Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Winner? Interactive Content Ignites Demand and Fuels Engagement

Although 67% of your prospects rely on content to conduct research and guide purchasing decisions, 74% indicate they have less time to view content now than they did a year ago (DemandGen Report).

It’s no wonder that business buyers are extremely selective about the content they consume, and why your content may be left out in the cold. Prospects are receiving 32% more vendor communications than just 2 years ago (SiriusDecisions), and with less time than ever, 2015 saw a 21% decline in content marketing effectiveness (Content Marketing Institute).

Your prospects are drowning in a sea of look-alike content, so sending out more white papers (the crack cocaine of marketing) and other types of passive content won’t help you meet your lead-gen and sales revenue goals.

What can you do to stand out from the crowd, and most importantly, be more effective?

Research by DemanGen Report indicates that interactive value-focused content can lead the way to more leads, better engagement and higher conversions.

First, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents want their vendors to move from “product” to “value”: delivering more research and dumping the sales pitch.  And they want the content to be personalized, delivering insights, analysis and content unique to their company, role and challenges.

Second, your prospects want insights, research and value delivered in a very personalized way, with survey results highlighting three types of interactive content ranked most effective and important:
  • 45% ranking Interactive Presentations (dynamic personalized value storytelling) as extremely valuable
  • 42% rating ROI calculators as very valuable
  • 40% placing a significant value on Assessments.

Other research from Demand Metric research concurs, indicating that interactive content is 2x greater than passive content at converting prospects, 32% better at educating buyes and 60% superior in creating differentiation.

Interactive Content delivers results like this when it focuses on value (vs. product) and uses intelligence to customize the content, delivers personalized insights, helps diagnose and uncover challenges, delivers peer benchmarks, and quantifies the unique value, ROI and TCO advantages you can deliver. This includes:
  • Dynamic Infographics
  • Interactive Value Story Books 
  • Interactive White Papers 
  • Diagnostic Assessments
  • Cost of Do Nothing Calculators
  • Solution Guidance / Recommendation Tools
  • ROI / TCO Calculators 

Getting your Interactive Content Right
Evolving beyond passive to interactive content is a requirement - your buyers demand it, and your success depends on it. However, all Interactive Content is not created equal.

When it comes to interactive Content, there are some key practices to keep in mind in the design, development and deployment:
  • Dump the Sales Pitch! - Your prospects want content that is trustworthy and that keeps the sales pitch to a minimum. Unfortunately, SiriusDecision indicates that 93% of content remains product-centric. As you develop your Interactive Content, you can use this as a great opportunity to evolve the sales messaging to more value-focused communication and quantification.
  • Are you kidding me? - Your buyer’s time is precious, and they don’t want to waste it on content that might look good, but doesn’t provide real value. Instead of a “toy”, your Interactive Content should deliver personalized insights, precise advice, credible justification, and specific evidence to help facilitate their decision-making. And you need to be able to easily share the results, providing a downloadable / email report, enabling your Interactive Content to continue to tell your value story long after use.
  • In you they trust? - SiriusDecisions found that although most buyers seek out advice and help from solution providers, only 13% of buyers view vendor-created content as credible. Instead, content developed by a third-party analysts and publications ranked much higher, with 90% saying that they give more credence to this type of asset (DemandGen Report).  As you move to Interactive Content, consider 3rd party developed tools, content, research and insights to improve the credibility and gain buyer trust.

The research is clear, that evolving from Passive to Interactive Content ignites more demand and fuels better engagement. Are you ready and empowered to make the transition?

Get The Frugalnomics Survival Guide for more research and best practices.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Importance of Getting Your ROI Selling Right

If you think your clients are more ROI focused, and that your ability to deliver financial justification can assure greater success, new research proves you right.

The ability to effectively communicate and quantify your value is not new, and has been part of professional selling for a long time. However, according to new research from MHI Global, “as buying cycles lengthen and decision dynamics become more complex, identifying and calculating the costs and benefits of any product or capability have grown in importance”.

In fact, the demand for ROI calculations has increased more than 50% over the past five years.

The reason for the increased importance on ROI? Customers have changed. They’re more empowered, skeptical and frugal. There is more internal pressure on buyers to validate and defend business decisions and deliver value for their organization.

Often, the stakeholders’ jobs are on the line if they invest too much and can’t prove the value delivered. As a result, customer’s expectations for value conversations, and moreover, for quantifiable value have also increased proportionally.

And this has presented organizations with sales and growth challenges. Customers demand to know your unique value pre-sale. And after the deal is done?   They expect you to prove that the realized value is exactly what you said you would deliver.

Beyond evolving your sales presentations from product to value, and simple calculations of cost, the advice from MHI Global? Sales professionals must be able to identify the tangible and intangible benefits of solution capabilities based on what the decision makers deem valuable.

Making this a significant challenge: value can vary significantly by industry, and by the roles / responsibilities of each buyer. “Determining what the individual buying team members value, as well as their political influence within the buying team and the broader organization, will dictate what matters”, says MHI Global.

And perhaps this is one reason organizations struggle to get ROI right. Just as the research shows the increased demand and importance of ROI, so too it shows that most organizations struggle delivering the right ROI content and tools to their sales teams and channel partners.

Out of 11 different types of customer-facing content and tools for Sales use, like presentations, white papers, case studies and the like, getting ROI / Justification right remains a challenge.  One in four admit that their current ROI selling programs need a major redesign, and almost 50% say improvement is needed.

With so much on the line, the time is right for a different approach to ROI / financial justification, giving you and your team a real competitive, differentiating advantage. 

Click here to learn more about the challenge, and our new approach to ROI Selling.

Decoding the Decision Dynamic, MHI Global 
Sales Enablement Optimization Study 2015 Key Trends Analysis, CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global

Monday, January 04, 2016

Top 5 Articles of 2015 to Get You Ready for the New Year!

As we look forward to a great 2016, what lessons can we learn from the past year?

Here's a round-up of the top five most popular articles from the Alinean team, all with significant guidance for the New Year:

1)  Death of a Salesman? Forrester says Yes (at least 1 in 5 at risk)!

2)  End Death by PowerPoint and a 1,000 White Paper Cuts

3)  TCO is so 1990s. Why TCS is the new TCO.

4)  Three Challenges that will impact your 2016 IT Sales and Marketing Plans

5)  What do Myth Busters, B2B Sales Reps and Real Estate Agents have in Common?