You already know (or at least I hope you do) that prospective customers are going online and learning a lot about your company before sales talks to them. If you’ve done a good job representing your company through frequently published expert content, they will raise their hand and invite sales to have a conversation.
My question to you is what do sales need to be prepared when they finally get in to see this self-educated prospect?
What are they taking with them? What are they leaving behind, and what are they providing 10, 20 or 30 days later, that aligns with the prospective customer’s experience?
Involve Sales in the Experience
Do you involve sales in the process of creating those materials? If not, they are going to fill in the holes themselves, guaranteed. After all, they want the sale, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
“What’s wrong with that?” you might ask. Everything!
By leaving the design and messaging of these assets to sales you’re ceding control of your brand to a single individual. However well-meaning, they are not going to do things on brand.
The other problem with giving up control of this is that you are inviting a ton of risk. Risks like, losing market share, not closing deals, confusing the customers, a weak sales force, inconsistent messaging, and more.
So, Why Don’t Most Companies Invest Enough in Sales Materials?
A big reason is that they have bought into the myth that everything can be done digitally.
You may be allocating a lot of resources into marketing automation and a powerful website with thought leadership that positions your company as the best choice. But, once that’s been achieved, someone still has to go in and close the deal.
Digital has brought a lot of clarity, power, and flexibility to the sales process but it’s not always enough to take every sale across the finish line. Take for example, print. Contrary to popular belief, print is not dead! In fact, when done right, it is deadly effective at educating prospects, especially if the piece is intentional and tailored to fit a particular stage of the customer buying cycle.
Sales Knows the Customer Better than You
To create the most effective end to end sales materials (whatever they may be) you must listen to sales because they are the ones in the field, seeing, hearing and experiencing the customer and their resistance.
They need to play a role in creating the materials because of the customer relationships they have — the ones you don’t. They are living it, so get them participating and talking about the customer journey.
Sales should be equipped with “combat kits” loaded with examples of what makes you different, methods for combating your competitor’s features, and physical examples that they can show to demonstrate your product’s superiority.
This will help shape and position sales as a valued resource that helps the customer learn what makes you different while building their own case for why to buy.
The right materials also enable salespeople to call out what makes you different so they can sell against the features and benefits of your competitors’ products. These materials also take into consideration that your customer might know as much or more about competitors than you do.
Sales is smart enough to give the answers, and they have all of the answers. They just aren’t being asked.
It’s Your Responsibility to Protect Your Brand
Sales needs the right tools to be successful in the field, but as the “mothership”, it’s your responsibility to protect the integrity of the brand. By listening to sales and incorporating their insights and input into the tools they take out into the world, you will be taking the steps to create a customer experience that is on-brand!