In B2B Marketing, the textbook method for delivering sales collateral to the sales team or a dealer network has always been to use shipping (box of catalogs), an intranet portal, or email. No matter whether the collateral is a brochure, catalog, or detailed pricing sheet.
The thinking behind this approach is quite simply that’s how we’ve always done it and no matter the cost to the company that’s the way we are going to keep on doing it.
This approach worked well in the world before smart devices and probably saved B2B Marketers and Product Managers a few dollars and headaches along the way.
Sales Has Changed
Unfortunately for most B2B Marketers technology has crushed these methodologies. Sales reps now walk around with supercomputers in their back pocket and their expectations are dramatically different.
Information today is simply always at your finger tips. Supporting product collateral, be it video, brochures, images, or text-based specs, details and pricing, must very accurate and be very responsive.
Furthermore, app design on smart devices is engaging as hell these days. Why do you think so many people are staring at their phones all day long?
Sales information today must be very accurate, very responsive, and very engaging.
Lack of Access to Accurate Information
B2B Marketers have been putting their deep product information on their websites for the better part of 25 years now, and they are good at it.
Websites are so good that it has created a huge knowledge gap for sales people. Consider walking into a meeting with a customer that just spent the last 10 minutes looking up exact product details on your website.
The sales person now needs to not only understand those details and pricing, but they have to sell beyond it to create movement with their prospect.
For most companies, the rep is left to rely on a printed catalog or brochure, or the company website to find answers that the prospect already knows.
The problem here is about half the B2B Marketers we talk with say the information in their printed information is inaccurate the minute the piece left the printer (the ones their reps use in the field).
Furthermore, they “hate” their websites because the information is not always updated correctly.
For example, how many broken image links are on your website right now?
Ours has 18. I just ran a scan this morning. Sigh.
The cost of inaccurate information for a sales person is extended sales cycles, lost deals due to unprepared sales people, and wasted time emailing product managers for details. And that adds up fast!
Lack of Access to Responsive Information
In a world where buyers expect everything to be at their fingertips, reps need access to responsive tools to react to any situation.
Most companies still rely on email for getting information out to the team.
Several marketing friends of mine say they average as many as 25 requests per week for product information and collateral. Where’s the latest flyer?
This has to be the biggest time waster of all time for marketers and product managers… and it’s expensive.
If you have a salary of $80,000.00, every hour of your time is worth $40 ($80,000/2000 work hours).
So even if I’m off by 50%, this is costing a single employee two weeks of their year at a price tag of ~$4000.00.
Lack of Access to Engaging Information
With the proliferation of apps on iOS and Android devices, the user experience has reached a dizzying height. Designers and developers have carefully studied people’s interaction both in the lab and via analytics reporting.
Meanwhile, our dramatically dropping attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish.
In short, not only must sales collateral be in engaging; the place you get the collateral must be in engaging be it an app, a portal, or email.
Personally, I find email frustrating and intranet portals useless especially when I’m mobile. Tell me that spinning wheel at the top of your iPhone doesn’t drive you crazy, too Mr. Goldfish.
To capture your sales teams’ vanishing attention span, collateral must be present in an engaging tool that grabs and holds their attention … AND, guides them to what B2B Marketers and Product Managers want them to be using.
When paired together, mobile sales tools must have accurate information, which is responsive in the moment, and engages them to use them regularly.
One of my favorite questions for Marketing is, “Do your reps use the files in Salesforce.com or are you just wasting your time emailing and babysitting them?”
Hope this helps.