Simplifying Competitive Analysis to drive Sales

Competition is healthy. Having competitors is a strong validation of your target market. It is an important dimension of your go to market strategy. However, competition also makes you work that much harder. Your competitors, like you, are trying hard to get their message across to their target market. They are spending dollars to get in front of the same prospects that your organization is chasing. And depending on the maturity of the market, your prospect may already be using your competitor’s products but exploring your offering as an alternative.

When your business operates in a competitive market, competition warrants attention from sales and marketing. Companies have been known to spend a lot of sales and marketing resources to get ahead of the competition. But at a minimum, you need to arm your revenue teams with actionable and useful information that will help your prospect make an informed decision. However, several organizations don’t invest in building actionable competitive information because they assume it to be expensive and time-consuming. But it need not be.

Start from the basics

In our experience, here are two commonly asked competitor-related questions in a sales cycle.

  • Who do you consider your competitors (for this offering)?
  • How is your offering different from Competitor A and/or B?

These are valid questions. And not having a useful response to these questions can really hurt your prospects of winning.

However, companies often complicate the process of enabling their revenue teams with competitive information. Here are some simple tips to enable revenue team with competitive data.

Track Competitors – Are you tracking your competitors? Do you have a list of your primary competitors that you bump into all the time? If not, then putting this list down is an excellent place to get started. Do not assume that your sales teams know all the competitors.

Segment Competitors – Do you have multiple offerings in the market? Do you do business in different geographies? Do you cater to different market tiers? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it is quite likely that you face different competitors in different segments of your market. Map your competitors to your segments.

Your offering’s overall differentiation – You should have an answer to the broader question – What is your differentiation in the marketplace? This question should be answered irrespective of a specific competitor and can be part of your overall corporate positioning. And spelling this out will really help detailed level competitive discussions. When you start comparing your offerings with individual competitors, those talking points should map back to your company’s overall differentiator.

Start with simple collateral – There is no limit to the degree of competitive analysis an organization can conduct. However, when your revenue teams are fielding queries about your competitors and the differentiation of your offering, we have seen that simple is better. Why is that?

  • It is easier to digest for your revenue team members and your prospects.
  • A simple piece of collateral is easier to refresh and maintain. Your competitive collateral should be refreshed regularly as your offerings, and your competitor’s offerings evolve.
  • It is easier to templatize a simple format.

Competitive Content Types

We have here a list of popular content types for competitive analysis.

Competitive Collateral

Building content takes resources. And it is quite likely that some of the information needed to create these assets is already available in your organization. You just need to put it in the right structure to scale that information. Moreover, you can start small. You can focus on the Feature Comparisons and Outcome Comparisons and slowly build into a richer library of assets to help your revenue teams compete.

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A cloud storage app is not a content portal.

With the advent of cloud storage applications, organizations increasingly use them as storage systems for all their digital assets. Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, etc, have made it very easy to securely store documents and other digital assets on the cloud and make them available to your company/team.

However, these cloud platforms are not an ideal destination for sales content. These cloud storage apps are nothing but a better version of Windows Explorer or Mac Finder on the cloud. And it is not their shortcoming that they are not suited to be your sales and knowledge portal. They are not meant to be a sales portal.

We love these apps. We use them at Enablix. They offer lots of storage, provide a decent search capability, and because of their popularity, there is (almost) zero learning curve for your team members. But using these apps as content portals for your customer-facing teams and expecting them to drive any value is a far cry.

Here are some negatives that render these cloud storage apps less desirable when it comes to helping your customer-facing teams with their content needs.

Too much content

  • We are a small team at Enablix, and in the last 18 months, our very small team (less than 7 members) has managed to accumulate more than 1000 files on our Google Drive folder.
  •  When we talk to marketers and team leaders, we often hear “we don’t have a lot of content.” And while that may be true, it is also true that even with very little content, you don’t have it organized in one place. It is somewhere in the clutter of your cloud storage along with a sea of drafts, and half-baked artifacts.
  • You don’t need a whole lot of content to start making a measurable impact on your customer-facing team’s productivity and efficiency. Read The 80/20 rule of enabling sales with content. But if you don’t do a good job of managing those few vital assets, then clutter is going to take over.

Only files

Most of us are using cloud storage to store files. But increasingly our content is in different formats. We are investing in blogs, press releases, articles, videos, slideshares, etc. Cloud storage apps are not the ideal platforms to store videos and URL links to your blogs and news articles. This means your customer-facing teams now need to access different applications for different types of content. An absence of centralized access to all the digital assets dilutes the value to the end user.

No control on quality

Just take a look at your cloud storage app. You are bound to find stale and irrelevant content in less than a minute. Files from last year that are no longer relevant are still lingering on your cloud storage application. You are also bound to see draft versions of the files scattered across the cloud file system. There is no way to control quality. There is no way to ensure that trusted and current content is available for your customer-facing teams.

No ownership

Cloud storage apps have democratized information sharing. Anyone and everyone in a company can contribute to the content stack. However, in the absence of centralized control, these storage apps become a playground to dump anything and everything. Restricting read/write access to folders is not practical. Such restrictions become the bottleneck to maintaining quality content.

No insights

The cloud storage apps provide you no insights on the usage of your content. Measuring internal and external content engagement helps you make informed decisions. It is very hard to manage and drive a content library without measurable feedback.

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A content catalog can significantly help re-branding.

In today’s ever-changing digital marketplace, rebranding is an inevitable milestone for most companies. Digitization is on the rise, new and agile competitors are entering the marketplace, and well-executed companies are broadening their market. These changes are resulting in a rebranding movement in the B2B industry.

Unlike the consumer space, B2B rebranding efforts are not limited to logos, website colors, and taglines. A B2B rebranding exercise usually includes a strategic shift in the company’s go-to-market strategy. It signifies an important stage in a company’s growth. Moreover, it offers an opportunity for better customer satisfaction and increased profitability.

However, a rebranding exercise is a costly undertaking. Research has shown that a rebranding exercise can cost between 10% to 20% of a company’s marketing budget and may take several months to execute. Moreover, the success of a rebranding exercise is directly dependent on how effectively a company rolls out the brand internally and externally.

In our experience, we see that a well-managed content catalog helps companies reduce the cost of their rebranding exercise. It also helps with internal and external communications and lowers the potential barriers to the adoption of the new brand.

In general, a rebranding process involves four important steps.

branding_process

An up-to-date and trusted catalog of digital assets helps rebrand faster and cheaper. Here is an outline of how a well-managed catalog helps the rebranding process steps.

Research

A big part of research is understanding your company’s current brand, the target market, your company’s position in the market, and your competitive landscape. These insights will feed into your rebranding strategy. Moreover, if you are taking help of a branding agency, then they will benefit from the research. Your content catalog can speed up this process for your internal stakeholders and your external rebranding partners.

  • The current assets will help inform the research participants about your company’s current positioning, and branding.
  • Recent market news, analyst research, customer case studies and win/loss analysis will help get a pulse on your company’s target market.
  • The performance of your recent webinars, blogs, and whitepapers will help you gauge the market sentiment of your current brand.

Plan & Document

When planning, you need to answer two important questions for the stakeholders and senior management.

  • What are we rebranding?
  • What is the estimated cost of the rebranding exercise?

A content catalog can cut down the emotional noise and help quantify your effort upfront in the planning phase. Furthermore, it can offer you options to manage the estimated cost of the exercise. E.g., you can prioritize where you spend on rebranding. If you are anchoring the rebranding exercise on a specific solution, you can spend more dollars on creating and rebranding digital assets for that solution than refresh all your digital assets.

Additionally, your content catalog can help you plan a phase-wise rebranding exercise. This iterative approach can reduce the initial budgeted cost. Senior management wants to see results before they sign a big check. An iterative approach delivers results on a faster timeline without spending significant dollars.

Catalog

Imagine, you had your content catalog in control. A snapshot of your catalog (similar to the above image), can help answer important questions that can lay the foundation of your company’s rebrand exercise.

  • Do we have an inventory of existing assets?
  • Do we create new assets or refresh existing ones?
  • How do we retire existing assets?
  • How many assets will we rebrand?

A solid rebranding plan and documentation not only reduces the cost and timeline, but it also helps keep everyone on the same page. By embracing data-driven decisions, you minimize personal bias.

Build

In the “build” step the rebranding team, including your agency partners, does the work. A “build” step includes everything from creating new logos, graphics, website layout, messaging to updating your prioritized assets to adopt the new brand. A strong plan based on a trusted catalog can drive significant savings in the “build” stage.

  • You can create new assets faster by referring to the existing ones. It is much quicker to rebrand an existing Case Study than to create an entirely new one.
  • You can leverage externally authored assets to support the new brand. Analyst research and market reports that align with the new brand will help you enhance your newly created assets.
  • You can identify opportunities to repurpose existing assets. E.g., you can take a couple of existing blogs on a particular topic and convert them into a compelling white paper that supports your new brand.

Rollout

Without a proper “rollout,” your brand’s success is left to chance. Moreover, it is important to launch your brand internally first, before introducing it to the world at large. Your employees are your brand’s most important ambassadors. It is a prime opportunity for senior management to rally the troops behind the vision. However, a new brand rollout is not an easy task. Moreover, many companies end up faltering at this last, but an essential, step of their rebranding journey.

A well-managed content catalog can help fail-proof some important tasks in the brand rollout universe.

  • Manage the switch. When you are moving from an older brand to the newer one, it is not only important to promote the new brand, but it is equally essential to deprioritize the older brand.
  • Don’t mix new and old digital assets. If your company is using content management or knowledge management system to distribute collateral, it is important that your employees have a clearly identify newer assets from the older ones.
  • If you can, separate the access to, the newer assets from, the older ones. This distinction is important when you are in the midst of a phase-wise rebranding exercise. You will have a period where the newly branded assets and the older assets (that are yet to be rebranded) will co-exist. To avoid confusion, separate the access to the newer ones. The goal should be to eventually retire the older assets and switch all assets to the new brand.

Old habits die hard. Therefore, even after the rebranding exercise is complete, companies should continue to educate and re-train the minds of their employees, their partners, and their customers to adopt the new brand. A quality, up-to-date content catalog of the newly branded assets will drive faster adoption.

 
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The 80/20 rule of enabling sales with content

The 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto’s Principle) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. To give an example, research in 2015 showed that consumers spend over 80% of their smartphone time in only 5 apps. Similar arguments have been made about MS Office Suite where a majority of the MS Office users only use 20% of the available features.

So, what does this 80/20 rule have to do anything with Sales Enablement?

We say everything. We see that 20% of your digital assets can help enable your sales teams’ 80% of the conversations. What does that tell you?

You can start small and still have a significant impact on enablement. 

The typical reason we hear from companies for not investing in any sales enablement process is – “We don’t have enough content.” The reality is that you don’t need a whole lot of content to drive enablement. To start, you need to help sales answer the following questions:

  • Who are we (the company)?  – Corporate Overview
  • What is our offering? – Data Sheets, Solution Overview, White Papers, Videos
  • How does the offering help the buyer? – Introductory Sales Deck, Detailed Sales Deck, White Papers, Case Studies
  • Why we are a better choice than others in the market? Competitive Analysis, Case Studies
  • What are the terms and conditions of the offering? Pricing, Support Policy, T&Cs

Some may argue that we are oversimplifying the process. But the truth of the matter is that the digital assets to support these questions can help with the majority of your sales conversations. Ask your sales team in your next QBR?

Could sales benefit with more assets? Absolutely yes. But the absence of those assets should not be a deterrence to kick-off enablement. We have found the following principles have worked for our customers and us:

  • Focus on quality over quantity.
  • It is an iterative process. But it is a process. There needs a method to the madness.
  • Focus on content pull before you focus on push. Give your sales colleague an opportunity to find assets before you start targeting them with relevant assets.
  • Don’t wait for content creation to define your process. Organize assets as they get created. You will never have the time in the day to sit down and organize your assets.

It is natural to be overwhelmed with content. We, at Enablix, realized this, when our small team started generating content to help our sales and customer success efforts. It was evident to us that if we, with a relatively smaller operation, were losing time and productivity in staying on message, the companies out there were in a far worse situation.

The 80/20 rule can help us score small, tangible victories in enabling our customer-facing teams. And it allows you to lay the necessary foundation that you can iteratively build upon as your content grows.

 

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Sales Kickoff – An opportunity to up your content!!!

Sales Kickoffs are ultra-important. Organizations spend a ton of resources and money on Sales Kickoffs every year. Not only do companies have their entire sales teams in one single location, but they also take other sales-supporting members to help with the kickoff. Everyone huddles down for multiple days to chalk out future plan and strategy. HubSpot defines Sales Kickoffs in this blog post and shares some useful tips for having a successful Sales Kickoff. Today, it is not unusual for some organizations to conduct more frequent (semi-annually or quarterly) kickoffs to keep the ball rolling. In a nutshell, these kickoffs are an expensive affair.

Sales Kickoffs are not just about numbers and broad strategy. On the contrary, we see that Sales and Company management tries to maximize this opportunity of having everyone’s undivided attention for 2 or 3 days and invests in enablement and training. To meet these objectives different teams invest a lot of time and energy in building content – videos, presentations, etc. In the weeks leading to the kickoff, there is a lot of activity and effort from different groups to support this kickoff.

And usually, these events are amazing. Sales engagement is at an all-time high and the sales team is inundated with some high-value information and intelligence. There are battle cards, competitive intelligence, role-play sessions, live feedback, demos, product roadmaps, etc. discussed by the entire group.

But then the kickoff ends and people forget. And just like that, in a very short duration, all that content and knowledge starts evaporating. The organization goes back to its inefficient and unproductive ways of operation.

But it need not be so ineffective. We believe Sales Kickoffs are a huge opportunity for marketing and product teams to up their content game. The sales supporting teams are already investing time and energy to build some timely and relevant content for the kickoff event. Why not leverage this content and enhance your content library? Why limit the use of this content to this 2-day event?

Here are some specific opportunities to revamp your content on the back of a Sales Kickoff event:

Product

It is common to have a targeted session during the Sales Kickoff that is focused on your product (or solution) offering. This is where the product owners share newer product updates and discuss future product roadmap. The purpose of this content is to excite the sales reps with new features and giving them strong talking points to target their market. Marketing should use this content to build and refresh:

  • Data Sheets: With new product features, it warrants refreshing the data sheets. Especially if there are key important updates that the sales reps can leverage in their dialogues with their prospects.
  • Product Roadmap: If you are a product company, you recognize the importance of product roadmaps. And the more upmarket you sell, the more crucial product roadmaps are. So if you are going to have product teams present the roadmap at the kickoff event, make sure they know that they are also supposed to share a customer facing product roadmap deck for future use.
  • Product FAQs: This is a good time to refresh product FAQs. There may be new FAQs that you need to add to the current product FAQs or you may need to update existing FAQs because the responses may have updated.
  • Demo Scripts: On the back of product updates, you may want to share updated Demo Scripts with the sales and sales engineering teams. This is crucial. And since you are already demoing the kickoff audience on the new features, why not record that script and share it for future use?

Competitive Intelligence

Your company’s competitors are on the top of the mind of your sales reps. And they are eager to know how to beat the competition.

  • Battle Cards: Competitive battle cards are a staple and an important content asset for sales. The are these short one-page guides that provide a playbook to compete with your key competitors.
  • Feature Comparison Sheets: Feature comparison sheets are a great sales tools. Not only they help sales understand your products strength and weaknesses, they also help sales respond to competitor-related queries.
  • Competitor Profile: If you are focusing on your primary competitors, why not build their profile? Competitor profile is a great asset to help sales understand the competitive landscape for an opportunity.
  • Case Studies & Win/Loss Analysis: A great time to build case studies or win analysis where you beat your competition.

Win/Loss Analysis

A part of Sales Kickoff is to learn from the past. Sales teams will try to analyze past deals that they won and lost. This is to understand what worked and what didn’t work. In short, they are doing a win/loss analysis. Make it part of your sales enablement library.

Training

Your Sales Kickoff is going to include training activity. Great!!! Use that content and structure it such that it is not a one-time only-for-sales-kickoff training. Build the training content so that it can be used for onboarding and continuous enablement. Here are some tips to make this happen without breaking the bank:

  • Record Presentations – If product team members are already presenting product updates and/or features at the kickoff, record these sessions. And include them in your learning paths.
  • Role Playing – It is common for sales teams to engage in role-playing during a kickoff. Record these role-playing sessions. If nothing else, these sessions will be a great guide for new reps and for anyone who wants to refresh their knowledge.

Marketing is always strapped for resources. There is no good time to revamp your content. We believe that refreshing content should be a continuous activity for marketing and sales enablement teams. However, Sales Kickoffs offer a great opportunity to up your content game. Not only will you help the kick-off event but in the process, you will have refreshed content to help sales accelerate their pipeline and close more deals.

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Why storing sales content inside CRM does not pay off?

If you are like any marketer, you are always hounded by your sales colleagues for latest collateral and intelligence that they can use in the field. In today’s world of specialized sales roles of SDRs (Sales Development Reps), AEs (Account Executives), Inside Sales and event Customer Success reps, everyone is looking for information and content to help them achieve their sales goals. Therefore, having one single place where these reps can get all their content and intelligence is essential and a no-brainer. It is also true that for any decently sized sales organization, they are already using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. And today’s CRM systems offer options to manage your sales collateral library in them. Therefore there is always a strong case for having the sales content stored in the CRM content library. Plus,

  • Salespeople are already spending their time in CRM.
  • Your company is already paying for the CRM system. And most CRM systems are not going to charge extra for storing the content. So it makes economic sense.

However, when we speak with marketers, in almost every instance, we find this strategy does not scale. If you step back and look at the entire end-to-end sales enablement process, storing the content inside CRM system is bound to create more work for marketers and not pay the expected dividends.

Here are some challenges that you should consider before you go down this avenue.

You end up creating information silos. 

If your company’s CRM usage is like the majority of other companies out there, a specific segment of your employees has access to your CRM system. It is usually limited to salespeople, marketing, and a select few executives. A very valid reason for this limited access is the cost of the CRM system.

This directly results in silos of information pockets. Your product team starts using a wiki to store their content. Your sales engineering team starts using a cloud storage system to store pre-sales content. Your architects and subject matter experts start creating their own folders on your cloud storage platform or, even worse, on their desktops. Soon, you end up with content and intelligence distributed across different systems and platforms. And this naturally adds a barrier to get all relevant content centralized in the CRM application.

You are missing out on a lot of content. 

When we think of content, we usually think of slide decks, white papers, and case studies. But there is so much more to content than just powerpoint presentations and pdf files. According to a recently published article by Tamara Schneck, only 40% of the content comes from the marketing team.

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Less than 40% of the content comes from marketing – From Tamara Schneck

By storing content inside a CRM application, you make it difficult to capture those different nuggets of intelligence which are not in powerpoint files or case studies.

Sales reps are overwhelmed. 

Here is a message from one of my ex-colleague who is an AE in a growing startup. “All of our content is in Salesforce. My biggest complaint is there is so much content that it makes it hard for me to know what content to use when and what to send to prospects.” Sales reps are after all humans. And they are humans with relatively low attention span. They are not academic and research oriented. Very soon all your content that makes its way into CRM system is too much to handle.

CRM systems are feature poor when it comes to content management. 

CRM systems are specialized in helping with deal flow. They are great at many things to help sales execute. However, they are not built with necessary enablement features that help salespeople succeed.

  • Poor search
  • Poor organization capabilities
  • No quality control
  • No workflow
  • And most importantly there is no analytics to see what is working and what isn’t.

It is resource intensive. 

All the above challenges can be overcome. How? By brute force. If marketing or sales enablement managers can,

  • Ensure all information from different silos makes its way into the CRM application
  • Keep content up to date.
  • Communicate with sales reps when new content is available.
  • Ensure quality control on content

However, these tasks are quite resource-intensive. You are opening avenues for low productivity and inefficiencies to creep into your sales enablement efforts.  And marketers don’t have spare time. Their time is well spent in generating leads and creating top-notch content. Not in organizing and distributing content.

Several organizations do attempt to drive enablement by storing content inside their CRM systems. It may initially make sense for all the right reasons. However, it will hurt your efficiency and will not deliver the desired outcome. We have seen this approach not scale.

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Does sales know what is published on company’s website?

Organizations, big and small, are putting a lot of marketing content on their website. With the continued success of inbound marketing and to build mindshare among prospects and customers, organization’s websites are rich with, both, gated and non-gated content. Well crafted Whitepapers, Blogs, Case Studies, Analyst Reports, Industry News, etc. are available for consumption and subsequent action.

However, we see that organizations are limiting themselves by leveraging this content only to drive inbound leads and build mindshare. They are missing out big time on using this content in later stages of the buyer’s journey. Enabling SDRs (Sales Development Reps), AEs (Account Executives), and CSMs (Customer Success Managers) with relevant content can yield significant dividends.

Here are some concrete steps for marketing and sales enablement to make most of this missed opportunity:

  • Funnel Focus. Don’t treat your website content with a single purpose of generating leads. Explore opportunities to leverage this content down the funnel at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Furthermore, it will drive efficiency. For the same effort, your customer-facing teams will have more options to engage their prospects/customers and drive relevant and effective conversations.

 

  • Connecting the Dots. We know that you want to avoid redundancy. If a prospect has already downloaded a whitepaper from your website, you don’t want your SDR to be sharing that whitepaper again with the same prospect. That is why connecting the dots between your inbound content engagement and your outbound enablement efforts is important. Providing your sales team visibility on content engagement will help drive intelligent conversations and reduce the risk of redundant messages. Your ability to measure content engagement is another added benefit. By connecting the dots across the funnel, you can measure which content is more effective and continue to refine your investment in content creation and distribution.

 

  • Consolidating Access. This is hugely important. We all know your customer-facing teams are busy. And they are not going to hop around from one system to another to find the right content for their conversations. Hence it is very important that irrespective of where the content resides (i.e. your Cloud Storage, your Website, Marketing Automation etc.), there has to be a single access point for that content. The moment you require your AE to step out of one app and access another app, you have diluted their engagement. They are less likely to follow that route next time. And more likely to email you (drain on your productivity) requesting that content.

 

  • Relevant and Quality Content. One of our customers has 200+ Blog entries on their website. And while that is awesome, you don’t want to overwhelm your reps with too much content. Providing the right content to your account team is important. And that is why you need to invest in tools that will help you filter and identify relevant content for a particular scenario.

 

Reusing your content is the single biggest opportunity for a marketing team to drive efficiency and sales enablement. Not every member of your customer or prospect account is up-to-date on your content. Arming your account team with quality content elevates the quality of their outbound conversations. It is a win-win for everyone and a no-brainer.

 
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Tips for managing Marketing and Sales Content on Dropbox

Marketing and sales collateral is essential to your company’s success. And for young and small organizations, using Dropbox to store their sales and marketing content becomes a natural choice. Most of us already use Dropbox in our personal lives (and love it). And it is a handy tool for storing your sales and marketing content since it is on the cloud, you can provide mobile access to your sales and customer-facing teams on the go, and keep everyone on the same page when it comes to content.
dropbox_blue.png

But things can really go out of hand quickly. You wouldn’t realize, and within few months finding content on Dropbox will be a nightmare. Your sales team will stop using it, and they will start coming to you to request content.

But it doesn’t have to be this bad. Here are some useful tips for managing your sales and marketing content on Dropbox:

Filter Your Content

Not all content in the organization is relevant to your sales team. But in this age of hyper-communication, everyone wants everything to be available to everyone. This strategy backfires. Instead, take a disciplined view of what content is relevant to sales success. Sift away everything else because to your sales team it is NOISE. Following the 80-20 rule, you will realize that 20% of the content is relevant for 80% of the scenarios. Focus on that content then. Don’t try to fit in every piece of content. Start small and then grow your content catalog.

Dedicated Folder

Continuing with the idea of filtering, you want to have a dedicated folder on your team’s Dropbox repository to store content. Pick a name for that folder that is easy to identify and stands out. Some easy to identify names that we have seen are:
  • Sales Collateral (or Content)
  • Sales & Marketing Content
  • Sales Enablement
Even better, start that name with a “_.” This way when Dropbox displays the folder list, this dedicated folder will be on the top and not get buried in the midst of all other folders. Make it easy for your audience (sales) to find the folder.

Read Only

Make that folder and its content read-only. Dropbox allows you to control read/write permissions on folders and its content. Use this feature and provide write permissions only to select few in the organization whom you trust will not create a mess of that folder by dumping everything and anything that comes through their email inboxes.

Folder Structure

It is important that your folder structure makes sense and remains consistent. Don’t worry too much about boundary scenarios. Think about 80% of the use cases and create a structure for that.

Folder Structure: Define Your Business Dimensions

You need to define your business dimensions. Business Dimensions are parameters of your organization with which you go to the market. For, e.g., commonly used business dimensions in B2B software companies are:
  • Products
  • Solutions
  • Industries
  • Partners
  • Competitors
I hope you get the point. If you are confused, refer to your website. You may have already structured your site with similar business dimensions. Also, do include a General folder for content that does not fit into one single dimension. Say you are a B2B software organization with a couple of products selling into few different industries. In that case, your folder structure will look as below:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • Solutions
    • Industries
    • Partners
    • Competitors
    • General
Inside each of these folders have folders for different business dimensions of your business. Something like this:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • Solutions
      • Solution A
      • Solution B
      • Solution C
    • Industries
      • Industry A
      • Industry B
    • Partners
      • Partner A
      • Partner B
    • Competitors
      • Competitor A
      • Competitor B
      • Competitor C
    • General
Important Note: Even if you do not have content for some of the folders, we encourage you to create a folder to set the stage when content is available.

Folder Structure: Store By Content Type

Now that you have your business dimensions in place start uploading your content. But before that start segmenting your content by its type. Say you have two Case Studies, one Data Sheet and one Battle Card for Solution A, you should store it as follows:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • Solutions
      • Solution A
        • Battle Cards
          • SolutionA_BattleCard
        • Case Studies
          • SolutionA_CaseStudy
          • SolutionA_2_CaseStudy
        • Data Sheets
          • SolutionA_DataSheet
If this makes sense to you, then follow a similar structure for rest of the dimensions. You will come across scenarios where you have a Case Study for Solution A, and it is for Industry B. That is quite likely. In fact, this will happen more frequently. Rarely documents will belong to a single business dimension. That is where the General folder helps. So if you have a Case Study for Solution A in Industry B, you should store it in the General folder as follows:
  • _Sales & Marketing Content
    • General
      • Case Studies
        • SolutionA_IndustryB_CaseStudy.pdf
Two important points to note here. First, any Case Study that is relevant across multiple dimension should find its place in the Case Studies folder in the General section. Second, the name of your Case Study should include your business dimension value. I know we are asking for longer names. But if you want your sales team to use this content and make it easy for them to find this content, you need to make these names simple to follow even at the expense of making them longer.

File Naming Convention

A few valuable tips here for naming your files:
  • Follow a strict naming convention.
  • Include the business dimension values consistently in the name of the files.
  • When you name files consistently, Dropbox’s default sorting will work for you. And it will be easier to search for them in Dropbox. Imagine you naming a file SolA, and the Sales rep is searching for Solution A. You want to avoid that. Be consistent. It will pay dividends.
  • If there are shorter names for your business dimension values, use them from the beginning. If your product name is Awesome Reporting Product, then use the name ARP when naming folders and files.

If you are reading this post and you are already suffering from a weak structure on your Dropbox instance, you must be thinking “How the hell do I get from where I am to this structure?”. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. But there is a silver lining. Start small. Anyway, your current mess is not helping anyone. So if you have 100 documents strewn across your Dropbox file system, start moving 10 files every day. It will take you less than 10 minutes to do this task. 10 minutes a day and in 10 days you will have a good set up to build your future content structure on. Your sales team will appreciate this structure and the consistency.

Dropbox may not get you to your goal of getting your content perfectly organized. But that is not an excuse to make a complete mess of it. We hope you can follow these steps to reach a more useful and easy to navigate structure for your sales and marketing collateral.

We at Enablix strive to help B2B marketers effectively organize, manage and distribute sales and marketing content to enable sales. After facing challenges in our professional lives using commonly available content management systems, we built Enablix to help marketers address this content chaos and simplify sales content management. If you are ready to look beyond homegrown processes on Dropbox, please contact us at support@enablix.com to find out how Enablix can help you get to a state of simplicity and efficiency. 

“What Worked for You” vs “What Worked for Your Customer”

chess-316658_1280In the B2B world case studies are ubiquitous. They are an important vehicle to demonstrate credibility to your customers and prospects. They are also important to educate your sales force and to scale sales success. However many organizations fail to segment their case studies correctly and end up targeting their case studies to the wrong audience. In B2B world, we come across two broad types of Case Studies:

  • “What Worked for You” Case Study
  • “What Worked for Your Customer” Case Study

“What Worked for You” Case Study

  • This case study is created when you win a deal.
  • It highlights why the customer chose you.
  • It speaks to the “theory” of how your offering is going to address the customer’s pain points.
  • It also elaborates on how the sales process was executed to drive a win.

A “What Worked for You” case study is a great vehicle to scale sales success. Insights from this type of case study help guide other sales representatives in their sales pursuits. And in some cases, this case study provides your potential prospects visibility into how their peers selected you and why.

“What Worked for Your Customer” Case Study

  • These case studies are closely aligned with your customer’s success journey. That is they are created well past the “Deal Win” milestone when the customer has successfully realized the business gain with the help of your offering.
  • They speak to the practical benefits of your offering to your customer. For e.g. the customer saved $X and gained Y% efficiency.
  • They elaborate on the journey of customer success. They provide details about the timeline to achieve the customer success milestone, the resources involved, etc.

“What Worked for Your Customer” case study is highly relevant to other prospects and customers. This type of case study provides reliable data on how one customer achieved success using your offering. It helps others prospects/customers visualize their path to success. Not only the case study works as a soft-reference (as opposed to speaking to the reference), it also establishes credibility with your prospects. The case study screams “we know how to make you successful.” Conversely the “What Worked for You” case study screams “we know how to sell.”

Both types of case studies deliver benefits. However, it is important for organizations to recognize the different values that they bring to the table and invest wisely in creating and utilizing them in their “Go To Market” efforts.

Are datasheets useful?

DISCLAIMER: Datasheets is a very broadly used term. This post is in context of software industry.
There were days where data sheets or product sheets were important (and sufficient). They were a one or two page description of your product/offering and were made publicly available on your website for a prospect, customer or any random visitor to download and get herself familiar with your offering. They were on the radar of every product manager and marketing personnel in your company. Even today data sheets are still very much in use in the sales community.
However, they are no longer deemed sufficient.
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If your customer or prospect is asking for your product’s information and you share the data sheet, most likely you are not fulfilling her request. And in many instances the requesting party is going to shoot back at you asking for more detailed information. And in instances where they do not, you have lost an opportunity to educate your customer about your offering.

So why is it that data sheets or product sheets are less relevant than before?

  • Information is already consumed. There is a very high probability that the information included in the data sheet is already known to the prospect. The data sheet usually is publicly available on your company’s website. And therefore easy to consume. If someone googles for your company or the particular offering, it is quite likely that the link to your data sheet will be in the top 5 results of that search.
  • Information is not detailed. Information included in a data sheet tends to be high level. Obviously you have only couple of pages to work with. And if the offering is even moderately complex, the data sheet is meant to touch on key high level areas without sharing any details. It is more focused on the Whats rather than Hows. And even then it is high level.
  • Credibility is an issue. In today’s world where information is easily available, prospects are wary of inaccurate information. And the very nature of a data sheet does not lend itself to be credible source of information. Your data sheet may say your offering is the fastest in the market place or has feature A or B, but until there is more detail to back it up, the stated claim does not register a positive note in the reader’s mind.
  • Me-Too. It is quite likely that there is not any material difference between the content of your offering’s data sheet and your competitor’s offering’s data sheet. You and your competitor are highlighting similar points in your respective data sheets. This further diminishes the value of your data sheet to your prospect.
  • Does not teach. A data sheet is not something where you expect the reader to learn something new that they don’t already know. Seldom a reader will experience an aha moment after reading your offering’s data sheet.

Data sheets are effective as a short, very high level, primer for your offering. Almost like a 20 second YouTube movie teaser. But you should be prepared to share something more comprehensive and detailed as a follow up.