1. Content Source the secret sauce to quality content

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      My cousin arrived from California the other day. As we sat enjoying a bottle of his excellent homemade Cabernet, he told me about his decades long wine-making hobby. Turns out there are many ways to screw up wine in the production process (technical term). But if you don’t begin with the right, quality grapes, there’s little you can do to improve it. It occurred to me this applies to content creation, doesn’t it? If you don’t have the right inputs, there’s little even a great writer can do to produce great content. Content Source is the secret sauce to quality content because it’s the way you acquire and prepare inputs to your content process. Our practice of using Content Source began over a decade ago. We quickly worked to make it a disciplined, robust content practice. When we consider our world without Content Source, we realize we would lose our: Leverage, efficiency...
  2. 7 reasons you’re not getting the most out of customer facing content

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      Missing or under-performing customer facing content has a significant impact on strategic business objectives: new customer acquisition and organic revenue growth, sales and marketing productivity and efficiency for lower selling costs, data acquisition and customer experience. B2B lead generation and conversion rates are universally below expectations. Late stage content in sales cycles hasn’t evolved to support buyer-centered selling practices. A realistic assessment of the underlying cause of the problem helps you apply the right solution, because it allows you to see the real cause of the problem. In our view, there are seven primary reasons you are not getting the most out of your customer facing content. 1. Customer facing content is not created on purpose. Content has a specific “job” to do for both marketing and sales tactics. How you define the purpose of your content depends on the specific information required for each “touch,” the user experience...
  3. Why You Need a B2B Sales Content Strategy

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      If you sell the way you did 10 years ago, you don’t need a sales content strategy. There’s little strategy required to tell people about your company, products, features — just don’t forget those benefit statements! But if you’ve truly adopted a customer-centered sales philosophy you know you have new requirements. The new realities of selling to self-educating, digital era buyers has made having the right content an essential tool for sales professionals. The right content addresses every key buyer decision point throughout the customer engagement process. The importance and complexity of this requirement demands a strategy.   Sales people need content to sell In B2B sales, especially a complex, considered or value sale, sales people still generate most of their sales “leads.” They develop virtually all sales opportunities. As it is for marketers, content is essential to capture prospect attention and generate interest. For sales people, tracking prospect content consumption indicates...
  4. Overlooked cause of low sales and marketing results

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      In this digital era, content is a primary driver of sales and marketing performance. We have written extensively on this. Background articles are referenced at the end of this article. Poor or missing content is an under-appreciated reason B2B selling organizations experience lower than projected new customer acquisition and revenue growth results. High selling costs are both a symptom and additional casualty. In addition to adverse business impact, companies experience content costs 30 to 50% higher than they should. Output from current content production methods are typically 20% what they could be. When we investigate the reasons for poor or missing content we find three reasons that frequently stand out. These are remarkable both because of their importance, and because they aren’t well understood or appreciated. 1. An ineffective or non-existing business level content strategy. Survey results from Content Marketing Institute indicate that an appalling 48% of respondents claim...
  5. Capture Sales “Situational Fluency” for Effective B2B Sales Coaching

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      In the B2B selling world there is near universal appreciation for the value of sales coaching. Research indicates significant impact on forecasted deal win rates, revenue growth and other selling metrics. Research from The Sales Management Association show sales people believe it’s the most important, least supported sales resource.     The constraints are equally clear. The big impediments are no surprise: lack of sales manager time, skills, and accountability.     We discovered a core cause of these constraints that makes the situation look even worse. It explains why, despite the universal acknowledgement of coaching importance, it isn’t being conducted regularly and effectively. This discovery made us appreciate the current approach to sales coaching will never be universally executed effectively and consistently. If it could, it would have. It’s simply too difficult. A new approach is needed. What Are We Coaching For? The top level objective of sales coaching is clear. We’re...
  6. Is “Last Idea In, First Content Out” Killing Your Content Strategy?

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      We had just completed ten intense weeks creating a business level content strategy for a client. This kind of work produces many work products. Two relate to this story. We carefully defined the client’s marketing and sales use case requirements. And for actionable next steps, a carefully considered and prioritized list of content that was required to support those use cases was also developed. Within days I got “the call.” I call it LII FCO, “last idea in, first content out.” It seems a prospect had asked one of their sales reps a question in a meeting. The rep came back and asked the Vice President of marketing “what do we have I can send to this prospect?” It was an attractive topic. The VP was excited to share with me the opportunity to leverage the work we had just completed. The company had lots of ideas to fuel this creation. After...
  7. B2B Sales Content Strategy

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        When it comes to content and strategy, few people share a clear and common meaning of each word. Put them together, and what you have is downright perplexing. This is a sales content strategy guide for the perplexed. It is for people in marketing and sales who must collaborate to get these strategic assets right. (See Content is a Strategic Imperative for B2B Selling Organizations) The linked articles below are integral to a complete understanding of how to develop, document and execute an effective sales content strategy. First, a few definitions. Content For this article we are talking about sales content. More specifically, we’ll focus on B2B sales that are defined as complex, considered or value sales. “Content” includes sales messages, conversations, and stories which comprise what we refer to as the “contentS” of the media that package and deliver them. So content also includes conversations delivered by...
  8. How to Define Sales Use Case Requirements for Your Sales Content Strategy

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      The design point for your B2B sales content strategy must be your buyer’s engagement model, mapped against your sales strategy. Fundamentally, it must be conversation centered. Without well-defined and documented sales use case requirements, effective sales content strategy is not possible. Rarely do we meet companies that have even considered this, let alone defined and documented specific requirements. You can find an introductory explanation of this idea at Need Better Content? Define Use Case Requirements. This post will step you through a process to define and document requirements. Pre-requisite to use case definitions are two competencies we identify in our 6 Competency Framework for Business Level Content Strategy. These are Understand Audiences and Buyers Competency and Conversation Support Competency.  Essentially, sales use case requirements define the purpose and context in which sales content will be used. Sales Use Case Requirements Context The general context for your use case requirements are: Who’s...
  9. Find vs Create Sales Opportunities

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      One of the early questions I ask prospective B2B clients is: “When you go-to-market through your marketing and sales functions, what percent of your target prospects are find vs create sales opportunities?” The answer to this question has significant, if usually unconsidered, implications for tactic selection and business results.   Find Opportunities “Find opportunities” are where prospects are actively looking for something similar to what you sell. They know they have a problem. They have a good understanding of the problem and it’s impact or cost on the business (reason to change). They understand generally what they need to solve the problem. What they are looking for relates to your product or service category in the market. They also have a pretty good idea of what they expect to pay. Find opportunity prospects are actively searching. Marketing tactics such as advertising, inbound and content marketing, and SEO are effective...
  10. Marketing Professionals Constrained by Content Strategy and Operations Accenture State of Content Report Reveals

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      Don’t be distracted by the hyperbole associated with this important Accenture report on the state of content. “Marketers are drowning” in a “tidal wave of content,” are phrases from the press release and early articles that have picked this up. This is intended to create resonance and attract attention. As it should. Volume of content is a symptom. It’s not the problem. A related symptom is the insipid debate “quality vs. quantity” of content. This indicates marketers haven’t clearly identified the core causes of their many content related problems. This report should help. It’s also an important resource to share with your executive management, including your CEO. Donna Tuths, global managing director, content services at Accenture Interactive, is the author of the report. “The problems marketers are pointing out are symptoms of a broader issue. There is a finite amount of content you can create and manage using current approaches.”...
  11. The Missing Ingredient for Sales Coaching

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      There is a generally high desire for sales coaching in B2B selling. Most managers and reps know it’s important. Done well, coaching can make a significant difference to rep and manager performance and success. Financially, everyone has a lot at stake. But sales coaching is seldom done. Consistently. Or well. Why is that? What’s missing? To be successful sales people need: Knowledge and information (including sales strategy and process), Skills and techniques, Conversations and messages These inputs enable sale people to know What to do, What to say, How to say it. We are among many who believe how you sell is a primary way to create value for prospective buyers, and to differentiate from competitors. Training programs provide the initial vehicles to “prepare sales for the fray” as one of my colleagues says. Training methods include information transfer, modeling best practices, and sales practice with feedback. Training prepares sales...
  12. Understanding the True Cost of Content in B2B Organizations

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      There’s a familiar expression used to describe some people. They “know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.” When it customs to B2B marketing and selling content, it appears most organizations don’t know either. The rhetoric of “data driven decisions” has become a business imperative and key B2B competency. In addition to being a driver of marketing and selling outcomes, content plays a critical role in acquiring data on customers, buyers and other key audiences. Given the strategic imperative of content in the digital age, and the significant, mostly hidden spend on content, this new reality warrants executive action. Research from the analyst firm SiriusDecisions (B-to-B Content Creation Costs and Outputs) shows B2B organizations are challenged to identify their true content spend. Even SiriusDecisions was surprised by the results. They discovered total customer content spend was anywhere between 3 and 10 times known spend.   Framework to Identify Your...
  13. Reframing Content ROI and the Case for B2B Content

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    Despite a plethora of articles recommending methods to determine content ROI, this continues to be a hot and confusing topic for many B2B marketers. Why is this? There are different purposes and uses for ROI. Content performance, at an asset or campaign level, is typically the way marketers think of content ROI. While difficult to measure, marketers need performance measures to tweak execution. But don’t confuse performance with ROI. Asset and campaign performance measures are not useful for an executive level business case. It’s too granular. It doesn’t align with executive business parameters, or inform the kinds of decisions they make. It also doesn’t convey the magnitude, importance and urgency of the matter. It doesn’t show what’s possible. Marketers think with a traditional expense justification mindset rather than an investment mindset. We’ve written here about the misunderstanding between investment and expense. A Content ROI Investment Model An investment mindset for B2B content speaks to three...
  14. Elevate B2B Content Strategy to Business Level Execution

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    B2B Content Strategy for Messages, Conversations and Content This post speaks to why B2B organizations should elevate content strategy from siloed functions to the business level, with executive accountability. This is about content that addresses external audiences we generally refer to as “customers”. B2B CEOs, CFOs and Sales leaders have a lot at stake in getting this right. But first let’s acknowledge a reality: if you’re a “middle age” executive, it is highly unlikely you have experience using content as a strategic asset. Content has always been considered and treated as an expense for tactical support. This has resulted in limited thinking about the role, contribution and possibilities of customer content. Digital realities have changed this. (See McKinsey, Measuring the full impact of digital capital.) Some of the top reasons you need to adopt a business level content strategy are: Content is a strategic imperative because it is a primary...
  15. B2B Sales Conversations — By Design

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    To paraphrase David Packard, sales conversations are too important to leave to sales people. B2B sales conversations for key touch points should be designed. This optimizes conversation effectiveness and simplifies selling. It provides a common baseline that makes feedback and continuous improvement possible. How have you designed the sales conversations for your key touch points? How well do each of your sales people handle conversations at key touch points, or with different stakeholders? How consistent is the delivery of your messages across your sales teams? How does stress affect these results? I’m talking about the conversations where, when they are performed well, you’re in the game. You’re gaining respect and trust that makes it possible for you to educate buyers and influence a buying vision and decision criteria. Poorly performed conversations mean you might not even get into consideration, or might just be pricing fodder. According to SiriusDecisions, 71% of sales...

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