LevelUp interview series part V: The evolving role of content with Scott and Gary

Angela: ? Hi Scott. Hi Gary. I’ve had the great privilege of talking to Tech leaders all week about how much change is happening in sales, in B2B—and specifically around content. I reached out to you guys because I know you do a lot of work with B2B leaders and sales teams, and specifically around the Level 5 Selling and Coaching System. Do you want to share a little bit about what that system is and why might someone be interested in it?

Scott: Sure, it is really about helping salespeople become value creators. Helping sales leaders do an outstanding job coaching and defining what quality looks like—and then being able to observe and track the progress.

It’s Level 5 because we can break down the call quality into five levels and you can track this over time. Are we heading in the right direction? What do we do to help the whole team? And also in each individual?

Angela: I know our teams have taken that training and have gotten a lot out of it, so thank you for that.

We’re here today to kind of talk about two main questions that I’ve been asking everybody all week, so I’m curious to get your take and approach just given the breadth of experience you guys have.

How have you seen the role of content change in B2B sales over the past 1-2 years?

Gary: I think it’s become more critical in the sales process. You see statistics that the customer has gone 60% through the buying process before they interact with a salesperson. 60% is over half of the sales buyer’s journey.

Content is more important now than ever.

Angela: ? Content’s role is really, really critical before, during, and after the sales process. Based on what you’re seeing changing and the teams you’re talking to, what do you think organizations should be doing now to prepare themselves or sort of catch up with these changes for the future of content and sales?

Gary: I think the first thing is to get agreement.

Let’s revisit the buyer’s journey and get aligned between marketing and sales.

What is the buyer’s journey currently? And it continues to evolve, as you know, in every industry and every organization. But let’s set a guidepost: Here’s what we believe the stages of the buyer’s journey is today. Here’s the content that we currently have created for each of those stages.

Some of the organizations, as far as best practices, actually have that content within their CRM broken out by stage. If this opportunity is in this stage, here’s the list of content available to communicate with that client and that particular persona. So not just broken down by stage of the buyer’s journey, but by persona.

Angela: ? Even in the planning of the content being collaborative. You said that the keyword is ‘aligned’. What does alignment mean in the world of sales content creation to you Gary?

Gary: Great question.

Alignment means actually having those meetings where marketing and sales have an open dialogue about what content we currently have and what content we think is resonating.

If your technology allows, what content is actually being used. If you have it connected on your platform, you can see what content is most used. And why are they using that content more than other content?

For content that’s not being used, let’s be talking to the sales organization. Why isn’t it being used? Is it that you weren’t aware? You don’t think it’s a good piece of content? You need to have those conversations on a regular basis.

Angela: ? I recently saw that Forrester published research stating that 75% of content created for sales teams is never read, let alone used. As a marketing leader that sort of stopped me in my tracks. Three-quarters of what we’re making is not getting seen, used—it’s not helping. And so much effort goes into creating that content. That’s not a good statistic.

What do you think teams need to do to overcome that?

Scott: We work with teams, we mine that marketing material and use it in our programs. And they’re always like “Wow, this is great stuff, where’d you get it?” And we say, “you’ve had this, you just didn’t know it existed or didn’t really know how to leverage it.”

You have to have the content, but then it’s helping the salespeople understand how to leverage it, personalize it, when to use it, how to use it and so forth.

It still takes them some training development and talking it through.

Angela: Is there anything you can draw from—either your just general experience or your level 5 experience—how should teams work to communicate? How can sales teams know what is available, if they’ve got all of that great stuff?

Scott: Well it’s mapping out the buyer’s journey and your customer journey and identifying what content falls where and what’s the purpose of it. That customer journey is so important.

It’s important to think that through and think about how a customer would be feeling in different stages. What questions they might be asking, and so forth.

Angela: Gary, anything you want to add to that?

Gary: I think that visualization is so critical. Using the technology so that it’s easy to access.

So you know what’s available in which stage. What the purpose is. Who’s it for.

I think that the reason Forrester has that statistic you shared with us is because I think, in general, the content hasn’t been fully vetted by sales or discussed with sales prior to development and after creation. Usually, it’s sent out an email or a notification that this content is available but no real discussion around it.

Angela: ? “Why” is it such an important question for all teams to be asking right now. It’s one that I asked a lot, probably to my team’s frustration. “Why are we doing this? What’s the purpose?”

But I think it’s really important.

You mentioned something—getting that alignment before it’s even created between those that are creating the content and those that are ultimately going to use it.

Do you feel that that’s often an opportunity for teams to get better alignment and better collaboration? And if so, do you have any tips for anybody trying to get there?

Gary: Thinking about starting with the end in mind… I think what we find is there’s not enough research being done by organizations of their current customers. The content that was used for a customer to become a customer…. I think interviewing those customers and taking that information and bringing it back to the sales organization saying.

“We’ve interviewed our top 5 customers in these segments—by vertical, by size, whatever. And then by interviewing them, they use this content to become familiar with what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And they also told us that there were gaps here and there… and let’s talk about how we’re going to fill those gaps.”

Start with the end and then go to the beginning. Work backward to see what we have, or don’t have.

Angela: That’s good stuff. I might implement that on our team. We’ve done win-loss analysis, we’ve talked about churn analysis. But I have not heard somebody suggest what content helped the decision get made. That’s wonderful.

Gary: Part of that content is storytelling, right? Because you take that information, and you can create stories around that based on those interviews and implement the content into that story. This white paper, this research… it just helps sales. We help salespeople by taking that information and helping salespeople tell that story to a similar prospect.

Angela: Yeah, storytelling is powerful. I don’t remember which book, because you recommend so many good ones that I read, and I found some others. But there’s one that talks about the power of storytelling, and that we remember stories far more than we remember scripts or details and things like that.

There’s a lot of power in just creating a narrative around it and then plugging the content into those pieces, so that you’re walking your prospects through that story—almost them leaning into what’s coming next.

Gary: And then as a part of that story, you can then follow up in delivering content that supports that story.

Scott: Back to the idea that three-quarters of content is never read, it’s so important to think through.

How can the salesperson establish credibility? They’re part of this process.

There’s also this idea that so much is done in advance before anyone even talks to the salesperson. If that’s the case, how can salespeople add value?

How can they establish credibility? Is there certain information that is not out in the public, that only the salesperson can share? Or really personalizing the experience for the customer? These are very important steps.

Angela: That’s an interesting thought, having those pieces of collateral or those nuggets of information be pieces of the story that only your Account Executives can share. Like exclusive access, right?

Gary: Because otherwise, what do they need to talk to a salesperson? A lot of buyers think there’s enough information out there. Unless the sales organization is adding value, they don’t need to talk to you.

Angela: Sounds a little like Level 5. Move up the value chain, right?

Well, thank you both for being here. It’s been a really interesting conversation. As always, we could go on and on and on and sometimes we do, but we won’t do that live. ?

Where do you want to direct people to continue the conversation with the both of you?

Scott: You could catch us on LinkedIn and also our website www.olsengroup.net.

Angela: Awesome. And thanks everyone for joining me for this finale, episode of the LevelUp interview series this week.