[Beers with Max 3] Improving sales productivity with content

Beers with Max is back once again, and like any third time, this one was a charm. This episode featured a diverse panel of marketing pros, discussing a key challenge keeping lots of B2B marketers and sales reps up at night. Read on for the 411, and as usual please send all feedback directly to me at max@maxtraylor.com



Today’s Question (0:55)

Most of us marketers are great at creating and promoting content. But today we wanted to discuss a broader content challenge: how can we help the sales team be more productive?

The Challenge (1:25)

Sales reps are struggling with content in several ways:

  • Poor lead conversion. Content marketing is a popular and effective method for generating leads that are educated on your solution. But those leads don’t magically convert themselves: sales reps need to provide value above and behond what the buyer has learned from your marketing content, and many are struggling with this step.
  • Too much time spent on sales content. Lots of sales reps are spending “head down” time to create unique sales content – proposals, demos, videos, etc. Every minute a rep spends on this type of activity is a minute taken away from their ability to do things that bring in the bucks – which is bad news for sales performance.
  • Sales isn’t using marketing content enough. Today’s B2B buyers are getting the information they need from marketing content, review sites, and industry publications. Sales reps must use this content to educate themselves and curate key knowledge to the buyers. The key to a valuable sales call is knowledge – and right now buyers tend to be more knowledgable about thier goals and challenges than the sales team is. Bad news for sales reps.
  • Sales messaging and content is not consistent with the brand. Marketing departments are having ultra-creative brainstorming sessions with lots of whiteboards and buzzwords to determine what their company’s brand messaging should be. Unfortunately, sales teams have a tendency to tailor this content to specific prospects, which CAN RESULT in the dilution the company message.

Beers Open! *clink* (3:30)


Content’s role in the modern sales process (4:00)

  • Educates the buyer on their objective and how it aligns with your solution. How do you give them what they are looking for?
  • Educates your sales team. Sales reps need to be educated so they understand how to talk to customers and don’t waste prospects’ time. What’s the only thing more annoying than a salesperson wasting your time? Trick question: there is nothing more annoying than a salesperson wasting your time!
  • Builds trust with buyers. Content helps sales reps establish a personal brand, which positions them as a trustworthy advisor for the buyer.

Distribution of content (5:22)

Remember – most complex B2B organizations don’t have one single person involved in the buying process. Even if you do a great job of explaining your solution to one person at the organization –your champion is not good at selling your solution to other decision makers. Sales content should be created with an understanding that it’ll get passed around like a funny cat picture or a cake in the company lounge.

Heather plays Devil’s Advocate (6:09)

We’re not talking Al Pacino – she’s got a valuable point about how sales reps should get involved with every decision maker as early as possible, and how they can do that.

So how can we help? (8:17)

The key for marketers and others in the organization supporting sales teams is to make it easier & faster to deliver tailored content that closes more business.

Tailored Content (9:09)

There are three broad types of content sales teams use during the selling process:

  • Educational – to teach the buyer about market solutions and how to achieve their objective
  • Sell sheets – to link the buyer’s challenges and objectives to a product or service’s benefits
  • Proposals – to recommend a unique, specific solution to buyer challenges and primary issues

How can we customize all of these content types for individual buyer personas and industries without creating so much content that sales gets overwhelmed? Holding a block party! By categorizing content into “blocks” targeting specific industries and buyer challenges, we create a system that allows sales to offer personalized solutions without flooding reps with more content than they can use.

Check out the chart at 10:29 for a sample of how this approach might look in practice. Many companies are letting sales teams generate this tailored content alone – but to reach the highest level of enlightenment (and become BFF with our sales reps), marketers need to provide sales with an easy, fast system to assemble customized content.


Content Management Software (11:34)

Excellent content management software is the backbone of this type of content assembly approach. There are three crucial benefits of using content management software:

  • Tagging structures that allow sales to find the right blocks of content
  • Drag & drop mechanisms that make it simple for sales to drop content blocks into templates
  • Tracking tools so that sales reps can see what buyers are looking at

The result of this modular content approach is more revenue from the same amount of people.

Why do I care? (12:25)

One reason: making an impact! Agencies can sell sales content to clients, organize it for them, and teach them how to use it. Marketers do the exact same thing, but they help organizations implement content systems internally.

Max’s One Thing (13:15)

This week’s action item is to quantify the value of the time your sales team spends on content  (or for agencies, your clients’ sales team).

In the words of Porky Pig – that’s all folks! At this point we opened up the floor for discussion. Dave gives us an interesting take on the concept of “leveraging” marketing content and tells us why marketing departments aren’t the only ones who should be creating content, then we jump into a valuable discussion on what sales reps really need to be doing with their content and what type of content they should focus on.