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A Simple Template for Keeping in Touch with B2B Sales Reps and Distributors

Last year CMI blogger Jennifer Watson wrote a terrific article, The Audience Content Marketers Can’t Afford to Ignore – But Almost Always Do, that discusses how content marketers often forget our most important audience – sales people!

In her article, Jennifer cites data from the American Marketing Association that says sales people spend 30 hours a month creating their own sales materials and that 90% of marketing deliverables aren’t used by sales.

When I worked corporate in a previous lifetime before the Internet, I saw this first hand. Sales reps were forever creating their own marketing collateral even when it already existed. Talk about frustrating!

Pushing content to the website isn’t enough

In addition to the reasons Jennifer cites for the dismal lack of uptake by sales for marketing’s efforts, it’s been my experience that sales people and distributors have no clue what collateral is available  especially the collateral that’s available on the corporate website.

Why? Because they have no reason to visit a B2B website (which is a whole other article).

This is especially true if the company has had a lack of content available for sales and has suddenly ramped it up. The company’s marketers may believe that adding all kinds of new content to a website is all they have to do to communicate with sales people and distributors. But if these groups have learned that “nothing new” exists on the site, they have little reason for repeat visits.

Such was the case with CMI client, MacroAir Technologies. The company, which designs and manufactures High Volume, Low Speed (HVLS) commercial ceiling fans, decided to ramp up its marketing in a big way in November 2010.

Phase One of its strategy began with a complete overhaul of the website, which included new messaging, updated and new content, and website optimization  for search engines. Once this phase was complete, the company  began implementing Phase Two, a content marketing and social media strategy.

Like many small and mid-size B2B manufacturing companies, MacroAir relies on a combination of internal salespeople and distributors to sell its HVLS fans. Jaylin Krell, MacroAir’s vice president of marketing, wanted to get the word out to these people about the changes that were taking place with regard to marketing.

Send out “newsy” emails

To keep things simple and easy for Jaylin and her small team, I recommended she send out monthly emails that give details about the company’s marketing initiatives. Designed to be breezy and conversational in order to keep people’s interest, these emails include newsy items such as:

1. Campaign strategy and messaging

Each monthly email explains the strategy behind a specific campaign, and the messaging being used in associated ads, tradeshows, collateral, etc. This helps keep everyone “on the same page” when talking to prospects and customers.

Most importantly, it shows sales reps and distributors that MacroAir is supporting them in their effort to sell more fans.

2. Links to collateral

The emails include links to all new collateral, including white papers, case studies, datasheets and blog posts as well as suggestions for how to use it with customers and prospects.

3. Links to any press mentions

Often sales reps have no clue that their company and its products have appeared in trade journals, blog posts, etc. By letting sales and distributors know where MacroAir is appearing, it helps them with their sales process and improves brand awareness  and toots marketing’s horn, too.

Plus, everyone enjoys the associated fame and recognition of being featured in a trade journal’s print magazine or blog.

4. Calls to action

Sales people have the best information when it comes to knowing which customers to feature for case studies as well as what collateral they need to better sell products.

In each email, MacroAir asks for this information as well as feedback on what it can do better. Happily, reps and distributors are responding and this feedback has helped the company further refine its marketing.

Keeping in touch with sales reps and distributors need not always involve a complicated strategy or expensive deliverables. Sometimes a simple approach is best, especially if it’s quick and easy to implement, cost-effective and produces results.