Our last few Q&A’s in this series have been with marketing all-stars, so I decided to seek out someone with more of a sales-focused perspective. I set my sights on Greg Alexander, CEO of Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales and marketing consultancy focused on helping B2B companies make the number.
Alexander is co-author of Topgrading for Sales: World-Class Methods to Interview, Hire, and Coach Top Sales Representatives and Making the Number: How to Use Sales Benchmarking to Drive Performance. He was also named Sales and Marketing Management’s Sales Manager of the Year in 2004 (impressive!).
Given the depth of his expertise, you can imagine my excitement when he got back to me with such thoughtful and compelling responses. He’s got a lot of great insights into the sales process, so let’s go ahead and get social with Greg Alexander.
Favorite Sales/Marketing Blog to Follow: Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. There is a lot of “research” out there about sales and marketing that is not fact-based. I am sorry but a once-in-awhile survey to support the need for a product/solution/service as part of a disguised lead gen campaign is not research. Nate teaches how to move along the descriptive-diagnostic-predictive-prescription analytics continuum with specific examples from politics, economics, sports, and science. We would all benefit if we held everyone to a higher standard with regards to research, and Nate teaches how.
Favorite Sales/Marketing Influencer to Follow on Twitter: Steve Blum, Sr. VP of WW Sales & Services at Autodesk. Steve provides an example for other heads of sales inside enterprise companies on how to communicate to customers and prospects via Twitter.
Your Philosophy (Life or Professional) in 140 Characters or Less: Business philosophy is “Make the Number”. In B2B sales and marketing, everything else is noise. Personal philosophy is “Never get outworked.” My Dad always told me that how far you go depends on how bad you want it.
#1. You write that it's getting harder to get content read by prospects. Why do you think that is? Is it more a function of the content quality? Delivery? Or is there just too much to choose from?
The reason is the mobile device. People don’t like to read on the mobile device. They like to listen and watch. Podcasts and web video are performing much better these days than blogs. Why? The smart phone. As a content marketer, not publishing audio and video content regularly is betting against mobile and that is a mistake in my view. A content marketing program that is blog-only is the equivalent of the 3 station network television model before cable and satellite TV with hundreds of channels.
#2. In your article, The Secret to Creating Content Your Prospects Crave, you stress the importance of anticipating your audience’s “trigger events.” What’s a trigger event and why is it so important? How can sales reps use them to their advantage?
A trigger event is the catalyst that pushes a prospect into the market for a product or service. For example, April 15th is tax day. I hire my accountant to prepare my taxes by this date. April 15th pushed me into the market for tax preparation services. Without April 15th I would procrastinate and not buy tax prep services. Tax day is a trigger event.
As to how a sales rep can use trigger events, my answer would be to demand the marketing department is keeping their buyer personas, and buying process maps, current with the latest trigger events. This way reps can monitor their networks for their presence, and spot deals. Nothing reduces a sales rep’s productivity faster than old trigger events. This causes reps to watch for the wrong things and never find interested prospects.
#3. What role, if any, should sales play in the development of content for prospecting?
Sales should drive the editorial calendar. Not product management/marketing, and not the marketing department. The sales team is directly engaging with customers and prospects every day. This allows them to understand the information needs of the target audience better than anyone else. Sales reps should be collecting from customers and prospects, specific information needs and funneling them back to the content production team. This ensures the content getting produced is exclusively about what the audience wants.
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