Aaron Cooper, Co-founder and CEO, SalesPreso talks about the well-entrenched ‘marketing build, sales customize’ approach to sales presentations leads to lost productivity on both sides. As customers expect ever more customized interactions, the problem amplifies. But, it can be solved and deliver a big positive impact on ROI
For as long as there have been sales and marketing functions, there has been a divide between them. The sales team believe that marketing doesn’t give them enough leads, and the marketing team believe that sales don’t convert enough of the leads they’re given. Having worked with some of Australia’s biggest companies and witnessed first-hand how this divide hamstrings both teams, I can tell you it’s only going to get worse for organizations that leave it unchecked.
Working with some of Australia’s biggest companies to drive their sales strategy, content creation and processes, I’ve consistently seen how presentation use and context defines the best and worst salespeople-in fact, democratizing the best sales content in large organizations was a driving reason for founding SalesPreso. When it comes to the worst, however, there are some consistent flaws with the content presented to customers, and too many businesses are still using presentations as though we are living in the age of PowerPoint.
Marketing, often far removed from the day-to-day reality of dealing with customers, are tasked with creating a ‘one size fits all’ brand story, while a good salesperson will understand the customer directly, look at what they specifically need and develop a story to fit those needs. When their work goes unused (and recent data suggests that a whopping 60-70% of materials created by marketing isn’t used by the sales teams) the marketing team feel frustrated, while the sales team are frustrated to begin with, because they haven’t got the right materials for their specific client needs.
The impact of this divide is both a lack of sales productivity and a massively inefficient system that results in a gross waste of both teams’ hours. If 70% of content produced by marketing is never used, that means 70% of that team’s time is wasted-it has no benefit to the bottom line of the business. It’s also a huge amount of lost effort and time for the sales team, who will still make individual changes to the remaining 30% of content that is deemed useable, potentially having to go through a sales enablement or insights team to get further data or reports for their presentation. And that’s just internally. I’ve seen enterprise businesses spend over A$4 million a year on engaging an agency to create presentations. Imagine how many of those presentations were used by the sales teams-and how much of that spend was ultimately unnecessary.
So, what does a good salesperson need? It’s simple: qualified leads and the tools and content to be able to respond to those leads quickly. While the strongest performers in the sales team will always want to spend time creating interactions with the customer that say, ‘we get you’, the content supplied by marketing must be customer-centric and demonstrate the organization’s value-by drawing on relevant data . And let’s be realistic-no marketing team has the time nor resources to execute that for every possible lead.
To close the sales and marketing divide and deliver better ROI on both teams’ investment, there are a few important steps to take:
Understand (and measure) the impact of the divide: Nobody wants to be hemorrhaging time and business. As soon as organizations understand the extent to which this divide is draining their bottom line, plugging the drain becomes a business-critical strategy.
Recognize the current sales content development process is broken: Marketing hand over a shiny, well thought out (if necessarily generic) story to sales, then cross their fingers that sales won’t ‘mess it up’ when they go and tailor it to suit each customer. But it’s typically a black box from that point onward, locked away in sales people’s documents. Marketing then start the process all over again, without ever knowing that (and which) 70% of the content is never used. It’s only when sales people’s-and customers’-engagement with every slide is tracked that the organization can gain the insight they need to make change.
Create a new, customer-centric story: Focus on the business taking a new approach and owning the customer story with tailored content that will allow sales to speak to the customer in their terms, while marketing ensures consistency and control of this content. This will provide a much more engaging experience for the customer.
Plug in your existing data and sales IP to automate the process: Marketing alone can’t create a great story; all of the sales people’s customer insight and any available industry insight needs to be automatically fed into it so they get a bespoke version of the story for each customer. Commit to plugging in your existing and relevant data, and implementing a system that can track everything – from how and when content is used, to how often it is used, who’s using it and how it’s being shared-to give you that information without the legwork.
Use tracking to learn what works and to repeat sales success: By tracking everything you’ll also be able to draw on real insights to learn from the best and apply it to the rest . To keep closing the divide you need complete visibility of what the whole sales force is doing, where they are having success and with what content, and to use those insights to create smarter, more relevant content, replicate their process and to drive ongoing sales success. In short, automate content so everyone can spend less time creating presentations and more time talking to customers.