Order Your Collateral to Match the Buying Cycle
Over the past few weeks we’ve talked about taking a ‘moneyball’ approach to your sales and marketing content. Moneyball for collateral means understanding which messages work best in different sales contexts. So, that means answering questions like, does a banking case study resonate with insurance companies? What proposal content is most effective in Germany? Doing so helps your team put the best content forward to support a sales engagement.
To take the moneyball approach requires an analytical stance with your content. Just like marketing teams track the effectiveness of email and website content, they need to measure and respond to the effectiveness of their sales tools. In this first of a series of posts we’ll take a look at one of the five key moneyball metrics we recommend.
Batting Order or When to Use Sales and Marketing Collateral
Batting order is an important part of baseball strategy. You want fast runners that get on base frequently to be ahead of skilled batters that can drive them in for a score. The same principle holds true for your marketing content. Different messages and vehicles will be effective at different sales stages.
For instance, using a best practices guide early in the sales cycle can lead to spooked prospects. Similarly, sending high-level marketing content late in the game may diminish the apparent value of your solution. Is there a research phase where prospects need to educate themselves on the market? Is there an evaluation phase where prospects trial your solution? Are there concerns or misunderstandings that prospects consistently run into?
Assess Your “Customer Experience”
As a result, we recommend that you understand which content resonates best with different phases for your prospects. To do so, you should look at the journey your prospects take through the sales process to becoming a customer. This will help to understand which content works during different phases in your sales process.
Let’s start with the simplest model, a standard sales funnel. In a funnel, a prospect will pass through a standardized set of steps which are largely understood. That may be an early research phase where the prospect is learning the scope of the pain and the market players. Later, they may be looking to build a business case internally. And lastly, they may move to a final stage where they need to demonstrate that they can get internal adoption.
By breaking your sales process into these standard steps, sales and marketing managers can understand the pains and questions associated with each step. That allows the team to match content with the concerns that the prospect has at each stage. For instance, an early prospect may be interested in educational and thought leadership materials. At later stages they may be interested in product specific details and competitive differentiation in order to build a business case. And lastly they may want case studies and best practices to plan implementation.
In this structured model marketing and sales managers can measure which content is most effective at advancing a prospect to the next step. Does a piece of thought leadership material advance the qualification stage, or do case studies work better? By assessing prospect reactions to content based on the issues they have at each stage, you can gauge which content should be best-practice to include during each sales step.
Customer Experiences are Increasingly Dynamic
However, a standard sales funnel is becoming increasingly less common. Today’s business-to-business buyers have changed. Buyers now engage with your sales and marketing team as needed. They’ll browse videos, read papers, ask questions, and prepare business cases with fewer touches with a sales team.
With this shift, you should first start with a frank assessment of how your buyers interact with your go-to-market team. Understand which blocks of pains and questions a prospect has, much like in the sales funnel above. But critically, because touch-points with the prospect may be fewer, you need to identify the context of your prospect early so you can deliver the right messaging.
By understanding these blocks, you can map which content succeeds in different sales contexts. Then, when a sales person identifies a certain context for their prospect, they can use the most effective collateral to move closer to the sale.
There is no magic to determining the best order for your content. You should understand what pains and questions prospects ask depending on their various stage in the buyer journey. Then, pair content that addresses these pains and continuously measure and adjust your content mix.
More “Moneyball for Sales and Marketing Collateral”
Moneyball for Sales and Marketing Collateral #1: Batting Order
Moneyball for Sales and Marketing Collateral #2: Getting Sales Prospects to Play Ball
Moneyball for Sales and Marketing Collateral #3: Fresh Arms
Moneyball for Sales and Marketing Collateral #4: Challenging the Superstar
Moneyball for Sales and Marketing Collateral #5: Right Time, Right Closer