A common frustration for marketers is sales going rogue and not using the available materials created for them. If you could go back to the sales pitch for fire, Grock didn't use the marketing materials created by Oog and promised that one of the advantages of fire is the ability to produce warmth, even underwater. Customers were agitated when a product feature didn't exist as guaranteed. Grock was beaten senseless with clubs, and the rest is, as they say, history.
When sales professionals create content independently, there are three main impacts on the enterprise:
Promises made for features and functions that don't exist wreak havoc. Challenges immediately arise during the contract negotiation and deployment phase. Additionally, this creates problems for product and engineering, which may have to alter the road map to deliver on promises made to that, "special customer."
Sales can go off message and off-brand. The issue goes beyond content and design and can include spelling, grammar, or legal and compliance issues that reflect poorly on your brand.
Rogue content typically distributed outside of CMS, CRM, or sales enablement platforms such as Highspot, are not connected to these vital tools. Sales and marketing leadership can't gain useful insight into what is working, and what isn't, nor engage in a productive remarketing strategy.
The first step in breaking this cycle requires sales and marketing leadership to work collaborative and ask three key questions. First, "What is it about our existing content that is not working?" There will always be underground marketing in an enterprise, but if it is endemic, it points to a more significant problem - the existing content isn't working.
Second, "Can we leverage any of the content or process created?" It is easy to slide into the trap of, "not invented here," but there can be good ideas in the underground efforts. If you can find a way to make those nuggets scale, you move to a collaborative relationship with sellers, which grows trust.
The final question is, "What can sales leadership do to improve the use of the sales and marketing tools currently deployed?" It is always easier to enter the lead, the sale, and the contract all on the same day into the CRM system. When this happens, every other organization is blinded, including sales leadership, on what is happening in the field. You can deploy all the technology and automation available, but if it is unused or rarely updated, you're making flawed decisions.
To break these barriers down, marketers can utilize a couple of strategies to minimize underground marketing. Product marketers should present the materials they created to the sales audience as part of regular training. This creates a circular feedback loop that instantly improves use and quality. Sellers can see first hand the effectiveness of the content, and can constructively expose weakness in the materials. Marketers can take that feedback and provide immediate updates to the content where relevant and practical. Sales will perceive marketing is listening, and that the marketing staff that connects product management to sales is in the trenches with them. As a bonus, marketing gets valuable insight that enables continual refinement of all content.
Another effective strategy is working with a select group of sellers to test and refine content in a smaller organization. These sellers become influencers within your enterprise and will position the content as sales having a voice in the development. Not only does this build trust within the larger organization and enables A/B testing, but this also provides advanced feedback on content that is hard to edit after development such as videos and demo scripts.
Badon Hill Marketing has almost 20 years of experience in creating process, strategy, and content for a variety of businesses. If you need help in joining your sales and marketing organizations together into a powerful force, we are here to help. Contact our principal consultant, David, at (425) 229-2275.