Tips and techniques for improving early-stage conversations
Content Strategies for the
Learn how to:
Identify where mobile content can improve the quality and impact of sales conversations
Make a case for creating a mobile content strategy to support sales initiatives
Select the most important assets to develop or repurpose into a mobile-friendly format
Follow a few simple guiding principles for effective mobile-ready sales content
This ebook is about
mobility in the world
of sales content.
Mobile devices are spreading across the
business-to-business landscape, and
salespeople are among the leading users. If
you’ve seen a salesperson in action—at trade
shows, on airplanes, in lobbies—no doubt a
smartphone or tablet was present.
As a marketing or sales enablement professional, you might be concerned
about what mobility means to your programs, the content you produce to
support sales activities, and the goals you’re trying to achieve.
The Good News?
Mobile content can actually help your salespeople
perform better, and the investment required is
less than you would expect.
Why mobility matters
You might be tempted to wait until later to establish a mobile
strategy. Think again. The risks of doing nothing mount every
day as mobile device adoption grows.
Badly rendered content
As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, tablets can cause content
to appear incorrectly. For example, PowerPoint slides that look great
on a laptop can look amateurish on tablets.2
Bring your own
Sales Management Association. “The iPad’s Impact on the Salesforce” [Webinar]. Retrieved from http://salesmanagement.org/
Tibken, Shara. “Here Come Tablets. Here Come Problems.” Wall Street Journal Online. April 2, 2012.
A large component of your brand’s equity comes as a result
of the sales experience. If your competitor is using great
looking content on mobile devices, you will look antiquated
in comparison if you are not.
Here are a few
reasons to act now.
Where can mobile content make
the greatest impact?
asked a group of
technology executives to describe a good
sales meeting with one of their suppliers.
Holmes, Bradford. “Calling All Sales Enablement Leaders.” Weblog entry. Technology Sales Enablement Professionals. January 25, 2012.
characterized a valuable
meeting as one in which a
salesperson “can address
both their business problem
and how the vendor can help.”
of executive buyers believe that
a salesperson can CLEARLY
SHOW they understand
their business issues and
articulate a way to solve them.
Typically, buyers complete 57% of the
buying process before contacting a
That could be bad news for you.
Problems Before Products
The best salespeople use early-stage conversations to
identify customer problems. They wait until the business
issues are properly identified before talking about products.
Buyer-led buying =
shrinking deal sizes
One CEO told us that better
problem identification can
mean “the difference between
a $100,000 opportunity and a
4. Your buyers create a list of needed
features, find a handful of providers,
and pick the lowest-priced option.
3. Your salesperson goes into product
conversations and neglects to learn
about underlying business issues.
2. They ask your salespeople
about those products.
1. Your potential buyers conduct
extensive research and form opinions
about the products they need.
Moral of the story:
Buyers need your guidance to solve the
underlying problem, not just find the
Toman, Nick. “10 Trends Every Sales Exec Must Know For 2012” Weblog entry. The Sales Challenger. December 7, 2011.
Complex portfolios + High turnover rates = Confused salespeople
Tom and Maureen work for
competing companies. Both
have scheduled meetings
with the Vice President of
IT Operations for a large
manufacturing company to
talk about data storage.
Mobile content in action:
A tale of two great salespeople
The Product Pusher
• Uses his rehearsed presentation to guide
• Identifies a product opportunity during the
• Develops a single-product sales opportunity
• Closes a $50,000 deal within two months
The Problem Solver
• Uses mobile devices before, during, and after the
meetings to guide the conversation
• Uses a mobile-enabled coaching guide to anticipate
needs and choose questions to ask
• Identifies a business problem first, which leads to a
multi-product sales opportunity
• Closes a $1,000,000 deal in six months
Which approach are you enabling? 7
Are your sales teams trying to cross-sell, up-sell, or
solution-sell their way to larger deals?
Salespeople (like Maureen) who focus on customer problems can offer
multiple products and services as a unique solution—one that is harder for
your competitors to match.
Product-first sales opportunities (like Tom’s) run the risk of becoming small
deals with greater pricing pressure.
Early-stage meetings represent the critical fork in the sales road. In one
direction, your buyers end up thinking you have an interesting product. In
the other, your buyers conclude that you can help them solve a problem.
Help your salespeople take buyers down that second path.
How can you help
drive better sales
Mobility has a key role to play in this effort. In the following pages, you’ll learn how the right
content, optimized for tablets and smart phones, can lead to greater sales effectiveness.
Increasing Sales Effectiveness with Mobile Content
The key to your mobile content strategy is providing assets and tools that are:
Making a case for a mobile
Salespeople want easy-to-use, simple tools. They want to be proud to show them to
customers. Go light on text, maximize white space, and you’ll see adoption skyrocket.
Problem-centric: Shift the
conversation from presenting
products to solving problems
Collaborative: Enable buyers and
sellers to work together to create
a buying vision
Interactive: Help users navigate to the
Just-in-time: Deliver tools that your
team can use at the right point of the
Good Design is Important!
Sales methodologies have been encouraging
a problem-first selling for decades. But
salespeople have told us that their content
and tools don’t support those approaches.
Content designed for
the sales experience
Mobile devices with the right content are a perfect fit for salespeople
who spend so much time out of the office.
Salespeople need content when internet access isn’t available.
Synchronization ensures that latest versions will always be available.
Rather than wait for a laptop to power up, salespeople can pull a
tablet out of a bag to immediately illustrate a point or concept.
Salespeople can pass tablets to a customer during a meeting and
encourage active participation.
is your best opportunity
to help sellers bring that
approach to life:
“We are told to focus
on solutions, but all of our
content is product-focused!”
Examples of two different
mobile-enabled conversation paths
What will this new content actually look like?
How can your content get your salespeople
to speak to multiple buying influences with
differing agendas and sift through a wide
variety of business issues?
Early-stage conversations are commonly
about either broad topics or specific
products or solutions. We call these trend
and feature conversations.
Senior audiences care about broader issues that
have significant impact on their business.
Examples in IT include:
• Cloud computing
• Consumerization of IT
Your salespeople need to be conversant in these
topics and, equally importantly, get beyond that
initial interest to understand the business issues
that are driving that interest.
Your salespeople still need to prepare for
conversations about product features. Whether or
not they have executive access, your salespeople
still need to prepare for conversations about product
features. And, they need to place these details into
the larger context of relevant business problems.
In these cases, it is equally important to understand
the business issues that are driving that interest.
1. Trend to Solution Conversations
Salespeople, who are often uncomfortable with
strategic topics, need help developing confidence
to speak with executives. These guides promote
fluency in higher-level issues as a starting point for
identifying specific business problems. Here, success
depends on finding “business pain” that will serve as
a starting point for developing a solution.
These guides help salespeople build a comfort level
with strategic discussions by:
• Anticipating potential topics of interest based on
the buyer’s role
• Providing simple talking points so that a salesperson
can first master the basics of the conversation
• Linking to additional details within the document
and to external sources
Whether starting at the trend or feature level, your salespeople need guidance to identify the
underlying business problems. Easy-to-use, intuitive mobile conversation guides are the perfect
tool. Here are two examples:
2. Feature to Solution Conversations
Not all meetings can be strategic. Buyers often want
to talk about products and features; they may have
conducted their own research and identified specific
requirements. Your salespeople may be satisfied to
merely answer questions rather than expand the
opportunity beyond a single product.
Your salespeople need to broaden the discussion
and identify the business problems behind the
interest. This conversation guide is designed to
offer a product as an entry point and connect it
to problems, needs, and initiatives commonly
associated with it.
For example, if a customer is interested in the MNZ
6.1 solution, your salespeople should share why
other customers commonly deploy it. Identifying
the underlying issue or initiative makes it possible
to increase the size of the opportunity with multiple
products or solutions.
These guides work equally well on smartphones,
tablets, and traditional desktops and laptops.
Salespeople can use them for preparation right
before a meeting or even in front of a customer to
guide the discussion. They are designed to be:
• Simple, providing information at the highest
level with drill-downs available for those who
• Interactive, so that salespeople can easily
navigate the document to follow the direction of
conversation or the buyer’s interest
• low-tech, requiring no investment in
Make existing tools mobile-readyMake existing tools mobile-ready
Sales training modules
White papers and
RFP response content
Subject matter experts
- Hard-hitting proof points
with links to details
- Mobile-ready flash cards to
reinforce key points
- Guides that support trend-
- Fast facts that can be
- Guides that support
- Mobile-friendly deliverables,
such as videos and podcasts
Is your budget limited? Much of the content for
these guides can come from existing materials.
Repurpose existing content!
Most companies have a large number of great
sales and marketing assets that, with limited
effort, can be transformed into great mobile tools.
Common places to look include public websites,
sales portals, and RFP response databases.
PowerPoint plays a central role in most sales content suites. But when used incorrectly, even the
most beautiful presentation can result in a lost or undersized deal.
Is PowerPoint Dead?
• As a summary of previous conversations
• Listing key customer issues
• Setting a meeting agenda and seeking confirmation from the audience
• As a just-in-time tool to illustrate key points and customer success stories
• Making the meeting about your company
and not the customer
• Packing too much information into a short
meeting, especially if your salespeople
aren’t comfortable editing the story
• Telling a linear story when a multi-
directional dialogue is needed
• Under-representing the expertise of
your sales team
For early-stage meetings where problem
definition takes place, coach your salespeople
to limit the use of slides.
You don’t need to invest in technology in order to take advantage of the benefits of mobile content.
Many companies start with “low-tech” solutions. These are documents (like the conversation
guides already shown) that offer ease-of-use and interactivity without requiring any new platforms.
Key technology success factors
That said, you can benefit from a mobile content
distribution platform. If you are considering
any, here are some key technology success factors
A common issue with sales portals is the “download and forget”
trend, where users log into a site, save all of the content they want,
and never come back. This puts your users at the risk of leveraging
outdated content and missing out on updates and new releases.
But with the ability to synchronize content, you can ensure that
users have the most up-to-date versions.
How do you know if what you are creating is effective? The ability
to track who is using what ensures you understand what users are
interested in and helps you follow-up with them to get feedback
Many platforms allow salespeople to bundle content and send
it to prospects after a meeting via a link to a personalized
sharing area. Many mobile platforms offer a private sharing area
where prospects can review information and share it with their
Salespeople spend a lot of time outside of their offices in such
places as airplanes, public areas, and even customer offices where
Internet access may not be available. Offline access allows you to
utilize critical information anywhere.
Once you have delivered the basics, you may be ready for more
advanced applications. Examples include quoting, configuration,
and business-case tools. Make sure that your platform supports
customized development and integration.
At the other extreme are the many ways you can go wrong with your
technology investment. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid:
Putting technology before the conversation
Technology can’t replace the need for salespeople to understand problems
and guide buyers toward a solution that uses their company’s capabilities.
Before spending on new systems, seek first to understand the stages that
make up this process.
For more information on how to do this,
check out our 6 Steps to Great Content.
Designing for just one device
Most salespeople use more than one technology and/or operating system in a single day.
Resist the temptation to develop everything for one device type only.
Not working with your stakeholders
What does good content look like? The answer is complicated, so spend time defining content
requirements and developing consensus between users and content authors. Think differently
about the tools you create.
Narrowing the focus
We see companies get excited about apps that only support a few, narrowly defined
sales situations. By doing this, you run the risk of neglecting other areas of the buying cycles
that can have a bigger revenue impact (like problem definition).
Pitfalls to avoid
to Giving Your Sales Teamsthe Content They Need(and Want)
An E-book for Sales Content Creators and Sales Enablement Professionals
— Jim Moliski
Companies are justifiably optimistic about the potential of mobile technology in business-to-
business sales. But tablets and smartphones by themselves won’t move the revenue needle.
Your company needs a strategy for filling these great devices with the content that will help
transform your sellers from product pushers to problem solvers.
The good news is, you don’t have to rewrite all of your content or break your budget on new
infrastructure. An approach that targets the most important sales conversations with a limited
number of upgraded tools promises the biggest benefit. Leading companies have already
made huge strides in this direction—they could be your competitors.