Mapping Technical Content on the Sales Enablement Landscape
There is a lot of excitement these days regarding sales enablement — and with good reason. Aberdeen found that companies with best-in-class sales enablement strategies experience 13.7 percent annual increase in deal size or contract value, while a Demand Metric survey found that 75 percent of respondents credited sales enablement as making a moderate or significant contribution to their sales force.
However, while there’s plenty of attention paid to marketing content and sales collateral — everything from blog posts, reports, ebooks, videos and the list goes on — technical content is often left out of the sales enablement conversation, even though it plays a pivotal role in making sales happen. For example, IBM noted that 70 percent of its customers consult technical content during the purchasing cycle, and research by Google’s Zero Moment of Truth found that on average, customers access 10.4 sources of information — including technical content — prior making a purchase decision.
Why hasn’t technical content been invited to the sales enablement party? It’s possible that this is less by design, and more by default. Traditionally, the function of technical content has leaned towards keeping customers; not creating them. However, even if this is indeed the root cause of this omission, it only explains the problem. It doesn’t solve it.
What’s needed is a simple, clear, practical and functional way to map technical content on the sales enablement landscape. To that end, we can introduce and then break down what many experts feel is among the best – and also one of the the oldest – definitions of sales enablement courtesy of IDC: “Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward”.
Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers…
The starting point for positioning planet technical content in the sales enablement solar system is also the most fundamental: findability. Sales reps need a centralized hub — not a multitude of tools, systems and platforms — where they can quickly access the precise content they need. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how useful or hyper-relevant technical content is. If sales reps can’t find it, then it might as well not exist.
…at the right time and place…
According to a Forrester survey, 70 percent of executives said the B2B sales reps they encounter aren’t ready to answer their questions — including those of a technical nature. Unfortunately, this can and does damage the relationship; sometimes beyond repair. As such, in addition to having fast and easy access to technical content (as described above), sales reps also need automatic recommendations for each opportunity based on pre-set variables, such as buyer persona, industry, product type, deal stage, and so on. Instead of positioning themselves to react to customer inquiries — and potentially not having an answer ready — sales reps can be proactive, and address many of their customers’ technical information needs before they even ask about it.
…and in the right format…
A growing number of companies are (finally) realizing that PDFs aren’t suitable for technical content primarily because, for many customers, they provide a tedious, confusing and just plain dreadful user experience. Therefore, to be part of a sales enablement system that enhances vs. damages engagement, sales reps must connect customers with technical content that can be properly and easily accessed on various devices, and across browsers and operating systems. That means PDFs are out, and dynamically creating, publishing and updating content across all touch points is in.
…to move a sales opportunity forward.
And of course, the whole point of sales enablement is to effectively and efficiently move customers forward into a transaction. We’ve already noted above (and in this Infographic) that technical content plays a crucial role in all three phases of the buyer’s journey: pre-sale, post-sale and loyalty. But on another level, sales managers and sales executives also need analytics to evaluate how various pieces and types of technical content are helping shorten cycles, enlarge deal sizes and increase win rates. This actionable insight can be used to optimize strategy, allocate resources, and help sales, marketing and techpubs teams appreciate that while they have distinctly different jobs to do, in the big picture they’re all part of the same essential customer acquisition and retention effort.
The Bottom Line
Nothing above suggests that technical content is synonymous with marketing content or sales collateral, and that technical writers should start adding CTA’s to their documents along with big, booming headlines. Technical content has its own frameworks and principles, and these must take precedence; otherwise, it’s no longer technical content.
However, keeping technical content outside of the sales enablement paradigm is a mistake, because customers see this information as an important — and in many cases, crucial — part of their decision to build a relationship and move ahead. Companies that keep making this error will continue losing profitable customers to the competition. On the other hand, companies that correct it will quickly and sustainably reap the rewards of “getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward”.
Zoomin’s integrated suite of solutions, including Zoomin Docs, Zoomin for Salesforce, Zoomin for Jive and Zoomin IoT, support the sales enablement objectives described above — from preparation to publishing to updating — so that valuable technical content plays a key role in impressing customers, building relationships, and most importantly: making sales happen. To learn more, request a guided demo.