Your sales team needs your content, and your content needs your sales team.
It’s a palindrome of sorts.
They may not be readily asking for it or even know they need it, but they do. The sales process is a complex web of interactions requiring a sales rep to present consumable, yet convincing, evidence at every turn (and in a complex B2B sale, there are innumerable potential turns). In the absence of marketing content at their disposal, your sales team will develop their own to meet this need.
Working with your sales team to develop content that fits their needs allows you, as a marketer, to:
- Ensure brand and message consistency throughout the buying process
- Develop buyer-centric, relevant content
So what type of content are they looking for?
You can start to figure this out by just asking them.
Having a discussion with your sales team is the best place to start developing the content they need and the content your customers are looking for. This is because our environment DEMANDS that our message is buyer-centric and relevant.
We don’t get very far talking about the features of apples when our prospects are interested in oranges. Because we’re talking with prospects daily, we are constantly profiling them, unraveling their motivations, and determining the messages that work and those that don’t – often with instant feedback.
In essence, your sales team shares your goal of delivering the right communication, to the right individuals, at the right time, and has the anecdotal evidence to back up what has hit the mark and what hasn’t.
Speaking from experience, sales people can be stubborn creatures who are immune to collaboration. So, to get the ball rolling, seed the conversation with the following questions:
What roles do you encounter in the buying process?
What are the motivations of these individuals?
How does your communication differ by role?
How are you educating each role?
What aspect of the buying process do they have a hard time understanding?
What type of content would minimize the obstacles you just described?
From there, really strive to understand what your sales team is having a hard time communicating and what pieces of content would fit this need. This conversation will uncover the content your sales team needs and, in turn, is most likely to use.
Although every sales process is unique, and the specific needs of your sales team are unique, several pieces of content are necessary for every complex sale.
Content every sales team needs
The infamous case study
Aside from content specifically pertaining to the features of your product or service, I find case studies to be just as crucial to the sales process. In their simplest form, your case studies should clearly depict how your product/service solved the unifying pain point of your target buyer.
Ultimately, this is what your sales team is trying to communicate. We are trying to provide overwhelming evidence backing the fact that our product/service will meet the needs of our prospect at hand. Having a documented track record of doing so only helps.
Furthermore, it should clearly communicate why your product was a driving factor in this transformation. A good salesperson will know these case studies like the back of their hand and will be able to speak to them with the sentiment of an old war story.
To maximize the mileage of your case study, package it with peeling layers of complexity. What exactly does that mean? Make it easily consumable for someone quickly skimming it over but also provide increasing layers of complexity for the technical user who is convinced by fine detail.
Your sales team will inevitably encounter individuals entering the buying process at different times with different levels of understanding concerning your product/service. Having to backtrack can derail the conversation.
An individual without the context of how your product/service fits into the landscape at large will struggle to find its value. Education is key. Content curated for different stages of the buying process will allow your sales team to quickly educate anybody who jumps into the process late.
I enjoy using this type of content to manually nurture prospects as their level of interest and understanding of your value proposition grows. The possibilities are endless here.
I often find the actual purchasing and onboarding processes are the most difficult to communicate and have a large potential to stall deals. Setting expectations on all fronts is crucial for sales success.
Having a tangible asset to pass off outlining the necessary steps of the buying and onboarding process only further ensures expectations are properly set on all fronts. This also provides the buyer with something to reference when setting expectations with other individuals within their organization.
These are even more valuable if they allow for some degree customization to accommodate for the variability of your buying and onboarding processes. The goal here is to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and provide the content necessary for them to feel comfortable with buying our product/service.
While your sales team’s content needs may vary, synergy is the goal here. Beginning the content conversation will allow you to create materials that are more effective than if either group was left to their own devices. Consider it your cure for the common.
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About the Author
Justin is the Han Solo of Business Development at Elixiter, swooping up Marketo clients in need and pairing them with Elixiter’s stellar service team. If you asked him to tell you a bit about himself, he would probably reply with, “Try my hotdish recipe and you will know all you need to know about me."More Content by Justin Bartels