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With the flood of information readily available to buyers about potential vendors, modern sales reps are expected to deliver insights and articulate value if they are to generate real opportunities.

The days of small talk and generic pitch decks are over. To make the sale, marketers need to arm sales teams with dynamic content tailored to a potential client's specific needs.

When preparing for any interaction with a prospect, your organization's sales and marketing teams must be in lockstep. However, nearly one in three buyers say they are presented with irrelevant information at some point during the sales process—a statistic indicative of just how siloed many marketing and sales departments are.

And yet, with today's buyers more in control than ever, the stakes and expectations are high for your marketing and sales teams.

How to Maximize the Sales and Marketing Partnership

Buyers expect a personalized, convenient, and consistent sales experience—whether it's digital or in person. Unfortunately, historically siloed sales and marketing teams often struggle to deliver the right mix of assets to answer potential questions from the buyer.

Pulling out relevant, personalized information for every pitch is a big task—and difficult to scale, especially for teams that aren't used to collaborating.

Providing sales teams with the tailored content they need for each pitch and customer conversation is possible, but the right shared tools, processes, and KPIs are needed to make it seamless.

The key is getting sales and marketing teams out of their silos and taking a fresh look at how they work together. Marketing should view sales as its internal customer, and so work to serve Sales's needs with the assets it creates.

If your prospects are often left with more questions than answers, or if you just want to do a wellness check on how Sales and Marketing are working together, keep the following five tips in mind.

1. Don't overwhelm your customer

Most sales reps have plenty of options when choosing sales content. But as marketing departments develop assets for every part of the buyer journey, sales reps are often faced with an overwhelming number of options.

Without structure, reps waste valuable time digging for what they need. Or, worse, they call an audible and create inconsistent, off-brand assets of their own.

A sole focus on quantity of sales materials is the wrong approach. Today's buyers feel bombarded with too many options: 86% of buyers say 10 pieces of content is too much, and more than 50% say even 5 pieces of material is overwhelming.

To succeed, marketing teams must focus on quality over quantity. Buyers are coming to the table more informed than ever; you can't afford to put something irrelevant in front of them.

To avoid those types of mistakes and to optimize their efforts, tap into data: Marketers can use analytics to understand what content their sales teams are using and what content is actually driving sales.

2. Make presentations a dialogue about the value your solution offers

The static deck is all but dead. Sales teams know that pitches have evolved into a less formal and more interactive event, and it's on the marketing team to help make this new conversational format flow.

As buying scenarios increase in complexity, so do products and services do. Prospects need to be guided through the process, and sales reps should be able to tailor information mid-pitch to meet a client's needs. Some of the most advanced solutions equip sales teams with interactive content that lets reps navigate dynamically throughout a conversation.

By surfacing relevant information quickly and easily, this capability can help reps focus on articulating the business impact of the solution, avoiding "we will get back to you" answers that stall a sales process.

3. Help customers better visualize your product

Helping your customers see your product in a new way can help close a deal in ways traditional presentations can't.

For sales presentations that are really memorable and engaging, consider making use of augmented reality. Augmented and virtual reality allow sales reps to help prospects view a product in their space—enabling them to consider the context, logistics, and potential value it might bring.

Consider a rep who sells large appliances for commercial kitchens. During a sales meeting, the rep is able to open an augmented reality app on her tablet that allows the kitchen's head chef and line cooks to view how a new stove and ventilation hood would fit into the existing space. With a few swipes, the rep can show other models or change the color.

Research shows that customers are ready for content beyond static information. Nearly 60% of respondents to a recent survey said they would be willing to spend up to 20 minutes with interactive content.

That statistic drives home how important it is for marketers to go beyond creating traditional sales assets to find new ways to engage their buyers.

4. Enable sales teams to be constant learners

Customers can spend up to two full business days researching a product before they even reach out to start the buying process. The days of a prospect's taking a meeting with you before looking at your website, materials, and company background are long over.

Today's sales teams must have a deep knowledge of the industry verticals they are selling in. Without understanding the personas, unique challenges, and capabilities of businesses within a particular industry, reps will not be able to make the case for how their products and services are positioned to help. Furthermore, they won't know which existing marketing content can help them make the case.

Digital solutions are helping ensure that sales reps get the ongoing training and coaching they need to build up their knowledge and skills. Just as marketers can use analytics to determine what content drives sales, coaches can assign training materials based on past performance and the leads they are currently pursuing.

The digital nature of these systems lets coaches identify the behaviors of sales team leaders and provide the training necessary to elevate the middle of the pack.

5. Iterate on the sales and marketing dynamic

Though every member of a go-to-market team should be aligned around the buyer, it all starts at the top. Sales and Marketing leaders should connect regularly to identify ways to foster collaboration and ultimately improve the buyer experience.

At its core, collaboration should center on ensuring Sales and Marketing are aligned on common goals. That means giving both groups access to data that can serve as a single source of truth for decision-making.

For example, when marketers have data on what content is working, they can optimize their efforts by providing sales teams with better content—and point to the numbers that prove their strategy is successful.

With the proper feedback cycle and tools in place, sales and marketing teams alike can get what they need to drive stronger results for the company.

Sales Enablement

To meet the needs of a more prepared, savvy buyer, sales reps need relevant and personalized content.

Tools like sales enablement platforms empower the marketing and sales functions to band together to deliver a better buyer experience through more tailored pitches and customer-centered solutions.

By enhancing collaboration, those systems also highlight process gaps that show how organizations can improve change management and governance.

Finally, they can also help identify what content works and what doesn't, at last allowing marketing teams real insight into their efforts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Helen Yu

Helen Yu is chief customer officer at Showpad, a global sales-enablement leader.

LinkedIn: Helen Yu