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Sales Content: What Winners Do Differently – Learnings from SiriusDecisions Summit

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Enablement Strategy

You’ve probably had that feeling: late for an appointment, you’re in a rush to pull everything together, and at the last minute you realize that you’ve misplaced your keys. It’s panic time to find the one thing you really need.

Often, sales people experience this panic feeling when they’re trying to close a deal. It’s the last minute, they need a specific piece of material per the client’s request, and they simply can’t find it.

Last week’s SiriusDecisions Summit (which just gets better every year) gave us a lot of lessons and guidance on how to help our sales teams be more efficient and effective — in other words, how to give them the keys to close the deals.

Sales Content: What Winners Do Differently

Heather Cole and Christine Polewarczyk’s session on “Sales Content: What Winners Do Differently” shared some fantastic data from research that SiriusDecisions recently published:

  • 79% of B2B buyers report that the content provided by a rep is very to extremely influential in their selection of one vendor over another.
  • On average, B2B buyers consume more than 17 pieces of content as they progress through the buying cycle.
  • Similarly, sellers use 10 pieces of internal content to close the deal, on average, with “high performers” using 20% more than low performers.

This data tells us it really is critical that sellers get the content they need—the right content—in a timely fashion.

Cole and Polewarczyk went on to suggest that marketers:

  • Stop throwing content over the wall, and instead focus content efforts on effective content in two categories
    • Empowerment (internal content to empower high performance reps)
    • Activation (external content that activates the buyer to move forward)
  • Map content to the buyer’s journey and measure its effectiveness in that role
  • Analyze how their organizations are using types of content and specific content at each stage of their sales process
  • Create a regular process to understand how content is being used by their best performing sales reps to improve sales win rates

Incidentally, these suggestions map closely to what we’ve been saying about enabling a closed-loop sales enablement platform to help you map content and measure its effectiveness.

Sales Enablement Programs of the Year

Peter Zink reviewed four companies with various sales enablement projects that won Program of the Year awards. These are all exemplary companies with fantastic stories; however, I want to highlight one story regarding sales content:

  • At Analog Devices, the majority of sales reps were wasting more than four hours a week searching for content
  • After a thorough content audit, 70% of content was eliminated as outdated or irrelevant
  • 3,000 SharePoint sites were consolidated to a single global platform
  • Sales call prep was reduced from more than three hours to less than one hour

By implementing a structured, measurable approach to sales enablement, Analog Devices saw truly outstanding improvement to sales efficiency with immediate business benefit. Imagine how much more time reps have to sell if you give back four hours a week in addition to two hours for every sales call — it’s significant!

This story is not uncommon among our customers. We see it time and again: Sales reps gain a great efficiency by not wasting time looking for content, content quality and relevancy is improved, and reps become more effective with better processes, better content, and a focus on best practices.

Red Hat: Advancing the Art & Science of Sales Enablement

Greg Munster, Senior Director of Global Sales Productivity at Red Hat, gave an in-depth overview of how it has deployed Highspot to do just what Cole and Polewarczyk suggest: Make it easy for sales teams to find the right content, measure content performance, and improve sales team performance through continuous process improvement.

Munster defined his charter succinctly, saying,

Sales enablement is critical in developing strategic plans, delivering innovation, and supporting program execution across marketing and sales to optimize Red Hat global sales performance.”

That focus on optimizing global sales performance is really powerful, and it’s the key to driving business value.

The Year of Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is growing aggressively for a good reason: It works. Aberdeen Group says that 60% of best-in-class organizations have a formal competency to ensure that marketing has extensive visibility into the sales team’s utilization of content. And, not surprisingly, organizations with this visibility see an 85% sales quota attainment, more than three times more than the worst performers.

This means best-in-class organizations have abandoned outdated, piecemeal solutions that don’t work such as file share services, network drives, SharePoint portals, and even legacy solutions in favor of modern, closed-loop solutions with next-generation technology designed specifically to help sales optimize performance.

There are a lot of solutions on the market that promise to help you streamline sales enablement, many of which you saw on the SD Summit show floor. The solutions can all sound the same in a 30-second pitch, but now that you’re headed home from the event, there are a few critical areas to consider before rushing into selecting a technology offering.

With the right sales enablement platform, you can make sure sales always has the keys to close the deal, and these tools can help you evaluate what will work best for your organization.

  • Our Sales Enablement Evaluation Tool is completely complimentary and helps you understand the top solutions available.
  • For a research-backed perspective, check out this report from Sirius Decisions. The Sales Asset Management SiriusView report provides an evaluation of the capabilities of 12 sales asset management vendors and includes a thorough comparison of the available features, strengths, and challenges of each provider.
  • Our Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement takes you from research to results—and every step along the way as you implement your platform.

It was great to see everyone in Music City last week, and we hope to see you next year in Sin City for #SDSummit17!