How to Break the Tribal Knowledge Problem with your B2B Sales Organization

What’s the biggest risk businesses face today, besides low barriers to competitive entry, the information-soaked consumer, rampant growth of mobile technology, and the maker-kid tinkering in his basement? 

Let’s refocus that question. What’s the biggest risk businesses face today that can be mitigated by the marketing team? 

Is it no longer relying on only the tribal knowledge your sales organization and developing a deeper relationship with your prospects and customers with an owned media marketing strategy?

Relationship Hoarding

For many sales professionals, the biggest point of internal leverage and their external competitive advantage is their extensive network and deep relationships. Especially the seasoned ones that have been operating in your industry for a decade or more. It’s likely they once had a rolodex on their desk and a Franklin Planner under their arm.

These classic B2B sales professionals tend to be so highly protective of their relationships – to the point of intense secrecy – that it’s a major limitation to the growth of your organization and the development of institutional knowledge.

So many great insights die in their inbox and linger their cranium never to be extracted unless plied by a sandwich tray.

When the relationship equity and client insights live largely with the account person, the organization is not only at risk due to lack of relationship depth but also missing a significant opportunity to make the enterprise smarter by capturing and mining insights to build institutional knowledge.

Levels of Knowledge Defined

Tribal knowledge is any unwritten information that is not commonly known by others within a company. This term is used most when referencing information that may need to be known by others in order to produce quality product or service. (source: Wikipedia)

Institutional knowledge is gained by organizations translating historical data into useful knowledge and wisdom. Memory depends upon the preservation of data and also the analytical skills necessary for its effective use within the organization.

Methods to Break Tribal and Build Institutional Knowledge

In addition to relationship hoarding, with the transient nature of employees today and the gig economy growing as a suitable replacement for FTEs, it’s critical that all businesses – whether physical products, software or services – develop a method to document and preserve customer insights data and then mine that information to better service customers and to also capture new interests and intent. 

At a minimum there are 4 methods to extract tribal knowledge to build direct organizational relationships with customers.

  1. Force (I mean incentivize) your sales team to enter everything in the CRM system
  2. Incentivize your sales team to be more inclusive and bring other team members into the fold
  3. Build a feedback loop into your product/service to track all activity
  4. Launch an owned media marketing strategy

Let’s explore number four.

What is an Owned Media Marketing Strategy?

An owned media marketing strategy takes an “audience-first” approach. It is a commitment to consistently communicate directly to your customers via educational, entertaining or insightful episodic content which generates engagement and captures insights, interests and intent at scale. This Content Marketing approach ultimately builds trust and credibility and a direct organizational relationship with your customers (audience) over time.

Through this media/content-centric model, the direct relationship the marketing team establishes with prospects and customers solves the tribal knowledge issue because you have a direct line of communication and feedback through the subscription-worthy content to better understand their interests and intent at scale.

This approach is not a veiled sales pitch or promotional campaign, it’s an authentic attempt to improve the state of your customers (audience) which builds trust and credibility. The trust established through this media model earns the organization more business over time.

Think Like a Publisher

With all of the publishing tools at our disposal, every company is a media company. Are you ready to build trust and credibility through an owned media marketing strategy?

© 2019 MADISON, MICHIGAN & MARKET