No More Boring Content! Why Sales Enablement is More Than Content Delivery
Guest Blogger Contribution by Tim Hill, President and Co-Founder of Channel Rocket
Search this phrase for me—“No more boring content”. The results will show you pages of proof that things in both our business and personal lives can truly bore us to death. From boring conference calls to boring apps to boring cake to boring brands. And yes, boring content.
Commit to creativity and you won’t be bored
Following a great five-years as President of the Professional Education Division at Ed Tech leader Blackboard Inc., we were acquired by private equity giant Providence Equity. In 2012, CEO Michael Chasen offered me the President of Global Marketing role. I accepted and made the decision that I was going to make this fun and creative for the global marketing team and our clients. I was fortunate to have an incredibly talented group of marketers on my executive team. Three are now CMOs at successful high growth tech companies and three more are VPs of marketing at other major companies.
I entered into the role with the opinion that most of Blackboard’s marketing was conservative and getting stale. And I know—you might think that marketing and selling in the education space—K12, Higher Ed, Corporate and Government Training verticals—could be quirky in nature. You’re pretty close. Still, these institutions and educators are the incredible professionals who deliver learning for students from “K to Grey” (as I coined it.) I felt they deserved creative, fun, interesting and exciting content from us that would lead to revenue growth and brand loyalty.
Make creative sales content your manifesto
According to the IDC, a discouraging 75 percent of marketing material is not used in sales. That’s an intimidating fact for marketing and sales teams. Given that, I threw down the gauntlet to my exec team: “No more boring content!” This undertaking was more than improving on the creative—copy, design, videos, infographics, websites, social, etc. I challenged our worldwide marketing team to measure if all this content was actually being used and if it was successful. In essence, if the sales team wasn’t using the content, then tag it as boring content.
Think about this: Sirius Decisions reports that 65 percent of sales leaders indicate that their salespeople “spend too much time on non-sales activities.” The majority of that time spent searching for sales content they can use! So I had the Blackboard Creative Services team put together a simple but effective doc—a checklist of sorts—to encourage creativity in developing and distributing content. Then they posted this little “No more boring content” sign all over the marketing and sales floor of every Blackboard office. They were in elevators, meeting rooms, kitchens, hallways, even the bathroom stall doors (talk about in your face).
It worked. Our content became more creative and higher quality—from our print pieces to our websites, events, social channels, email campaigns, ads—and everywhere in between. We worked more closely with sales to get them involved so we were providing “what they needed versus what they wanted.” Marketing Ops partnered with Sales Ops to measure and analyze if and how our sales and business development teams used the content.
Sales enablement – more than creative content
The obvious next move after implementing “No more boring content”—including analytics of content quality and usage by sales—is to make sure the content is working. Is the content relevant to buyers and does it help shorten sales cycles? Here is IDC’s definition of sales enablement: “The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place, to assist moving a specific sales opportunity forward.” Regardless of where the function sits, sales enablement must take the role of “air traffic controller” for all sales and marketing communications. That’s where Sales-Ready Messaging (SRM) comes into play. SRM blends content so it’s speaks to buyers and opportunities at their specific point in the pipeline. It’s “sales speak” versus “marketing speak.”
Sales training experts CustomerCentric Selling’s website explains it this way, “Ask any salesperson what is the single most important factor in a successful sales call and he/she is likely to respond ‘relationships.’ But knowing what to say to get to the key decision maker once you’ve leveraged those relationships is just as important. With a little up-front work to create ‘sales ready messaging’ for your sales force, you can shorten the sales cycle and close more deals, in less time. The key to Sales Ready Messaging (SRM) is to understand your customer and his/her needs – before your salesperson walks in the door—so you can influence the conversations they have with buyers.” Dead on people. It’s important that you blend marketing content with SRM so sales reps can present your value proposition, your unique “secret sauce” and your solutions properly to speak to the specific needs of that buyer.
The bottom – errr – boring line?
Forrester Research reports “78% of executive buyers claim salespeople do not have relevant examples or case studies to share with them.” There is a hole in the sales process and it’s a big one. What’s missing is making sure sales reps have a captivating sales pitch that meets buyer pain points and matches the right solutions at the right time. The challenge that marketing and sales teams face is effectively providing sales reps with both compelling content and SRM that positions their products correctly against competitors and in a way that focuses on the buyer’s specific needs. And admit it—most of the sales and marketing content that companies give to their sales teams are generic, not “solutions oriented” and not talking to buyer pain points. So here are 3 simple steps for creating content: Step 1: Get creative. Step 2: Measure if and how your sales uses marketing content. Step 3: Make “No more boring content” your mantra!