Four Best Practices for Honing Sales and Marketing Content to Individual Prospects

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Not all customers are created equal. Just as an apparel retailer would never sell just one style of t-shirt, or a restaurant would never serve just one dish, companies must hone their marketing and sales efforts to each and every prospective customer.

According to Peppers & Rogers Group, 81% of companies with strong customer experience competencies outperform their competition. And while getting the right content to the right people continues to be a challenge in B2B marketing, there are a number of best practices that can be applied to marketing content creation and sales efforts that can significantly improve your chances of delivering a sales pitch that is responsive, timely, and aligns with your prospect’s needs – even if they haven’t told you what, exactly, their needs are.

1. Don’t Fall Into The Black Hole Between Sales and Marketing

Traditionally, sales and marketing departments have worked in silos. Content is developed by Mary in marketing, given to Sam the salesperson, and never revisited by either again. To hone marketing and sales content to individual prospects, the first (and arguably, most important) best practice is to fill the information black hole that has long separated them.

Filling the black hole between sales and marketing is not a proprietary algorithm that is unsolvable without a secret password and special key. In addition to the straightforward sharing of feedback between teams, sales enablement technologies exist today that are able to measure customers’ engagement with specific pieces of content both during and after the sales meeting. This ability to feed actionable data from the field back to marketers allows them to create a custom-tailored approach to messaging that meets specific customer demands.

2. Establish Customer Personas

In sales, every first meeting with a new prospect is blind. While you may get the gist of their needs, you presumably haven’t spoken with them in depth or had the opportunity to discuss their long-term goals. The fact is, only 61% of sales professionals report feeling good about their ability to uncover customer problems — and those reps are 28% more likely to achieve quota, according to the TAS Group.. Establishing and knowing your customer’s persona is imperative to optimizing this first introduction.

Personas can help you understand who is buying from you and help you achieve the true goal of every sales presentation: relevance. Establishing very specific personas is key in pushing the process deeper in order to gain a solid understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of a customer – and because you have created personas for each type of customer, this can be done even before the first meeting.

An ideal persona should have enough detail to allow the sales and marketing team to conveniently step into their potential customers’ shoes and see their products and services from that perspective. What type of content do they consume at different stages of the buying process? What are the motivating factors and pain points that lead to purchasing decisions? What is their role in the decision-making process? And so on and so forth.

3. Keep Content Fresh

It may go without saying, but presenting the “right” content to the “right” person is useless if the content itself is outdated and inaccurate. And these days, keeping content fresh is an active process, particularly in regulated industries.

While the conversation around a product or service’s features and functionalities may not change as often, the conversation around its value will. This is because a product or service’s value is based on information that is in constant flux: industry challenges, new technology, new laws. Of course, influencers will change depending on your industry or niche, but gone are the days where content remains static and applicable for months, even weeks. Websites should be updated quarterly and content should be updated continuously, based on feedback from the sales team.

4. Be a Problem Solver

The role of today’s salesperson has changed drastically. Because product or service information is readily available to any prospect online, via sell sheets or by request, the sales person – now more than ever – needs to play the role of problem solver, not product pusher.

Imagine a hotel concierge. Guests rely on the concierge to provide recommendations that best suit their needs. Presumably, the concierge is an unaffected third party who is working on behalf of the guest to ensure that if they want steak for dinner, they get the best steak in town, at a price that fits their budget. Salespeople are the new concierges.

Today’s salesperson will guide its prospect through the process of making a decision on what product or service will work best for them. They will help the customer analyze their situation and provide multiple options. Ultimately, the salesperson is not even selling their product, but selling themselves and showing their value to the prospect. Sure, it may not lead to a quick sale, but by playing the long game, they are adding value, which is ultimately more beneficial to the customer and creates stronger relationships.

Conclusion

Today’s sales and marketing teams are faced with a unique set of challenges when it comes to converting prospects. Fortunately, as roles have evolved, so have the tools available to help navigate this new landscape. By using technology to ensure proper information flow between sales reps and the marketing team, utilizing personas, regularly updating content, and adopting a problem-solving mindset, sales and marketing can together hone content to each potential customer, increasing their value and establishing a sustainable growth curve.

Loren Padelford
Loren Padelford leads Skura's global sales organization - including inside sales, field sales, sales engineering and Skura's global partner network - and is charged with expanding the company's global footprint. Loren has a proven history of accelerating revenue growth leading to acquisition and holds an MBA in International Marketing from the University of Liverpool and a Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of Guelph.

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