Product Marketing and Sales Enablement

Product marketing and sales enablement are the dynamic duo of revenue generation. It is rare to see a combination that fits together so well to improve results for both.

Due to the nature of their use and their equal importance in driving sales of products and services, sales enablement and product marketing are sometimes confused with one another. However, each is its own separate function that provides different benefits to different audiences. Product marketing is intended for the customer, an external audience, while sales enablement is focused on the salesforce, an internal audience. 

In a way, a part of this confusion can be attributed to the fact that in most organizations, the Sales and Product marketing teams are integrated as one and perform very similar functions. So, it’s not totally absurd for people to think sales enablement is a function of product marketing.

This common confusion begs the question:

“Is there really any difference between sales enablement and product marketing?”

“And if there is, what differentiates one from the other?”

If you fall into the pool of people caught up in the mix, you’ve stumbled on the right article. Here, we discuss the two terms and attempt to draw a fine distinction between them.

Ferris A - Fractional CMO

Ferris Ayar

| Fractional CMO | Growth Strategist |

Product Marketing Plan on Laptop

How is Product Marketing Different Than Sales Enablement

The distinction between sales enablement and product marketing lies in understanding the meaning of both terms. What comes to mind when you hear sales enablement? What do you think of when someone says product marketing? Let’s dissect both terms.

Sales enablement, as the name implies, connotes the act of enabling sales. It’s basically equipping the sales team of any organization with adequate tools to enable them to generate sales, ultimately driving business growth. The idea is that when you give a person a task and support them with relevant resources to help in accomplishing the task, such person is likely to perform better than when they are without any help.

And this is particularly true when it comes to sales tasks. The complexity involved in sourcing for customers and converting leads to sales requires that sales representatives (sales reps) have access to important data like customer demographics, market analysis, etc. By providing these resources, sales reps are “enabled” to increase sales and drive business profit up. The resources typically include blog posts, case studies, eBooks, sales playbooks, etc.

On the other hand, product marketing is basically the process involved in getting prospective customers/clients to know and be interested in your products and services. It implies the activity of promoting and selling your products and services to a market. Here’s the thing. When people mix sales enablement with product marketing, they’re particularly referring to content product marketing and not product marketing in general. So what’s content product marketing? Content product marketing is simply one of the types of product marketing. It is leveraging the creation and distribution of engaging content in a bid to increase awareness about a product or service and ultimately generate demand for it. Content usually involves blogs, eBooks, white papers, social media posts, testimonials, etc.

Having explained the two concepts, let’s examine how they are distinct. Here are some key differences:

  • Foremost, sales enablement and content product marketing differ in terms of their primary audience – that is, to whom their content is directed. While content marketers channel their content to customers and prospective customers, sales enablement teams create content for the sales reps to engage with in order to convert leads to sales.
  • Secondly, content product marketing is more concerned with developing content for engagement. Whereas, sales enablement deals more with providing sales reps with training and guidance on how to effectively utilize content while engaging with leads.
  • Another distinction is that the content product marketing team may manage a subset of assets within a sales enablement platform – usually including the content library. Conversely, sales enablement teams manage the deployment and optimization of sales enablement platforms.
  • Finally, in practice, content marketers typically report to a company’s chief product marketing officer, while sales enablement teams usually answer to a company’s chief sales officer.

How Does Product Marketing Content Help Sales Enablement?

In the sales and product marketing world, content is king. If you’ve never heard that before, let it sink in now.

Businesses understand that their products and services will not go to their customers on their own accord, and in most cases, neither will the customers come to the products so easily. There’s a lot of competition in the market, which means that you have to devise strategies to take your products to customers and also attract customers to them – essentially, you want your product to stand out. That is where product marketing comes in. And content is the major tool by which product marketing teams increase brand awareness and generate leads.

But this content should not be for the product marketing team alone. What about the sales team? The ones who communicate and engage directly with customers. They require this content to effectively engage with prospects. But, more often than not, they don’t have the time to source or create this content – which is why they rely on the product marketing team to create this content.

Now, the link between the product marketing team and the sales reps is the sales enablement team. In practice, the marketers produce relevant sales content and the sales enablement team gets hold of them and shares them with the reps. They don’t stop at that; they also train the reps on how to effectively utilize this content to convert leads to sales.

From this analysis, you can see that although sales enablement and market are quite different, they are meant to collaborate. Essentially, it’s a symbiotic relationship. The sale enablement team relies on the product marketing team to produce content for them to share with the sales reps; the product marketing team relies on the sales enablement team to ensure that content produced is being put to good use by the sales reps. This arrangement is common in organizations that aim to empower their sales reps and ultimately take their business to the next level.

Sales Enablement Content

Here are some examples of sales enablement content utilized by sales reps:

  • Internal sales training materials
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • Materials that explain company offerings
  • Datasheets
  • Cheat-sheets
  • Competitor analysis

Product Marketing Content

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Here are some examples of product marketing content:

  • Features-Advantages-Benefits (FAB) Analysis
  • Product sell sheets
  • Product website content
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • Checklists
  • How-to guides
  • Product videos
  • Testimonials
sales enablement consultant

Types of Content for B2B Sales Enablement

When it comes to closing deals, sales reps need to consider the nature of their prospects. Generally, customers of a product or service are usually individuals and businesses. Product marketing to individuals will be slightly different from product marketing to businesses. The latter is what is known as business-to-business (B2B) product marketing.

For generating B2B sales, sales enablement teams need to engage their sales reps with relevant content. Here are some you can consider for your B2B sales team:

1. Sales Deck:

When doing B2B product marketing, you often have to make presentations to prospects, usually business executives. This is why a sales deck is an important tool for your sales rep to utilize.

A sales deck is a stack of presentation slides that sales reps can leverage to create sales presentations for prospective clients. It’s usually a compilation of about 20 slides and can vary depending on the prospects or industry.

Sales decks contain information that reps can use to enlighten clients about your company’s offerings.

2. Case Studies:

The unique thing about case studies is that they allow your prospective clients to create a mental picture of what using your product or service will be like.

With case studies, you can sell your ideas to businesses by painting a rewarding experience when they patronize you. Most industries are result-oriented; people want to see results. Sales reps can leverage case studies to demonstrate the benefits and rewards of buying your product or service.

3. Market Research and Analysis:

Show, don’t just tell. It’s easy to say your product is the best. But business clients will not be convinced that your product is what they need simply because you say so. They need more than that. You need to speak their language, which means backing up your points with facts and statistics.

Business clients want to be able to assess your relevance in their industry and you can communicate that through market research and analysis.

4. Sales Scripts:

Convincing individuals to buy a product is much easier than closing a deal with a business. Business clients tend to be more critical and analytical in their decision-making.

To aid sales reps in closing deals with businesses, you can equip them with sales scripts. It helps provide a structure for their sales pitch or simply gives them talking points that they can then build on.

It’s best you don’t make your reps memorize and read a script word for word. Rather, let them speak naturally. The sales script should only be a guide or provide direction.