As a sales rep, I sometimes get sales and marketing material that I can’t use or access efficiently. Please understand: I’m not complaining as much as I’m communicating. I’m just telling you the facts, and the facts represent an opportunity to work together to make things better—for all of us.
If what you send me doesn’t help me do my job or be successful, I probably won’t use it. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What lies beneath the frigid waters of cold sales reality is another icy fact: I spend a lot of time looking for or creating material I can use to do my job and be more successful. I know you’re working hard to provide me with resources and content to help me do my job, but sometimes there’s a disconnect.
The alarming part is that the hours I spend looking for or making sales content is time I’m stealing away from sales activity. That’s a problem because according to research from the CMO Council, sales types like me spend up to 40% of our time searching for or creating content of our own. If you want a downright scary number, try putting a price tag on that.
Okay, none of this is very encouraging so far. But here comes the working-together part. This is where we can join forces to make things better. If you’re sending me things that I can’t use or can’t access, it’s clear that they’re not meeting my needs. But why not?
Many of you have field experience of your own, so you probably have a pretty good handle on what I think and feel on a daily basis. You know I need content that will make me successful in my job, but you may not realize it’s more than just content.
How it comes to me is also important. I would love it if you would deploy it in a way that makes it easy for me to find, prioritize and consume efficiently. Please deliver it in a way that allows me to filter it as needed.
I am sure you understand that to get ahead, I need to maximize my time in the field, using tools and content that will help me do my job. That’s why I really value opportunities to provide feedback about those same tools so we can modify and improve our approach to buyers.
It’s tough out there and getting tougher. I see more competition, larger territories and longer sales cycles. I also have less time with my call points, and I face buyers who are more knowledgeable than ever before.
Those buyers talk to me about limited budgets, changing needs, acquisitions and shifting responsibilities. Some buying decisions are being moved to procurement departments. In some cases, health care for example, reform means less spending and more scrutiny of every dollar. All of these are facts that underscore our need to work together.
If you and I were sitting across the table from one another, I would tell that, when it comes to efficiencies, creating opportunities and driving results, I’m right there with you. That’s why I value content based on my pace.
My success depends on quickly applying information to gain an advantage. The need for speed and agility is exactly why I am desperate for a mobile experience in business that mirrors my consumer app experience. In other words—simple, intuitive and attractive.
Multiple influencers are also a big part of this discussion. For example, the “you” that I have been referring to could be you, Mr. Sales Manager; you, Ms. Marketing Director; you, Mr. Training Manager; or all of the above.
Let’s consider that last scenario for a minute. Actually, I would love to feel that talking to one of you was like communicating with all of you. Because that would mean that the goals, expectations and techniques of your departments would be in sync.
In that situation, you each would know and understand what the others are thinking and doing. No more duplicated efforts, wasted time and playing catch up. Just think: Your departments would be aligned. I think this is as frustrating for you as it is for me.
From where I sit, working in aligned departments where each has a clear view of the other and what they are doing would be a huge improvement over individual silos. It would create a new energy, a renewed sense of purpose and gains that are simply impossible when not working as a team.
Working together enables everyone to move more quickly, more decisively and efficiently. I hear a lot about developing an agile content strategy. Well, the more agile our departments are, the more agile I can be.
So what does it all mean? What are the take-away messages that will lead to changed behaviors, different attitudes and improved results we can all share? A few suggestions follow.
1. Stay in touch.
Use whatever means seem logical to you to stay connected. I might suggest talking to us frequently as a first step. Ask how we are doing, what we need, how you can help. Don’t let feedback be random or accidental. Take it seriously because we certainly do.
2. Get aligned.
I know working separately is often rooted in history and tradition, but try to make sales, marketing and training a team. Cooperation and collaboration will open up possibilities you never thought possible.
3. Be quick.
In the words of legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” Be quick to fail if something doesn’t work. Let it fall and don’t waste time trying to salvage a lost cause. The other side of that coin is that you can just as quickly build on successes. If you’re agile, so am I.
4. Make communication a busy two-way street.
Ask my opinion, and give me yours. Create feedback loops so that we are continually evaluating and thinking about how to make selling content better.
5. Recognize that we are all on the same team.
We will accomplish so much more if we’re all pulling in the same harness, shoulder to shoulder.
The more we help one another, the better we will all become.
6. Personalize content.
Consider who is going to apply it and how. When it comes to content delivery, let form follow function. Remember, mimic the consumer app experience. Give me options that allow me to make it truly my own.
Hey, I know this has been an entirely one-sided conversation. But that’s only because we have some catching up to do. From now on, I promise to do as I suggested above—make communication a busy two-way street. If you do the same, we will have a win/win.
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