosher By Barb Mosher Zinck August 6, 2020
Summary:
Considering content types and contemplating the differences between buyer and sales enablement.

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(Pixabay )

I sat in on a presentation the other day from DemandGen Report’s Buyer Insights and Intelligence Series that talked about the types of content you should create to enable the buying experience. It was led by Content4Demand’s VP Strategy and Services, Tonya Vinas, and Brenda Caine, Senior Content Strategist. I’ll share the highlights, plus ask a question that has been burning since I heard the term buyer enablement.

B2B buyers want informative content 

It’s not a secret that B2B buyers need and want content to help them move through the purchase journey and make an informed decision. And they don’t always want that content to come from sales. Many buyers do most of their research before they even talk to a salesperson, sometimes touching up to 10 or more pieces of content. As Vinas noted in her presentation, this need is even greater now that live events are on indefinite pause.

Vinas and Caine broke down the types of content needed for buyer enablement into six classes, each with recommendations for content formats as well. 

First, what is buyer enablement? There are a few definitions out there, and all of them point to the same thing - information provided to support buyers as they move through the process of researching and purchasing a product or solution. Keywords that stand out iinclude “critical activities,” “prioritize,” “solve,” “enable.” So it’s not about “selling,” it’s about “buying.”

Back to the content Vinas and Caine described.

Persona-based content

This type of content is focused on the target buyer, sometimes buyers. It requires the creation of useful personas, with a focus on the ones with the buying power. You can develop a piece of content for multiple personas if you can find common themes they share. You could also link to additional content or embed content (think interactive content here) to support the other personas.

Content types include themes like ‘a day in the life’, buyer’s POV, pain points or measures for success. 

Solution-focused content

Solution-focused content goes beyond persona content by focusing on a specific task or providing a deeper level of detail around the solution. E-books, analyst reports, listicles, checklists and FAQs are examples of solution-focused content. 

ROI analysis content

Content that helps buyers understand the value of a solution is the third category. Caine talked about ROI calculators as a common one, albeit one that isn’t as popular as it once was. This decrease in popularity may be due to product complexity or the fact that the definition of ROI is different depending on the buyer. 

Other content that’s useful in this category includes checklists and Q&As, but even more helpful are analyst and peer reviews, along with benchmarking assessments. These latter formats show buyers how a product produced ROI for another company or set of companies. It can give the buyer a good idea of the kind of ROI they could get.

Community-driven content

Community-driven content is peer-created content. It’s not thought leadership. It can include things like case studies, podcasts, webinars, and videos, even content from trusted peer review sites like G2 and Trust Radius.

Product showcase & experiences

Seeing is often believing, and this category of content is about showing the buyer the product. Videos and demos that offer product walk-throughs, simulators, and interactive experiences all give the buyer a closer look at how a product works.

Post-purchase content

Even after the decision to buy is made, and the deal is done, brands still need to engage with their buyers with good content. If retention is the new acquisition, then content is more important than ever at this stage. Vinas noted that all traditional content is relevant here, as are podcasts, webinars, and videos. And, of course, newsletters are the prime content-type for buyers turned customers.

Isn’t buyer enablement the same as sales enablement?

Sales enablement is the creation of content to support the sales process. All that content listed above works for sales enablement as well. According to Gartner, sales enablement helps sales sell while buyer enablement helps buyers buy. Personally t I don’t think there is a difference between the two. Maybe there was at one point, but when you look at the buyer’s journey today and the demand for useful, informative content - it doesn’t matter if the buyer researches and finds it his or herself or the SDR or sales rep gives it to them, it’s the same type of content.

Both processes, buyer enablement, and sales enablement require a deep understanding of the customer. Being customer-centric requires understanding the buyer’s journey and the types of information they need at each stage. The best salespeople know how to build relationships with prospects and not merely sell the product. 

My next article includes a great conversation with Russell Wurth, VP of Sales Enablement at Showpad, and discusses some of these ideas. So look for that coming soon.