The GM of a business unit at a Swiss B2B company, recently asked us a great question, as they very often do:
“What tools exist to support the sales people with marketing content once they are on the road?”
The short answer is:
Sales/Marketing Collateral Management & Value Proposition Builder Systems.
Here’s the long answer….
YOUR SALES & MARKETING COLLATERAL IS NOT BEING UTILIZED. AND IT’S COSTING YOU.
With many industry, customer, stakeholder and meeting types to manage, it can be very difficult for front line sales people to tailor their message to fit the exact customer conversation they are having, so it ignites the customer to move forward in the buying process. At least not without spending a lot of time on research and preparation.
The right content might even exist inside the company, but hidden away in some folder or email, the sales rep does not find it (up to 90% of B2B marketing content generated is never used by sales!)
As a result, many B2B sales organisations experience:
- Frustration in the salesforce about lack of high impact content to drive customer conversations
- Frustration in marketing that sales does not use their content
- High meeting preparation time or lack of proper preparation because of time constraints
- Lower win-rate from inability to ignite customers with the right content, stories and questions at the right times
4 OUT OF THE 5 THINGS THAT B2B SALES BELIEVE MARKETING CAN DO TO HELP THEM WIN MORE DEALS, IS RELATED TO BETTER CONTENT & MESSAGES
We know that the most successful B2B sales reps are those who tailor their message to the customer, depending on their industry, role, place in the buying process and, of course, what product is in focus.
Imagine a sales rep selling 5 different products, to 5 different industries, managing 5 different stakeholders in a 5 step sales process, at worst that’s 625 different types of standard interactions each rep must be able to tailor message and approach to.
With such complexity message leak seems unavoidable and sales reps end up spending way too much time preparing for meetings, finding the right material from marketing, “hidden” somewhere on a company folder. Onboarding new sales reps takes much longer time than needed because it is troublesome to learn to manage such complexity by heart.
HERE’S HOW YOU BRIDGE THE CONTENT & MESSAGE GAP
You need a solution that enables marketing to make content available to sales reps who are out of the office, and that enables sales reps to find content that is tailored to the specific sales situation she is in. Content that is tailored to who they are meeting with (industry and stakeholder) and what they are meeting about (service and buying process stage)
The supporting system for this we will not go into detail with here (please see solution suggestions at start of article), instead we will go through the process you must master to make it work, regardless of the system you select:
- Decide on need for tailoring: We recommend that content delivered to the sales rep is tailored to the specific situation with regards to who they are meeting with (what industry? what company type? what stakeholder?) and what they are meeting about (what pain/solution? where in the buying process?). We urge you to be careful not to set the requirements for tailoring too high (at least not initially) as it increases the level of complexity exponentially.
- Digitalise & tag content in searchable database: Start by labelling existing content with tags on industry, company type, stakeholder, pain/solution etc. so they are identifiable for specific situations. If AI is used, train the algorithm.
- Create sales reps decision flow: Give sales reps a front-end interface where they answer 4 questions about the sales meeting about to take place and are presented with relevant content to use in that specific situation. In a company with a strong data and analytics foundation, the system might proactively suggest relevant content and messages for sales reps without them having to answer any questions (i.e. “you should probably call person X to talk about Y).
- Use feedback to adjust improve content: Have sales rep rate content and marketing monitor how much content is used and the quality of it to make adjustments to the system for continued improvement of ROI on sales -and marketing activities
It’s important to notice that a Sales/Marketing Collateral Management Tool is only as good as the content you put into it and the process you design around it.
Make sure your tool Ignites customer interactions with relevant conversations and content. Ootherwise your technology investment will be wasted at best, damaging at worst.
Martin Mariussen, Head of Marketing Practice kvadrant (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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