As one of the sponsors of CEB’s Sales and Marketing Summit this year, Mediafly sent a few of our team members down to Las Vegas to mingle with the best and brightest in the field. We shared insights around how companies empower their marketers and sales reps, and attended sessions hosted by CEB executive advisors, industry experts and thought leaders (sprinkled with a lot of networking along the way).
Now that we’ve been able to decompress, we wanted to recap some of our favorite lessons learned.
The empowered customer…is overwhelmed
Kicking things off with The End of Customer Empowerment, Brent Adamson’s session challenged the idea that customers are more empowered in the information age. Adamson argued that as B2B marketers pump out content, comparing options is easier, and your competitors can target customers quickly.
With an average of 5.4 stakeholders involved in each B2B transaction, the buying process is longer and harder to manage. The recommended solution to help alleviate this burden echoed what Forrester Analyst Peter O’Neill talked about in a recent webinar, An Empowered Sales Rep Becomes a Content Concierge. Both Adamson and O’Neill argue that sales reps need to take a proactive approach, anticipating the needs and perspectives of their prospects, and guiding them along the sales process with the right information at the right time.
Content consumption goes down as a lead gets closer to making a buying decision
While you might think that as a lead comes closer to selecting a vendor, they would consume more content, it’s just the opposite. CEB research found that content consumption peaked when leads are trying to understand their problem (23.7%) and while evaluating a solution. Consumption is at the lowest when they’re selecting a supplier and finally completing the purchase (13.4%).
If marketers continue to assume that leads are sales-ready based on content consumption, they are risking passing leads to sales way too early. This insight also supports the need for sales reps to be equipped with the right content as their lead moves along the sales process. There are a number of ways to tackle that, including empowering your sales rep with the right technology solution to find that content and improving your sales collateral, a topic we covered in a blog post earlier this week.
Less than 3% of marketing qualified leads convert
Joelle Kaufman and Jason Seeba of BloomReach expanded on the problem of leads being passed off at the wrong time. Instead of depending on the amount of content consumed, they suggest that marketers look at the type of content that audiences are consuming, and the order in which it’s consumed.
If you have a piece of bottom-of-funnel content like an in-depth testimonial, the reader of that content isn’t actually always at the bottom of the funnel. But by clicking on that content, that reader might be passed off to sales too early.
An example offered at the session to counteract the problem was assessing a customer’s readiness by adding in a link to a top-funnel piece of content in the executive summary of a bottom-funnel piece of content. This allows marketers to filter out false positives if the prospect clicks on the link and engages with top-funnel content.
Marketing and sales need to constantly educate one another
Tracy Eiler covered sales and marketing alignment in her session, an ongoing hot topic. She talked about marketing “extending the olive branch” to sales and going beyond simple alignment. Marketing should equip sales reps with the most up-to-date content and let them know about it. Marketing needs to empower sales to manage the customer in the hand-off from digital to face-to-face interactions. Field insights from sales allow marketing to continue to improve and evolve content.
Those insights can be gathered through analytics; with a tool for delivering content during in-person meetings, marketing can access the hard data behind how often that content is used by their overall sales force. When sales and marketing unite around the customer, it becomes easier for sales and marketing to reach their goals, and for the customer to get the full value of your company.
By 2020, there will be 1 million fewer sales reps
On the surface, this is a pretty scary statistic. In his session, Mediafly’s founder and CEO, Carson Conant expanded on what this stat really means: by 2020, consultative sales positions will grow by 10%.
The session brought together the issues of sales and marketing alignment, and the empowered salesperson. Carson discussed ways to analyze where value is lost, best strategies about bridging the gap between marketing and sales, and how to best deliver the full value of your company during the most crucial part of the sales process: in-person interactions. He also offered up some tips for sales transformation, and how Fortune-ranked companies have embarked on this journey successfully.
We were thrilled to be a sponsor of the CEB Sales & Marketing summit and see the renewed focus that sales and marketing professionals have on the customer. To learn more about how you can empower your sales force to become a content concierge, please click below to watch the Forrester and Mediafly webinar hosted by Peter O’Neill.