Enabling Selling with Thought Leadership

I attended the ITSMA annual conference last week in Cambridge, MA.  One of the major themes across the event was sales enablement, and how Marketing can play an important role there.   As a senior associate with ITSMA, I had the privilege of participating in a series of 1-on-1 meetings with various ITSMA members.  I was able to participate in some great conversations about challenges and opportunities across a broad range of technology companies!

One of the recurring challenges I heard was about the use of thought leadership content by sales teams.  The key question that came up multiple times was “How do I get the sales team to engage and use the thought leadership content that we create?”

Using thought leadership as a tool for sales is a multi-pronged effort.  Just creating the content and sending it over to them is largely ineffective – as many of these folks shared with me.  There is too much content already out there, and the most limited resource that a sales person has is time.  So, if you think they are going to read it, and figure it out on their own how and when to use it, you’ll be very disappointed.

Here is a great graphic done by Profitable Channels about “How Content Supports a Modern Selling System.”  (click on link for larger view)


Where I think this question gets answered is on the top half of the diagram.  What we ended up talking about in each of the conversations I had was the topic of Delivery.  My question back to them was: how are you delivering this content to the sales force?  Are you giving them what they need to actually engage and use the content?

Some of the key questions that need to be addressed are as follows:

  1. Can they find the content asset quickly and easily, or is it buried in a network portal somewhere?
  2. Is the content asset enabled across multiple devices (projector, flat screen, tables, smart phones, laptops)? One size fits no one!
  3. Have you provided an ABSTRACT of the content that gives them the following:
    • Short summary of the top 3 major points in the piece
    • 2 – 3 good discussion questions that a rep can use to engage the prospect or customer about the piece
    • Links to a follow-up content asset so a sales rep can serve up what comes next (i.e. webinar, invite to an event, additional piece of content, podcast, video, etc.), and continue to provide value and drive further conversation.

For every piece of piece of thought leadership content you create, I bet you have a program or campaign planned to get it in the hands of your prospects and customers.  Marketers should also include creating a quick and easy campaign aimed directly at Sales to arm them with the three enablers listed above. Make selling with thought leadership easy.  Remember, they are not the consumers of your thought leadership content – but they can deliver it directly to a customer if you make it easy for them to use it.

— Lisa Dennis

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