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Life after an MQL: Now your content really matters

Marketers work hard to generate good sales leads and the best marketers know that an agreed upon set of qualification criteria with sales is an essential ingredient in a high performance sales process.

Inbound marketing, content marketing, paid programs, and search optimization all work hard to drive interest into the very top of the funnel and then via form completion, back-end data enhancement, and/or activity scoring via marketing automation all lead to the creation of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) that is then (generally) handed to sales for further qualification and pursuit.  These leads become Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), then opportunities with the goal of converting them to customers.

The nature and type of content needed by the sales team for engagement varies pretty significantly from that used to attract interest at the very top of the funnel by marketing.  More often than not there is no understanding about what is being used, how effective it is, or even if the right things are available at the right time.

Marketing leads are measured on a cost per lead (CPL) basis that calculates the cost to actually get someone interested and to a qualified state.  This can be expensive so vigilance on spend is essential.  What is even more expensive is sales engagement especially if it is with the wrong prospect (not qualified) or is not taking advantage of the most up to date and accessible sales content to drive the conversation and buyer’s journey.

Sales enablement done right puts the right content at the right time into the hands of the salesperson through intelligent sales playbooks or just a better way to search and find the piece of content needed to move the prospect through the buyer’s journey.  Adding a closed loop approach that connects what marketing creates to what sales uses to what actually matters to the customer is what sales enablement should be and what we are working on here at Highspot.

So, remember to think about life after the MQL.  As a marketer, your job is not over as you need to enable the sales process and as a salesperson your job is just beginning.

 

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Playbooks help turn every rep into a closing machine.

Five Keys to a Powerful Playbook

A sales playbook sounds like a great idea – capture the best practices and most important content for your selling process to turn every rep into a closing machine. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Too many playbooks rest comfortably on a shelf, gathering dust, while reps use whatever content they’ve managed to pull together.

What does it take to create a playbook that is a valuable tool for closing deals? We’ve found that there are five keys to making a playbook that works.

1. Target the Content

In the modern selling environment, content is the lifeblood of the sales process. You use it to intrigue and interest your potential customer and to answer all their many questions. So you need to have a lot of content … but for any given sale and at any given stage of the sales process, only a small set of things apply. If you have a rep in the prospect stage who is pitching a German telco, they shouldn’t have to wade through hundreds of irrelevant documents to find the five or ten things they are most likely to need.

A great playbook knows about the opportunity. It knows the stage of the sales process you are in. It knows what your role is. It knows the industry, the company size – whatever is really important in your business to choose the best content. And then the playbook highlights just what applies to that opportunity at that stage of the process. Every rep should have at their fingertips just the content they need for every step in the buyer’s journey.

2. Close the Loop With Scoring and Analytics

Some of your content is great and on target. Reps can use it to pitch effectively, and customers get their questions answered. Some of it isn’t. Do you know which is which? Your playbook should.

By tracking the way your content is landing – when and how sales is using it, what’s been used to engage customers on the path to deals that win – a playbook is constantly watching and learning from what happens in the real world. With the data, it scores the content to help reps find what’s most effective. Marketing and sales gets the information they need to hone and optimize the playbook.

3. Keep it Tight

Most companies we talk to are drowning in content. They have hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of documents stored all over the place. A lot of it is out of date or flat-out wrong. Even if you just include the good stuff, there is far too much of it. It’s tempting to throw in anything that looks good. But that’s how you get a kitchen sink playbook, putting reps right back where they were before – “I know it’s probably in there somewhere, but I don’t have time to find it”. When reps are in the middle of a tough selling conversation, the last thing they want to do is to dig through piles of content that might be relevant.

A great playbook has been edited down to just those top items that are proven. And you have to keep the content fresh – when a new product is released, or a new competitor is hitting you in the market .. you need to get the right information into the hands of the reps on the front lines, immediately.

4. Pair It With A Portal

If you’ve got a highly targeted and curated playbook, you’ve honed it down to the essentials. But during the sales process, that’s not going to handle every situation. With the vast array of online information available, customers will come up with all kinds of tough questions that reps need to answer. Most people don’t need that performance study of how the product functions under heavy load … but the customer who needs it, needs it badly.

What makes it possible to streamline your playbook down to the core, is that the rep who needs something that isn’t in the playbook can find it. Fast. So you have to combine your playbook with a sales portal where they can go and get everything else that they might need. That portal should offer great search, powerful browsing tools, and should be easily customized for the seller’s role.

5. Put Content Where the Reps Live

You’ve spent a lot of time and energy setting up your CRM system. The content that your sellers need should be instantly available when they are working on an opportunity. A great playbook shouldn’t be some PDF file they got at a training program or a content repository on the web with a URL they can’t remember. Those are the playbooks that don’t get used. A great playbook puts the content right in front of them in the environment where they live.

Playbooks can be a huge asset for your sales team. They can make sure that everyone has the best content, instantly available, at every stage of the sales cycle. That’s a playbook that reps will use every day to drive revenue, not one they’ll use to prop up their monitors.

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Add content engagement to your sales training plan

Salespeople need training.

Training on products and services especially anything new or different, customer pain points, competitive positioning, and tools available for their use among many other things.

But, how do you deliver meaningful sales training that extends beyond a group session or webcast?

Great companies invest heavily in both sales training and sales tools. Marketing has a key role here in delivering sales tools to help their sales colleagues qualify prospects and close deals.  This includes standard collateral like whitepapers, customer testimonials, and data sheets as well as videos of all shapes and sizes. The list goes on and on and, often, what gets created is a mountain of content that is stored in a central place on the marketing side but decentralized on the sales side to an individual rep’s hard drive or Dropbox account.  There is no way to track usage, modifications made to make it more effective, or any type of feedback mechanism on what works the best across the entire sales team.

Content engagement addresses that problem by closing the content loop across marketing, sales, and customers.  It ties together all the content created by marketing with the usage by sales resulting in a smarter, better organized, and more accessible set of sales tools.  Sales training becomes an on-going process mapped directly into a sales rep’s daily activities as they qualify prospects, follow up on opportunities and close deals.  By being embedded directly in a CRM system like Salesforce.com, content engagement always serves up the best and most effective content for a given lead or opportunity stage.  No more searching, no more asking around.  It intelligently presents itself as the playbook to follow essentially delivering a continuously updated sales training curriculum in context to an actual opportunity.

There are certainly more elements to a complete sales training plan but content engagement is one that will be used far beyond the group training meeting or video tutorial.

Here at Highspot, we want to arm your sales team for success and help them win more deals.  Learn more about our content engagement platform by trying it out for free.

 

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All Highspot functionality now available in Salesforce.com

Highspot + Salesforce.com .. better than ever!

We’re happy to announce that we’ve further enhanced the integration between Highspot and Salesforce.com. You can now access every feature of Highspot without leaving Salesforce.com.

SFDC Integration

 

Click here to get the Highspot Playbook Connector for Salesforce.com

View Playbook Content

Click on any item in your Salesforce.com playbook … and you will see it inside of a Salesforce.com tab.  Click the back button to jump right back into the opportunity you are working on.

View Playbook Item

That’s Just the Beginning

We’ll continue to integrate more deeply with Salesforce.com and other CRM platforms to increase every sales rep’s productivity by having most effective content at their fingertips to close deals faster.  Stay tuned!

 

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SFDC_scoredcontent_Highspot

September release adds scored content to Salesforce.com, new home page view, and Box enhancements

We are very excited to share the details around our latest release building upon the foundation of our August release that transformed sales portals and playbooks.  We’ve added some improvements to how we display and prioritize content as well as adding an awesome new content score to Salesforce.com so the best content to close deals is intelligently prioritized for sales reps and presented in their workflow.  We’ve also enhanced our Box integration with better versioning.   We are continuing to add to and enhance our content automation platform so stay tuned for more great news!

Intelligent Sales Playbooks

Highspot now uses predictive analytics to automatically score the content in your Salesforce.com playbooks, so reps know what is really working to win deals.

Salesforce Scores

Streamlined Home Page

Many of you follow a lot of spots and people, and you wanted a home page that did more to organize the items we find for you. Visit Highspot to see the new design!

Home Page

 

Simplified Versioning With Box

Do you keep your content in Box and add it to Highspot through a linked account? Now you can pull in updated versions from Box with just one click. As always, everyone automatically gets the latest and greatest version.

Featured Content

Is there something important that everyone on the team should see? Just feature it .. and it will automatically show up on your team’s home page.

Those are just some of the updates we’ve added in this latest release of Highspot. Drop by to see them all!

 

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Content creation is just the end of the beginning

The creation of a piece of content is really just the end of the beginning of its life.

Marketing teams work to create compelling content that will attract potential customers or generate awareness and buzz.  More recently, this content has been the fuel for the marketing automation rocket designed to automatically engage prospects identified to be most interested and prioritize them for sales engagement.  Marketing automation platforms do a great job of removing manual and repetitive tasks as well as creating a new level of visibility into the actions that take place through the buyer journey (web site visits, email campaign engagement, and collateral downloads), all with the goal of more efficient sales engagement and prioritized leads.

Sales automation is designed to make a sales team’s life easier by focusing on making the tasks that consume a salesperson’s day easier, more effective, or fully automated including contact management, forecasting,  and deal status updates to name a few.  All of this is focused on the promise of better performance, improved visibility, and more time to just “sell.”

But what about content?  More specifically the business content used to drive prospect interest at the top of the funnel, facilitate the buyer journey through the middle and end of the funnel and, more importantly, that actually helps win deals?

Companies spend huge amounts of time, effort, and money developing whitepapers, case studies, customer testimonials, data sheets, ROI calculators, and product demonstrations all designed to enable the funnel and drive revenue.

How do you know it is working?  Mostly you don’t.  Anecdotally you will see what the sales team uses and it has often been modified from what marketing produced.  This can produce cringe worthy moments of old messaging, the wrong logo, or errors due to “field enhancements.”  Marketing can track downloads, web traffic, and social sharing but these are activities related to consumption vs. results related to customer wins.

Closing the content loop between marketing, sales, and the customer is an essential part of a high performance company and lets you see just how effective all that created content is for your business.

 

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Does your sales enablement content balance control and flexibility?

Companies work very hard to optimize their sales processes and to create content that facilitates the buyer journey through those processes.

Portals have historically attempted to provide a way to centrally publish, version, and update all the critical sales collateral providing the control both marketing and sales leaders desire.

Marketing leaders want consistent brand, messaging, and usage of the content and collateral pieces they create so that everything is of high quality and “rogue” materials don’t get released.

Sales leaders, especially ones in businesses where the transaction volume is high or sales process highly structured, want only the pieces of content that power the engine, perceiving anything else as a distraction or a detour from the scripted process.

The problem is that rarely does the portal address the true need because it lacks any type of feedback or continuous learning capabilities.  Often there is a disconnect between what marketing is producing and what sales needs and there is absolutely no visibility into how effective any of it is in actually engaging with and converting prospects into customers.

On one hand you want to ensure a level of quality and consistency across all materials but you also want to make sure the sales team has the tools and discretion they need to successfully compete and win new business.

Creating a closed content loop from marketing-to-sales-to-customers has remained elusive as each salesperson has “their” deck that works with prospects on their laptop with no formal or efficient way to share that with other members of the sales team and absolutely no visibility to marketing about “what works” unless they happen to sit in on a sales call.

Tapping the expertise in the organization in this way and balancing the desire for control and consistency is possible by automating the “content loop” so that marketing sees how its content actually performs, sales gets the flexibility they need, and customers move through the buying journey benefiting from this newly found and understood institutional knowledge.

We built Highspot to solve this problem, understanding that no one has ever really scored content based on how effective it is at different stages of the buyer journey.  We help companies take their portals to the next level by providing dynamic sales playbooks that leverage not only all the organization know-how and expertise but are constantly improved with direct feedback from how effective the various pieces are at driving deal progress and close rates.

 

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