April 26th, 2020

6 weeks ago like for every other profession, what it meant to go to work changed for marketers too. We gave up commuting, dress shirts, dropping by unannounced to ask our sales friends how the quarter was going, and worrying about expo hall logistics.

COVID-19 also had an unexpected, positive side effect. It has reinforced the importance of marketing as a function to coordinate the GTM response across different field organizations as we move to a new normal in which remote or hybrid-remote is here to stay. This makes three GTM priorities even more critical than usual.

  • Ensure the category, company and its solutions are more relevant than ever
  • Ensure company executives, customers, frontline personnel and partners are staying up to date on market changes and the company’s response
  • Leverage expertise across the business to rapidly roll out initiatives to reskill, re-message and engage customer-facing teams.

This makes regular field communications and updates one of the most critical initiatives marketers can execute to engage their increasingly remote and virtual field teams. For those of us in the community sharing notes on emerging best practices for updating the field, three common, positive trends have emerged in the first wave of response to the new normal.

First Principles for Field Communications in the remote-hybrid environment

The best marketers in the business have quickly pivoted to:

  • Agile re-planning and management, manically focused on bite-sized updates produced through cross-team collaboration, while pushing urgent and transparent communications to the field
  • Continuous 1:1 feedback loops and micro-updates with individual sellers and other representatives to inform and prioritize efforts including new messaging and demand gen mechanisms like virtual events
  • Setting the expectation for scheduled, consistent field updates delivering usable information and tools with lower emphasis on ‘video-perfect’ production values
  • Making the sensible pivot to a single cost-efficient platform like MindTickle for communication and updates
  • Already familiar to product marketing, enablement and content teams as well as their audience in pre-sales, sales and services for learning, skill development, coaching and updates, the delivery platform became a non-issue

My own team and I have been fortunate to learn from, adopt and implement many of these first principles for our own field updates and communication. It has been one of the most strategic projects we have undertaken in the last month. The result has been consistently positive feedback and demonstrable value in the field.There are a few reasons for this, many of which are core principles that we talk about in sales readiness and enablement.

 

(Engage, Motivate, Measure Effectiveness with customer content and social sharing)

Principles Driving MindTickle’s Effective Use of MindTickle for Field Communication and Updates

  • An agile mentality and personal commitment from every member of the extended marketing team to focus on usable deliverables
    • Enabling our SDRs, AEs, CSMs and other colleagues to get meetings and drive value-added conversations with customers is the single filter we use to define and execute content.
  • Load sharing, cross-training and democratizing the ideation and feedback-loop
    • Implementing a tiger team, sponsored by me and led by product marketing and enablement has allowed us to draft campaigns and roll-out across pre-sales and sales initially, then to customer services and now the entire company.
  • Using multiple tools, but focusing on MindTickle for MindTickle as the defining authoring, consumption and tracking mechanism as the measure of effectiveness. This has been possible because of our approach to
    • Integrating our corporate collaboration hub and channels, content repositories, email, web conferencing and work management platforms with MindTickle.
    • Enabling the marketing team to be power users of the platform across basic features such as native content collaboration and authoring tools, as well as interactive elements like gamification, social learning, surveys and polls.
    • For the first time, getting direct insight into how the messaging updates and tools are translating into improved field capability from advanced MindTickle capabilities like call and web-presentation intelligence (integrated AI-evaluation) and coaching feedback.
  • Constant outreach to customers, partners, analysts, board members and industry colleagues to share and validate ideas on how to best position and deliver new messaging, virtual field campaigns and tools.
  • The support of an executive team that is open and welcomes being measured on their participation and completion of certifiable materials in these updates.

Our Implementation and Experience

Finding an agile approach, cadence and a structure that works for us has been an important aspect of why the weekend update, as it’s often referred to, has become something looked forward to by the marketing and consuming teams alike.

A few highlights include

  • In MindTickle’s case, we push out our updates every Sunday evening. After 3 weeks of waking up to the Monday morning ‘ping’, we have noticed seller participation and completion rates in excess of 50% within 2 hours of the first digital notification
  • In our working meetings we iterate on the coming week’s update and key dependencies and resources with the help of a lite Kanban board
  • Consistent content includes links to an information-packed marketing calendar, mini-customer podcasts, videos or information snippets, content, PR and analyst air cover or wins as well as competitive snippets
  • Using inputs from field surveys pushed out to the field teams; Since we started using MindTickle’s native survey tools we have seen field input go up 100% to nearly 90%
  • While the priority is quality and speed of execution, we engage our Content as a Service team (CAAS) as a secret weapon for design, videos and graphics for market-facing content
  • Our head of strategic ops coordinates the schedule and team member submissions; By working closely with sales enablement we are now able to create a curated, sub-experience for our sales and pre-sales team while using the same content for the rest of the company
  • We use one of our most popular modules called the Quick Update to deliver the weekly update; This powerful feature allows the team to use the best possible combination of personal videos, slideware, documents as well as linked materials from customers or partners to serve up content; We are also incorporating simple assessment and certification features like quizzes, exercises and assessments to ensure retention in addition to completion
  • We regularly meet with the sales enablement and management team to share and receive feedback on completion and engagement blockers and understand how assets and tools are being perceived by customers as well as their teams

 

(Simple quizzes and polls reinforce key talking points and drive interactivity)

There is more to be done. Content across updates must be ever more relevant and usable, meet higher production standards and we are figuring out how to keep up the pace of producing 3-4 quality assets each week ranging from market-ready content like from how-to guides to fire-side chats with customers. This challenges our nimble, but small team–but the feedback and receptiveness from the company (and hopefully soon our partners) has been compelling and inspires us all to keep aiming high.

 

(Content and Tools are only as good as the engagement they drive)

New Tools for Remote and Ready Initiatives

This week, with the benefit of not just these outside best practices, but our own evolving experience we are pleased to publish this blog post as well as a comprehensive guide for field communications and updates and a quick how-to video to our remote and ready resources repository.

Whether you are a marketer, in the business of working with customers or an executive I hope you find these resources worth your time and will reach out to learn how I or my team might assist you in your own journey to engage and up-level your customer-facing teams with or without MindTickle.