Let's face it, sales people are notoriously hard to impress—even when you can get their attention. They tend to be very opportunistic learners; they want information when they need it, not before, and if the content isn't completely relevant to their selling strategies—you've lost them.
But your sales organization needs a deep understanding of your customer's business issues and the value of your solutions. So marketing teams need to find new, compelling and sales-relevant tools and techniques to educate sales teams.
That's why delivering traditional product-focused training and communications is not enough. And why taking a creative approach to sales communication is a clear winner.
Bridge the gap between sales and marketing
To improve sales execution, think strategically about your sales audience. Through a marketing-sales partnership, identify and satisfy the communication, knowledge and skills requirements that sales teams have.
For various reasons, a natural friction often seems to exist between sales and marketing. But when the organizations come together in a partnership to create communication and tools for the sales organization, it's the combination of their different perspectives that drives a better result. A critical foundation to strong sales execution is the union of sales and marketing with a joint strategy to deliver sales success.
Don't assume they'll stop to listen
Find ways to send your message on the road—abandon old-fashioned newsletters that get ignored most of the time. Brainstorm mobile, innovative and succinct communication vehicles. Use podcasts (online content fashioned like a radio show downloadable to a portable audio player), voicemail news summaries with a strong component of entertainment, audio customer success stories and online training focused solely on case studies.
Sales teams are always pressed for time, so when you get their attention you can't assume you'll have it for more than 20 minutes. Keep it brief.
Talk their talk
The fastest way to gain credibility and impress your field audience is to make your content about business, not products or selling. That means putting customer issues at the center of all your content and focusing on how your product or service delivers a solution to their problems.
As with any audience you want to connect firmly with sales' motivations, and there is nothing stronger than a sales team's desire to achieve sales targets and impress customers. So make your content about guiding customer conversations, you'll give them exactly what they need—more ways to engage customers in productive discussions.
Capture their best practices
Sales will tell you they get more value from the informal success-story and sales-strategy sharing at sales kickoffs than through hours of presentations. Capture this effect all year long by establishing a multitude of vehicles to capture and communicate sales best practices.
For example, companies now use blogs, wikis, newsgroups and collaboration solutions to develop natural online communities that focus on a competitor, target customer or domain area. These communities create the opportunity for field and market teams to exchange information freely. Use these insights as input for information tools and training.
Drive consistency and forge agreement
Many marketing teams invest in slick PR briefing books or positioning papers, but leave sales messaging and communications to be developed ad-hoc, in the field, with inconsistent results. Sales training, employee communications or field marketing—or sales people themselves—end up interpreting or developing the messages delivered to customers during selling conversations. The result is often a hodge-podge of approaches.
To ensure consistent sales execution, partner with the sales team to develop and deliver effective sales content.
Reinforce, reinforce, repeat
Just as a PR campaign's success often depends on repetition and consistency, you'll need to reinforce your message with a drumbeat of field communication, such as short webcasts, Web-based training, and customer success stories. Sales executives play a critical role in this process as they drive communication down through their organizations.
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