EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is part of our “Smarter Sales and Marketing” series, a regular feature where technology marketing and sales experts will be sharing insight, tools, and best practices to help today’s leaders better integrate marketing and sales strategies for maximum success.
You are either finalizing your 2015 marketing and sales plans, or you are preparing for the annual sales kickoff while trying to execute on new programs and campaigns. Either way, the clock is ticking so leveraging past success can be an excellent way to build 2015 momentum quickly. Getting a jumpstart on this year’s goal attainment can be achieved with a few 2014 success hacks.
A colleague of mine periodically uses a campaign concept that has always had good engagement called “Did You Know…” It broke down the messaging into factoids to be used for a variety of reasons: new product introductions, channel partner marketing, service upgrades and changes, and new account team introductions (just to name a few). The applications are limitless and the beauty of it is the engaging mix of curiosity with utility. So scour 2014 and 2013 for the most effective campaigns with an eye to releveraging them. Early momentum will have great impact, especially in the first quarter when your sales people are clamoring for leads.
Creating and executing a large scale event is not for the faint of heart. Among the many challenges is obviously getting enough butts in seats. The reality is that you can never get everyone you want there. Tight budgets, busy schedules, and heavy workloads can prevent the right people from attending your marquee event every year. Consider bringing a right sized version to each region – giving your sales people a field advantage in getting more of their prospects and customers to participate. Keep the theme and the content relatively intact – but right size the number of presentations, the interaction, and the goals to reflect regional size and flavor. This approach gives you and the sales executives a focused opportunity to sit down and narrow in on key target attendees. Consider adding a regional customer panel to the agenda for local presence. Include select keynote video from the “big” event to create an inclusive environment and bring attendees “into the fold.”
Having performed many content assessments in the technology space, I can tell you that the majority of organizations’ content skews heavily to early buying stages: awareness, and building a business case. The evaluation stage is pretty focused on demos, trials, and the like. But typically the content mix is very light at the later buying stages: Making the Shortlist, and Final Decision. This is an area where sales people are challenged to bring to the table the right tools to give them an edge. More and more, buyers aren’t even engaging with sales people until then.
Marketers would do well to extend their best content mixes to be sure to include at least 2 or 3 late stage pieces of content that will help the buyer and your sales executive have the right conversation to close the deal. What were the top content assets that your buyers consumed in the last 12 months? Can any one of them be extended or turned into a piece of actionable content? Examples include interactive tools, ROI calculators, a short survey that provides the user with aggregated results on peer decision making. Consider also taking the best of your case studies and turning them into an interactive online presentation or a video. Identify the typical objections that happen in late stages and build or retrofit content that engages at that level.
Consider thinking about your value propositions as if they were literally a mirror. If your prospects look into that mirror, whose face do they see? Your company’s, or their own? It should be obvious who they want to see, but this is still an area that is weak for a lot of organizations. So this month, I challenge you to relook at your value propositions for each offering and ask yourself: Whose face is in the mirror here? If it’s your face, then take the value proposition and translate it into the customer’s experience. Break it down into its component parts and focus individually on each piece. First work on the Customer Objective (need, challenge, goal, issue) statement. What are they trying to accomplish here and how would they describe it in their own words? Follow this with your Offer Statement which should be how you specifically address their objective. Stay on topic and don’t make the mistake of stuffing this piece with everything there is to know about your offering. For prospects, nothing is more important than relevance. Finally, take a hard look at your differentiators and net them out to just the ones that are truly unique (i.e. the majority of your competition is not claiming this), believable and provable. Proof is a filter for a differentiator – if there isn’t a way to offer credible third party proof points, then you can’t use it. Once you have all three components nailed down, combine, tighten and test with live customers.
Getting a handle on how your content is performing is a must in this marketing metrics-driven environment. Determining the right mix of content should be use-based and a combination of inside and external views. Analyze your metrics for downloads, conversions and the like to see which content floats to the top. This will give you the external prospect/customer view. What didn’t work is just as important as what did, given the amount of resources content creation absorbs. The content at the low end should be replaced with assets that bear similar characteristics of top performers.
To get the interior view, you should consider polling the sales people to get a view on what content assets they use, which ones they like the most and why. What do they need that is currently unavailable to them? (So an answer of more testimonials or more case studies would not be a relevant answer here!) You want to get a feel for what’s working, and what’s missing. The combined internal and external view can help you lay out a content strategy map that is focused on user utility – both prospects and sales people alike. You should consider going one step further and lay out the content by buying stage to ensure that you have coverage across all stages. When you take a vote, you should then share the results. Roll out the Content Map to your sales team so they are clear what is available at each stage with instructions on how to engage the prospect with each asset. Include a set of killer questions with key content assets to enable effective, consistent sales conversations.
So there are your success hacks to get 2015 moving quickly. Use these hacks to leverage and extend successful campaigns, marquee events, value propositions and your content mix. When something works – do it again!
An experienced salesperson and marketer, Lisa Dennis is president and founder of Knowledgence Associates, a sales and marketing consultancy. Pairing hands-on marketing and selling of information and high technology products and services, she understands what the customer imperative needs to be for communicating information about products and services to varied audiences. Lisa’s philosophy is that the core of successful marketing and sales initiatives is “doing the homework” – making sure that the information side of programs and campaigns are solid.
Prior to founding Knowledgence in 1997, she held publishing, product management and marketing/sales roles at Bolt Beranek and Newman, Thomson & Thomson (a member company of The Thomson Corporation), The Center for Business Intelligence, and World Congress. You can follow Lisa and Knowledgence on LinkedIn and Twitter.
content development, content distribution, content marketing, Customer Engagement, marketing and sales alignment, Sales and marketing, sales and marketing alignment, sales and marketing strategies, Smarter Sales and Marketing
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