The Key Points

  • Sellers aren’t ready for the interest prospects show
  • The burden to get clear and usable answers should not be on the customer
  • Hyper-relevant video content can be repeat viewed for total understanding and passed on without fear of misrepresentation 
  • Lack of content strategy and powerful content assets might be what keeps pumping the brakes on your sales process


THE PROSPECT IS THERE…IT’S YOUR SALES CONTENT THAT’S NOT

On a bright clear day, most likely in the 60’s, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman rang the doorbell of a pleasant suburban home. The lady of the house opened the door (this was in a time when people actually did that vs crouching under the window and peeking out until the person went away).

 

The man introduced himself and explained he was selling vacuum cleaners. Then he just stared at her.  Miracle of miracles, she said she was actually in need of a new vacuum cleaner!  Problem was, she noticed he had no vacuum cleaners with him.

 

The salesman said him having the vacuum cleaner wasn’t really necessary. He also had no brochures with info about the product for her.  He also didn’t have any testimonials from satisfied customers.

 

The woman said, “Well, I guess you’ll have to just tell me the details and features.”  The man politely explained he didn’t really expect anyone to show any real interest, so all he prepared for was to say his name and tell people he was selling vacuum cleaners.  He said he could take a stab at remembering the features but couldn’t guarantee he’d get everything right.

 

The salesman then asked if she was ready to hear the price.  She replied, “You poor fellow. That hardly even matters now does it?” as she slowly closed the door.   

 

Absurd story, and yet a great many modern day organizations are marching right out into the marketplace in no better shape than our salesman.  Interested parties want to research and gather the info they need to make a buying decision, but the sellers just aren’t ready for that.  They’ve put together a little song and dance for the initial engagement, but after that, the burden seems to fall on the prospect to battle their way to the answers they need vs enjoying a sales operation that moves them smoothly through to closing.

 

“90% of sales-enabling materials created by marketing never get used. Salespeople spend 30 hours a month creating their own!”

A lot of marketing and sales departments have been regarding sales content strategy to drive pipelines as something that can be put off or skipped.  Marketing makes whatever, sales doesn’t use it, and that’s if they even know it’s there at all. According to the American Marketing Association, 90% of sales-enabling materials created by marketing never get used. Instead, salespeople spend 30 hour a month creating their own!  With utter confusion and guesswork going on around content production, how can you possibly be ready for a prospect that’s seriously interested?  All you’ll show them is you either don’t have or aren’t proud of the answers they’re looking for, or can’t communicate competently.  It’s a trust buster.

 

It should be no secret to the sales side of the house what questions prospects ask. No secret what info they’re looking for.  Yet we force them Indiana Jones-style into the jungle of our overstuffed websites and cryptic FAQs. The burden is on them to dig up the treasure.  What if instead, the sales rep sent them a video that directly and only addressed their question?  What if your sales content arsenal had videos covering all the questions you know you’re going to get asked?  What if that content was ready for every step of the buyer journey?  A phone conversation with a sales rep turns to vapor when it’s done.  Will they remember what was said?  Can they accurately convey that to their stakeholders?  Video answers are vetted, consistent and factually error-free.  The prospect can watch repeatedly for total understanding.  Internal champions can share them at higher levels with nothing lost in translation. 

 

“That kind of sales content ecosystem really pumps the brakes on a sales process.”

A lot of B2B orgs truly believe they’re in good shape because they have “a lot” of content.  But because it wasn’t made and isn’t anchored around an overarching plan to gratify prospects and move them toward a confident decision, prospects are left trying to make sense of random, disconnected, contradictory, barely coherent messaging that’s also – and this is the worst offense of all – boring.  That kind of sales content ecosystem really pumps the brakes on a sales process.

 

IDG Enterprise, publishers of CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World, did their 2017 Customer Engagement research and found some worthwhile nuggets about content needs and usage in the tech platform purchasing space.

 

IT decision-makers (ITDMs) HAVE to make good decisions, but they’re getting little to no help from vendors.  Here are some fun facts (hardly fun for the prospects suffering through this) from the study:

 

  • 85% of ITDMs are more likely to consider a vendor that educates them all the way through the decision making process.
  • They download 7 assets on average during their consideration.
  • 79% of ITDMs think negatively overall of a vendor if they can’t find content they need.
  • 74% notice, and like, a consistent omnichannel experience.
  • Why do ITDMs respond to a sales rep? 56% say because valuable content was shared.
  • 60% of the communications between ITDMs and vendor sales reps are email or online based.  It’s a big, impersonal reading assignment.
  • ITDMs respond to video, and 95% watch tech-related videos.
  • ITDMs want product demos in video format.

“They’re TRYING to move through your funnel…but it’s clogged at your own hands.”

The problem is not complete lack of interest on the buyer side.  They need solutions to the challenges they’re currently facing.  What they don’t need is another full time job just figuring you out.  They’re TRYING to move through your funnel…but it’s clogged at your own hands.  On the vendor side, organizations are swirling in confusion and chaos around communications and content…with a high price to pay since it’s the linchpin to higher sales and customer retention.

 

Why is this chaos and confusion allowed to continue when it’s directly striking the bottom line?  There’s a lack of seriousness around sales content planning.  There’s some weird assumption that effective communication happens naturally and doesn’t require thought.  There’s the assumption and hope that our customers will somehow figure out what we’re trying to say.  And content is NOT in the hands of people who know how to entertain and inform, emotionally moving the audience toward taking a desired action.  Address these things and the reward is a customer gratifying, trust-building sales machine.

 

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