Information Enablement: The Critical Factor in Growing Market Share (ghostwritten byline)
CEOWorld Magazine, CEO Lifestyle Section, May 4, 2015
As a leader in a competitive industry, you are tasked with increasing your market share and growing revenue. The clock is counting down and you feel the constant pressure to achieve this year’s goal. Winning means outselling and outsmarting your competition day-in and day-out.
To bring home that win, you must ensure your customers and prospects understand the “total value” of your products and services. That means everything about your products and services, including not only how they address each customer’s specific needs but also how they enable all customers to remain informed as your offerings change or evolve.
If you or your CEO were in every sales meeting, it stands to reason that your customer’s understanding–or “perceived value”–of your products and services would be pretty close to the total value you hope to convey. If only you could find a way to be in all of those meetings, you would win against the competition almost every time.
But you are not in every meeting. Instead you rely on a large sales organization, which is likely several levels removed from your day-to-day visibility and involvement. As the company’s vision and product visions get batted about through various teams and tools, the value of those messages becomes more and more diluted. And it is not uncommon for your message to become lost entirely on its journey down the “information pipeline” from vision to product marketing to sales tools to sales rep to customer.
Leaders who are unable to meet their strategic objectives are typically the ones experiencing a debilitating loss of perceived value of their products and services. This loss can be traced to one culprit: a weak information pipeline.
How much of this scenario sounds familiar?
Your marketing team puts together product messaging and creates intellectual property that feeds all sales and marketing collateral. Typically the end result is a rigid package of content; a PowerPoint presentation, a few videos, additions to the website, PDF. documents, mini apps, etc. These assets are dull and moderately effective. They are setting your sales force up for failure, which puts your company’s strategic objectives on the line.
So how do you create a strong information pipeline?
In my position as CEO of Mediafly, I have worked with hundreds of people in leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies. They have no trouble explaining to me why their innovative products, services, and strategic initiatives set them apart from and above their competition. But when I ask them how accurate and effective their sales force is at delivering this constantly evolving vision, these leaders become uncomfortable. Why? Because most senior leaders do not have a clear method to gauge their information enablement effectiveness.
Once these leaders understand that information enablement is a critical component of their company’s strength and success–as important as a P&L statement, balance sheet, and cash flow–they start to think differently. They start to understand the direct and inalienable link between information and revenue; information and market share; information and sales.
What is the difference between content and information?
Content is more often than not, created with a specific receiver or audience in mind and can therefore only be used when speaking with that intended recipient. On the other hand, some content is generic enough to apply to multiple audiences, but it doesn’t go deep enough to resonate with any of them. If you send your sales force out with convoluted content, they become ineffective the moment the buyer takes the conversation in an unexpected direction. The battle is lost right then and there.
Information, on the other hand, can be shaped on the spot. It flows from conception to audience without losing any of its meaning. Whether your company is launching a new product, or you need to position yourself against a competitor, your company’s information needs to be delivered quickly and accurately–by hundreds or thousands of sales people day-in and day-out.
Today’s Buyers Demand and Expect More
The companies leading the pack in their respective industries have leaders who embrace the fact that in order to meet their ambitious revenue and market share objectives, they must fully convey–to somebody responsible for purchasing their product or your service–what the product or service does for that prospect’s particular situation. Customers don’t buy products. They buy solutions to their problems. They buy proven success.
Enlightened leaders do not cannibalize on their success by attempting to convey their message through rigid packages of content. In fact, they do not focus on content at all. Instead, they focus on the pure translation and dissemination of the company’s information.
Think of it like this. If content is a pixel, information is the full spectrum of colors. It can be combined and melded together to make any color variation you want. Information is literally and figuratively fluid, and the ability to move it around without rigid boundaries is what makes it so dynamic. You and your leadership teams are constantly refining this full spectrum of colors, but again, you are not always the one with boots on the ground doing the selling. You are not always the conduit through which the company’s vision is conveyed. In fact, you are probably time zones and organizational levels removed from your frontline sales force. Your sales force is fighting to achieve your market share and revenue goals through hand-to-hand combat.
An empowered sales force has the information they need to best position your products and services, regardless of the audience. All without any loss of value. That, my friends, is information enablement.
Written by Carson Conant*, CEO and Founder of Mediafly, Inc., a globally recognized enterprise software company, that delivers mobile enablement solutions on the Content Mobility Cloud™, for Fortune 100 companies and beyond.
*ghostwritten by Heidi Kiec