Now hold on, count to 10, take a deep breath. For my marketing friends, I’m not betraying you and giving up on marketing. For those of you who’ve read my posts railing against sales people blogging, I’m not changing my point of view.
I’m talking about a very specific marketing/content problem that no one other than the sales person can address. It’s marketing content for an audience of 1–at this very moment.
It’s very unique. It’s content, that addresses my specific problem, concerns, and priorities right now–because they may be slightly different from those I have tomorrow. It’s content that captures my imagination, helps me understand opportunities for my organization, based on where we are and what we are doing right now.
It’s content that’s different from the person sitting at the desk next to me. Yes, she’s involved in the project, but she has different concerns and priorities than I have. So the content you deliver to her, may not be wholly relevant to me.
And I expect you to offer thought leadership–but not the same stuff you broadcast to everyone else, or even that stuff you talk about to the person sitting next to me.
I want your thought leadership about WIIFM–for me and my organization. I want to know why you think I should care, what I am missing, how I might improve, and what specific results I’ll get. And I want this for me personally and for the organization I lead.
That content won’t come from your brochures, or your data sheets, or your case studies, or your blog posts. It won’t come from your capabilities guides, or corporate presentations–though all that stuff might help you in creating meaningful and relevant content for me.
The content I need comes from you engaging me in conversations and a discussion about what I do, what my people do, what my boss is expecting of me, what my customers and suppliers want. In comes from understanding my dreams and goals. It comes from understanding what does keep me awake at night (other than the cat using my body as a punching bag.). It is specific to me and my priorities today.
What I believe in about the content with which you are engaging me depends on 1)what I believe in you, 2) what you know about me and is driving me right now, and 3)the relevance of what you are saying to my situation today.
It is less about your company, the rich content available to me and 1000’s of others, the 1000’s of likes, the RT’s, or any of the typical content or social metrics….. MEH. It may have provoked an interest, but ultimately, it’s about how you make me feel and how I can feel certain that working with you won’t get me fired, but will help me and my organization learn, improve, do better—-and perhaps get my boss off my back.
It will help me understand why I must change, it will get me hot and lathered to drive the change. At the same time it will help me, and you will help me manage the change and risks associated with it.
Sales people are the only people that can solve this content problem. It’s not a marketing person, a content writer, or even another sales person blogging halfway around the world. For those of you who’ve been in telecom, you will recognize it as the classic last mile problem.
Before, I go further, sales people must know it’s mandatory they solve this problem–that they focus specifically on personalization, relevance, engagement on specific issues. That they are conducting a conversation, asking questions, listening, providing a point of view, listening, responding, engaging a customer on her specific journey through her part of the buying process.
Delivering the standard brochures, the corporate presentations, becoming a walking piece of collateral is meaningless and doesn’t help the customer with their last mile problem. It’s further meaningless, because the customer has probably already seen it–at a website, through a download, or from some other sources.
Marketing cannot solve that problem–but they can help a huge amount. Marketing can get groups of customers interested and motivated. They can start the process, providing general information. They can help shorten the gap between content for many and content for 1-at this very moment. They can provide content specific to the personas we as sales people work with, specific to industries, the functions, the specific problems, companies and people most like the customer we are engaging (Me in the example above.
Marketing can use great technology and analytics to understand what might be most interesting to our customers right now, pushing it to them in their preferred channel(s).
Sales enablement can help too. We sales people might be trained in how we bridge the gap of one to many, to one to few, to one to one–at this moment.
We sales people might be trained in what questions to ask, how analyze the responses to provide the right information. Sales people might be trained in how to challenge perspectives, opinions and points of view, helping shift them.
We might have tools that enable us to use the customer’s specific data to analyze the results or ROI. We might use demos, evaluations or benchmarks to show, specifically, how something might work in the customer’s environment.
Sales people have a critical role in developing and delivering compelling content. It’s that ability to connect, personally, in terms meaningful and relevant to specific individuals at a moment in time.
No one else in the organization has this charter or ability.
So sales people have to solve the “last mile” content problem. They have to own it, they have to deliver it, they cannot be diverted by anything else, or any more general, broader audience.