“The problem with marketing is that they don’t know what content we really need in the field, and 90% of the time I don’t have what I need for a specific customer.”
“The problem with sales is that we produce a crazy amount of content for them, but we have no idea what they find useful, what they’re sharing with customers or what’s really moving the needle on deals.”
There’s a growing chasm between marketing and sales
Marketing creates content for the field. Sales teams need content but can’t find it, and don’t have what they think they need for their deals. The feedback never makes it to marketing. Marketing keeps creating more content that is off the mark. Sales keeps getting more and more frustrated. Deals stall. Rinse, recycle, repeat.
It’s a constant cycle that I’ve seen first-hand. And, no amount of phone calls, Salesforce notes or feedback process can fix this problem. It needs technology to make the cycle more transparent, the content more accessible and relevant, the feedback loop more evident and the salesperson more effective at moving deals along with the help of situationally-perfect content.
That’s why we created Spark
Spark is a mobile tool that gives sales teams the content they need to help them close deals – when they need it, where they need it. It’s the newest addition to our portfolio of solutions built on top of our widely-adopted Content Cloud content marketing platform. And, it’s game-changing for our customers who want to arm their sales teams with content on demand to help them close deals.
Spark is the next step in an evolution of sales enablement solutions
We purpose-built Spark to solve big content problems in sales and marketing organizations. We were of course aware of all the sales enablement solutions that came before it. It’s a hot category because of the high demand for better systems to distribute content to the field, and it’s a very expensive problem if that content isn’t accessible.
What we’ve found, however, is that almost all the solutions available today are just solving a fraction of the foundational problems that organizations face when it comes to enabling their sales forces with content. They help solve the accessibility problem by making content available on mobile devices, but they don’t begin to solve the bigger problem – ensuring that salespeople have the right story for any customer situation. Not just the right piece of collateral, but the most effective story to move the deal along.
Spark is a comprehensive solution for companies who want to tackle all the problems that make sales enablement such a tricky and expensive challenge. It is what we believe to be the next generation of solutions built to empower large sales organizations. Here’s a brief history of sales enablement solutions, which will help you to understand why we think it’s such a big deal.
- 1959: The Xerox machine creates efficient content distribution
This amazing invention solved the problem of distribution of content. For the first time ever, marketing teams could create sales material and give to their sales people en masse. The sales binder was a huge step forward in the industry!
- 1984: The Laptop computer brings portability to content
When the laptop first arrived to market (well, actually years later once the graphics became more sophisticated), salespeople finally had a digital way to present material. Combined with the projector (which arrived much later in the 90’s), they could more easily support new content when they received quarterly content updates on floppy disks from marketing.
- Early 1990’s: The VPN creates content accessibility
Giving employees in the field access to firewall-protected content stored on the company’s file servers was a big deal (and still is for many companies who haven’t adopted newer cloud-based technology). Although clunky and not user friendly (ever tried to log into a VPN with a key fob?), this new tech made content more accessible in the field and began to create a stronger connection between marketing updates and sales utilization.
- Mid 2000’s: Cloud storage systems make content convenient to store and access
Box, Dropbox, Google Drive – all amazingly powerful cloud-based systems for companies to store their content. And, for many companies, they represented freedom from the clunky VPN, and more convenient access to files through user permissioning. Cloud storage systems provide high value to organizations as they shed their expensive server infrastructure, but have been bastardized to become sales enablement systems for many. But, really, they aren’t solving the sales enablement problem, and were never really meant to.
- Early 2010’s: “New” school sales enablement tools improve mobility of content
According to chiefmartec.com, in the past two years alone, around 20-30 new “sales enablement” startups have emerged. In looking at them, almost all are focused on solving two primary pain points: 1. Make content easier to find in the field; and 2. Allow salespeople to use their tablets and mobile phones to access content. These solutions have advanced the field considerably, and are a huge step forward from cloud storage systems. But, they all fall short of solving the really expensive, deeper and more foundational problems that Spark now solves.
- March 26, 2015: Spark makes content more powerful, more accessible, more measurable and more effective
Spark has an incredibly rich feature set that connects marketing and sales teams in a way that other solutions do not. The reason for this is our roots in content marketing and our focus on building technology that fundamentally helps our customers to engage with their customers in unique and meaningful ways. Spark builds on that history, and provides amazing benefits to organizations looking to see meaningful performance improvements across their sales and marketing organizations:
- Better content ROI transparency: CRM integration for personalized experience and content-to-close analytics
- More well-prepared salespeople: Internal-only content for training and meeting prep
- More effective content for any sales situation: Marketing-curated content “playlists” for the most common sales situations
- Greater flexibility for solution sellers: Sales-curated, marketing-controlled playlists for unique sales situations
- More shared learnings in the field: Trending playlists for transparency and collaboration amongst reps
- Better informed salespeople: Curated news feed and UGC to keep the field current on industry current events
- More immediate value for prospects: Native email and texting for instant delivery of content to prospects
Learn more about Spark here. In the meantime, enjoy this 2-minute video that brings the new tool to life.