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article imageQ&A: How marketers can crack the code of complex sales Special

By Tim Sandle     Jun 15, 2019 in Business
With the help of modern sales technology, marketers can gain the insight they need to help sellers close more deals, according to Theresa O’Neil, CMO of Showpad. O'Neil outlines the basis of a strategy.
In a competitive business-to-business landscape, buyers need sales content that demonstrates unique business value. One problem is that with limited insight into the sales processes, marketers often do not know what content performs best. The consequence of this is the creation of materials that quickly become outdated or which are not relevant to the buyer’s journey.
To overcome this, modern sales technology is needed and through this marketers can gain the insight they need to help sellers close more deals. Theresa O’Neil, CMO of Showpad, discusses with Digital Journal how marketers can leverage technology to improve the sales cycle.
Digital Journal: How is digital transformation affecting marketing?
Theresa O'Neil: Marketers are realizing they need to digitally transform their approaches to meet buyers’ evolving needs. According to our New B2B Buyer Experience Report, we found the majority of C-level executives (60%) say content-related issues (not understanding the content and not being able to share content internally) are the top factors that slow down purchase decisions.
By bringing technology into marketing processes, marketers are able to measure the impact of nearly everything they do - thereby enabling us to invest more in the content and activities that have the most impact. But while there are lots of tools to give marketers insights at the top of the funnel, it becomes a black box once sales opens an opportunity. In most companies, that means relying on qualitative feedback from sales. In this digital age, that’s not enough; we need data.
Marketers need greater insight into how their content impacts sales effectiveness: what content is sales sharing, what are prospects viewing, and what content is tied to closed-won revenue. Analytics allow marketers to see what materials prospects interact with most frequently, while tools like AR allow marketers to experiment with content that’s more contextual and applicable to buyers’ unique environments.
It’s an exciting time for marketers. We now have the tools to develop new methods of reaching prospects and the insight to create content that actually closes deals and drives revenue.
DJ: What insights can be drawn from technology in the sales and marketing processes?
O'Neil: By leveraging technology in sales and marketing processes, organizations can gain greater insight into which content actually closes deals. AI-enabled content recommendations help sellers discover and share the most relevant materials to prospects, and then shows sellers how prospects share content across the organization. Additionally, it shows which stakeholders are interacting with the materials and what information is resonating with buyers. This enables sellers to tailor follow-ups more effectively, and provides insight to marketers to repurpose content that performs exceptionally well.
Technology is improving the end-to-end buyer experience by involving sales and marketing more frequently through the entire journey, and giving them the opportunity to scale both incrementally and contextually.
DJ: How does technology enable collaboration between sales and marketing?
O'Neil:Sales and marketing teams have typically operated in silos, with each party having little visibility into what the other is doing. This is problematic, given that marketing creates the materials that sellers use in the field, and often has little to no visibility to how it’s performing in the field. This often leads to irrelevant content overload. According to our New B2B Buyer Experience Report, almost half of buyers are overwhelmed with just five pieces of content. Sellers and buyers don’t need more content, they need better content. With data to help inform what content is working, marketing can better collaborate with sales to deliver better content and experiences to buyers. This collaboration helps speed up sales cycles, increase win rates and close bigger deals.
Technology gives marketers insight into the sales process, by giving them the ability to see how prospects interact with content and providing a closer look into which materials resonate best. This then allows marketing to create sales content that provides differentiated business value for each ICP, persona, use case and sales stage. By having a platform that both parties have access to, it empowers the entire organization to focus on delivering the best buyer experience.
DJ: Are different technologies required for marketing in contrast to sales?
O'Neil:While CRM is a sales platform, it’s really a tool to collect data for forecasting, reporting, and analytics. Marketing automation technology helps marketers operate and scale. But while both are important, neither are helping sales teams or sales managers be more effective as they work with buyers.
Companies are investing in sales enablement technology, which offers a complete platform for sales and marketing teams to ensure that sales teams can effectively deliver the value propositions and competitive differentiation that marketing spends so much time developing. According to SiriusDecisions, the number one inhibitor to sales achieving quota is the inability to articulate value. Sales enablement improves marketing impact and sales excellence. It’s the epicenter of sales and marketing collaboration and effectiveness.
DJ: Which technologies are useful for remote sales teams?
O'Neil:As companies grow, onboarding new sales reps becomes an increasing challenge. They need a way to scale onboarding and ongoing training and coaching. Specifically, companies need a platform to help supplement in-person trainings with online courses, quizzes and video.
In the past, most sales training was done in face-to-face, formal settings, which often meant that it occurred only a few times a year. With a sales training platform, sales managers can deploy training to their teams, no matter where they are. Video is also a useful tool for managers to coach their teams - whether through role-play scenarios, practice pitches or regular interaction. Now, sales managers can give more frequent feedback in real-time to their teams, which allows sellers to scale performance incrementally and improve prospect interactions over time.
In addition, AI has become a crucial tool to improve remote salesperson performance. Given that sellers can’t always be in the same physical location as their prospects and gauge their reaction or sentiment to sales content, AI provides unique insight into how prospects are interacting with each piece of content that is shared, whether that be how long they spend looking at a landing page or if they even open a file at all. This helps both sales and marketing teams improve materials so they can continue to move the buyer through the pipeline and have a greater chance of making the sale.
DJ: What are the main challenges involved with implementing new technology in sales and marketing?
O'Neil:When implementing new technology - it’s rarely the tech itself that’s the problem. It’s the people and processes that prove to be the biggest challenges. People need to align on objectives, roles, success metrics and processes. Technology is the enabler. By aligning on the buyer as the primary focus point, sales and marketing can develop common objectives for technology. Map content to the buyer journey.
Develop training and coaching to empower sales to deliver a great buyer experience. Then use technology to scale success. Develop online training, implement video coaching, create a buyer experience that sets you apart from the competition. Then measure, iterate, and improve according to shared goals and metrics. With this approach, marketing and sales can evolve and in a way that meets buyers’ needs in order to stay ahead of the competition.
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