B2B marketers around the world are dealing with digital transformation, slimmer budgets, changing business priorities, and growing buyer expectations.
Meanwhile, sales teams have shifted to virtual selling almost overnight. Recent events have accelerated trends that were already underway—and, for many, short-term fixes must now morph into long-term solutions.
Today, more than three quarters of buyers and sellers say they prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions. That means big changes in how your buyers expect to be marketed and sold to—and how marketers can enable virtual selling.
Marketers can support sales teams in many ways in our new hybrid workplaces: meet regularly to collaborate, align on priorities, and learn market or competitor updates.
But the biggest opportunity to keep sellers ahead of the competition and hitting their targets is to give them access to the most timely, relevant, and effective materials. When you empower your sales team members with the right content, they simply have the ability to sell more confidently, effectively, and efficiently—a skill they need more than ever.
Read on to discover three ways marketers can add value to the sales process with content that works for virtual selling.
1. Co-create sales content
In many organizations, Marketing drives the creation, distribution, and management of sales content. Sadly, 60-70% of it is never used, research from SiriusDecisions has found.
How do you overcome that challenge and ensure your content meets your virtual sellers' needs—especially when buyers are clamoring for more digital content and fewer face-to-face interactions?
The most effective way is to use a content process that incorporates field collaboration and learning.
Here's what you can do:
- Create, refine, and perfect marketing content by collaborating more closely with your sales team to develop content it's going to want to use.
- "Pressure-test" concepts and collateral with the sales team before releasing it widely.
- Collaborate virtually by using recorded video to share ideas asynchronously.
- Mine reps' feedback and real-world field experiences for a deeper understanding of prospect needs and industry-specific jargon.
Virtual-selling takeaway: When you engage sellers to refine and improve content, reps are more likely to understand the value of each piece, gain confidence in the new assets, and use them successfully.
2. Activate sales content
Virtual selling requires new skills and tactics to keep sellers ahead of the competition. Companies can't assume that their sales force will simply flip from selling in-person to succeeding online without missing a beat.
As a baseline, your sales team needs access to timely, relevant materials that address buyers' current challenges. But it's not enough to simply make assets available; sellers must know how to use those resources and when to deploy them in the sales process.
Here's what you can do:
- Arm sellers with all the information they need to deliver the perfect presentation.
- Teach sellers how and when to use each item to activate sellers and drive better results.
- Create or provide supporting assets for new sales decks, such as talk tracks, intent videos, best-practice examples, and win stories.
- Track and measure content performance analytics to ensure that materials become stronger and more useful over time.
Virtual-selling takeaway: Reassess your sales content to determine whether it's still relevant for virtual selling, whether it should be retired, or whether the messaging needs to be updated based on current company positioning, competitor challenges, or customer needs.
3. Mine sales calls
Today, B2B companies are using a new tool to gain insights that sales and marketing teams need to raise overall team performance: "conversation intelligence." It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to record, transcribe, and analyze sales calls.
Using conversation intelligence, marketers can view dashboards to learn which keywords and messages are resonating, then use that information to refine campaigns, content creation, webinars, and advertising. Marketers can also find out how sellers are using content, see which content is most effective, and incorporate those learnings into future content.
Here's what you can do:
- Learn how buyers are responding to messaging and interacting with content to observe content effectiveness.
- Detect sales conversation topics to automate content recommendations for various selling scenarios.
- Identify successful content for each pipeline stage and buyer type.
- Fuel content creation and improvement with hot topics, buyer questions, and objections—ensuring content is always being updated in the most effective, relevant ways.
Virtual-selling takeaway: Mine meeting recordings for content effectiveness, gain insight into how messaging is resonating, and produce content based on call topics and buyer objections.
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Now that most B2B sales are virtual, an updated approach to sales content management is critical for keeping teams on track.
One last tip for marketers: Try to connect content success to business outcomes. Focus on content adoption metrics and see whether you can tie content usage to downstream pipeline and revenue goals.
When you know what content is working—and what's not—you can make sales collateral even more effective and meet the needs of sellers as well as buyers in a hybrid world.
More Resources on Sales Content
You may like these other MarketingProfs articles related to Content:
- How Being Strategic About Content Development Can Boost Results and Save Time and Money: Ahava Leibtag on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- Five Serious Content Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid
- Your First New Content Marketing Tool for 2023 Should Be Your Sales Team
- How to Create a B2B Marketing Podcast in 2023—And Why You Should
- Eight Graphic Design Trends That Will Dominate 2023 [Infographic]
- A Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content: Ann Handley on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]