B2B sales 2023 will include increased sales rep support, omnichannel sales, and new partnerships to succeed in a tough economy.
AI tech like ChatGPT is all the rage: easily create paragraphs or even full blogs in seconds. Sounds impressive, but it’s worthless if it doesn’t reach the intended recipient. In fact, when it comes to driving revenue and standing out in this hyper-competitive market, sales content can be a massive advantage, but only if it’s easily accessible to both the seller and the buyer and served up at exactly the right moments.
Let’s face it, self-education has transformed the sales process. Today’s B2B buyer is very knowledgeable, which has changed the role of the seller into a trusted advisor.
As if that isn’t enough disruption, buyer interactions span multiple channels, affecting the type of content organizations must produce to keep up. What works on text or social media does not work in a presentation or event.
“Omnichannel sales strategies are not simply a trend, nor a pandemic workaround—rather, they’re a critically important fixture for B2B sales globally,” researchers said in a McKinsey & Company report.
B2B revenue teams can lament the shift to hybrid selling or they can embrace it, by empowering their sellers with the resources to overcome these barriers.
When you boil it down, what do buyers need most? Confidence, says Lindsey Tishgart, CMO at Mediafly.
“The whole job of the seller is to create confidence in the buyer about their choice as well as their ability to successfully manage the project. When you have prepared, empowered sellers, you will have confident buyers.”
Sales secret weapon: The right content, at the right time
When you think about a deal, imagine a series of interactions. Each exchange is a critical moment to convince buyers who not only have more control over the journey, but also are more risk-averse.
Sellers must be prepared to advance the deal, rise ahead of competitors, build trust — and just as important, ensure the buyer doesn’t abandon the purchase altogether: the dreaded “no decision.” The pressure’s on.
With limited time in front of a buyer, content can be the secret weapon. It does the selling when the seller isn’t in the room — both before the meeting as well as long after goodbyes are shared. But to be successful, the content must be well-planned, accessible, engaging and relevant.
Equipping sellers with the right sales content goes beyond the creation of brochures, sell sheets, case studies and white papers. Content needs differ depending on who the seller is interacting with, and when — from a prospect’s first contact all the way through an existing customer with questions or problems.
With so many potential touchpoints and scenarios happening both live and online, managing the content itself — ensuring it’s accessible, on-brand, current and relevant— can become overwhelming.
In fact, according to a Forrester study, there are 1,400 pieces of content available to the average sales rep.
As you can imagine, this scale is beyond the reach of even the most efficient humans. Leveraging customer data, analytics and digital tech such as content management and sales enablement platforms to organize, recommended, learn behavior, and track utilization, engagement and impact is critical.
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Matching sales content to the customer journey
Content mapping is nothing new to enterprise marketers. The strategy works great when marketers control distribution. However, as teams scale and content is shared by many roles, most companies face challenges with content being used at the wrong time — top of funnel content passed to a buyer during close phases and vice versa.
A content map should include the following formats and platforms:
- Awareness – Content answers common questions about the challenge; positioning the company as a resource. This is self-service content: website landing pages, blog posts, videos, research, guides, reports, e-books, checklists.
- Consideration – Comparison factors; expected results or ROI from purchase; reasons why yours is a unique offering. Industry reports, research influencer blog posts, sales intro presentations, case studies, webinars, sell sheets
- Close – Costs; details on use; expectations and getting started questions. Demos, product information, discovery findings, videos, case studies, ROI/TCO calculators & Business Value Assessments
- Retain — Information of value about company, product / service; customer successes; answers to questions; useful tips and updates. White papers, podcasts, videos, email, guides/e-books, realized ROI reports
- Delight – Content beyond product or service, relative to their industry; ways to improve performance, etc. Community engagement, emails, white papers, shared content
To address this challenge while still providing flexibility to sellers, revenue teams are organizing their content using taxonomies as well as buying stages. Rather than group all case studies in a single folder, content should be accessible by type, stage, region, use case and more.
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Sellers can then easily navigate to the right phase and find the content recommended based on effectiveness with other customers in similar scenarios.
This is ultimately a win-win for both the seller and the buyer. Sellers spend less time searching for content, while buyers receive materials that are more personalized and relevant to their current situation.
The modern B2B sales process is dynamic and fast-paced. Through guided selling, businesses can empower their sellers to engage more effectively with customers and win more deals.
Connecting with buyers, delivering value
With content accessible and organized, the next step is delivering value. One of the biggest challenges sellers face today is helping the buyer overcome their fear of regret. Cautious buyers take a pragmatic approach. To win, sellers must connect their solution to a customer’s unique value levers.
Content-wise, this can often take form in ROI or TCO calculators, or a Business Value Assessment, which help quantify impact — as well as make the case to broader buying committees. According to the 2022 Gartner Tech Buying Behavior Survey, value assessments or business-case-development ranked as the most valuable type of content when making a final decision.
“Now more than ever, procurement and CFOs are weighing in on purchasing decisions,” said Dan Sixsmith, SVP Value Enablement, Mediafly.
“Being able to present a compelling Business Value Assessment that aligns a vendor’s solutions with the client’s business objectives presents sound financial support for moving forward with your solution should be a standard component of every proposal.”
Content created with a value-driven approach puts sellers in the position to engage in personalized, relevant, and value-driven conversations — focused on the outcomes that matter most to the buyer. This ultimately gives the buyer the information they need to build a business case to drive internal consensus to confidently make the purchase decision.
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Content management: No more waste
Today, as much as two-thirds of marketing’s investment in content development is wasted because sellers can’t find the sales content they need when they need it.
Ouch.Strategic content management can address these inefficiencies, serving as a single source of truth, while reducing the management burden. They provide:
- Ease of management and governance to control usage. Solves distribution and access headaches for large teams
- Brand control, ensuring content is current and on-brand. Messaging is consistent and sellers don’t have to figure out which content is the latest version
- Activity and usage tracking & reporting increases understanding of buyer behavior, which pieces help convert and close sales, and improves sales management ability to understand seller activities and pipeline
- Connection to a CRM to tie content to opportunities. Ties back-end customer data to daily seller actions; speeds meeting preparation by automatically identifying relevant content for buyer type, sales cycle stage, etc.
- Intuitive search, curation, tagging and content recommendations organizes content according to custom taxonomies; speeds seller access; improves sales process
- Interactive elements to drive buyer engagement enhances buyer interest and enables more personalized sales meetings
- Security – Provisions, updates and manages access to content as well as user data
Much more than just a repository, when content management is effective, it delivers essential insights into buyer behavior that can be one of your most valuable tools to engage and convert prospective buyers.
From e-books to blog posts, videos to GIFs to podcasts, great content marketing wins audiences - even if they reside in galaxies far, far away.
Maximizing every interaction
Digital selling isn’t going away. Now more than ever, you need to assess content effectiveness and ensure your team is set up for success.
These six questions (ideally assessed annually) will give you a lens into your program and your opportunities to impact:
- What types of content are working?
- Do you have content for all sales scenarios?
- Is the content findable?
- Is it accurate and current?
- Do you have to modify it?
- How satisfied are you with our current content strategy?
Where to start? With your sellers of course.