The data — and real world experience — tells us that the sales process has changed. B2B buyers are not interested in aggressive sales people that offer little more than a call and a request for a signed contract. They need sales people that provide interesting, relevant perspectives and insights. Sales people that add value like this are considered to be real partners, not simply order takers.
But how do you engage prospects intelligently with information that they care about? And since sales people face constant time constraints, how do you make this as efficient as possible? Is a standard Content Portal, or marketing portal, the answer?
As we saw in our webinar series with Lori Wizdo from Forrester, there is a sure-fire way to do so. You can supply winning content to your sales people. Content that helps enrich their conversations with prospects. But the challenge comes down to time and visibility. If sales people can’t find great content, they’re going to rely on, well, less than great content.
Is a Content Portal Right For You?
A classic approach is to create an content portal for sales — a salesforce portal. The content portal centralizes content from many sources into one place and provides links out to PDFs, presentations, videos, and other content.
While a content portal is vastly superior to the alternative — where sales teams use whatever content they can find or request from marketing — you should think about how to make your portal strategy effective. Let’s take a look.
1. Put content where sales works
No one wants to switch around between tools if they don’t have to. Especially when you’re under tight time constraints. So, don’t make sales teams navigate to a shared drive or some other external tool. Give them the content they need in the tool they live in every day.
What tool is that? For sales people it’s clear Salesforce.com. Embed your content portal into Salesforce.com or make it easy to access from the CRM so reps can quickly find matching content. Which brings us to…
2. Make it match
Some organizations go to great lengths to create a sales portal that stores all of their marketing content. That’s where marketing directs sales people when they’re asked for collateral. But if they get to this external source and struggle to find what they need, they’ll be frustrated.
Say I want a case study. Which one is best for my sales stage, or industry, or pain point? Content has to match the sales situation, or it won’t be useful. We suggest content portals that matches your content to the sales situation. Again, having this approach baked into your CRM makes that kind of matching more straightforward.
3. Keep it current
Content changes over time. New product features come out. New messaging is delivered. Typos fixed. And more. But if your sales people get an email from marketing announcing a new white paper attached to the mail, they’ll download and reuse the same thing over and over again. You want a process that keeps sales people coming back to your content portal for the most current version.
4. Keep them coming back
So, how do you keep sales people coming back to your best and most current content? Clearly, time savings is a major factor. Sales people will gravitate toward an approach that does not require a lot of overhead. Having your content portal appear in Salesforce.com means that sales people come back by default — they do much of their work in their CRM. But there’s more to it than that.
You can incentivize sales people to use your tools by providing them with tools that make their life easier. Give sales tools that take the admin headaches out of sharing and recording that content has been shared with prospects. And monitoring when prospects actually engage with your content.
When it’s easy for sales people to find the content they want, you’ll find more sales people use your content portal and the great content your marketing team produces.