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The Sales Review

Learn about emerging best practices, strategies and insights on B2B sales today dedicated for the modern sales organization.

Effective Sales Enablement Requires Tighter Alignment Around Value Messaging

Posted by Sales for Life on Feb 9, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Sales reps ask for more content, yet the content already created by product teams, marketing and sales enablement groups seems to sit there taking up server space and offering zero action. Some research indicates that up to 65 percent of the content created for sales teams is going to waste. Why?

The answer is relatively easy to diagnosis. Sales reps need more than just content. They need “content that they can use.” To fix this issue, they must rewind back to the moment the content was built.

Diverging content priorities

Product managers are responsible for training the sales force on what they just built, so they tend to go into details on features, modifications, integrations, etc. For the sake of efficiency, they use cut and paste to pull in information from similar products. Ironically, their expertise may pose part of the problem.

A product perspective by default ignores specific customer challenges and what the customer needs to know at various stations along the customer journey. Product perspective may be ideal for training, but it’s wrong for sales.

Meanwhile, marketing has already built the high-level global messaging, including online content and lead generation materials, around customer value messaging. At the same time, sales enablement teams have created a playbook for and entire line of new products, with buttons and links and little that is useful for a sales rep under pressure to build relationships.

The rewards of alignment

How often does something like this happen? According to CSO Insights, two out of three organizations deal with sales enablement content that is either not aligned with training content or is only aligned at the highest level. It is no wonder sales can’t use conflicting content that was built on different logic systems and is not customer-oriented.

Sales reps are judged on what works, so they tend to rely on what worked last week under familiar circumstances. That misconnect is the beginning of a new silo, cutting off sales from the content teams that want them to succeed. What’s the cost? Misaligned organizations have seen a 22.6 percent loss in revenues compared to a 7.5 percent increase for sales teams that use content aligned at the level of value messaging.

Context-based content for social sellers

A report by Forrester found that only 8 percent of B2B firms currently enjoy the spoils from content alignment. The report concluded that, “A strategic messaging architecture, coupled with content audit checklists, ensures messages are on target, in context, and persuasive.” Strategic messaging starts with context-based marketing, where buyer profiles should lead message development. The most successful social sellers move from Buyer Need to Content Match to Engagement. Compare that to the old traditional model of Offer to Response to Fulfillment. The traditional model is built on a funnel model where those who don’t fit the offer just disappear, often for good.

That traditional approach is why so many B2B buyers reported being unhappy with the amount and quality of the content supplied to them, in a study from Boston Consulting Group. They found that, “More than half of all B2B buyers view at least eight pieces of content during the purchase process, and an additional 30 percent view five to seven pieces. They want concise and coherent interaction however it occurs—and when they don’t get it, they often eliminate a vendor from consideration before any direct sales contact takes place." 

The ideal content creation team

The most logical way to attain the level of value-messaging alignment that B2Bs expect is to bring together a master group for sales content creation. This master group includes team members from the front line, sales leadership, marketing managers, business development reps and representatives from the C-suite. Without input from all these essential groups at the earliest stages, it's difficult to move sales enablement content beyond an uncoordinated mix of varying priorities and messages.

Sales enablement tech for continuous training

Social selling can be among the most effective tools for both delivering context-based messaging that customers need most and making sure sales teams adhere to best practices through training reinforcement.

Here are three sales enablement solutions a sales leadership team can implement right away:

Formalize social selling techniques during sales training.

As part of the onboarding process, introduce social selling practices that have been effective for specific sales teams. Continuous reinforcement is key to extremely successful learning program.

Condense best practices for social strategies and make them available online.

Training is not a one-time event. It is most effective when sales reps can refer back to materials as they need them and learn on the job as new situations arise. Fortunately, sales enablement technology is ideally suited to delivering social sales training materials wherever, whenever sales reps need them. An on-demand learning portal can also test and certify that sales reps have what they need to close more deals faster.

Refresh content regularly in a content committee.

All stakeholders have to come together regularly to keep the messaging in alignment and prevent departments from naturally falling back into their comfortable silos. Share high-level corporate goals, operational challenges and stories from customers as collected by sales reps. This not only keeps sales content relevant, but it can transform a product-focused organization into a more agile, responsive market leader.

Summing up:

Divergent content creation teams generate mixed messages, resulting in content that sales teams cannot use. Leading customer-oriented B2B organizations are using sales enablement tech with social selling techniques to align their content, engage their buyers and deliver better revenue numbers.

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