I recently read a Forrester report about making your B2B marketing succeed in the “Age of the Customer.” It explains some of the hurdles holding back B2B marketers from optimal effectiveness in the current customer-centric sales landscape and offers some suggestions for improvement. What is surprising is that it’s not our marketing strategies themselves that need to be re-evaluated, but the mindset with which we engage our customers.
Forrester suggests that many marketers fail to be customer obsessed because they lack a holistic view of their customers, lack direct interaction with customers, and lack the necessary skills to utilize customer data and technology. This failure to shift to a customer-centric focus helps explain why, according to a separate Forrester report, 85% of marketers say the content they produce isn’t effective at delivering business value. To overcome this challenge, modern marketers need to focus on improving content by understanding their buyers and becoming customer-obsessed. Forrester suggests four areas of investment to reach customer obsession:
- Make customer insight accessible at every interaction – Move beyond segmented targeting and towards operational systems that provide meaningful insights. Assess how buyers interact with your messages, content, and each other at different touchpoints in the buying process. The right operational systems should provide customer insights in an easily digestible format.
- Ensure digital and physical experiences are consistent and reinforcing – Deliver a multichannel, multi-departmental interaction seamlessly and personally. Each independent experience your customer has should be consistent and related to all other actions.
- Help direct and indirect channels engage more personally – Deliver personalized engagement through social media and mobile to build more long-term relationships.
- Invest in creating relevant content and repurpose it for various uses – Take the time to strategize your content creation for different verticals, personas or individuals. The right content strategy involves creating tailored, easily consumable content for both physical and digital use across a number of mediums.
Investing in and implementing the right sales enablement strategy can help your business in each of these areas.
- Sales enablement solutions should integrate with customer relationship management systems. This integration addresses the issues of customer insight accessibility. Sales enablement solutions can work with CRM to provide predictive content and consolidated customer data, which are vital in ensuring that each customer interaction is informed by comprehensive up-to-date information and driven by relevant content contextualized by the information within the CRM. According to a study by Gatepoint Research, 40% of sales and marketing executives think that content from marketing is average or low quality. By embracing sales enablement solutions integrated with CRM, marketers can reverse this worrying statistic and create high quality, customer-obsessed content.
- Sales enablement solutions should also help with content automation. Content automation helps to ensure that engagement through different channels involving multiple departments is still consistent by allowing marketers to consistently monitor and universally update branding and messaging in digital collateral. This consistency benefits sales representatives as well. A study by CSO Insights revealed that only 41% of sales reps’ time is spent selling—that time is often consumed by activities such as manually searching for, creating and updating collateral, and entering data into their CRMs. The time reps spend on these manual, tedious tasks can be eliminated through the adoption of a sales enablement solution.
- Additionally, the reservoir of customer data that can be accessed through the right sales enablement solution allows reps to personalize each customer interaction. This data feeds into content automation tools, enabling the delivery of personalized content through mobile channels as well as traditional distribution channels. By taking advantage of content automation tools, marketers have the opportunity to deliver on-brand, on-message collateral every single time while simultaneously improving the effectiveness of their sales reps.
- Finally, to address the issue of investing in relevant content, sales enablement solutions provide content usage analytics to help marketers understand which types of content are actually being used by sales. These insights are valuable in determining which content is the most effective and guiding marketing efforts in creating new content and repurposing existing content. Furthermore, sales reps can utilize these content analytics to understand how customers engage with the content reps send them. This clues in marketing to the content formats that work best at promoting engagement. Marketing can use this understanding to improve content relevance, digestibility, and value.
Marketing in the age of the customer is difficult. Creating effective content requires extensive research and a higher level of interdepartmental collaboration. By adopting a sales enablement strategy, marketing can more easily create high quality, resonating content fueled by customer obsession.