Smarter Content and a TV Purchase
The last time I bought a television, I researched extensively. I ventured online to find the best possible quality for my money. I visited a few brick & mortar stores to see TVs live and in action. I even picked up a copy of Consumer Reports. I did serious research, and I did it all myself. Not once did an in-store sales rep, or brand website offer useful information to help me make my buying decision. While I would have preferred to buy from local store and even take a TV home that day to satisfy my desire for instant gratification, I ultimately bought from Amazon. If the marketing team of the store I visited had thought to empower sales reps with useful information, things may have played out differently.
My experience is not unusual in the B2C world, and as it turns out, it’s common in B2B as well. “B2B buyers say that 70% of the content they read and study before making a purchase decision is actually found by themselves; as opposed to being given to them by marketing or sales,” reports Peter O’Neill, an analyst with Forrester serving sales enablement. While the purpose of content marketing is to put the proper content into the right hands, there’s nothing saying that content needs to live only online. Why not use it to empower sales?
Marketers have much to gain by including sales in the content marketing mix. Get to it!
Easier said than done?
Actually, if you’re already creating content, empowering sales may be easier than you think.
4 tips to empower sales with content
Tip 1: Learn to curate
57% of marketers report that one of their biggest concerns about content marketing is the time it takes to create original content. Original content does take a lot of time to create, so why not look to customers to help the process along?
User-generated content (UGC) is often credited with third party authenticity, because real people, not the “brand machine”, create it. UGC curated from customers creates authentic and relatable stories that prospects find compelling. Brands that understand this and look for ways to tell their story through UGC have a leg up on the competition; their stories are engaging and hold an authenticity that can’t be faked.
Empower sales with curated UGC to lend authenticity to their marketing materials. A few quotes about a brand or product from a consumer will go much further than a quote from an executive or a brochure.
Curation and the TV Purchase: Imagine the impact of placing a small tablet, containing a list of real user reviews, in front of each TV in the shop, and how this would have changed my shopping experience. Further, imagine if that tablet allowed me to forward myself that information in a text or email. Powerful stuff and quite possible.
Tip 2: Build Stories that Connect and Convert
When considering the creation of content for sales, marketers are often deterred by its lack of engagement; only 62% of buyers say that the content they see is relevant or useful.* This is often because it’s in the wrong format.
Historically, to help sales, marketing has packaged up portfolio of solution PDFs and “About Us” PPTs and lobbed them over to the sales organization. Content creators need to start thinking differently. Would traditional content channels respond well to a PPT or PDF?
So, why should sales be tied to old-school formats?
Sales enablement content is about delivering the right message, to the right person, when it counts, in the right format and on the right device.
Stories and the TV Purchase: Imagine how powerful it would have been if, while I was in the store looking at TVs, an in-store sales rep came up to me and asked about what I was looking for, listened, and then asked me if they could send me some information that answered ALL of my questions and concerns. Wow! Then, seconds later, I receive a text linking to user reviews, comparative pricing, reviews of 3 TVs with my requirements from CNET and a special “buy today” coupon that beat all online prices. Double wow! I would have been impressed and would have likely bought right then and there. Again, powerful stuff and quite possible.
Tip 3: Empower Sales to Control Content
Marketing needs to maintain some control over content creation but also work to empower sales to actively use content at every stage of the sales cycle.
Marketing generally says that they must control the brand and messaging, so they should have control of how that story is told through every channel, including sales. Sales organizations generally say that, while this may be true, the message that comes through in pre-packaged PPT and PDF documents are often too generic and generalized for their needs.
Both are fair points. Why not make content malleable so sales can shape it as needed in each situation?
The key is to find a way to find the right balance for your organization on the “control scale.” If marketing packages content properly, in a manner that allows sales to hand select only the elements they need, a beautiful thing happens: and, not surprisingly, business results follow.
Sales Control and the TV Purchase: As a buyer, my needs are very specific to my personal requirements, such as price, size, features, etc. What I want will be different from the next person coming into the store. As such, no marketing person in a corporate office can anticipate my exact needs. Rather than trying to guess, marketing can put the power of content curation into the hands of the sales rep, so they can dynamically select the right info and deliver it to me on the spot. And, again, powerful stuff and quite possible.
Tip 4: Improve through analytics, agility and iteration
Today’s digital and content marketers live and die by metrics. They test their creative, look at open rates and metrics, and hope to gather enough data to determine what works best.
So, why haven’t product marketing and sales enablement professionals followed suit with their use of sales marketing content?
Is it because…
- A – They haven’t had the tools?
- B – Iterating on a PDF or PPT isn’t very easy?
- C – They haven’t had the feedback loop they need from sales to understand which content is being used, let alone valued by the prospect?
- D – All of the above?
ANSWER: It’s “D. All of the above.”
It’s time to become more “data-driven” with rep enablement efforts: use tools that are easy to configure, adjust and champion iteration.
Analytics and the TV Purchase: If I had received the content/information Ienvision in the above examples, I would have bought. Or, perhaps I wouldn’t have. Either way, my decision and the decision made by EVERY person who receives this type of information from a store, should be tracked and measured. With this information, marketing and sales can determine what content is resonating with buyers, make changes and improve. Last time— powerful stuff and quite possible.
By combining the power of content curation, storytelling, format, control and measurement, marketing can build a content program that will feed a sales team exactly what they need. Through use of new delivery methods of sales content, via email, mobile, etc., marketers can easily embed conversion-focused content into the sales cycle.
All of this is possible through technology. No; the technology is not limited to TV purchases, or even retail for that matter. The best technologies that make this possible are easily configured to the needs of a brand and the needs of its marketing and sales teams.
Full disclosure: Thismoment’s Content Cloud does exactly what I describe. But, that is not the point of this article. The point is that both content marketing and sales need to think more about how they can work together with content to improve respective goals.
These four tips just might pave the way.
For more on empowering sales with content, download our most recent e-book, Beyond the Powerpoint Deck.
* IDC, 2012: Sales Enablement Strategy: Content is King So Why Does Sales Feel Like a Jester?