In my last post, I discussed why content marketers should be certified in the sales process. But this is only a first step in the journey. When working with clients, we also tout the virtues of dynamic sales playbooks within the sales force automation (SFA) solution
Playbooks provide reps with a series of sales plays and a reference guide of activities for each sales stage and the observable outcomes expected when an opportunity is moved to the next stage in the sales cycle. Playbooks should include the content that should be presented to the buyer at every stage. Dynamic playbooks (which change when an attribute on the opportunity record is updated) not only benefit the rep, but also provide robust analytics on how reps and clients are using content.
But, sadly, dynamic sales playbook success is often not the reality. Often, our sales enablement clients report that instead of finding content that already fits well within a sales play, reps are still seeing content that requires heavy changes and forces them to guess at when they should use a given content asset. The problem only gets worse when we consider that many companies are investing in sales asset management (SAM) solutions and continuing to struggle. Sales reps’ satisfaction with portal content is a good indicator of SAM solution adoption rates.
When we speak to clients about using dynamic playbooks, we suggest that the organization – and especially marketing – consider the following five content attributes:
- The offering. This is where marketing does a great job of describing the product or service and its features and benefits; it’s easy to crank out a product or solutions slick that reps can use. But as we know, one size does not fit all, nor should the content that marketing provides to sales reps try to do so.
- Buyer’s journey stage. This is the most basic attribute used in content cataloguing, as reps want guidance on what content assets to use with buyers at a specific stage in their journey. When a buyer is just considering the option of purchasing a product or solution, he or she may be unfamiliar with how your offering solves the problem. Buyers who may not even recognize that they have a problem yet need thought-provoking material to get them to think otherwise. Buyers who are further along in their journey may have preconceived notions of your offering and how it compares to competing offerings. This stage requires a different set of content to reframe their mindset.
- Sales rep type. Is the offering being sold by an inside sales rep or a direct sales rep? Content must be adjusted based on this information. For example, if your company expects direct reps to conduct product demos on combinations of many products to address a specific problem, whereas inside sales reps focus on a single product’s value, then each rep type requires a different set of content.
- Vertical. Having generic content that is suited for all verticals forces reps to customize their content or avoid this area of discussion. Instead reps should be armed with information relevant not only to a specific industry, but also to the competitors within each subsection of that vertical. For example, while your company may compete in many areas within the healthcare industry (e.g. imaging and monitoring), the leading competitors in each of those spaces might be different.
- Buyer persona. This last attribute is easier than others to take into account when designing content, but harder to map to your SFA systemeven if a field in the system identifies the buyer’s title or role within the company. Because B2B sales do not typically involve a single buyer (but, rather, a buying team or group) it can be hard to dynamically associate content with that buying team. One approach is to have a list of content for the top buyer personas that reps typically encounter within each vertical.
When discussing with marketing how it can make content sales-ready, remember that content creators might be creating assets in a vacuum with little or no feedback on how their content is being used. It is sales enablement’s responsibility to walk down the hall and start the conversation on how reps currently use content during the sales process. Sales enablement should also provide a dashboard capturing content usage patterns.
With a little work, marketing will soon create content that is focused on sales reps’ needs, while eliminating content that is not resonating with buyers, thus benefiting everyone.