Sales Process Media: An indispensable sales tool

SalesProcessMedia2cropped

Question 1:  Is it useful to have quality sales/marketing collateral to support serving customers at all stages of the sales/purchasing process?

Question 2:  Is it useful to have all of the above in digital form to ease distribution?

contentOK, two questions with absurdly obviously answers.  Of course, any sales professional would love to have a gigantic collection of great digital sales & marketing content to shorten sell cycles, increase odds of closing deals and providing excellent customer service and support.  All that stuff that’s available on-demand and 24 X 7 X 365.

Think of it as Sales Process Media.

Absurdly obvious perhaps to identify the need for Sales Process Media; not so absurdly obvious how to go about making it happen.  Here’s a six-step framework that can help remove some of the mystery.

  1. Curate & Create Content
  2. Classify Content by Type
  3. Classify by Sales Stage
  4. Re-Create Content in Multiple Forms
  5. Choose Distribution Method & Target(s)
  6. Promote the Content

Curate & Create Content:  Curating content is a simple addition to what you’re already doing.  Whenever you read/hear/see something that could/should be of interest to your customers and prospects, grab it and add it (or links to it) to you digital library. (You do maintain a digital library, right?)

Creating content takes more effort, but frankly the thought clarification that comes from writing down a set of thoughts is well worth it.  Just do it.  Start with a short, (350 words or so) once-a-month essay on something you know about.  Anything.  Just get started.  It’s easier than you think, and I bet you come to enjoy it.

Classify Content by Type:  You’ll want to target your collection of content to different people at different times for different purposes.  Categorizing your content collection simplifies finding the right thing when you’re working to get a decision-maker’s attention or showing a technician you know your stuff or proving that you have appropriate experience.  Here’s a set of categories to get going:

  • Thought Leadership (Innovation, Management, Common Issues & Problems, Technologies)
  • Applications
  • Case Studies
  • Product Service Info (Technical Guides, New Product/Service Announcements, Brochures/Data Sheets)

Classify by Sales Stage:  Different information is relevant at different stages of the sales process.  Thought Leadership pieces are good for establishing new relationships and further building loyalty among existing customers.  Detailed product info is needed while bundling customer support for your proposal.

[NOTE:  Some pieces of content are relevant at multiple stages!]

Re-Create in Multiple Forms:   Some people like to read text.  Some need pictures and images.  Other prefer audio.  Some want video.  Feed ‘em the content in the form/forms they like best.

Choose Distribution Method & Target(s):  There are lots and lots of ways to distribute content. Web site, Landing page, Blog, White Paper, eBook, Webinar, Live Presentation, eNewsletter, E-mail, E-mail series…  Use multiple methods.  Use distribution channels you know specific contacts like.

Promote the Content:  Point to great content on social media. (…for sure on LinkedIn & almost certainly on Twitter)  It increases odds of others finding, enjoying and re-promoting your content.  Plug your content into all existing marketing channels used by your organization.  Use the available resources.  Finally, don’t forget word of mouth!  Talk about your content!

No sales professional has nearly enough time to do all that should get done.  Sales Process Media – your digital self – is an assistant you cannot live without!

Content Harvesting – You gotta’ get good at it!

If you’re going to be visible when your customer does a Google search for what you’re selling, you need to have a robust digital extension of yourself; an e-Rep.  In order to have a robust e-Rep, you need to be pretty darn good at harvesting content.  Take a listen for a few tips!

Does Grandma “get” it? (…B2B social selling, that is)

If you’re a B2B sales rep and don’t fully “get” social media selling as it applies to the B2B world, you are toast!  Go find someone who can explain why it’s so essential to their grandma.  Seriously!  Better yet, find a grandma who has built a digital extension herself, an e-Rep!

Real Expertise or Network Strength? (…another perspective)

monroe

monroeMarilyn Monroe.  A famous name.  One that virtually everyone recognizes, right?  Do you think of expertise in consumer product marketing when you think of Marilyn Monroe?  I’m guessing probably not.

And yet, Marilyn Monroe is arguably the best perfume sales person in history.

And how did that come about?  Well, a reporter – looking for some titillation for his readers – once asked her the question “What do you wear at night?”  She replied, “A few drops of Chanel #5.”  The rest is history.

Let’s be clear here about expertise, or lack thereof in this case.  For all her many talents Marilyn Monroe knew nothing, or at best next to nothing about consumer product marketing, or selling perfume or Chanel itself for that matter.  She was awesomely expert at selling her movies.

Her network of followers was the only reason she was able to sell a zillion gallons of scented water.

So yes, B2B sales pro, continue to advance your expertise.  You must!  But never, ever lose sight of the fact that your network, and more importantly, your e-Rep based, digital, social network is every bit as vital

The e-Rep and the “B” account

Quite often the most maddening thing about a “B” account is that if you happen to show up at exactly the right time on exactly the right day, you land an order.  But how on earth do you determine that right time and day?  Dumb luck is the only strategy, and it’s crazy to depend on that.

So listen to the story…  This past week I’m on the phone with a rep from one of my clients.  “Hey,” he says.

“Did you hear that my e-Rep just got a $90K order?”

It’s a cool story!

Real Expertise or Network Strength?

Call it reluctance, or resistance to change, or objection, or fear, or the ever-popular (and sadly pathetic) rationalization that  “it doesn’t apply to my business.”  There is still massive reluctance, resistance, objection… among sales professionals to aggressively developing and deploying an e-Rep, a digital extension of your personal store of knowledge, experience and expertise.

Including you?

KnetworkPerhaps the biggest roadblock is the quite real fact that many decision-maker level folks are simply not in, or are very marginally engaged in, the LinkedIn/Blog/YouTube/Podcast/Twitter/etc. world.  You’ll never make a direct connection that way, you insist.  Ummmm…, so what?  There is a massive and rapidly growing cohort of decision-influencers that is mightily engaged.

This is where understanding the “Real Expertise” vs. ”Network Strength” debate becomes critical.

Consider the 50-something, non-social media engaged, brilliant, successful CEO faced with making a $20 million business decision.  She needs Real Expertise on her decision-making team.

Now consider the Real Expert in this case.  This geeky recluse truly does have awesomely good perspective for this particular situation..  But he’s a geeky recluse.  Afraid of his own shadow.  Couldn’t gain anyone’s attention if he stood buck naked in a crowded conference room.

Now consider the guy with genuine Network Strength.   He is a master social networker.  He is famous.  He has a gazillion blog and e-newsletter subscribers, two gazillion LinkedIn connections and three gazillion Twitter followers.  He is barely aware of the issues surrounding the CEO’s decisions.

So who makes the sale?  The expert or the networker?

OK, rhetorical question, but get the point!!!  Most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes.  Have you ever seen a relative knucklehead win because and only because he had good connections?  Have you ever seen the relative genius get totally ignored because nobody would take the time to listen to him?

If you are the real deal.  A true sales professional.  With lots and lots of genuine and valuable expertise.  Are you seriously going to cede win after win to some yahoo with a stronger e-Rep? Are you?  Seriously? Are you that reluctant, resistant, in objection to developing and deploying a digital extension of yourself.

When they Google, will you be there?

That’s a flat-out, profoundly important question.  Especially if you happen to be a B2B sales pro.

willyouWhat’s the first thing you do when you’re considering buying something? You do a Google search, right? What’s the first thing ALL of your prospects do?  They do a Google search, right? So if you ain’t out there in cyberspace, those prospects will be finding, reading, researching, thinking about and falling in love with your competitors.

Lovely… finding, reading, researching, thinking about and falling in love with your competitors.

Might make sense to tune into or sign up for archive access to a cool webinar; Your Inner (and Outer) e-Rep:  When they Google, will you be there.

Real Expertise or Network Strength?

Call it reluctance, or resistance to change, or objection, or fear, or the ever-popular (and sadly pathetic) rationalization that “it doesn’t apply to my business.”  There is still massive reluctance, resistance, objection… among sales professionals to aggressively developing and deploying an e-Rep.

Including you?

expertPerhaps the biggest roadblock is the quite real fact that many decision-maker level folks are simply not in, or are very marginally engaged in, the LinkedIn/Blog/YouTube/Podcast/Twitter/etc. world.  You’ll never make a direct connection that way, you insist.  Ummmm…, so what?  There is a massive and rapidly growing cohort of decision influencers that is mightily engaged.  They already have the direct connection you want!

This is where understanding the “Real Expertise” vs. “Network Strength” debate becomes critical.

Consider the 50-something, non-social media engaged, brilliant, successful CEO faced with making a $20 million business decision.  She needs Real Expertise on her decision-making team.

connectionsNow consider the Real Expert in this case.  This geeky recluse truly does have awesomely good perspective for this particular situation..  But he’s a geeky recluse.  Afraid of his own shadow.  Couldn’t gain anyone’s attention if he stood buck naked in a crowded conference room.

Now consider the guy with genuine Network Strength.   He is a master social networker.  He is famous.  He has a gazillion blog and e-newsletter subscribers, two gazillion LinkedIn connections and three gazillion Twitter followers.  He is barely aware of the issues surrounding the CEO’s decisions.

So who makes the sale?  The expert or the networker?

OK, rhetorical question, but get the point!!!  Most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes.  Have you ever seen the relative knucklehead win the deal because of his good connections?  Have you ever seen the relative genius get totally ignored because nobody would take the time to listen to him?

If you are the real deal.  A true sales professional.  With lots and lots of genuine and valuable expertise.  Are you seriously going to cede win after win to some yahoo with a stronger e-Rep?  Are you?  Seriously?  Are you that reluctant, resistant, in objection to developing and deploying a digital extension of yourself?

Encyclopaedia Britannica vs. Wikipedia

Britannica a dinosaur and  Wikipedia the brilliant innovator?  Think again!

All Wikipedia did was take an old, old idea – creating a collection of articles about as many topics as possible – put it on the web and opened it up to everybody.  And not making a dime, by the way.

If Britannica’s strategy had been nothing more than collecting and publishing, they’d be gone.  But they’re still around and thriving.  Listen and learn how Britannica’s approach can help your business.

Adapt or Die! (please…)

It’s so frustrating sometimes working with seasoned, successful sales pros.  You know these folks.  We all admire these folks.  They’re the ones knocking out the numbers day after day, week after week, year after year.  They’re dependable.  They’re making the big bucks – deservedly so.  They mentor the younger folks.

They don’t need to change to finish out a successful career.

And that’s the part that makes me want to cry.  Seems like I’m running into it more and more lately.  “I’m hitting my numbers.  Get away from me with this e-Rep stuff.  I don’t need it to be successful.”  Ohhhhhhhh…

Yes, it’s true.  A seasoned successful sales pro doesn’t need an e-Rep to be successful.  And I didn’t need a slide rule to successfully get through all the Chemistry and Physics courses that were prerequisites to my Biology degree.

The best available in 1971

The best available in 1971

Yes, that’s my very own slide rule.  Found it last weekend as I was cleaning out my attic.  It was a HUGE help, an enormous time-saver vs. working out all those equations by hand.

Here’s the point.

Learning how to use a slide rule is hard.  “But, Dr. Quevedo, I can easily bang out these calculations with pencil and paper” (I clearly remember saying that!)  He forced a very unwilling me to learn.  And I was grateful.  Let me repeat that…

And I was grateful.

After the learning curve, calculating took about 10% of time it used to take.  Accuracy was better.  It was easier to stay focused on the Chemistry or Physics vs. getting side-tracked with the math.

So please, please, seasoned, successful sales pro, adapt tools that will make you more effective.  Even if learning how is hard – and time-consuming – and frustrating.  The e-Rep of today is the slide rule of yesteryear.

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PS My mom bought me a “modern” calculator for Christmas in ’72, and the slide rule hasn’t been used since.  That too is part of the lesson here.  Sure we’ll all adapt the easy stuff – like calculator instead of slide rule.  Let’s just not be lazy and only adapt the easy stuff!

Go build that e-Rep.  NOW!!!