Welcome to the Cloud Hopper Series, where we discuss the lessons we’ve learned about maximizing the value of various Salesforce Clouds, beginning today with Sales Cloud. As a Salesforce shop ourselves, we’re always striving to get maximum value from our technology to ensure our Sales Reps can do what they do best: sell their asses off. They’re able to do this because of the tight integration between their sales process and the product and help content that moves the needle to close.

Heads Down, Clouds Up

Let’s start, though, with some interesting data collected by Salesforce itself. By polling Sales VPs, they learned that 79% of sales leaders see improving productivity of existing reps as the critical step to improving sales. This mentality speaks to the perceived value of Sales Cloud to execs: it’s a way to ensure that Sales Reps keep their heads down–and their numbers up. But increased activity in Sales Cloud doesn’t always translate into increased sales. If your reps are logging follow-up emails every day, but those emails aren’t moving the needle closer towards ink-on-paper, productivity becomes a rough measure of Sales’ success.

The key to the productivity within Sales Cloud is ensuring that everything the Sales Reps are doing is working to 1) accelerate deal speed and 2) improve the conversion rate. And the only way to do this is to ensure that all of these actions by Sales Reps are bringing value to the prospective customer. The value that moves the needle in the sales process won’t be found in the Sales Department, or the Marketing Department for that matter. Rather, what we’ve found in our own sales process throughout the years, is that the content that is produced by your product and support teams for your current customers is also what helps draw in, educate, and validate the solutions for prospective customers.

According to that same survey, 84% of sales leaders cited content search and utilization as the top productivity improvement area, an issue exacerbated by sales content being stored across 5 or 6 different repositories. Almost universally, Sales Reps are being pulled out of the Sales Cloud to search for the content that they use (or should be using) on a daily basis. While this may be seen as a call for a better, more integrated repository for content, in our own Sales Process we’ve seen this as a more concerning issue: Sales Reps aren’t able to easily, reliably, repeatably deliver value to prospects.

Game of Knowns and Unknowns

Through any sales process, the prospect has a checklist of things they need to validate to move the deal to close. Without Sales Reps who can reliably provide valuable content, prospects can’t move projects forward (nor can the deal), or they’re forced to turn to Google to search through forums and scattered PDFs on your products. This is where we see the “productivity” concerns falling flat. As prospects search for the answers they need–as they check all of the boxes on their wish lists–this information isn’t being captured in Sales Cloud.  Even when Sales Reps are productive and they do furnish answers to customers, it’s in the form of attachments that don’t pipe information back into the Sales Cloud.

What we’ve discovered in our own Sales Cloud implementation is that Sales needed to integrate support and product content at a granular level (not just as documents in a Salesforce repository). That checklist that prospects have offers a compelling look into what drives the sales process forward. Granular content allows you to map content use to the sales process that is driven by the concerns of the prospect.

By addressing the questions of the customer within Sales Cloud you’re able to unleash the real power of a platform like Sales Cloud: insights into the trends and drivers in the sales process at a global level. When Sales VPs cite productivity within Sales Cloud as their chief concern, it’s because only the work done within Sales Cloud can provide them with knowledge into the effectiveness of their sales process.  As it stands, the use of non-marketing content in the sales cycle remains an effective unknown to VPs. Content use is being ad-libbed by individual reps who develop their own unique playbooks that hinders executive oversight and slows down the sales process.

Sell By Numbers

With content tied to the sales process in Sales Cloud, the Sales VP has insight into what content is consistently moving deals along, where content is falling short and needs to be developed. Patterns begin to emerge along industry and business size. What was once a mystery is now developing into a paint-by-numbers playbook. And it’s a playbook that’s always improving as more Sales Reps use the content.

Sales Rep productivity only matters if those actions are converting prospects into customers more efficiently. By building your product content into the Sales Cloud, you’re arming Sales Reps with concrete content to use as the foundation for the customer company relationship? What better tool is there to assure uneasy prospects than the legal terms and conditions of what your product does, through your product guides?

As Sales Reps move through the Sales Process with purpose in Sales Cloud, the executive team can go beyond Sales Rep productivity to understand how customers relate to the product in the sales process.

With your product content driving the sales engine, you’re taking control of your brand in the sales process, and relying less upon the charm of individuals by creating a repeatable sales process. In a volatile department like Sales, where average companies turn over a third of their workforce every year, the repeatable process tied to content ensures quick ramp up times for new Reps.

With your product content driving the sales engine, you’re accelerating deals to close because Sales Reps already have everything in Sales Cloud that they need to help prospects validate the product. That’s why we are now regularly closing deals in under thirty days, and close times take an average of less than a quarter.

With your product content driving the sales engine, you’re setting the prospect up for a seamless transition into succeeding as a customer, because they’re already intimately acquainted with your product and help content.

It’s a simple change in the way you view content use in the sales process. Instead of worrying about finding a better repository for content, let’s make content the backbone of the sales process. That way, VPs can worry about how to make content more valuable to their customers, instead of making Sales Reps more productive.

Additional categories: Customer Experience