6 Steps for Giving Your Sales Teams the Content They Need (and Want)


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This e-book is for you if: You are responsible for sales content creation, and you don’t have the resources to satisfy demand. OR You are a sales operations or
sales enablement professional, and you want to improve seller performance through better tools. OR You are a sales
leader, and you want to help marketing and product teams better understand how to build messages and content that align with your sales process.

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6 Steps for Giving Your Sales Teams the Content They Need (and Want)

  1. 1. to Giving Your Sales Teams the Content They Need (and Want) Steps An E-book for Sales Content Creators and Sales Enablement Professionals 6
  2. 2. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 2 This e-book is for you if: You get to work on one of the biggest challenges in sales and marketing today: Helping salespeople connect the dots between your customers’ problems and the great things your company does to solve them. There’s more pressure than ever on salespeople to understand customer issues, stay current on what they have to sell and, most importantly, close deals. Your target buyers are feeling the burden, too. They face a more complicated procurement process, demanding stakeholders and pressure to drive the best bargain. They’re upping their game with knowledge gained from social media outlets, analyst relationships, publications and peers. So, what are your salespeople doing to improve? You can help them by defining, developing and delivering better content and tools. Congratulations! How many times have you heard comments like these? You are responsible for sales content creation, and you don’t have the resources to satisfy demand. You are a sales operations or sales enablement professional, and you want to improve seller performance through better tools. You are a sales leader, and you want to help marketing and product teams better understand how to build messages and content that align with your sales process. or or “We have too much content. We don’t know what to use when!” (Statistics say that over half of sales content isn’t being used.) “Last-minute fire drills take up most of my time!”(Marketers, product managers and subject matter experts face frequent unplanned requests.) “I need help creating a presentation for a really important meeting!” (Sellers often think their customer situation is unique and requires custom-built content. All are symptoms of the same condition, and it’s easier to treat than you might think.
  3. 3. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 3 The Sales Enablement Disconnect Identifying the tools that sellers really need and will actually use Creating maps that match tools to selling interactions Distributing easy-to-follow templates that save time for content creators Prioritizing what to create based on impact and level of effort Salespeople face big challenges. They have to keep pace with new products, new messages and new competitors. They also have to work with smarter buyers who now follow much more rigorous processes. If that’s not bad enough, too many selling tools collect dust because salespeople don’t find value in them. The good news is that companies are successfully attacking this problem by: Successful companies start by understanding what really happens between buyers and sellers in the field. They develop content only after appreciating how it will be used. And at the center of that effort is a sales enablement initiative keeping everyone – marketers, subject matter experts and content producers – focused on the same goal: winning customers and keeping them for life. 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  4. 4. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 4 Sellers often complain that their tools are complicated, difficult to understand and irrelevant to the meetings they are having. Speak to enough quota-carrying people, and you’ll hear about tools that were “created in a vacuum,” “written in the ivory tower” or “thrown over the fence.” All speak to a lack of coordination across the organization that results in wasted time and lost revenue. You have an opportunity to orchestrate a better process that makes everyone happier. By following the six simple steps below, you’ll be able to identify content and tools that salespeople and buyers will actually use: The Six-Step Action Plan Find Out How Your Customers Buy Uncover What Your Salespeople are Actually Doing Understand Your Own Sales Team Map Tools to the Process Analyze the Sales Process Prioritize and Get Started 1 2 4 6 3 5 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step 1 2 4 6 3 5
  5. 5. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 5 The best salespeople don’t just find solutions to customer problems. They help their customers navigate the buying process – which becomes increasingly complex as more stakeholders and requirements are added. Salespeople who become advisors not only in what to buy, but also how to buy have a much better chance of winning. Your role is to supply the tools and knowledge they need to do this, and your first step should be to understand the typical buying process. No two companies have identical processes, so you will have to generalize. A few conversations with your most experienced salespeople will help you identify the most common situations your buyers face. Here are a few simple questions to ask about buyer behavior: 1. Do your target customers have a well-defined buying process? If so, describe it? Why it’s important. If you can anticipate what the steps are on the buyer side, you’ll know what supporting content is needed to help accelerate the process and increase your chances of winning. Content assets, such as standard RFP response paragraphs, executive briefing kits and customizable demos, become a core suite of available tools instead of fuel for daily fire drills. 2. What groups are in involved in the process? Why it’s important. This helps you anticipate the types of audiences that will get involved. Meetings with technical experts, procurement professionals and executives vary by terminology and topics covered. Your role is to create content that helps salespeople become knowledgeable and conversant in what’s on the minds of those key players. Find Out How Your Customers Buy... So You Can Help Sellers Become Trusted Advisors. A common refrain from the field: We need more case studies. That’s because buyers want to see some proof of how you have solved similar problems elsewhere. Marketing’s response to that request is to develop in-depth, expensive documents. But with so many solution scenarios, there is never enough budget to satisfy demand. Learn more about how buyers will use these proof points, and you could find that simple and less expensive tools are better. Instead of a multi-page, branded document, the need could be as simple as a conversational anecdote, a blurb in an email or a paragraph in an RFP response. “We need more case studies!” Quick Tip 1Step 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  6. 6. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 6 3. Who leads the buying process? Why it’s important. An old sales adage says that 90% of selling happens when the salesperson isn’t there. Your firm’s key contacts within the account (often referred to as sponsors or champions) need to sell on your behalf. If you can equip them with the right messages and tools – tailored to their abilities and expertise – you’ve just given your company a much better chance of winning. 4. How does the buyer bring in competitors? Why it’s important. Anticipating competitive behavior helps you develop tools to differentiate and win. For example, if buyers usually consult with an analyst firm, you can deduce the competing solutions that they will consider. That way, you can equip your sellers with the right messages to use even before that competitor comes into play. 5. What causes the buyer situation to vary? Why it’s important. You’ll probably hear that buying situations are different based on such factors as the company’s industry, size and business issues. Knowing these factors will help you figure out how many versions of key tools (e.g., industry-specific presentations or case studies) need to be available. At this point you’ll have a solid understanding of the most common customer buying patterns. You’ll also appreciate the hurdles that sellers face and the need for them to evolve into trusted advisors. This expertise will prove valuable for what you’ll be doing next: getting to know your own sales teams. Example Buying Process Awareness Consideration Preference Purchase Achieve Business Goal 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  7. 7. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 7 Most companies have several sales teams and a variety of roles within them. A large technology firm might have a key accounts team managing the largest clients, an enterprise team for the rest of the Fortune 500 companies and a small business team. There might also be specialist roles that help sellers with industry, technical and solution expertise. Not surprisingly, these teams will have different requirements for content. And within a single sales group, especially ones that take a team-selling approach, there may be several roles to evaluate. The account executive, sales engineer, value engineer, telesales rep and overlay sales specialist are likely to use different tools and content. Your ability to recommend relevant content depends on your understanding of what each team does, as well as the roles within that team. For each team, ask the following questions: 1. How big is the team? Why it’s important. With a lot of sales teams, you may have to focus based on size and amount of revenue in play. Size can also be a factor in the kinds of content needed. For example, smaller, centralized teams do a better job of sharing ideas in person, while larger teams require more tools and content for knowledge and best-practice sharing. What do they sell? Who do they sell to? How big is the team? What are the key rolesand characteristics? Understand Your Own Sales Team(s)... So That You Can Better Appreciate the Kinds of Content They Need.2Step 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  8. 8. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 8 2. What are the key roles? What are their characteristics? Why it’s important. Different sales positions have differing content needs based on the role they play in a sales opportunity. For example, generalist salespeople need to be proficient at understanding business issues and steering buyers toward the right set of solutions. Specialist salespeople need to have deep expertise on a narrower set of solutions. 3. What do they sell? Why it’s important. As the number of products and solutions in a seller’s portfolio grows, the amount of knowledge retained on any one item decreases. The level of detail in any piece of content needs to directly correlate with the amount of information you actually expect a seller to know. 4. Who do they sell to? Why it’s important. If teams are created for specific customer segments, those groups are likely to require different things from your salespeople. For example, a global accounts team managing your top ten clients will need different tools than your telesales team calling on small businesses. At this point, you’ll have a much more sophisticated understanding of your sales team. Rather than a monolithic organization (which is how many view sales), you’ll see it at a more detailed level as a collection of groups, with each group having a unique combination of roles, objectives and ways of selling. Knowing this about each team will help you in the next phase: understanding the sales process. 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step Before After A common view of sales is one group where everyone uses the same content. Most sales teams are actually made up of several teams with varying needs.
  9. 9. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 9 It’s All About the Role Sellers can have different needs depending on their roles. Here are some key titles, along with general points about what they do and need. Type of team New business reps Key/major/global accounts reps Account managers Small/mid-market reps Specialized salespeople and overlay reps What they do Develop new accounts within a pre-defined territory or set of companies Work with the largest accounts, often managing complex relationships that span many geographies, lines of business and solutions Support ongoing relationships with standard- sized accounts Develop new business with smaller accounts; may offer a simplified product suite; have less support from specialists and tend to sell remotely Focus on smaller offerings (by solution, industry); brought in to support an existing opportunity; tend to create their own tools Most common needs Suites of tools for every step in the sales process Detailed, customized materials and complex assets that support in-depth meetings and cover many topics Relationship review assets and “what’s new” information to support regular meetings Simplified content for smaller product sets and remote selling tools In-depth solution and/or industry information; help with upgrading assets they’ve already created 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  10. 10. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 10 The next step in providing relevant content and tools is to understand what salespeople are expected to do. Most companies institute a sales process that may include everything from prescriptive-selling methodologies to simple ways to categorize an opportunity. Regardless of the process, sellers are under constant pressure to comply with the “law of the land.” As such, sales content that helps salespeople do that will get used. To get started in your analysis, review training materials and talk to the sales effectiveness, sales training and sales operations groups. Most importantly, talk to sales leaders. You’ll learn first-hand what their vision is and show that you are committed to making that vision a reality. Some questions to askthem include: – What is the biggest sales effectiveness challenge you see? – If you could improve one behavior,what would it be? – What sales initiatives (within thenext year) will affect the contentthat is needed? – What are the keys to getting salespeople to adopt new ways ofselling or new content? – How can we provide you with theright information and updates goingforward? Analyze the Sales Process... So You Can Speak the Language of Selling. 3Step Sellers are often classified as those who “hunt” new customers versus those who “farm” or manage the retention and growth of existing accounts. Ask any sales leader if they perform the same way and the answer will be a definitive “no.” Yet few organizations create sales tools that are specialized for hunting or farming situations. For example, new business development tends to follow a linear, “left-to-right” series of steps from lead development to a closed sale for a specific solution set. On the other hand, existing account management follows a cycle of regular and predictable events where relationship is paramount and associated tools and activities work toward growing both share of mind and wallet. Be sure the tools you create support the intended goal. Quick Tip 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  11. 11. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 11 Example Buying and Selling Processes Once you’ve collected the information, map out the process or sales stages for each team. For each sales stage, determine the following: At this point, you’ll have a greater understanding of how the sales organization is designed and the processes that should be followed. And, you’ll have a valuable foundation of knowledge for your next step: finding out what salespeople really do. Goal Is there an objective or verifiable outcome? Examples include meeting with a decision maker or the client agreeing to an evaluation plan. Activity What is expected to happen if you reach that goal? For example, if the goal is to meet with a specific decision maker, the activity might be a whiteboard conversation around key business pains. Tools Is there a mandated set of internal and customer- facing materials? You may modify or improve upon this toolset as your investigation continues, but it’s important to document a baseline. People Who is involved? Review who should be involved both from your team and the buying organization. Buying Process Selling Process Awareness Consideration Preference Purchase Achieve Business Goal Plan Discover Prove Close Implement Grow 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  12. 12. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 12 No process is detailed enough to capture the many things sellers have to do to hit their revenue targets. Your goal is to become an expert on the typical “week in the life” of each key role, so you can pinpoint areas for improvement and suggest the right tools. Understanding and documenting the most important activities happening in the field will help you: 3Identify the items that salespeople know they want 3Determine the tools they need but haven’t been able to identify 3Prioritize the tools of highest impact To begin, set up a series of conversations either by phone or in person for each team or group. On average, the number can range from two to three for a small team to six to eight for larger groups (over 100 members). When interviewing sellers who focus on net-new business, explore a typical opportunity from lead to close. When interviewing sellers who focus on existing client expansion, explore a year in the life of a customer relationship. 4 Step Uncover What the Sales Team is Actually Doing...Because, Believe It or Not, Salespeople Sometimes Do Their Own Thing. There is no standard set of definitions for sales assets One tool – a playbook, for example – can take dozens of different forms depending on who is creating it. You have to be specific when taking requests for tools: A few minutes spent zeroing in on the actual usage scenario can save hundreds of hours creating content that doesn’t hit the mark. Quick Tip: Be Specific When Defining Sales Tools How will it be used? Who is the audience?Will it be shared with prospects? How detailed does it need to be? 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  13. 13. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 13 Now it’s time to take a deep breath and review what you’ve discovered because there is a lot to absorb. Hopefully you’ll find overlap between the “ideal state” you learned about in steps two and three, and the “real world” of step four. If there are major inconsistencies, now is a good time to sit with sales leadership and/or support teams to get their input before moving on to developing your sales content map. ? Ask Both Types of Sellers About Their most important and frequent interactions with Both Prospects and Customers: If they do five executive pitches a month, are they all the same? Explore examples of how a presentation might vary based on the prospect’s industry, the audience role and title, the size of the company and the business needs. How do they prepare for a meeting? What tools do they use and where do they turn for support? What are the objectives and what actually happens? Who is usually involved on your company’s side and from the prospect company? What do they use during the interaction? Where do they find it (or do they create their own tools)? What would they like to have? 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  14. 14. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 14 1 A majority of companies have attempted to formalize what content should be available in what selling situations. This mapping activity often doesn’t work because it happens without full knowledge of what takes place in the field between buyers and sellers. After completing steps one through four, you will have that knowledge. But, you might be overwhelmed. Fear not! The following three-step exercise brings it all together: Document the buying/selling process based on the information you gathered in steps one, two and three. Determine if more than one documented process is required, and if so, build each process map. Next, overlay the actual “week-in-the-life” reality check from step four to see what changes may be required, while still being consistent with your company’s official sales process. Buying Process Selling Process Example Buying and Selling Processes Awareness Consideration Preference Purchase Achieve Business Goal Plan Discover Prove Close Implement Grow Map Tools to the Process... So You Can Prove What Salespeople Really Need and Want 5 Step 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  15. 15. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 15 Next, for each stage, document the following: – What are the key goals, activities, tools and players involved? – What are the content categories that drive variability? Examples include: industry, business needs, solutions under consideration, etc.? Note: be careful to limit this to the most relevant categories of information. – What type of content should be available based on what the official process says and what you’ve learned about buyer and seller needs? (If you have trouble finding a good tool for a situation, consider asking peers in other industries or experts.) 2 3Review your findings with a working group made up of representatives from sales, sales operations, marketing and product/solution teams. Awareness Awareness consideration consideration Preference Preference purchase Current Tools Needed Tools Appointment Setting Guide White Space Tool, Call Scripts, Email Scripts Cheat Sheets, Mutual Activity Plan Conversation Guides, Objection Handlers Proposal Deck, Competitive Guide ROI Tool, Solution Presentation Implementation Plan Negotiation Guide Program Success Plan, Communication Templates Quarterly Review Example Mapping of Tools to Stages Selling and buying tools need to be relevant to the customer situation, and that relevance is driven by content categories. For example, you may have a stage in the sales process where your seller needs to give a capabilities presentation detailing your company’s experience in the buyer’s industry. From a content map perspective, that means that you need to provide slides specific to each key industry. Examples of other categories that drive content are the audience role, company size, pain point and solution of interest. The problem is that having too many categories can drive the need for a huge amount of content. (Imagine a single presentation that would have slides relevant to all of those categories!) So start with only the most important factors. Quick Tip: Choose Only the Content Categories That Really Matter 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  16. 16. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 16 Now that you know what should be available and what is available, you’ll probably discover two things. First, you may realize that you have a significant gap between what you have and need. Second (the good news), you’ll find that many needs can be filled by repurposing and upgrading existing content. The key to figuring out where to start is to assess bang for the buck. Follow the seven steps below to set up the program, develop an ongoing process for monitoring usage and feedback – and never stop improving. 1. Inventory Your Content. Start with your sales portal and corporate website. Next, go where your subject matter experts store their content. Ask salespeople to share their favorite documents, including the unofficial ones. 2. Map Existing Tools to the Content Map. Whether a tool fits or not is a matter of interpretation. Start with the narrowest definition of suitability (i.e., the document could be used tomorrow in a sales meeting). Next, identify the tools that could work with some modification. 3. Identify and Evaluate Gaps. Make sure you take into account the impact that gap has on sales performance. Is it an annoyance or are deals stopping because critical tools don’t exist? Don’t forget that your content map needs to cover all of the relevant content categories. For example, if a key asset varies by industry, your content needs to cover all applicable verticals. 4. Assess the Level of Effort Required to Fill the Gaps. This depends both on what is available that could be upgraded and how difficult the asset is to create. 5. Create a Proposed Action Plan that balances impact with level of effort. 6. Review the Action Plan with Selected Stakeholders from your sales, product and marketing organizations at all levels. Gain their commitment to follow the plan. 7. Continuously Monitor Content Development, Distribution and Usage. Are people using new tools as they become available? If not, find out why, and take corrective action. Prioritize and Start Now... So You Can Be a Sales Enablement Hero. 6 Step 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  17. 17. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 17 Following this process and aligning content to real-world selling and buying environment will make you popular with a lot of people: Now is the time to begin the journey toward creating content that doesn’t just get thrown over the fence, but is actually used. Consider Using a Third Party for Help Despite your best intentions, the usual barriers to change (e.g., history, pride of ownership, organizational silos) can get in the way of success. Working with an unbiased third-party that has seen these issues in dozens of companies can help you get past the baggage and focus on the real goal: driving revenue. Your product/solution and marketing teams will find that their content load just grew lighter: fewer pieces to create, easier standards to follow and fewer last-minute fire drills. Your salespeople will rejoice in having fewer, more powerful tools, along with a clear understanding of what to use when. Your sales leadership will delight in improved seller performance at no extra cost to the organization. Branding is critical for your customers and prospects. It’s less important for your salespeople. The time and money needed to finish off internal materials (e.g., coaching guides, prompters, playbooks) may be better spent elsewhere. With solutions, competitors and market opportunities evolving so quickly, your focus should shift towards getting the knowledge to the field as quickly as possible and conditioning your sellers to look past the wrapper. Quick Tip: Save the Sparkle for the Customer 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step
  18. 18. 6 steps to giving your sales teams the content they need (and want) | 18 As Senior Vice President of Strategic Services at Launch International, Jim brings more than 17 years of experience to the challenge of enabling customer-facing teams with better content. Jim has worked with more than 80 organizations in this area and gathered insight from conversations with over 750 salespeople, marketers, sales support staff and subject matter experts. He uses this knowledge to help Launch International clients empower their sales teams with situation-specific selling tools that help push opportunities through the pipeline and grow revenue. Contact Jim directly to learn more about how Launch International can help you give your sales team the messages and content they need (and want). Jim can be reached at: 215-230-4340 jmoliski@launchintl.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/jmoliski Follow Jim on Twitter @moliski http://www.launchinternational.com/blogs/ author/jimmoliski/ For nearly 20 years, Launch International has helped marketing and sales teams create and deliver high-value messages and content for technology buyers and sellers. Clients employ our Integrated Enablement Marketing™ methodology to: 3Develop messages that connect business problems to successful outcomes 3Identify the highest impact content for each buying and selling step 3Provide the right tools to each audience – whether that’s sales, customers or prospects Our unique approach is based on years of experience working with marketers, sellers, subject matter experts and customers. www.launchinternational.com About the Author About Launch International ©2013 Launch International, Inc. All rights reserved. 1 2 4 6 3 5 Step