Sales Readiness: Why Sales Content Alone Won’t Cut It

April 26, 2018 | Alec Shirkey
Sales Readiness: Why Sales Content Alone Won’t Cut It

The business world is full of buzzwords, and one of the most overused terms you’ll hear these days is a classic catch-all: content. Regardless of the quality or accessibility of your content, its effectiveness wholly depends on whether your business value can be clearly presented. In other words, how easily can your audience articulate the value they derived from your content?

This is especially true when it comes to sales content. Sales reps might have access to compelling product sheets or customer testimonials, but those assets aren’t useful if your team cannot properly apply them to buyer interactions. Thus, sales enablement evolved out of the need to better tailor sales content – typically provided by the product marketing team – for sales conversations.

Leading B2B companies have realized that in order for sales reps to succeed, they need sales readiness: the knowledge and skills required to consistently engage in meaningful conversations with prospects and customers, which can be attained through effective sales training, sales coaching and new hire onboarding. If sales readiness does not have a place in your organization, the business risks wasting time and resources by creating content that goes unused or underused.

Simply put, content is just content without sales readiness. The onus falls on sales enablement leaders to help sales reps translate product messaging into key value statements, says Brainshark Chief Readiness Officer Jim Ninivaggi.

“I had a client say, ‘We tried messaging, but our customers kept forgetting the lines.’ [Conversation] never works exactly the way you expect it,” Ninivaggi told marketing consultant Matt Heinz on Sales Pipeline Radio. “I want my reps to get ready for improvisation. I want them to be so attuned to what our product features can do, and [have the] ability to translate that value to whoever they’re sitting across from.”

To use a Ninivaggi analogy, sales organizations that create great content but lack sales readiness are akin to restaurants with fantastic decor and poor service.

If the waitstaff cannot recommend wine pairings or detail the ingredients of a popular dish, that’s costing the restaurant customer relationships and future sales. Likewise, if sales reps cannot use content to answer buyer questions and sell more effectively, Ninivaggi says they won’t be making the most of calls, meetings and other activities.

“You don’t go to a restaurant and say, ‘Well the food was terrible and the waiter was horrible, but the menu was amazing. It was on this beautiful thick paper.’ A great menu doesn’t make up for a lousy waiter,” Ninivaggi said during a Brainshark webinar on sales readiness.

That said, content remains an integral part of a comprehensive sales readiness strategy. Sales enablement leaders should consider the following areas when applying content to their practice: 

  • Support your reps with a continuous learning strategy that keeps them on top of changes affecting your products, competition and markets served, as well as related sales content.
  • Use technology to your advantage! Brainshark’s sales readiness software platform, for instance, includes video coaching technology to facilitate peer learning, formal skills assessments and critical feedback provision between sales coaches and reps.
  • Conduct sales readiness assessments to measure how effectively reps incorporate asset-derived value statements and customer success stories into their sales conversations.
  • An effective sales readiness strategy requires well-defined stances on objectives, KPIs and sales methodology, says Ninivaggi. Determine what type of content will provide the most value to your sales organization and use technology to author better assets.

You can listen to Ninivaggi's full discussion with Heinz below:

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