6 Ways to Use Content for Better Prospect & Customer Conversations

6 Ways to Use Content for Better Prospect & Customer Conversations
September 29, 2016

6 Ways to Use Content for Better Prospect & Customer Conversations

Sales organizations know that content serves different purposes when used throughout the various stages of buyer and customer relationships. But one thing remains true despite the prospect’s level of interest: content can have a make-or-break impact. It can be the difference between new business, renewals, cross-sells and upsells – or lost deals and cancelled customers.

Unfortunately, a new CSO Insights report shows finding the right balance of quality and quantity content is still an uphill battle for many sales organizations. While 42% of organizations meet expectations for content quantity, 40% still need to make improvements and start creating more assets. In terms of quality, it’s a similar ratio; 37% of companies meet the quality expectations, compared with 45% that need to make improvements.

On the flip side, some companies are doing a decent job of aligning their sales content to their product training, which ensures consistency among all messaging and communication. While 30% are not aligned at all, 34% of organizations are aligned at a high level and 28% are aligned at least at the value messaging level. 

quality vs quantity content

Companies need to continuously improve their content strategies in order to ensure successful interactions with customers and prospects. When developing content strategies, keep in mind the following ways to build customer and prospect relationships:

Tell a Story

Content that’s used to tell a story conveys your company’s backdrop, while touching on challenges and situations that your customers and prospects experience. It’s also necessary to have content that is produced in different formats and customized based on the customer or prospect’s industry, business conditions, company size and more.

A story tailored to each customer will make a huge difference in making them feel like the only one. For example, by measuring engagement with content sent out through marketing campaigns, the BDR team at Cleo is able to get a sense of what resonated with each prospect. Based on that information, they can tailor their conversations and presentations, resulting in the right messaging for the right recipients.

Learn more about Cleo’s sales enablement journey here.

Align with the Customer Journey

Aligning content to the customer journey might seem like a bear, but the effort will greatly be worth your while. No prospect or customer wants to see content meant for a late-stage opportunity, when they are still in discovery about a new product or expansion.

To make it easy on for reps to find the right content at the right time, tag content to the different stages of the customer journey within your content portal. Create buckets for awareness and prospecting, buying and selling, and implementation and maintaining relationships with customers and prospects.

For example, GE Digital serves up relevant content for reps depending on where they are in the sales cycle and they track how and when content makes an impact. By using this process, the company was able to achieve 24% YOY order growth.

CSO Insights identified the top content types for each stage in the customer cycle:

Content Usage Along the Customer Journey

  • Within the awareness and prospecting stage, email templates were the most widely used by reps.
  • In terms of buying and selling, proposal templates were the most popular.
  • For implementation and maintaining relationships, client-focused presentations were used the most. 

Showcase success stories

One of the most effective ways to show the value of your products and services is through the voices of your customers. Rather than tooting your own company’s horn, let your customers do the talking.

Many organizations still have room to grow in sharing customer testimonials. The report found 41% of businesses need to make improvements and even fewer, 35% meet the expectations set out for their customer stories. In other words, there are few companies creating the right type and amount of customer stories to make a difference in conversations with customers and prospects. [Slide 53]

Want the full CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization study? Click here to download your free copy.

Demonstrate business value and ROI

Providing real facts and figures around the business value and ROI of your product or service is something many prospects and customers will want to see before making a decision. Be sure to include the key figures, along with context so the data is easy for your audience to understand. Most companies have not reached the point where they can convey that information effectively; the survey shows that 46% still need improvement and only 28% are meeting expectations.

Effectiveness of customer facing content and tools

Show analyst and 3rd party endorsements

Many companies do not have the endorsements they’d like from analyst firms and industry experts. Survey results found that 43% need improvement and only 32% meet expectations. [Slide 53]

Using credible information from a neutral party is worth spending the time to get. As a vendor, you can say how great your product is, but highlighting kudos from third parties will add confidence and credibility to your messaging.

Use video

Lastly, when it comes to the format of content, use what’s been proven to best engage audiences, such as video. Video is popular medium of the moment, and it has been proven to boost engagement when compared to a fact sheet or PowerPoint presentation. Despite the facts, too few organizations are using it; the statistics from the report indicate that 41% need improvement and 31% meet expectations.

For more information on the top content and sales enablement trends, check out the full CSO Insights report.