The Marketing Strategist:
How to Create Content That Helps Sales Connect with the Customer
February 9, 2011
For salespeople to be more credible in front of customers, they should be able to tap into three things:
- Formal marketing content. Offer everything from specification sheets to thought leadership.
- Tribal knowledge. Use tips and best practices from other salespeople on how to manage sales situations.
- Subject matter experts. Manage the availability of services and product experts to help customers work through their needs.
Together, these three sources constitute the “collective genius” of the company, said Jeff Summers, Chief Innovation Officer for sales enablement software maker Savo.
The challenge for most companies is not content but rather how to help salespeople have more clear, compelling, and consistent conversations with customers. Marketers can help by giving salespeople the information they need in seven important discussion areas:
Understand the Hidden Weaknesses of Sales in B2B
- Discovery. Are we asking the right questions?
- Capabilities. How can we address the pain points uncovered through discovery?
- Value. What’s the return on implementing those capabilities?
- Urgency. Why does the customer need to do this now?
- Differentiation. What makes us better than the competition?
- Proof. Who says we’re better?
- Objections. How do we respond to customer concerns at all stages of the buying process?
As marketers, we understand that salespeople in B2B have it tough. Big, complex solutions, a long buying process, and many decision makers involved in that process. But there are also some less obvious hindrances that marketers need to be aware of if they are going to help salespeople be more effective, said Mike Schultz, President, RAIN Group.
Here are the hidden weaknesses that hold back sales success, according to Schultz:
What’s Marketing’s Role?
- Negotiability in everything. Unlike B2C, where prices are generally firm, we say we can go back and sharpen the pencils.
- Need for approval. B2B buyers always push back. But many salespeople have a need for approval that prompts them to walk away at the first sign of resistance instead of challenging buyers.
- Emotional involvement. Often salespeople will have worked closely with a client for months and then get this edict: you need to cut the price by 20%. Given the time and effort they have put in to get to this point, salespeople can get angry and that anger can threaten the deal. They need to keep the emotions out of it. They need to ask why the cut is necessary or say that they can cut 20% of what they offer.
- Low money tolerance. B2B solutions and services are often quite expensive, which makes salespeople reluctant to talk openly about prices. Salespeople must become more comfortable talking about big numbers.
- Self-limiting beliefs. Nearly all salespeople let negative beliefs get in the way of selling. For example, “I’m no good at having conversations with the C-level executives.” Salespeople must identify the areas where they are having these doubts and get help and coaching to overcome them.
To help salespeople get past these limiting factors, marketers have to provide salespeople with the tools to connect customer needs with the company’s solutions. Marketers must create content that makes it easier for salespeople to uncover customer needs, outline capabilities that solve the need, and articulate the value.