Sales enablement content is sort of like gravity. You know it exists because you can observe its influence on your sales funnel, but you can’t always tangibly point to it, let alone create or wield it effectively.

Unfortunately, a lot of the information you’ll find online is steeped in nebulous jargon that may as well be quantum physics, if not complete hogwash.

Until now.

Via i.bitwiddlers.org

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a definition

In its crudest form, sales enablement content is any single piece of content that helps generate a sale. Of course, that begs the question: Isn’t that the purpose of all marketing content?

Well yeah, but it’s the intent of the piece that makes it sales enablement content.

Think about it like courtship.

You can’t just go around proposing to strangers. You have to initiate a conversation first through an appropriate channel of communication. With dating, that might be Tinder, a cafe or a bar. In marketing and sales, it could be social media, an email nurture campaign, a gated piece of collateral or perhaps a paid ad.

This is your lead-gen content, and its intent is to generate leads.

Next, you need to apply marketing best practices in order to nurture the lead.

Share relevant, purposeful information and ideas to pique their interest. It could be analysis of something in the news. A topically relevant meme. A cool concept you’d like to see become a reality.

This is your top-of-funnel lead warming content, and its intent is to move in just a little bit closer.

Now this is where things get interesting.

Your prospect is in the middle of the funnel and you want to move them as close to the bottom as you can. This is a unique goal that is entirely separate from lead gen, or lead nurturing, and it is motivated by a very precise intent: to move warm leads as close to the bottom of the funnel as possible.

This motive is what defines a piece of content as a sales enablement resource.

It may be a subtle distinction, but it’s been necessitated by content’s utility deeper into the sales funnel. Content marketing’s role used to stop at the consideration phase – it just needed to start the conversation and get the prospect thinking.

But in the past five years or so, marketers have become more advanced in their ability to create purposeful, memorable content that cultivates actual intent to buy. This has carved out a new niche for content marketing which, you guessed it, has come to be called sales enablement content.

How do you ideate sales enablement content?

It starts with communication between your sales and marketing teams.

No one has a better pulse on the type of information and ideas that help close deals than sales, yet they’re often excluded from content ideation and execution.

This is ironic, since the whole purpose of sales enablement content is to contextualize the types of conversations that salespeople have with prospects into a piece of content that resonates with a warm lead.

Sure, marketers are great at promoting brand awareness and generating leads for sales. But again, that’s because they create content that is crafted with those motives in mind.

Sales enablement content must be created with the intent of selling, and no one knows sales like sales.

What does execution look like?

Case studies, eBooks, testimonials, white papers and blog content that has been influenced by salespeople’s experience of what moves the needle in the middle of the funnel.

That said, there isn’t necessarily a list of ingredients for what makes good sales enablement content. The ingredients are whatever your salespeople tell you they are, and the finished product is marketing’s distillation of those ingredients into a polished, compelling resource that is tailor-made to assist in the transition between warm lead and closed deal.

Also bear in mind that content sometimes takes on a life of its own and behaves in mysterious ways.

On more than one occasion, we’ve seen brand awareness pieces unexpectedly play a direct role in the sales process.

What’s important is that you keep an eye out for that and continue to talk with sales about what content is working as a sales enabler.

A final point for consideration

We’re certainly not the first people to encourage more collaboration between sales and marketing.

In fact, this idea led to another budding trend in content marketing called account-based marketing (ABM). In so many words, ABM is an attempt to market directly to specific accounts. Those accounts are typically prioritized by sales and then delegated to marketing.

However (and this a huge however), ABM is not synonymous with sales enablement content creation.

Just because you’re targeting a specific account doesn’t mean they’re a warm lead. They may have great potential to become a warm lead, but you still need to strike up that initial conversation to get real ROI out of your sales enablement content.

Other than that?

Just remember to keep talking with your sales team. And if you’re in sales, share your wisdom with marketing.

It’s not rocket science. It’s sales enablement content.

Dominick Sorrentino is a senior writer in Chicago. He's a wordsmith who endeavors to use language, story-telling and creativity to solve problems. He enjoys pizza, the musical styling of A Tribe Called Quest, traveling, a good conversation and, of course, putting pen to paper.