Coming from the buy-side and having "carried the bag" and managed field and channel sales professionals for many years, one of my pet peeves remains sales materials that seems to be completely disconnected from how the potential buyer behaves or their needs during the buy-cycle. The Sales Executive Council has recently posted a list of common sense guidance to keep in mind when developing any sales tool. Ease of use, tell the sales force how to use it, get their feedback and the list goes on with some good points about getting sales tools created by marketing to be adopted and used.
Where the list falls short is how today's sales person needs to elevate themselves above the competition with strategic content rather than merely offering another "salesy" tool. Much of today's new media is yesterday's feature/benefit sale brochure that provides a limited answer to a large question and then switches into "the pitch" while trying to pass itself off as a white paper - How many of these have you tossed? Nothing can promote your brand quite like offering strategic content that solves a need by giving a complete picture. Go beyond answering a customer's question by providing something unique and useful, like an industry report, that can be shared with the whole buying team and you'll be on your way to getting them to promoting your ideas.
Because B2B sales is a mix of new and old media, some key points to keep in mind include:
1. Make is easier for the reader to scan and extract information helpful to the buyer by using outlined formats, linked/bookmarked navigation, additional charting and graphics.
2. Increase the search engine friendliness of content, because this is the first place where most buyers begin looking for products, with key words and phrases and their use through out the document and optimizing title and meta descriptions, tags and back links.
3. Extend the value by re-purposing the strategic content and distribute it via traditional and new media.
From the sell-side we know we're always selling ourselves; from the buy-side how about helping us respect you and your product with some good strategic content?
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