POSTED : November 5, 2015
BY : PK

Our recent infographic on the Death of the Sales Funnel spurred many lively conversations with sales leaders.  In my discussions, I wanted to understand how sales leaders are changing to meet the challenge of more informed buyers who are often engaging late in the sales process, armed with a significant amount of information, and in control of their buying journey. The conversations were dynamic, insightful, and reinforcing for me.  Overall, I put the approaches being taken into two distinct “buckets.”

Approach 1: More, more and more content

Many of the sales leaders I spoke to were adamant that the biggest gap they had to solve was getting their marketing organization to increase the visibility of their solutions in the digital and social worlds.  This translates to more, more and more content to increase digital and social presence.  Additionally, these same organizations were pressing marketing for more sales and channel content related to different customer purchase experiences such as trial/evaluation, proof of concept, ROI and direct purchase.

And, while I agree that it is important to have marketing drive effective digital and social engagement of buyers, more is not always the best answer.  It is expensive and potentially confusing – especially if the marketing and sales organization are not tightly connected.  With up to 65% of marketing content never being used by sales, more content isn’t necessarily a solution for more effective sales.

Regardless of the volume of content used, marketing organizations investing in digital and social prospect engagement shouldn’t waste the opportunity to collect insights.  Observing and collecting prospect behavior across your website, social platforms and email can help identify the likelihood and timing of purchase regardless of a prospect’s “path.”  The ability to score prospects and pass along behavior data to sales dramatically increases lead quality and close rates for sales.

Characteristics of this approach:

  • More, more and more content for digital and social presence
  • More, more and more sales content to anticipate any path a customer may take as they make a final decision
  • Leverage content and platforms to develop more sophisticated prospect and lead scoring

Approach 2: Super heroes via sales enablement

The most dynamic conversations I had were with sales leaders who are embracing this shift in customer behavior as an opportunity to create competitive advantage and build a “super hero” sales team.  I use the term “superhero” because the organizational transformation and technology used by these marketing and sales teams to create a more efficient sales experience truly gives these sellers “superhuman” powers to close deals.

It starts with a stronger connection between the marketing and sales organizations.  Marketing agrees to support the entire buyer journey, not just the top of the funnel.  Marketing, like sales, takes a quota (for marketing-qualified leads) and is just as accountable as Sales for revenue.  Content development is guided by reviewing performance data such as internal usage, prospect engagement and influenced revenue.

But, the real “secret weapon” for these organizations comes from taking advantage of the latest in Sales Enablement technology.  Highspot’s Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement provides a comprehensive and detailed view of the transformational impact applying sales enablement tools can bring to your organization.   It is a must read if you want to understand how sales enablement technology can provide your sellers with the assets they need to make the most out of every interaction.

Here are some of the capabilities you can expect in a modern sales enablement platform:

  • Publish any type of content (document, presentations, images, videos, links to web page) a rep might need
  • Curate relevant web-based content on customers and serve it up to a rep
  • Contextual targeting that presents content a rep needs based on the customer and sales stage within the CRM system
  • Content performance reporting from reps and customers that allows marketing to evaluate the effectiveness of content
  • Email-based pitches that allows the seller to know when the content has been consumed and logs the history of content consumption in CRM
  • Live pitches that allows the seller to pitch the latest material online

There are a number of vendors in the sales enablement space so check out Directory of Sales Enablement Tools based on Scott Brinker’s research at Chiefmartec. Your choice of sales enablement platform is important so take advantage of the Directory of Sales Enablement Analysts to engage independent analysts from organizations like SiriusDecisions and Forrester.

Characteristics of this approach:

  • Marketing accountable for content performance
  • Marketing takes a “quota” for marketing leads
  • Marketing creates targeted, relevant content for each sales motion
  • Sellers have insight into content consumed by prospects

Interested in more reading about the characteristics of a world-class sales organization and improving sales effectiveness? Download the presentation on Building a World-Class Sales Team.

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