Content at the Crossroads

Turning common content into sales assets
June 11, 2013

Guest Post: Content is King – But Context is Queen and Technology is the Royal Household!

By Tamara Schenk, VP of Sales Enablement at T-Systems International Gmbh

Originally posted on Sales Enablement Perspectives


You can read it almost everywhere: “Content is king.” I didn’t notice that anybody would disagree with this statement. Isn’t that at least remarkable?

I won’t disagree with it either, apart from the fact that the statement doesn’t seem to be complete. I will add something. No, I will add someone – first, the queen!

Did you ever recognize a king leading a kingdom as a lonely king? Probably not.
What is a king without a queen and without his entire royal household?
Let’s assume that content is king–the role of the queen is pretty clear for me:
Context is queen. Content without context doesn’t create any added value, not for the sales person and – even worse – certainly not for potential buyers.
And both king and queen, content and context, are powered by the royal household – which is state-of-the-art 21st century technology.

Three dimensions to look at the queen – What does context mean?

  • First context dimension – Specific selling situations along the customer’s journey: Where are the prospects and  customers along their journey, along their problem identification and problem solving process? Already aware of an upcoming challenge, yes or no. Are they in a problem analyzing phase, yes or no. Are the customers already in an evaluation phase of possible solutions, yes or no. Do they already have a clear future vision in mind and a clear understanding of the desired outcome they want to achieve, yes or no. Is the formal buying process already started, yes or no? Context in this first dimension means tailoring content to the specific stages along the customer’s journey. Context regarding your value messages meanscovering these different stages – from value hypothesis and value propositions (why change?) up to unique value propositions and value confirmations (why are you the best vendor out there?)
  • Second context dimension – Specific buyer roles: What’s the role of the relevant decision maker, the executive owner of a challenge, a problem? And what are the roles of all the different impacted stakeholders? If you are in complex sales, the number of impacted stakeholders is often increasing, the more cross-functional the challenges are, that have to be mastered. The easiest way to cluster buyer roles is to look at their level in the organization and at their function. These two layers help to define the specific problems and perspectives these roles have and the different patterns of how these roles look at certain challenges – and of course, how these roles get measured differently. It also helps to cluster whether this role is more interested in effectiveness, investment with ROI focus or if the role is more interested in managing budgets and cost savings. Context in this second dimension means tailoring the value messages to the problems, challenges and patterns of your relevant decision makers and the different perspectives all the impacted stakeholders might have.
  • Third context dimension – Vertical color and vertical language: This dimension is very important if your typical relevant decision makers and impacted stakeholders are in the lines of business. In case of horizontal solutions and services that have to be addressed to those stakeholders, your value messages and your entire collateral need an industry context, a kind of “industry color and industry language”. The service itself remains a horizontal one. Context in this third dimension means telling the story in the industry’s color and language.

Now, the big challenge is not to add more content. The secret to success is called:
Less is more! How do you “prettify” the queen to make the king more powerful? How do you improve context to improve the quality of your content?

  • Define clear milestones along the customer’s journey and define what a sales person has to achieve for each milestone. That’s the purpose, each piece of content should support. Throw away all documents that are not enough purpose-driven and cannot be tailored easily.
  • Map all existing content in the above mentioned dimensions and evaluate your results – that determines the way to go. Throw away all documents that cannot be mapped accordingly.
  • Create content packages for each sales milestone or package content for a few sales milestones together (depends on the sales roles you have, which role is focused on which stage and so on). That’s much easier to access for sellers and they get all they need for a certain milestone in one place. Again, be brave and throw away all other documents.
  • The more sophisticated way to sort content packages is a playbook, defined as an interactive piece of content which guides a sales person along the customer’s journey by buyer role, based on their challenges, view points, patterns etc. – with the specific and tailored value messages, conversation scripts, videos, presentations and so on.

I’ve forgotten something… The entire royal household – that’s the king and the queen’s foundation: State-of-the-art technology that can drive and connect all dimensions together in an automated way, based on your value-creation models!

  • Imagine – Automated, specific, data-driven, tailored value-creation models per role, stage and industry
  • Imagine – you would have, based on the first three context dimensions, a value creation model for your specific products and services, tailored for your relevant buyer roles, based on industry data, insights from other customers in the same or other industries, other available measurable ROI data from the inside and the outside, etc.
  • Imagine – an engine would build that for you:
    Automated, tailored, specific and quantified, all the time, for all stages and all levels.

You get the picture… isn’t that icing on the cake of your tailored – but often – not precisely enough quantified value messages? Imagine getting that in an automated, engineered way!

BTW: I’m not dreaming.
Today’s technology can do this: Go-To-Customer, powered and automated by technology.

Have a look at this excellent blog post from my good friend Dave Brock:
Mass Customization, Creating “Markets Of 1″

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