If the economic health of your company depends on your sales team closing deals, likely one of your top priorities is to enable your sales team. To propel prospective customers from the product validation phase into the purchasing phase, agents have to be enabled to deliver the right product content at just the right moment. But who determines that moment? And who determines what content is to be delivered at what stage? With a sales content strategy team and an audit of already readily available data, you can transform your sales team from pitch deliverers into product validators who empower prospective buyers to evaluate and connect with your product in the early stages of your sales cycle.
This article provides step-by-step guidance for putting a sales strategy in a place that empowers your sales agents to close sales cycles quicker and that creates loyal brand advocates from the start. How? By using your product documentation to dispel any consumer doubt about the value of your product and your commitment to your customers' success.
Signs of an effective content strategy
An effective product content strategy (like the one outlined in this article) should:
- Enable your sales team to guide opportunities through the product validation stage.
- Build your sales strategies to form a strong, cohesive sales team.
- Train your sales team to leverage the right product documentation at the right time to close deals.
- Provide an audit mechanism to track and review content interaction points.
- Motivate actionable, future product content strategies based on audit findings.
How to implement a content strategy that closes deals
Step 1: Audit closed deals and failed opportunities
In your sales management tool, audit your records for closed deals and failed opportunities to identify content interaction points, i.e. identify interactions during which agents had an opportunity to provide a prospective buyer with product content and create buyer assurance moments (i.e. put the buyer's questions or concerns about a product at ease).
- Run a report of your closed deals and lost opportunities of the last three months. (Due to the dynamic, fast-paced changes in product development and consumer interests, older records may not give the most current insight.)
- Review the individual records and identify specific product questions, concerns or objections customers had just before the deal became either a successful close or a lost opportunity. Look for patterns and mark any of the following that can be answered with "yes" as a content audit point1:
- Do customers tend to ask product questions related to specific topics?
- Do prospective buyers have similar concerns about the product?
- Do prospects voice similar objections or cite similar reasons for rejecting the product?
- Are questions, concerns or objections related to a specific demographic (i.e. industry, company size, age group, etc.)?
Step 2: Review delivered content
In the individual records, review content that was delivered to opportunities (if any) in response to their product questions, concerns or objections. Review the following and mark questions that can be answered with "yes" as a content audit point:
- Review the type of content sales agents sent to opportunities to address questions, concerns or objections.
- If agents did not send any information, mark this content interaction point as a content audit point.
- Did agents send a link to a website?
- Did agents paste information into an email?
- Did agents attach a document?
- If sales agents sent product information, investigate where information was retrieved from.
- Is content kept in the sales agent's private folder?
- Did the sales agent copy content from internal email chains?
- Did the sales agent consult sales materials?
- Did the sales agent send a link to the company website or to one of its pages?
- Did the sales agent send a link to a third-party site such as a forum?
- Did the sales agent refer the opportunity to the help center?
- Survey how agents determined which product information to provide
- Did agents follow training guidelines?
- Did agents take their queue from an internal sales workbook?
- Did agents follow a prescribed script?
- Did agents choose product content arbitrary (i.e. relying on their sales “instinct”)?
- Determine who originally created the product content.
- Did product or subject matter experts author the content?
- Did the sales team lead create the content?
- Did fellow sales agents assemble the content from various sources?
- Did sales engineers provide the information?
- Did technical support provide the product documentation?
- Note whether a vetting process is in place
- Was information vetted for technical accuracy?
- Was information vetted for product messaging?
- Was information vetted for accurate representation of company values?
- Was information vetted for professional presentation (branding, grammar, etc.)?
Step 3: Build your targeted content strategy
Start transforming your gathered intelligence into a sales success plan that enables your sales agent to provide reliable, vetted and authoritative product documentation that assures a prospective buyer of the value of your product.
- Leverage a web-accessible, customer success content platform (such as MindTouch) to enable your sales agents. Say goodbye, to digging through emails and attaching files that may never correctly open on the other end! The MindTouch architecture, for example, lends itself perfectly to organizing content by department and leveraging step-by-step processes while restricting access where necessary.
- Formulate your sales success plan. Sales agents should be able to easily follow your prescribed sales success path to create a win at every stage of the sales process. Your sales success plan should identify the various sales interaction points and the actions your agents are to take at each of these points—including how and when to leverage the most relevant, targeted product content.
If you were able to identify a pattern among demographic segments at certain interaction points, create separate strategic sales paths for each demographic.
Step 4: Leverage your content strategy team
If you have not done so yet, create an inter-departmental sales content strategy team . Team members should represent marketing, content management, engineering, support and success departments. This collaborative team ensures that product content is up-to-date, technically accurate and representative to assure prospective buyers of the product's value and quality.
- Work with the appropriate departments to assign content authors and editors and to put a peer review process in place to ensure that—from engineering to marketing—the content has been thoroughly vetted to align with business values and strategies.
- For content identified as having contributed to a closed sale, assign a team to review whether the content could be improved to further encourage product validation. The team may, for example, recommend embedding a MindTouch Touchpoint such as a contextual help button tool or a search tool to entice prospective customers to explore additional product features.
- For interaction points marked as content audit points or for content that led to lost opportunities, create a list of product content to be either updated or created. Focus especially on creating product content for questions that were repeatedly asked by prospective buyers (who were obviously interested) but who, in the end, were not assured.
- Collaboratively, create product content.
Step 5: Create your “winning" sales paths
Nothing will propel your sales team to more successfully close opportunities than a well-guided sales path. Create paths your sales agents can easily follow and allows them to leverage the right tools at critical interaction moments.
- Create your strategic sales paths. Here, again, MindTouch can help your sales agents leverage the right documentation throughout all stages of your sales process. By embedding contextual help tools in conjunction with MindTouch Paths on the appropriate pages of your sales success paths, your agents simply have to click a button to view the targeted product content recommended for the prospective buyer at that stage.
- Add the product documentation you identified as enabling product validation to the appropriate stages in your sales success plan. In MindTouch, the ability to reuse content eliminates the need for creating duplicate content and ensures that your sales agents always have the most up-to-date content at their fingertips. (Reused content in MindTouch is updated simultaneously everywhere on the site if changed in one location).
- If you are directing your agents to send links to other web properties (forums, community pages social sites, etc.) to prospective buyers, embed a MindTouch Touchpoint on the web property to link to product documentation and encourage further product validation.
Step 6: Enable your sales team
Putting the right tools in front of your sales team to make them successful is a challenge. Use the right tools to keep your sales agent on track at every interaction point. Allow agents to access real-time content as soon as the need arises without having to leave the interaction.
- Enable your sales team to access and search your sales success paths right from within your sales management tool. Through MindTouch Touchpoints, for example, empower your agents to quickly respond to prospective buyers and proactively deliver the product content that will help the buyer evaluate your product. (With just a few clicks, configure and embed MindTouch contextual help and search tools right into your sales management tool to allow your agents to search and find the most relevant content to send to opportunities.)
- Periodically train your sales team on how to properly access and use your sales success paths.
- Encourage your sales agents to link delivered content to opportunities in the sales management tool to allow future strategic review and planning.
Step 7: Establish a periodic audit cycle
The best strategies need reviewing from time to time to ensure that they are as effective as envisioned. Audit what works and what doesn't and tweak accordingly.
- Periodically audit your sales management tool’s records to identify weakness or strengths of your product content strategy. Repeat the process outlined in this article quarterly to continuously align your sales strategies with product changes or shifts in messaging or strategies.
- Review which of your agents actively searches and views product documentation to gain further insight into how comfortable your sales agents are with navigating your sales success paths. MindTouch, for example, provides a user view and search activity report that can provide detailed insight into what content your individual agents searched for and eventually viewed.
* A content audit point is a point in a process for which content needs to be identified/created that is to be sent to prospective customers. Content audit points become a sales tool on the strategic sales map. ↵