Gone are the days of B2B marketers developing content simply to generate new leads. Creating sales enablement content to drive prospects further down the funnel is now a critical part of the B2B marketer’s role. However, progressive marketers are moving beyond the usual product spec sheets and PowerPoint presentations — and instead are collaborating with the sales team on video, audio, interactive content such as assessment tools, ROI calculators and other messaging to help close more deals.
According to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 Content Preferences Survey, 50% of participants viewed video in the past 12 months to research a B2B purchase. Nearly all (95%) of the respondents to a recent Demand Metric research, Video Content Metrics Benchmark Report, found that video as a form of marketing and sales content is becoming “somewhat” to “far more” important.
“Over years, marketing has been developing some of the tried-and-true content types — white papers, eBooks, articles, blog posts and various other pieces of content — that salespeople have shared with prospects in every stage,” explained Michael Kolowich, CEO of KnowledgeVision. “The range of content types that are available is suddenly expanding quite dramatically by introduction of multimedia. Jim Lundy has predicted that video is the new document and will be the dominant content type for learning, marketing and sales.”
As they develop more content to help support the sales conversations, B2B marketers also want to gather more information on how that content is performing. They are looking to apply some of the same metrics to their sales enablement content as they do to their demand generation efforts.
“The most progressive organizations are having their sales and marketing teams collaborate on rich multimedia content that helps to drive the conversation forward,” said Chuck Dulde, VP of Sales Engagement at SAVO. “The influence and involvement of marketing in the sales cycle is now much deeper, going all the way up to the solution validation process and beyond.”
Personalizing The Message
Dulde noted that since a few interactions between prospects and sales reps take place before a face-to-face meeting, personalization is critical. “Since often sales reps are not in front of the customer during the first few meetings, it is important to ensure that rich multimedia presentations mimic those exchanges with clients.”
Producing personalized multimedia messages requires a highly collaborative process involving sales and marketing. Kolowich noted that video does not have to be an expensive production process, and it doesn’t even have to be video in the traditional sense.
One example is a short video introduction from the sales rep, with pre-recorded digital whiteboard presentation with a voiceover from a subject matter expert explaining a new product or concept. “You can get creative without having to do a big-budget video production,” Kolowich said.
Contextual content is imperative to moving buyers through the sales cycle, noted Joan Babinski, VP of Corporate Marketing for Brainshark. “Interactive content served up with the specific requirements of the user in mind enables rep get one step further in process.”
B2B marketers are also becoming more mindful that prospects — as well as salespeople — are accessing content on smartphones and tablets. “There is a lot of content that is still stuck in spreadsheets and PDFs,” said Alex Salop, Director of Enterprise Product Marketing for Brainshark. “Mobile doesn’t support these documents in the same way as video.”
Assessment tools and ROI calculators are also becoming more standard in terms of sales enablement — both customer-facing and for use by sales teams as they enable prospects to see the potential impact of their investment. Pairing the interactive content with some short content that is specific to a role, company or solution can help move a prospect along the sales cycle.
“People are much more likely to engage with an ROI calculator than they are a 10-page ROI report,” noted Giles House, CMO of CallidusCloud. The company recently acquired Clicktools, a SaaS-based enterprise survey management platform and data integration solution provider based in the UK. The price was approximately $14 million, and will add roughly 500 new customers to CallidusCloud’s client list.
Tracking Engagement Of Enablement Content
Whether the content is being created for sales training or to be shared with prospects and customers, there should be processes in place to track engagement. “Just knowing that someone downloaded a document is helpful, but it doesn’t tell a complete story of how they engaged with it,” said Babinski. “Interactivity that helps the rep prioritize their time and see how interested that person is and trigger an action as to where they want to go next.”
Tim Riesterer, CMO of Corporate Visions, added: “The goal of sales enablement content is to create a buying vision, and it's hard to create a buying vision with a pre-packaged PowerPoint presentation."
Riesterer noted that salespeople who have become comfortable with tools such as digital whiteboards have a distinct advantage. “Not only is it more engaging during the presentation, but they can capture what they drew and email from their mobile app after the meeting. It also makes it easy for the prospect to share with other decision makers who were not at the meeting. That’s a pretty powerful way to take an opportunity to the next level.”
Metrics should show how content is performing with customers as well as how often salespeople are sharing that content with customers, according to Robert Wahbe, CEO and Co-Founder of Highspot. Highspot scores and recommends content, delivers real-time alerts on how customers are engaging with content, and provides advanced analytics. “Say I have 100 pieces of content I can send a prospect. It is just a blind guess as to which one to send them if I don’t know which pieces of have been the most effective at closing deals.”
By linking the CRM with content analytics, Wahbe explained that salespeople can see rankings for various pieces of content when they do a search. “That is really closing the loop and gives the rep the ability to take the opportunity to the next level.”