Level Up interview series part II: The evolving role of content with Eric Wittlake

?  Hey Eric! Thanks so much for being here. We are LIVE on LinkedIn! ?Eric: This is my very first LinkedIn live, so we’re gonna see how this goes. Thanks for helping me through it.

Angela: Today is my day too, second one, I’m a pro now. ?Shout out to Restream for making it pretty easy. So we’ll just kick it off. We’re going to be talking about the evolving role of content for sales and sales teams.

And, you know, you do research before these things, I checked out your website and saw what was going on. I noticed 6sense just announced a funding event. You’re ready to ignite the revtech revolution, you want to tell everybody what that means?

Eric: Sure. I’m pretty pumped about this. So yes, thanks for hitting the passion point. ?

What are we trying to do? Oftentimes as marketers and go to market teams, we need to deliver the right experience across our different teams.

And what’s happening is… we’re making all these decisions about what the right experience is. Let’s take sales engagement. Let’s take chat. All these different solutions…. We actually have to make the decision about how we’re going to engage you when you come to our website. Or when a BDR is reaching out to you.

What all of those solutions are doing is they’re actually going and pulling all the marketing info And the only place all the data comes together to make decisions is now in all of these points solutions. These specific points of Engagement.

How are we ever going to deliver a consistent experience? How can I figure out the right experiences to deliver to you across all of the different touch points and points of engagement that I have? And that’s not working.

This is quickly starting to fall apart as we make more and more decisions. Now, we’re going to AI. It’s hundreds of decisions an hour that are made.

That doesn’t work until we find a way to bring the data together, centrally make some of those decisions, and give ourselves the ability to execute across all of those places with the right decisions to deliver the right experience.

Angela: Yeah, some of us have been pounding the actionable data drum for a long time and it’s nice to see somebody making it making our dream come to life. So that’s awesome. Awesome. ?

You know, this week, I have the good pleasure of talking to a lot of different executives in B2B Tech and we’re tackling two main questions. I’m going to throw them at you, we will see what you have to say.

The first is: How have you seen the role of content changing in B2B sales over the last two years?

Eric: Well I actually really like some of the changes that have been enforced over the course of the last 14 months or so. As buyers have had a little bit more challenge getting approval for budgets and being able to move things forward, we all have a need to show—as buyers, as sellers—that we’re going to deliver results quickly.

One of the things that I talked about when I was at TOPO, and that I see still here at 6sense, is how do I ensure as a buyer that I’m confident that I’m going to be able to deliver results. And how do I ensure that—as a seller—I can create that confidence that I want, but also I know I’m going to get value from.

One of the things that we sometimes talk about is…. When is the point in time where I know that this is creating value for me? Today—in a SaaS-based environment for instance—increasingly we can actually bring that point into the sales process.

I know you asked about content. A lot of us go THIS is content. ? Content is packaged stuff. I can print it out. ?️ But content can be more than that.

What I think that’s interesting from a change perspective is not the flat content. Not the webinars. Not all of the historical enablement things that we do. But it’s the things that we’re doing now increasingly that are about, just you.

A company I talked to a while ago, a no-code solution… and one of the things they’re looking to do in the sales process is building a simple application for the first use case for the prospect. By the time the client is through the purchase process—not 30 days after they bought and gone through onboarding and what not—but in the purchase process itself. They’re actually creating the first application.

They can see that it actually works. You can meet their needs. They understand hands-on what it takes to deliver it and the confidence that you have—as a buyer—when you’re able to actually see the value delivered in the sales process. As opposed to 30, 60, 90 days later.

That makes such a big difference in today’s buying environment. When I think about content and what’s changing today, I think about proof. I think about trust. I think about the desire side. Not just I want that… but the bar to making me actually believe that.

To go: “Yes, that’s the one”

When we’re all trying to raise the bars to what we deliver as marketers and sellers. I think of the things that make me go: “Yes. Specific to me. Proof of and confidence in the ability to deliver value, because I’ve already seen specific value from it.”

That’s something I think we’ll see a lot more of—forced in some cases—by the pandemic.

But why would I stop? Because if my competitors continue to do that, that’s going to continue to win deals, right? That level of confidence is hard to fight against.

Angela: ?  I mean, Asher and I spoke about this yesterday. We spoke about the immense amount of content—that’s easy to create these days. That’s just like, more and more and more.

That personalization is so key to cutting through all that noise and making someone feel like, oh, this is made for me, right? This is speaking to my needs. This is really personalized.

And how do you do that at scale is something marketers have been talking about for a long time. Personalization at Scale.

But the last 12-24 months have really forced our hands at making it come true—and what was on the line for sales teams if we couldn’t do it.

Eric: Yeah, and I’m thinking here, when we talk about content for sales… I’m thinking very much in the sales process, there’s a one-to-one relationship, human conversation going on.

We can talk about other things that we do to be really scalable and personalized to everybody who we don’t have that relationship with as well. And there’s a lot that’s changing on that front, too.

When we talk about sales it’s like… what can I do to make that repeatable and scalable, but give people a taste and proof. This is increasingly important and will only continue to become more important.

I don’t think that’s a trend that reverses post pandemic.

Angela: ? Now, that’s a good point.

You know, as marketers, who are creating content for sales teams, we need to keep in mind the difference in the delivery channels. And in that relationship.

The sales content that’s being created isn’t going to go out in some marketing automation platform, but is oftentimes is delivered one-on-one. So yeah, great point ?

Eric: We’re enabling them to deliver it. As opposed to giving it to them to go to deliver and choose when they want to.

So… how do I enable someone to run a great workshop, for instance. To me that fits under the heading “Content that we’re enabling import directly in the sales process itself.”

You mentioned personalization… And so—quick sidebar to personalization real quick—this is for the marketers! Right?

When we talk about personalized content as marketers, I see people just angst over… “But now I’m going to have to go create custom content…. I’m going to have to create a customized version of my 20-page paper for each one of these accounts. Each individual I’m reaching out to…”

Personalization is actually in the experience somebody has.

When I was at TOPO, I didn’t try to create custom content for each customer that I worked with.

But the delivery felt personalized and felt customized to each customer.

Because what did we do? We said, “Oh, this is a conversation we had. Here’s some of the best practices here, some researchers from data points…” That delivery of it was personalized to them. It wasn’t a blast for everybody.

So, “Hey, Angie, we talked about this. We actually have some research on that, take a look at these couple pages, these couple data points.”

Take away how it builds on the conversation we have. Exact same content, but the delivery itself can still be very personalized.

Angela: ?  Such a great point. Why I care is going to be different, but the same piece of collateral. That’s a fantastic point and a good sidebar.

Speaking of scaling, and sort of looking forward, right? So we see these changes happening, we observe them….

What should teams do to take advantage of those changes in a way that is going to set them apart? That’s going to give them the differentiators? And how can we action these changes in a way that’s going to really impact our sales cycle?

Eric: So much of what we need to do here is under the heading of “Enablement” as opposed to content, in my view.

How do I enable my sellers to actually make the right decision about what content they use? About when to use it, about how to deliver it? How do I enable them to deliver a great experience in that workshop setting?

Even discovery—how do I ensure that when we do a discovery call, that you actually learn something if I’m doing discovery with you, instead of it being such a one-way street.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a LOT of these calls over the course of the last couple months and have bothered to actually take a few. And it’s just like… just send me the SurveyMonkey, why don’t you? I’ll fill it out in half the time. This is so canned… I’m not getting much from this.

At the same time, you can actually flip that. How do I actually make it so that I can proactively deliver some value and some insight back to you in how I structure discovery? This is just one example.

How do I ensure that I’m delivering a good experience which is valuable for you? So people are saying, “Yes, that actually was a good use of my time. I’m more likely to get back on the phone with you.”

That’s what we all want. We want to get that next step. Making certain that we’re delivering value, instead of just extracting value and information that we need. That’s an important piece.

That’s something that we’re going to do through the training and enablement, and content will help to support that.

But when I think about that experience, that’s us talking. And how you’ve helped us then have a better conversation. Armed me with materials. *waves stack of papers at screen* Whatever it might be.

Maybe digital ones. But those are a little harder to just wave in front of the screen. Sidebar, I’m still addicted to paper. I generally digitize my notes, just taking pictures of my notes into Evernote. But I don’t digitally note-take very well.

Angela: I wonder how many people have bought white boards for the house over the last 13 months, right? I’m right there on the brink of doing it. Definitely on the wishlist.

Eric: ?

Angela: So you’re touching on something really important, though. And I think buyers have the same thing.

They want to be able to engage with the content. They want to help them make their decisions.
And as you’re delivering it, and as we’re enabling our sales teams, making sure that it is delivered in a personal way. That addresses the “why they should care.” Snd actually helps them along their buyer’s journey.

The more that happens consistently, the more likely those sales teams are then going to proactively start to look for more content. You’re going to have more engagement, more interaction, more collaboration between the content creators and those delivering it.

So we are just wrapping up our second interview of the LevelUp interview series: The Evolving Role of Content. We just spoke with Eric Wittlake with 6sense. Super stoked for the series. You can catch Eric on LinkedIn.