There are approximately 873 sales tech solutions on the market today. If you’re a sales or marketing leader, feeling overwhelmed by this number is a very rational response. Sales tools are popping up almost every month (if not sooner) and trying to figure out which to invest in isn’t as easy as it should be.
Should you opt for sales engagement features, and how detailed should your sales analytics be?
Where does content fit in?
After all, it’s hard to imagine a world without effective sales and marketing copy or the right collateral to drive the sales cycle. It’s even more challenging to dismiss all the stats about how content is neglected by sales.
So, what’s a sales or marketing leader to do?
We think that a simplified approach to sales tools is the answer, one where sales engagements and the quality thereof are supported by tech.
The 2018 sales tech landscape compiled by Nicolas de Kouchkovsky
Sales tools and the shift to a content-first approach
A content-first approach isn’t an entirely new idea, but it’s become one that’s increasingly necessary as B2B buyers and their purchasing habits have evolved.
For example, CEB research found that buyers are less interested in speaking to sales when searching for new features or functionality for an existing solution, than when they are in the market for new technology. And the number of people involved in B2B purchases has grown from 5.4 to 6.8, a factor that influences the sales cycle.
What does a content-first approach involve?
In our Unlimited B2B sales content blueprint eBook, we examine the role of content and how it enables sales. We also explore the types of content that you should consider producing to fill the ‘missing middle’, a term used to describe the middle of a sales funnel that lacks resources and ultimately content which helps drive sales.
Filling the middle of your funnel with valuable sales content is an important step towards creating a strong content-first approach. With the right material, your sales force stands a better chance of taking top-of-funnel leads and educating them effectively as they are positioned for the sale.
While middle-of-funnel content is highly valuable, knowing how to make use of content at the right time matters just as much.
Smarter sales processes for impact
It’s undeniable that selling can be distilled into a repeatable process that generates results, which is why sales playbooks are so popular, and there’s data to support this claim. For example, a survey conducted by Vantage Performance showed that companies that incorporated three specific pipeline practices experience as much as 28% higher revenue growth.
Sales playbooks provide sales and marketing with a clear framework that sales will use to engage prospects, and marketing will support with the right content.
For instance, if a prospect has just downloaded an introductory guide to a problem you’ve identified, your sales playbook helps sales reps determine exactly what their first engagement should look and sound like with the prospect, and what they are to expect.
Sales playbooks also include practical content, such as email templates that sales can use as the sales cycle progresses, and tips on how to handle objections as they arise.
If you don’t have a sales playbook just yet, download your free copy of our eBook, How to build an effective B2B sales playbook here.
Supporting content with the right sales tech
When it comes to sales tools for sales reps who will be using a content-first approach, what should you be looking for?
Each business will have a unique sales process, playbook and messaging. However, your technology should be built around simplicity, and where possible, it should have an intuitive feel. Your sales tools should enable the use of quick, effective and timely messaging.
For example, when we built the Qorus for Office 365 Add-in, we wanted to give sales people the ability to easily find and use their best marketing content in emails, presentations and other business critical documents, without leaving Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
To do this, we developed an intuitive search panel and the ability to easily insert content.
Two considerations in addition to ease-of-use and intuitive feel that you should explore include:
- Integration with existing applications that your team relies on. Can your new tool work within your existing tech ecosystem, and what are the integration limitations if any?
- How many features will you rely on and are they necessary for enabling your sales force? For instance, our O365 Add-in solves a big problem experienced by businesses of all sizes, saving time locating and using accurate content that is usually spread across multiple storage devices and the cloud.
A content-first approach to selling focuses on content and how it influences sales outcomes, and how sales tools should play a supporting role. As you explore which tools your sales force will use, consider leading with a well-designed sales process backed by strong content, then find tools that help your team quickly and effectively engage your leads.