Reading List – May 2011

17 Pieces of Collateral Sales People Might Actually Use; by Nigel Edelshain on 28-Jan-2011.

‘Questions From Forrester’s Sales Enablement Teleconference, May 17, 2011’; posted by Dean Davison on 19-May-2011

Content Marketing and Sales Enablement Must Get Married‘; posted 8-May-2011 by Tony Zambito:

[…] we’re seeing a recently introduced new domain of content marketing born out of changes in technology & buyer behaviours as well as the area of sales enablement attempting to make selling performance more efficient. Marketing becoming the home for content strategy & sales enablement finding its’ home in sales.  Sometimes I wonder if the two areas ever talk to each other. We all can admit that what the misalignment amounts to can be cultural differences related to how groups operate and what their specific agenda is for an organization. Although content marketing and sales enablement are relatively new concepts from a long-term view, I believe the long-term cultural differences are still in play.

Culturally, content marketing & sales enablement must go through a courting period and eventually get married. If we focus on two words, publishtools, it helps to define a dynamic that’s happening right now in corporate hallways. Devising content strategy & content marketing tactics is becoming predominantly about publishing content that meet buyer demand for knowledge in the early stages of the buying cycle. Sales enablement, particularly in a sales-driven culture, tends to focus on producing tools that enable sales to be more effective.  Tools related to processes and having information available at their fingertips when prospecting and calling on buyers.

A recent meeting with a B2B organization illustrated this dynamic for me. I observed a sales group listen attentively at first to a team from marketing describe and present the content they had produced. They were told how this content was going to be made available in their existing sales enablement system. I could see the attention wander once they actually began to see the content. Afterwards, I began to do some wandering myself to have chats with some of the sales team members. What’s going on? Basically, if I could sum up the conversations, they believed that the content was good and can help buyers become interested however they saw that there was no means for them to personally use this content as well as to personally produce content specific for their engagements with buyers.

What I believe I am observing here in some organizations is that just like any new buzzword that comes along, it becomes a label for existing methods and little change can take place culturally. In this illustration, marketing labelled their production “content marketing”, but from a cultural standpoint produced it much like it had before – without much input from sales. While sales may be getting better tools from a sales enablement standpoint – making them more efficient – they may still be left ill-equipped from a content perspective when they need to provide essential knowledge and insight to buyers. The reality, in this case, was marketing believed it was providing “content” for generating buyer interest however sales didn’t think it had much purpose afterwards.  In other words, the content produced didn’t synch up well with the tools made available nor did the salespeople believe it was customizable to use further downstream of the buying cycle. The corporate niceties followed true to form – everyone saying how great everything was and off they went back to their respective camps.

To be sure, the introduction of content marketing and sales enablement are moving sales and marketing closer in alignment than in past decades. It does seem though that in order to successfully achieve ideal alignment, organizations must commit to cultural change. Otherwise, new business concepts such as content marketing & sales enablement become new masks to wear at the sales and marketing masquerade ball held annually where everyone agrees to get along. A place to start is to look at how to marry content marketing & sales enablement into a new force that brings the two sides together under a common purpose. This common purpose centered around a common understanding and view of the organization’s buyer personas. What to call this new force and how to integrate it structurally is the $60M question.

One approach is to organize around a dedicated buyer understanding. During the past year, I’ve suggested a focus on buyer experience as well as buyer enablement. It seems to me at least, that having strategy and organizational structure built around the buyer – both in pro-actice as well as structurally as eBay has done – offers the best hope to serve as a catalyst to foster sales & marketing alignment.

I dig the blog

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