For marketing, helping sales to deliver messages that resonate with customers and prospects is likely its greatest opportunity to impact the business after demand creation. This doesn’t mean creating more static collateral and presentations (although they are important for early-stage calls when high level company/product messages satisfy customer needs) but rather helping sales shift toward collaboration and best practice delivery as an opportunity develops a life of its own.
A recent SiriusDecisions sales readiness survey polled more than 120 sales and marketing executives in organizations ranging in size from $10 million to more than $2 billion. In the survey, we asked respondents to rank order how their salespeople typically access knowledge about their company, products and markets; personal networks finished first, followed by the sales information portal, sales training, product marketing and a collaborative portal.
These findings support our observations that salespeople first turn to who they know when developing an interaction strategy and its messages. Understanding which pieces of collateral work, leveraging successful presentations or copying winning proposals is standard operating procedure for sales, regardless of whether the content is current, accurate or reflective of an organization’s positioning. The sales information portal long ago replaced classic marketing shelves as the repository for sales content; off-the-shelf collateral and presentations that describe the company, its products and market benefits tend to deliver the greatest value during early-stage calls.
In our survey, we also asked respondents to rank order how their salespeople typically access and share best practices; personal networks again finished first followed by an email “cry for help,” sales-sponsored training events, the sales information portal, marketing-sponsored events and the collaborative portal. Of particular interest is the freefall of the sales information portal from second to fourth position in crunch time, when these best practices and collaboration are needed the most. In the absence of a corporate-sponsored place to turn, good reps continue to trust their own sources, while newer reps call out to the masses in an attempt to find what works, and to build networks of their own. This is critical to realize because not only do you lose performance and the investment you’ve made in sales training when a rep leaves, but you lose the knowledge networks that these reps have built.
Have you built an effective internal community that your sales reps can go to when they need help or do you leave them to build their own?