You sales reps are overwhelmed: Portals are teeming with content, and reps are overloaded with the number of data repositories in which to search for it. With so much content and numerous ‘haystacks’ in which to look, no one should be shocked when sales is not able to find what they need when they need it. And yet, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of marketers plan to grow their content output next year. How, with this flood of content, can marketers provide a systematic way to organize and deliver content to the sales team in a way that helps impact sales effectiveness?
The answer is to extend to the sales team the same marketing principles we apply to reaching and converting prospects: By extending the target marketing framework to sellers.
Companies of every nature and stripe strive toward the tantalizingly just out of reach 1:1 marketing ideal, and an overwhelming number of surveys and studies conducted over the past year indicate that personalization is the name of the game. Yet, as marketing moves toward a hyper individualized form of targeting for prospects and customers, a blanket, mass approach to communicating is still applied to the sales team.
Instead of personalizing sales interactions and the assets marketing provides, making it relevant to the individual seller’s role and goals, everything from training to assets for use in the sales process are delivered in fire hose fashion. Inundating reps with huge amounts of information about the entire sales process is not only ineffective, but counterproductive with sales reps often finding it easier to simply wing it then dredge through mountains of content. As it is, the average salesperson spends more than half of their day engrossed in some form of administration or research, and less than half in sales.
Know your Audience & Make it Relevant
Working with sales like this is the equivalent to sending out a mass email to every single prospect and customer, regardless of their relationship to the brand. Turn this approach on its head and boost sales productivity and efficacy in sales situations by improving marketing support by:
- Sales people are just-in-time learners. They learn what they need to know when they need to know it. In fact, without follow-up, salespeople will be unable to recall 80-90 percent of what they learned in training within just one month. As a result, it’s best to give sales the specific information they need, when they need it.
- Moreover, short, modular pieces of content are proven to be most effective in keeping seller’s attention and being retained for future use. Adding interactive training aids like videos or quizzes, further boost retention and a sales rep’s ability to apply the content in live sales situations.
- Make sure your content is device agnostic so that sales reps can access it on any hardware – whether that is their mobile phone, tablet, or something else.
Make it Relevant
A study conducted by the American Society for Training and Development shows that continuous investments in training and reinforcement result in over 50% higher net sales per employee, nearly 40% higher gross profits per employee and a 20% higher ratio in market-to-book value. To provide sellers with reinforcing assets that are relevant to their position and current sales situation:
- Make sales assets relevant to where the seller is in the organization. Ask yourself questions such as, ‘what products/services they are responsible for selling?’, ‘Are they new to the organization or a senior staff member?’ and ‘Do they sell to specific buyer personas and/or vertical markets?
- Sales assets should also be relevant to the buyer’s journey and sales cycle. Sales aids should, for example, be pushed out at the specific points in the sales cycle where they are most relevant. If these aids are tailored for the prospect type AND point in the sales cycle, that is even better yet.
- More and more organizations are finding a way to automatically recommend content so that reps don’t have to search through hundreds of docs (or across portals and management systems) for what they need. Best practices include pushing this content through the seller’s system of choice – often the CRM where they already spend the majority of their time.
Experian Research recently published a Millennials’ “Omni-channel Consumer Bill of Rights,” that is very closely aligned with this approach. The tenets of this Millennial Bill of Rights are: recognize me, treat me as an individual, make it easy for me, anticipate my needs, and give me a voice. And while these tenets may sounds obnoxiously self-centered, they’re actually incredibly applicable.
Just as the Millennial hates to search for long for the information they need, reps are more likely to be effective, knowledgeable sellers if they’re given relevant content when they need it. Aberdeen reports that companies that were superior in aligning Marketing and Sales experienced an average of 32% growth in annual revenue, compared to a 7% decline in organizations lacking this alignment. Given this direct impact marketing can make to alignment – and in turn corporate sales – it’s clear that it’s time we begin applying the lessons of personalization and target marketing within our own organizations.