Relationship Building With Customers: Content Counts

Water is not only for living beings to drink. Water is one of the prerequisites for life on Earth.
Content is not only for salespeople to pursue opportunities. Content is a key prerequisite for an organization’s potential to develop value-based relationships with their customers.

Is your customer-facing content effective?

In our CSO Insights 2015 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, we asked the participants to rank the effectiveness of various enablement services. We looked at enablement services in the categories of training, content and coaching. The participants could rank enablement services from “exceeds expectation” up to “needs major redesign.” Our focus today is the effectiveness of client-facing content. In general, for client-facing content that has to be designed with the customer’s journey as main design point, participants ranked these assets as less effective than those with internal design points, such as product or fact sheets. Examples of customer-facing content types that were ranked as less effective are presentations tailored to buyer roles or customer challenges, business value justification templates or third party endorsements.

Why is that so? Let’s look at the current state of customer’s journey alignment and how organizations leverage this alignment. On the one hand, organizations made lots of progress in aligning their internal processes to the customer’s journey (54% reported to be mostly aligned, and 19% reported to be fully aligned). On the other hand, this advantage does not translate into effective enablement services that are designed with the customer’s journey in mind. So, doing the right thing and leveraging the real potential of it are two different things. The difference is the time it takes to make this transition. Content that’s really designed from the customer’s journey requires a transformation process that often needs external input to be really understood and processed.
Then we wanted to answer this question:

What’s the impact of customer-facing content on the relationship organizations can have with their customers? 

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Overall, there is a significant correlation between the effectiveness of customer-facing content and the level of relationships that can be achieved with customers. The more effective customer-facing content is, the more likely providers can develop a high-level relationship with their customers, as you can see here. Content that is ranked “exceeds expectations” is more likely to lead to a strategic partnership (40%) or a strategic contributor role (35%). Content that is ranked “needs improvements” can only lead to level three, a value-added vendor, whereas content that “needs major redesign” is more likely to lead to the lowest relationship level of a supplier (38%), not even a preferred supplier (21%).

Content matters. Content in context matters even more. “Customer-core” makes the real difference.

That means, the quality of your customer-facing content is a key element that impacts the level of relationship you can achieve with your customers. It is, of course, not the only element; sales professionals  still have to create value for buyers at each stage of their journey; and that’s often based on content in context. And quality lies in the eye of the beholder: the quality of your content is determined by your ability to tell the story from THEIR perspective (their customer’s journey), not from your products and services. Because customers don’t buy products; they buy the value they can achieve with your products.

The messages conveyed by these data points are remarkable and compelling, and not only for sales enablement. Their core message is simple:

Content must become a sales force’s strategic imperative and a number one priority on every sales leader’s agenda.

Customer-facing content is an element that can impact the relationship with prospects and customers quite significantly. To provide highly effective content, a customer-core strategy is mandatory, and that requires a customer-core enablement framework to be able to tailor content services accordingly.

Highly effective customer-facing content that covers the entire customer’s journey is a must-have ingredient to remain successful in an ever-changing, buyer-driven world.

Related blog posts:

Missing Something in Your Sales Enablement Approach?

Three Gaps That Lead to Insufficient Content Coverage and How to Fix Them

Dynamic Value Messaging: Part 3, Value Messaging Types Along the Customer’s Journey

What Are Sales Enablement Services Anyway?

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