Last week I heard a lot of great advice from international sales trainer Jack Vincent, but the most compelling message for me was “listening is your most underrated tool.” Taking this advice in as a B2B marketer, it got me thinking.
Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of sales teams. With direct sales, the content our marketing team was creating was fairly easy to track. I had a decent amount of control. I met weekly with the team to discuss new pieces of content. I conversed regularly with sales reps to hear how they were leveraging what I was creating. And, I even had the sophistication of integrated marketing automation and CRM software to provide me with the intelligence I needed to know if what we were creating was working.
But our indirect sales teams and channel partners? Boy, that was a different story. Whether it was an email with a .zip file, an online large file-based transfer, a secure FTP site, or any number of other cloud-based file-sharing resources like Box.com, DropBox or Google Drive, after I distributed those same pieces of content to my partner sales reps, I had absolutely no idea what happened next.
Did the partner representative I was working with actually distribute the content to his or her sales team? Could they open the files? Did my partners’ marketing teams have the time or resources to co-brand the content I was creating so that it could be used within their company? Did it meet compliance requirements for that particular partner? Did an end-user ever see a single piece of content I ever created? I had absolutely no idea — and there was no turnkey technology on the market that I could turn to.
Your indirect sales teams are powerful sales forces. They cost you little overhead, and by empowering them with the tools, training and resources they need to be successful, you can quite literally build yourself a “volunteer army” focused on delivering that magical thing called indirect sales revenue.
So, wouldn’t you like to know what pieces of content your indirect sales teams were leveraging the most? Which efforts yielded the most conversion? How that large base of end users who came to know your product or service via an indirect sales channel were consuming that very same content that you so heavily rely on in your direct sales and marketing efforts?
In fact, as marketers, you might even say that it’s negligent of us not to maintain the same standards of data-driven KPIs to guide our content marketing efforts in our indirect sales channels. The marketing content in your channel has a voice. It has a story to tell. Are you listening?