Today’s sales rep has to be smart, knowledgeable, flexible, and, above all, customer focused. Buyers expect skilled sales representatives to deliver insights and value in the form of informed communications and interesting and engaging content. They expect reps to understand their business challenges and offer not only insights, but ideas for overcoming them. It’s not about pushing product anymore.
To prepare for every call, sales and marketing teams need to come together to develop and deploy the right asset mix that answers the questions buyers typically ask – and provide relevant, personalized information at every step. With more than a third of buyers reporting they’re presented with irrelevant information during the sales process, this is especially important.
Arming sales with the best content for each opportunity can be a challenge for marketing teams, but it’s not unachievable. With the proper tools and resources, marketing teams can provide more tailored sales assets – and do so at scale. The key is taking stock of your operation and evolving the way sales and marketing work together in the following ways:
1. Anticipate Customer Needs
As organizations invest in developing content for all stages of the buyer journey, reps often have a plethora of content to present to the client. But more options often means more time spent digging for what’s needed – or worse, creating ad-hoc assets that are inconsistent, off brand, and potentially out of compliance with key regulations.
Instead of quantity, focus on quality. Eighty-six percent of buyers are overwhelmed when presented with 10 or more pieces of content – and about 50 percent think even five is too many. Worse, according to a new survey, 37 percent of buyers say the information they are presented is irrelevant to their needs.
Data also shows that modern buyers are educated and well informed, meaning the assets you put in front of them cannot be redundant or irrelevant. By working lockstep with marketing teams, however, this can be avoided. When equipped with the right tools, sales and marketing teams can see what assets are being accessed and engaged with most often by prospects. This data helps sales replicate success – especially when paired with AI-driven content recommendations – and enables marketing to invest in the content that impacts revenue.
2. Transform Presentations into Conversations
The days of static, templated sales decks that simply swap one prospect’s logo for another are long gone. Your sales and marketing teams should start thinking about how information flows within a sales conversation.
The modern buying scenarios are more complex and require sellers to guide prospects through the process using information that is relevant, valuable, and can be adapted in real time. By creating an interactive content experience, sales teams can “read the room” and swap elements to better fit what the client is looking for. Such dynamic content provides a guided selling experience that adapts to the client’s unique pain points and industry challenges. The most advanced tools employ AI to help surface and filter the most relevant content based on the conversation and help drive the sale forward where a traditional sales deck cannot.
3. Make Smart Use of Augmented-reality Applications
We’ve made the case for tailored and dynamic content that can change based on your customer’s needs. Now, let’s bring it into three dimensions. Augmented and virtual reality are the new generation of tailored content, and allow you to digitally transform a prospect’s physical space to make a sale.
Consider healthcare. It’s impossible for salespeople to bring large, complicated medical equipment with them during a pitch. However, the smartphone inside the rep’s pocket can solve for this. Augmented-reality applications allow reps to show how the device will fit within the room where it would be used, and even demonstrate its capabilities and features. This creates a much more engaging and visually compelling presentation – whether inside an operating room, factory floor, or office setting.
4. Train Sales to Respect the Value of Existing Content
On average, customers spend up to two business days conducting research before they reach out to a sales team. More likely than not, they are reading through materials and content that already exist – both on your Website and in other outlets – to get a sense of your product or service offerings.
Therefore, it is paramount that sales teams are trained and well versed in the industry verticals where they operate and the personas to which they sell – and have a holistic understanding of prospects’ business challenges and how their solutions can help. The best buyer experiences happen when content is tailored to each prospect by a seller who knows exactly what a buyer is looking to solve. Invest in regular internal trainings to ensure your sales team is skilled and knowledgeable.
Additionally, sales teams must be kept up to date on the features and capabilities of the products they are selling. A client’s trust can quickly sour if the sales rep or team pitching is sharing out-of-date or inconsistent information. According to our own research at Showpad, practice can increase information retention by 70 percent – so sales teams should review new material thoroughly and often.
5. Remain Vigilant about the Sales-and-marketing Dynamic
Chief marketing officers and chief sales officers should make it a point to review how their teams are working together to enhance the buyer experience. Regular check-ins and reviews of how content is being produced – and how sales is influencing this process – are critical.
At its core, the content plan should center on ensuring sales and marketing are aligned on common goals. If marketers don’t have data on sales’ needs or what content is ultimately affecting buyers’ decision making, they can’t create the sales materials that resonate with buyers in a scalable way. With the proper feedback cycle and tools in place, though, both teams can get what they need.
To realize all these steps, consider investing in a sales enablement tool that makes it easier and intuitive for sales and marketing to work together. Instead of spending thousands on content that won’t be used, businesses should implement sales enablement platforms that allow fewer (but searchable) pieces of content to be modified in real time for the prospect in the room, not a theoretical audience.
When marketing puts the necessary resources at sales’ fingertips to create tailored, dynamic sales presentations, more meetings will end with handshakes than headshakes.
Rita Patel Jackson is Vice President of Product Marketing at Showpad.