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Content Marketing, Meet Content Selling


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Content Marketing and Content Selling - Together

Content Selling enables sales people to efficiently discover, deliver, and track the effectiveness of messages that advance a sales engagement. Effective Content Selling translates into closed business. But how do we get there?

Through this eBook, we’ll take a look at how the two sides of content can work together in concert. First, we’ll see how sales teams can use content in their day-to-day activities. Second, we’ll see how marketing can constantly improve the content that they produce to boost sales effectiveness.

Published in: Business, Technology

Content Marketing, Meet Content Selling

  1. 1. Content Marketing, Meet Content Selling
  2. 2. The way we’ve thought about sales has changed forever. Traditional selling has been altered by easy access to social media and online analysis, opinions, and other data. Business buyers can intelligently select products with only minimal interaction with sales people. Industry analyst firm Sirius Decisions backs this up. They see the majority of the buying process occurring before a prospect has even spoken to a sales person. Content Marketing, Meet Content Selling T T T 7 7 7 8 8 8 b b b F F F
  3. 3. Does that mean that Marketing can’t influence sales anymore? Of course not. In fact, it means that Marketing has an increasingly important role in generating awareness and influencing the buying process. That can be achieved by providing information that helps buyers decide which solutions to select. This Content Marketing approach has led to a Marketing arms race. Vendors are producing huge volumes of informative, engaging, (and fun) content to help direct buyers toward their products. White papers, presentations, ROI tools, infographics, and other content are being built at an incredible pace by masters in the practice of Content Marketing. Content Marketing Supports that Shift “This Content Marketing approach has led to a Marketing arms race.“
  4. 4. But Content Marketing isn’t valuable if it’s not put in the hands of prospects and customers. That has meant that Marketing Automation tools have grown at the same pace as Content Marketing solutions. Marketing Automation vendors like Eloqua, Hubspot, Marketo, and Pardot provide email marketing, web content management, social tools, and other functions. These tools allow marketers to selectively target messages and content to prospects at times when they will resonate best. Marketing Automation depends on incrementally improving the messages that are delivered to prospects. That requires tests and data to identify which emails are more likely to be opened, which collateral leads to more sales, and which landing pages convert more visitors. So, taking an analytics driven approach to marketing programs is vital for smart Content Marketers. Content Automation Supports Content Marketing
  5. 5. The same change in how buyers purchase products has led to the idea that sales teams themselves will vanish. After all, the conventional wisdom says, sales teams will become mere order takers. But sales hasn’t lost its relevance, only its traditional approach. For important product purchases B2B buyers will still partner with sales people to get the right business case, price, and implementation. So, sales people retain their relevance. But their role will change. Because the frequency of interactions with prospects may be fewer and the stage at which they interact will be later in the buying process, sellers need to adapt. Now every engagement that a sales person has must be high value. That requires delivering insights that both advance the sales process and demonstrate thought leadership to the buyer. Content Marketing Needs a Partner “Sales hasn’t lost its relevance, only its traditional approach.“
  6. 6. As well, a significant element of any B2B sale consists of the preparation of a business case to justify the purchase. Sellers can help here too. They can offer information that helps buyers prepare a compelling justification for the solution that they want to buy. Because these two activities are dependent on content, we need to recognize a new focus area, Content Selling. That is, we should look at how sales can use content – and take advantage of the lessons of Content Marketing – to sell more effectively. Through this eBook, we’ll take a look at how the two sides of content can work together in concert. First, we’ll see how sales teams can use content in their day-to-day activities. Second, we’ll see how marketing can constantly improve the content that they produce to boost sales effectiveness. Content Marketing and Content Selling - Together “We should look at how sales can use content – and take advantage of the lessons of Content Marketing – to sell more effectively.“
  7. 7. CONTENTMARKETING CONTENTsellingmeet lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Contentmarketinghaschangedhowbusinessesselltootherbusinesses.Marketinghaslearnedthat effectivecontentbuildsawarenessandspeedscustomersthroughthepipeline.NowSalesandAccount ManagementteamscanbuildonContentMarketingtogetmorerevenue. MARKETING SALES
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  9. 9. Welcome to Content Selling Marketing automation tools get the right messages to prospects. Sales people must do the same. People naturally filter out most incoming information. We process data that is meaningful based on the context we’re in. Like a commercial for delivery food during a sporting event, or a rental car review when you booked a flight. Similar contexts matter in B2B sales. Sending a prospect a roll-out guide late in the sales cycle makes sense. Sending it after a discovery call is putting the cart before the horse. So, a Content Selling approach needs to be about helping sales people to deliver meaningful content to prospects. You can summarize it as: Content Selling enables sales people to efficiently discover, deliver, and track the effectiveness of messages that advance a sales engagement. Effective Content Selling translates into closed business. But how do we get there? Let’s start by looking at what gets in the way.
  10. 10. What are the Obstacles to Selling? Content Access Everything of value comes with some challenges. Sales people and sales enablement teams that support them need to be aware of the obstacles that prevent Content Selling. Marketers deal with content every moment of the day. So, it’s easy for them to identify the right content for the Content Marketing. But sales doesn’t have that luxury. In fact, a recent KnowledgeTree survey revealed that the second biggest frustration that sales has with marketing is their inability to find relevant content when they need it. That means that sales teams lose hundreds of hours each year looking for relevant content to use in their sales engagements. Or, they use the familiar – and potentially ineffective or out-of-date – content that could slow a deal.
  11. 11. Content Timeliness Content Relevance Sales teams, and sales enablement professionals in particular, are in a constant battle against the clock. They are on the phone or at a client site, and their prospects and customers have questions. Will the responses come days after the question, or will they be able to respond in a timely way? If sales people can’t find relevant email templates, or ROI documents, or call scripts, they are going to be slowed. Messages work best when they are specifically targeted to the needs of a prospect. So, a Content Seller needs to always ask whether the email, phone call, or collateral you’re communicating to a prospect aligned with their specific pains. Content Selling can’t be about “close enough” content. It needs to be the right message for a customer or prospect’s context. By taking a Content Selling approach, sales people can communicate with their prospects in a more targeted and resonate way.
  12. 12. How Sales Operations Should Approach Content Selling With these obstacles in mind, let’s look at how you should start your Content Selling approach. There are a few key attributes that we suggest. Not all content is created equally. Some content will work better at different stages in the sales cycle. Or for different industries. Or in certain geographies. And some content simply doesn’t work at all and ought to be eliminated. Identify Content that Wins in Different Sales Situation w
  13. 13. Marketing and sales operations should evaluate the content they have to determine what should be promoted to sales teams. That means assessing your various sales situations and prospect categories and then mapping your content to these different scenarios. At the same time, marketing and sales operations need to understand the ROI for the various pieces of content that they’ve developed. If one piece of collateral advanced a sales cycle, it ought to be promoted more heavily. And if another piece consistently has bad results, marketing and sales operations need to know so they can remove it from circulation. “Marketing and sales operations need to understand the ROI for the various pieces of content that they’ve developed.“
  14. 14. Your sales and marketing teams have produced huge volumes of collateral. But according to analysts up to 70% of content goes completely unused. Why? Largely because it is inaccessible to sales teams. Imagine a sales team selling to a financial services company. Which content should they use? They may start by searching in a document management tool to find what they want. But when the search returns hundreds or even thousands of search results, it is simply not possible to find what you need. So, marketing and sales operations teams need to ensure that content can be quickly located by sales people. That doesn’t mean simply storing it in a content management or document management tool. That’s where content goes to die. You need to ensure that it is within the tool that sales people spend the bulk of their time in – and that’s often Make Content Accessible
  15. 15. Field sales teams are always on the move. They may be at a client site and then back at their home office. No matter where they are, they need access to the right content for their sales situation. If they are stuck having to go through a firewall, or struggle with a complex and bloated document management tool, they’ll go with the default content. That is, they’ll use whatever is at hand. So it is important to make sure that content is instantly accessible to all sales people no matter where they are. The rise of the iPad makes this easy to achieve. All it requires is an app that connects to your content repository. And better still, content that is relevant for your particular sales situation. Make Content Mobile OQ
  16. 16. It’s not enough to simply produce content and throw it over the wall to sales. Marketing needs to understand which content is working and in what situations. That’s where an analytically absorbed marketing and sales operations team can win. Determine which metrics make sense to track. For instance, you may look at which content is actually being consumed by the sales team to understand which valuable content needs to be promoted internally. And look at ROI data about which content is generating business. So marketing can decide where to intelligently invest. That focus on measuring content and determining what works best is the center of an analytics-driven approach to getting the best messages in front of prospects. That approach is called the Moneyball approach to content. Learn What Works “ Marketing needs to understand which content is working and in what situations. “
  17. 17. A Moneyball Approach to Content Selling Marketing needs to provide the highest quality content possible to sales teams. So we’ve found that it is critical that marketing teams take a deeply analytical approach to their content. We call this approach “Moneyball for Sales and Marketing Content”. It was 2002, and the Oakland Athletics knew they needed to do things differently. Based in a mid-sized city, they had a loyal, but small, fan base compared with their opponents. And with a smaller set of fans comes lower budgets to hire big-name players. In fact, their payroll was the third lowest of all teams in the league. Competing to sign marquee players was simply not an option.
  18. 18. But then again, baseball is a different kind of sport. If you’ve ever been to a baseball game you know that it is a game of numbers. When a batter steps to the plate, you’ll see their On Base Percentage, Batting Average, Runs Batted In, and other statistics flashed beside their picture. Managers study this data relentlessly, looking for small advantages in match- ups between batters, pitchers, and other players. This meant that Oakland’s management could hire less expensive specialists that deliver a lot of value in specific match-ups. So, a player that bunts well against left-handed pitchers can be called in at the right time. And the investment is lower. This statistical approach to investing in players got a name (and a book, and a movie). It’s called Moneyball. This mathematical approach led Oakland to win 63% of their regular season games, their divisional championship and broke the 1906 Chicago White Sox record for the longest win streak in the American League. This winning season happened despite the loss of three major stars to other teams. And despite paying just one-third of the New York Yankees on player salaries.
  19. 19. What can sales and marketing teams learn from this? Let’s see what Moneyball for sales and marketing looks like. Sales teams only have limited time in front of prospects and customers. And they need to spend that time wisely. That requires that they put their best foot forward each time they deliver a presentation, send collateral, or submit a proposal. Collateral that supports a sales engagement needs to deliver the right message for a prospect no matter where they are in the sales cycle. Marketing is the Same Sport m K
  20. 20. And from marketing’s perspective, money is a major consideration. Research by industry analyst ITSMA reveals that 18% of marketing communications budgets go to collateral – writing, producing, and delivering collateral. That is the largest single component of any marketing budget. So, that money has to be invested intelligently. How does this all apply? Let’s walk through some common baseball scenarios and see Moneyball for sales and marketing in action. These tactics, combined with the learnings above, can help you to formulate an approach to content development that puts the most relevant and resonate messages into your sales people’s hands – at the right time. “18% of marketing communications budgets go to collateral.“
  21. 21. lLBatting order is an important part of baseball strategy. You want fast runners that get on base frequently to be ahead of skilled batters that can drive them in for a score. The same principle holds true for your sales and marketing content. Different messages and vehicles will be effective at different sales stages. For instance, using a best practices guide early in the sales cycle can lead to spooked prospects. Similarly, sending high-level marketing content late in the game may diminish the apparent value of your solution. Is there a research phase where prospects need to educate themselves on the market? Is there an evaluation phase where prospects trial your solution? Are there concerns or misunderstandings that prospects consistently run into? #1 Batting Order or When to Use Sales and Marketing Collateral
  22. 22. As a result, we recommend that you understand which content resonates best with different phases for your prospects. To do so, you should look at the journey your prospects take through the sales process to becoming a customer. This will help to understand which content works during different phases in your sales process. Let’s start with the simplest model, a standard sales funnel. In a funnel, a prospect will pass through a standardized set of steps which are largely understood. That may be an early research phase where the prospect is learning the scope of the pain and the market players. Later, they may be looking to build a business case internally. And lastly, they may move to a final stage where they need to demonstrate that they can get internal adoption. Assess Your “Customer Experience”
  23. 23. By breaking your sales process into these standard steps, sales and marketing managers can understand the pains and questions associated with each step. That allows the team to match content with the concerns that the prospect has at each stage. For instance, an early prospect may be interested in educational and thought leadership materials. At later stages they might want to understand product-specific details and competitive differentiation in order to build a business case. And lastly they may want case studies and best practices to plan implementation. In this structured model marketing and sales managers can measure which content is most effective at advancing a prospect to the next step. Does a piece of thought leadership material advance the qualification stage, or do case studies work better? By assessing prospect reactions to content based on the issues they have at each stage, you can gauge which content should be best-practice to include during each sales step.
  24. 24. However, a standard sales funnel is becoming increasingly less common. Today’s business-to-business buyers have changed. Buyers now engage with your sales and marketing team as needed. They’ll browse videos, read papers, ask questions, and prepare business cases with fewer touches with a sales team. With this shift, you should first start with a frank assessment of how your buyers interact with your go-to-market team. Understand which pains and questions a prospect has, much like in the sales funnel above. But critically, because touch- points with the prospect may be fewer, you need to identify the context of your prospect early so you can deliver the right messaging. Customer Experiences are Increasingly Dynamic S
  25. 25. By understanding these blocks, you can map which content succeeds in different sales contexts. Then, when a sales person identifies a certain context for their prospect, they can use the most effective collateral to move closer to the sale. There is no magic to determining the best order for your content. You should understand what pains and questions prospects ask depending on their various stage in the buyer journey. Then, pair content that addresses these pains and continuously measure and adjust your content mix. “ There is no magic to determining the best order for your content.“
  26. 26. We know that effective sales tools close business. To get great collateral requires that you assess how well it resonates with prospects. And as you find out what wins, you can invest accordingly. That’s the moneyball approach to sales and marketing content. Above we looked at the importance of timing and sequencing of the content sales sends. That lets your sales team speak to the exact informational need that a prospect has at any given time. Now, let’s see how you pick content that is well-tuned to your prospect’s need to dramatically speed up the sales cycle. #2 Relevant Collateral Helps the Buyer to Play Ball “Pick content that is well-tuned to your prospect’s need to dramatically speed up the sales cycle.“
  27. 27. An effective presentation or proposal addresses the needs of a customer. It speaks their language. But what levers should you pull to match these needs? Remember that your prospect isn’t just sitting on the collateral that you send them. They are using it to build an internal business case for your offer. So, ask yourself some key questions about their sales content needs: • Geography and Language: Do prospects in Europe have different pains than their American counterparts? Are country-specific case studies necessary, or is it more about the resonance of the message? • Industry: How should you message when selling into the financial services industry? Do banking case studies work for insurance prospects? • Product Mix: Which products work together well from a messaging perspective? What level of technical detail should you go into for different products? • Key Pains: Which pain points elicit the strongest reaction? Do different industries and geographies respond differently to different pains? Question Your Collateral
  28. 28. Your company will have its own key elements that you want to organize messages by. Look at how you segment your market and the various personae. By understanding the different types of customers and audiences within those customers, you’ll know how to blend messaging effectively in your content. But the next step is vital. You need to measure results. That means tying ROI back to your collateral. It makes sense. You likely do it now with your email and website content. You should also do it for the content that your sales team depends on. Track which collateral is linked to getting appointments, short lists, and closed business. You’ll find that not all variations actually affect your key metrics. But test it and you’ll quickly discover where to invest time. A KnowledgeTree client ties each piece of collateral to the number of closed opportunities and the amount of revenue generated. That’s allowed the team to eliminate unproductive content, saving significant time – and redouble efforts around refining collateral that is closing business.
  29. 29. When sales people are equipped with the right collateral at the right time they communicate compelling stories to prospects and customers. But what happens when content isn’t resonating? When a marketing hypothesis for a piece of content isn’t panning out? You need to determine whether it makes sense to substitute in fresh content. #3 Don’t Let Sales and Marketing Collateral Get Stale
  30. 30. Sales operations, sales management, and marketing teams can learn how to test for this based on their experiences with marketing automation tools. Each day B2B companies test multitudes of social media, email, and website content. They check open and click-through-rates, conversions, and more. And they need to do the same with the collateral that prospects use to build internal business cases. The content that closes deals. Managers should look at which content is used by sales people and understand at which stage in the sales process it is being used. Is the content consistently part of a successful sales campaign? Does it regularly lead to an advancing sales process? If not, pull it and replace it. You already collect ROI on other marketing materials. Companies must also do it for collateral – the largest single budget item for most B2B marketing organizations. Use Analytics to Identify When Content Works
  31. 31. Collateral will often have a different impact at different stages in a sales engagement. A best practice guide may not resonate early in the sales cycle when case studies do. Always test not only whether content works, but whether it is being used at the right point in the sales process. The same holds true for a prospect and customer’s context. Are they in a competitive situation or interested in a particular business pain? What industry or geography is the prospect in? The context of the prospect will heavily influence whether content is successful. So, don’t discard collateral because it isn’t being used or getting results. Understand whether it’s simply playing the wrong ‘position’. Focus Analytics on Customer Timing and State “ The context of the prospect will heavily influence whether content is successful. “
  32. 32. In addition to analytics, managers should keep their ears open to feedback from users. Sales people are in the field using sales materials every day. They know which content works effectively and which needs work. But how do you get these opinions back to marketing so content can get better over time? That means actively encouraging sales teams to give input with easy communication mechanisms. Try tools that prompt sales teams to comment on content quality as soon as it is used. Monitor which sales people are using particular pieces of collateral and gather input from them on why they use specific collateral pieces and when. Marketing collateral isn’t simply produced and forgotten. It needs to be constantly evaluated for quality and resonance. Moneyball managers test whether content is getting used and whether it is still working. And when it’s not… swap it out. Qualitative Feedback on Sales Enablement Tools
  33. 33. You’re moving through a sale quickly. The buyer is interested, likes your product, has the budget, and a business case. But then a curve ball kicks in. One of your competitors joins the pursuit. Now, suddenly there’s a fight on your hands. Sales teams need to be equipped with the right materials to address competitive threats. But which materials are going to work? As we’ve talked about before, marketing can help by matching content to certain sales situations. If you have specific strengths in certain industries, you should use collateral that highlights that. Or, if you have multiple product lines then tailoring which messages can confront the competitor for a particular product might be useful. #4 Have Collateral Ready When the Competition Challenges
  34. 34. In addition to discovering the right content at the right time, there’s another element. Sales teams are at the coal face day-in and day-out, confronting competitors and learning what works. Marketing can target messages that can undermine competitors, but they can do it so much better when they know a competitor or threat inside and out. That requires that sales provides feedback about what messages are working against a competitor. Sales teams know what resonates and hear responses directly from the customers themselves. They need to communicate back to marketing (and marketing needs to solicit this information from sales) about what works so that product, content, and go-to- market can be adjusted. That’s true sales enablement – a two way street. Sales Enablement is a Two-Way Street
  35. 35. Your product is the top choice of your prospect. They like its fit, your price, and they want to work with you. But you’re not done selling. The prospect still has to get over a few major hurdles internally before you can close out the pursuit. So what will help the prospect buy your product? In any sales situation you need to equip your champion with relevant information and materials that will help them to build a business case for the solution and specifically for your products. Different stages in the sales cycle mean different kinds of content should be shared. #5 The Right Collateral at the Right Time Enables the Closer
  36. 36. Early in the sales process you might share case studies and general value summaries. But what sales tools should you deliver late in the process? It’s all situational, but generally tools that emphasize the business value and support the construction of a business case will be more useful at this stage. That could be ROI calculators, best practice and implementation guides to support roll-outs, and other content that helps the champion. But where is that content and which collateral should the sales person use? With large sales teams and lots of products sales people can’t be expected to efficiently locate the content they need. Look carefully at your prospect’s context to understand the next steps for sending targeted, effective content that advances the sale.
  37. 37. It is vital that you communicate strong, effective messages that resonate to your prospects. That requires having the right content on hand. As a result, sales and marketing teams must work together closely to generate effective content that can drive sales. At the same time, these teams must aggressively measure the results of their content. Is it leading to closed business and advancing deals? Lastly, marketing and sales operations must aggressively curate their content so that only winning materials are used by the sales teams and that sales reps time is focused on selling activities, not searching for relevant content. Content Selling is a Reality for Sales Enablement Teams Discover Your Content Selling ROI. Contact Us.
  38. 38. KnowledgeTree helps companies discover and use the best collateral for any sales situation. Sales people deliver the right content at the right time to prospects and customers right in Find out why Network World called KnowledgeTree one of the 10 SaaS companies to watch. And learn why Software AG, Alcatel, Genesys, Fuji Chemical, and 500 other global companies use KnowledgeTree to unlock the value of their collateral. What is KnowledgeTree? Visit Our Website Follow Us On Twitter Follow Us On Google+ @knowledgetree