Content is a core part of today’s sales and marketing process. B2B companies are investing in content to educate their audience, their buyers, and win deals. Many organizations use content to generate leads and drive interest in their offerings. And, the use of content does not stop there. Once an opportunity is identified and prospects engaged, content plays an important role in the sales process.
Depending on the type of B2B sales process, reps use variety of content assets to meet the demands of the buyer or to increase their chances of winning. Some well-know content assets used in the sales process are,
- Presentation Decks
- Case Studies
- Industry Reports
- Pricing Documents
- Contractual Documents
- Discovery Questionnaires
However, in today’s increasingly digital world, rep’s dependency on content is not limited to supporting an opportunity. There are other sales activities, outside the context of an opportunity, where reps need content. Therefore, when discussing sales content enablement processes, sales enablement professionals and marketers should consider these content needs of the sales team, in addition to the content needed to support a sales opportuity. When enabling reps with a central content library, it is important that reps can also fulfill these content needs from the same library. This will,
- Improve sales rep productivity
- Improve efficiency of marketing operations
- Improve adoption by the sales team as they will not have all the content in one place
Events continue to be an important channel for companies to build awareness and generate leads. Companies regularly invest in trade shows and conferences to showcase their offerings, establish their thought leadership, and attract prospects. Marketing is responsible for executing these events. But marketing also takes help from sales reps to support these events. After all, sales reps are the ones who are building relationships and steering conversations. The three primary sales reps responsibilities for an event are,
- Represent the company at an event. Usually this job is done by a few members of the sales team. Reps walk the floor, answer questions, connect with their contacts and industry practitioners to build awareness. They are the brand ambassadors and spokespersons for the company at the event. They have an opportunity to spark interest, create that aha moment, and build credibility. For many industry practitioners who have not heard of your brand, their interaction with your sales rep at the event is their first experience with your company.
- Drive Attendance. Sales reps are constantly engaged with the market and act as a great channel to drive awareness about your company’s presence at the event. Therefore, reps are called upon by marketing teams to help them drive attendance to the conference. Reps are asked to reach out to their rolodex of contacts, prospects, and customers to drive attendance.
- Post-Event Follow Up. Once an event concludes, marketing not only follows up with the leads generated from the event but there is also an opportunity to educate prospects and contacts about the event that otherwise were left out of the event. Reps help marketing get the message out to their contacts and prospects to build awareness.
Content plays an important role in helping reps perform the above activities. And content comes in many forms and types to support these important activities. Here are some specific content examples that are used for an event.
Targeted Outbound Campaigns
When we talk about campaigns, marketing email campaigns come to mind. However, many companies take help of their sales reps to run targeted outbound campaigns. Sales reps have existing relationships in their accounts and are a great channel to execute campaigns over sending marketing emails. Here are some sales executed B2B campaigns along with some examples,
- Upsell Campaigns
- New Product Launch
- Value Added Services
- Post Acquisition
- Attack Competition Campaigns
- Negative Event for a Competitor (negative market news, price increase, etc.)
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Retiring a product offering
- Slip in Analyst Ratings
- Target Greenfield Accounts Campaigns
- New market opportunities
- Partner Driven Campaigns
- Newly announced partnerships
To help reps execute these campaigns in their territory or accounts, they need to be armed with relevant content. Reps can use these assets to open doors, drive curiosity on the part of the buyer and generate a qualified opportunity.
You want to be seen as a thought leader in your industry. In this increasingly digital world where information is easily available, your buyers are already learning using easily accessible resources about their market. Additionally, with the advent of technological advancements and SaaS (software as a service) delivery models, products are changing more frequently than they were five or ten years ago.
This means that companies have to provide proper training and education to their reps about the changing landscape of the target market as well as their offerings. Additionally, these learnings have to be enforced so that the buyers find a trusted advisor in your sales reps.
Content plays a critical role in supporting these learning initiatives. With a strong content strategy to educate your sales team about market and product changes, your reps will be seen as subject matter experts by your buyers. Additionally your content strategy can also help your sales team educate the market. Here are some examples that we have seen in our careers where topical content has been useful to educate reps and build trust with buyers.
- Change in Regulations
- New Security Threats
- Industry M&A News
- Technological Innovation
- Geo-Political Events
With the above examples, when reps are armed with the right information and insights, they can build trust with their prospects and drive successful relationships.
You may ask, how is this different than structure learning programs that so many of the sales teams already leverage. They aren’t. If you can offer structured learning to your reps to meet the demands of the marketplace, that is a great start. However, having a rep take a structured learning path is not enough. The reps still need access to the learning content for reenforcement.
When reps join a new company or take on new responsibilities, they are hungry for information. They want to absorb as much as possible. They are looking for all the usual information:
- What am I selling? That is, what are the offerings from the company.
- Who am I selling to?
- What problems is a particular offering addressing?
- Who else has been benefited from what I am selling?
- Who are the competitors in this field?
- And the list goes on…
Newly hired reps are going to do a ton of homework and discovery before they get on a call with a prospect or meet their prospect. We have seen among our customers that newly hired reps spend a very high percentage of their time finding and absorbing content in comparison with a rep who has been there for a couple of quarters with the company.
Sales Operations Content
Sales is a critical function of an organization. And to support smooth operation, it is important that sales reps, sales managers, and company management is on the same page. And there is a ton of information that is recorded and exchanged among the different stakeholders to drive this alignment. We are not talking about documents that reps need to close deals. Yes, they are required and very important. This content is equally critical for sales success.
Here are some commonly used content type examples in the context of sales operations.
- Account Plan Templates – commonly used by sales management to help reps articulate their strategy for every one of their accounts.
- Account Lists & Territory Maps – A list of accounts that the company is targeting with rep assignment information. In many companies, organizations assign territories to sales reps.
- Partnership Agreements – When companies strike partnerships with resellers and technology providers, reps need information related to those partnerships. The right content assets will help answer,
- How is the commission distributed?
- What are the target accounts?
- What is the target value proposition?
- Who are the point of contacts on the partner side?
- Sales Process Details – A document that describes the sales process of your company. Some times companies have multiple sales processes depending on the product or market category.
- How to Use Tool X Videos and Guides? – Sales technology market is flooded with sales tools and widgets to help sell more faster. And to ensure that reps benefit from these tools, companies are invest in training the reps on these tools.
- Legal Documents – Reps continue to use Price Sheets, Non-Disclosure Agreements, and other legal documents to help sell.
Sales reps participate in several internal events. Yearly sales kick-offs are a staple for any sales organization. Here are some of the types of internal events reps participate.
- Sales Kick-Offs – SKOs are an annual event that is conducted at the start of a new fiscal year. This is when sales management and rep get together to discuss plan and strategies for the upcoming financial year. Since reps and management are all in one place, other groups within the company also participate in these events to provide important updates. For example,
- Product teams will discuss product roadmap and upcoming features
- Customer success team will share insights from ongoing projects
- Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) – QBRs, like SKOs are conducted quarterly to plan and align for the upcoming quarter. It is not uncommon for other company groups to participate in QBRs to participate and provide updates.
- Product Launch Events – Sales reps are invited to launch events for new products or when there is substantial updates to an existing product. The purpose of these events is to educate the reps on how they can make money of this new launch/update.
- Training Events – It is very common for reps to be trained on new features, new processes, tools, etc on a regular basis.
Companies invest in a lot of content to support these above events. There are presentations, charts, documents created to share the information. But it is highly unlikely for a rep to absorb all the information that they hear and see in these events and retain that information. Reps need to have the ability to access this content on their own time.
A lot of the content that is created to support these events is already covered in other scenarios in this post. However, it is important that this information is easy to discover and access for a sales rep.
- You shared a product roadmap during the SKO. It should be easy for the rep to get to that roadmap three months from now when they need it for reference.
- You shared a video of how to use a new tool that your company bought to help sales rep. Make sure that reps can access the video tutorial on their time.
- You share updated account planning template during the QBR. Make sure the rep can get to the latest version on their own time.
As long as sales reps exists, content enablement will be important. And it is natural for us enablers to focus on content that helps reps move their opportunities forward and close deals. However, limiting the scope of your enable efforts to opportunity-specific content is short-sighted and bound to compromise your enablement objectives in the long term. Reps need content outside the context of an opportunity. And those needs cannot be ignored.