Peter: Hello and welcome everyone. My name is Peter Mollins, vice president with a company called KnowledgeTree. KnowledgeTree is a provider of marketing sales enablement solutions that help companies to engage with their prospects more intelligently by helping to discover relevant content, share it with prospects, and then track that content usage.
Today we’re going to be running through a series of webinars today with our guest, Lori Wizdo, who is a principal analyst with Forrester. The first session that we’ll be talking about today is how to use content selling and the concept of content selling in order to “ Move the Needle” on revenue generation. That is, how you can sell more by applying the principles of content selling to your sales and marketing organization.
So with that, I’d like to pass the ball over to Lori, who is going to now take a look at some of the research that she’s had in this space.
Lori: Thank you, Peter. Well, I think that it’s very appropriate to start off with a discussion of how to move the needle on revenue generation. The information that we see on the screen now comes from the recent foresight survey which is the annual survey that Forrester runs for business decision makers looking into the issues and the plans of business decision makers with regards to their acquisitions.
And you see the top two issues when we ask them, “What do you worry about,” “What are going to be your organization’s top business priorities over the next two months?” that the top two issues are attain and acquire new customers (a source of new revenue) and grow overall company revenues and those two issues are tied at 73%.
I always find it interesting when I look at this slide, that if you look at retain and acquire customers and grow overall revenue, are much more top of mind issues is than comply with government regulations and requirements there straight at the bottom, which is really only 51%. So those are issues that you actually go to jail about. So obviously revenue issues are top of mind issues.
So when the CEO is concerned about an issue, those concerns drive actions. And you can see that in the flow chart here, the CEO says, “Hey I need revenue. I want proactivity out of our sales force.” Of course the CFO tempers that, “While we also need to lower our cost of sales,” and that sets off a flurry of activity throughout the organization. The product campus says, “I‘ll get on that,” and that ends up resulting in all sorts of interesting sales tools, product overviews, competitive briefs.
And the marketing team says “Oh I’ll get on that,” and we start creating a lot of white paper and a lot of executive briefs, and blogs, and content, and events. The sales organization says “I’ll get on that,” and all of a sudden we have a great collection of sales battle cards.
But for the sales reps it really is about the explosion of help.
Sometimes at Forrester, we refer to this as random acts of sales enablement.
Random Acts of Sales Enablement
And while there’s this great wealth of content that the organization has been investing in developing, the poor sales rep is left to figure it out all on his own. He’s got to, first of all, understand what content he has, be aware of all of the content that he has and understand it, how to present it, how to talk about it.
He really has to have the skills to uncover the prospects’ needs, and connect the dots as to how his solutions, how any number of his solutions, how any combination of his solutions can apply to the customer’s needs. Of course he needs the tools to communicate the message to the prospect over time. And as we all know in b2b sales, it’s very rarely one prospect, it’s usually a team of prospects as well. So sales reps develop different coping strategies.
We all know about the most common of the inadequate sales rep’s techniques, which is the “Show up and throw up.” Marketing has a role in this as well as sales does. When marketing creates just more and more and more content, sometimes we refer to this as the “publish or perish”, but our content marketing strategies all are not resulting in more and more content without really understanding how that content applies to moving a buyer through a buying process.
Sales in this model does not help things very much. They just really stand up and send out a lot of information hoping that something will stick. And from the prospect’s point of view that “show up and throw up” ends up really with him saying, “Hey, I know these guys really want to sell something but they don’t understand my needs,” and most prospects are not motivated enough to try to figure out how our content, our solutions, match their needs.
Now, our best sales people and our best marketing people overcome this by heroic effort, and that’s where we really do our homework and marketing people really do try to organize the content around a little better for salespeople, and salespeople do their job of really trying to understand the customer’s context and figure out and apply and communicate well.
Unfortunately heroic effort is not something that 100% of our salespeople are capable of. Our top 20% are, maybe our top 30% are, our bottom 20% are never going to get anywhere near that, and the middle part just sort of muddle through. So the real challenge for sales and marketing professionals is really to work together and engineer the complexity out of this tough communication challenge.
In that case, marketing does the role, our job, by putting together content that is organized more around and designed more around the outcomes our clients are trying to achieve. Sales knows how to discover those outcomes, as well as, now has organized tools, organized information, to really help the customer understand we can help guide that customer through a buying process.
And if we do this, if we design the complexity out of this tough communications challenge, we end up positioning ourselves, the sales rep, and the company, as a strategic partner to the enterprise, to the customer.
And Peter, this is the sort of things that I’m very interested about – one of the reasons I’m very interested in KnowledgeTree. Because I know that you guys – one of the core passions of KnowledgeTree and the reason the company exists is really to help sales and marketing teams engineer a selling system that helps sales reps find a knowledge app, that’s the tools, the content, that they need to become that strategic partner to their prospects.
The Right Sales and Marketing Collateral Will Lead to Increased Revenues
Peter: Yes, you’re exactly right Lori, and thanks very much for that look at the research that you have been doing. I think that you’re exactly right about the importance of growth and the importance that everyone within an organization places on supporting the sales team and that’s where we consider it to be so relevant to have sold in place within an organization.
Essentially what it is is applying the concepts that we learn from content marketing to the sales world and helping sales teams to engage their prospects more intelligently. As you were describing that situation where someone comes in and does the “show up and throw up” with just any old content, you need to make sure that the content that you’re distributing to your prospects, the content that you’re presenting to them either remotely or in person, matches exactly what their needs are so you can have smarter conversations with them.
That leads me to a bit of a discussion around how KnowledgeTree does help organizations.
So first off, sales and marketing teams are producing terrific content and the problem is that salespeople can rarely find that content that they have out there. We have seen some analysis that show that up to 70% of all those sales tools that were produced just never get used and the primary reason is that salespeople can’t find them.
There may be dozens and dozens of pieces of content that are stored in a variety of different places, different blog posts, videos, PDFs, case studies, power points – all of these different pieces of content but for the salesperson, they’re never sure exactly which piece of content they should use in a given sales situation and so what that often means is that they’ll default to the same piece of content, the same generic content, that they use for all situations.
But we know that it does not make sense to do that.
We know that financial services industry is different than prospects in the manufacturing business and someone in an early stage is different from one in a late stage. So you need to communicate with them differently, so you need to know which content and which message you should be using for a given sales situation.
The other challenge and why those great sales tools don’t get used is that the sales team just don’t know where to go to find them. Is it on a shared drive, is it on my desktop, is it in the cloud or in some document management tool. If they don’t know where to go to find it, well they’ll probably pick up the phone and call marketing and ask them or they’ll just simply default to the same old content they’ve been using repeatedly, and that’s not an effective way to communicate to prospects.
So one of the things that we decided to do is to look at – well the challenge here is – the challenge is one of trying to communicate thought leadership material intelligently to your prospects.Then what you have to ask as a marketing or sales leader is, “Where do sales people live and breath each day? What is the most efficient way that you can get those great sales tools, those pieces of content that resonate with prospects, to your sales team?”
And the reality is that salespeople live and breath within their CRM, for many companies that’s salesforce.com. They’re working within leads and contacts and opportunities and the like within their CRM. That’s where they spend the bulk of their time and the day.
So what makes sense from a content selling perspective is to surface the most relevant content – the content that resonates with your prospects: the right video, the right blog, the right powerpoint, the right qualification questions, the right material that helps us support the sales engagement. Surface that within salesforce based on the content of your sales engagement, so that if you’re selling to someone late stage and in the financial services industry, that you can find exactly the right content.
What that means is that you’re able to then surface the exact right content and have a great conversation with the prospect because now it’s content that’s targeted specifically to them.
So essentially how KnowledgeTree helps companies is first off, by being able to discover great content, so the content that helps to engage prospects. So you never have to search to again to find content. Instead, exactly the right content will appear automatically within your salesforce object. You can share it with your prospects directly from salesforce, so with a simple click you’re able to distribute a link to that content and your prospects are able to engage with your content without any attachments required, and then you can actually track which prospects have momentum. So who is looking at your content. If someone is looking at a video, it’s probably a great time for you to give them a call.
KnowledgeTree gives you that insight.
And at the bottom line that really is what content selling is about, it’s helping to have great conversations with your prospects. And when you can have those great conversations with prospects, they do see you as a thought leader, they see you as a resource that they want to engage with, and that means that you’re going to have not only faster-moving transactions, but you’re going to be relied on for bigger deals, you’re going to be relied on for upsell down the line and those customers are going to see the value of your solution much more easily because you’re communicating to them on a one to one basis with materials and content and sales tools that actually deeply resonate with you.
So if you can do this, if you can take this content selling approach to working with your prospects, you’ll have those better conversations and it’ll lead directly to increased revenue growth and customer acquisition.
Now this is the first in a series of three webinars that we’re putting on together with Lori and I definitely encourage you to take a look at a few of those other ones coming up. They should be available through links as well so you can access them directly. Also we’ll be taking a brief tour through the technology itself, s you can definitely click through and watch a video there too. And so with that I’ll conclude and appreciate you taking some time and we’ll see you on the next webcast.