Say you’ve spent some time creating your buying experience map.
And say you’ve figured out where your deals are getting stuck, and you’re ready to create that key piece of collateral or that key sales enablement tool that you hope is going to get your customers past that obstacle. You’re ready to create something that will accelerate your revenues and make life better for your customers.
Before you start creating that tool, do a quick check. Ask one question:
Could it be used shoulder to shoulder?
To explain what I mean by shoulder to shoulder collateral, let me use the example of the product brochure. Most of you probably don’t rely as heavily on the printed product brochure as you once did, and that’s probably for the best. But I use it as an example because everyone has either made one or been given one at some point.
Now imagine how that printed brochure would get used by your salespeople. Would it be something they leave behind as they’re on their way out of a sales call, hoping it doesn’t hit the bottom of the recycling bin before the door closes behind them?
Or is it something they can use to get invited to the same side of the table as the prospect, literally shoulder to shoulder, and work through how the product is going to solve the prospect’s problems?
A really good sales enablement tool, whether it’s a product brochure, or an ROI calculator, or a live demo on a tablet, or anything else that your customer needs to see, can get you invited to the customer’s side of the table. If this doesn’t happen literally, it will at least happen in the customer’s mind.
You want the customer to think “These people are on my side. They’re working with me to solve my problem.”
When you’re creating these tools, ask yourself “How would this be used to have a shared conversation about a problem the customer has?” It might wind up being a tool that gets shared digitally, and your salesperson’s shoulders might be situated nowhere near the prospect’s shoulders, but if you can imagine them using it this way, you’re more likely to be creating something that will build understanding and rapport.
When in doubt, think of the opposite situation. Think of the last piece of ordinary vendor collateral that was sent to you or you found on a website. You know, the one with a lot of product shots, maybe some acronyms, a couple of quotes from satisfied customers, a reference to a magical quadrant of some kind, and maybe even some pictures of shiny happy people pointing at a laptop and smiling.
What did you do with it? You probably either recycled it or deleted it from you device. But why? It did all the things it was supposed to do, right?
- It talked about benefits, not features.
- It included the voice of the customer.
- It demonstrated differentiation in the marketplace, and so on…
So why was it a dud?
If you can’t see your problems being solved in what you’re reading (or more likely, scanning quickly) you lose interest. If you don’t get a sense that the vendor is on your side, you’ll ditch it and move on to the next thing. And this is as it should be, because you’re busy doing your job, and it’s not your job to buy things from vendors.
Your customers are a lot like you. So the next time you’re creating some collateral for them, imagine yourself or your salespeople pulling up to the same side of the table as the customer and using the collateral to share a conversation.
If you can’t imagine that happening, you probably have to start over.
And your salespeople will appreciate it too. They don’t want to clutter their prospects’ desks with glossy paper garbage stapled to their business card. They want something they can use to develop a relationship of trust.
Start aiming for collateral that passes the shoulder to shoulder test.
If it’s done right, the customer will make it their own. They will save it to their favourites, or they will print it and scribble some notes on it, or forward it to a colleague with their thoughts attached. It becomes their tool for getting what they want, not just another piece of nameless “content” that you leave in your wake, destined for the recycle bin.
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