Implementing The Marketing & Sales Job Aids You Need
Job aids are an excellent resource that your employees can use for various reasons, whether to remember steps in a process, as a reminder to do specific tasks as part of a lengthy procedure, or as guidance when engaging with a prospect or lead. Job aids can be beneficial to everyone across your organization, including marketing, sales, and customer service reps. A good job aid can reduce errors, improve productivity, and increase employee performance. However, its usefulness depends on a lot of different factors. Here you’ll learn the types of job aids you can create, the formats you can use, and the steps you should take to develop an effective job aid.
Types Of Aids Used For Sales
Generally speaking, there are two categories of job aids: internal job aids and external job aids. Both types of job aids can be used by your employees, but for different reasons. Internal job aids are meant to help employees do their job, whereas external job aids are intended to be provided by your employees (such as sales or customer service reps) to your prospects or customers.
Internal Job Aid
Internal job aids are only meant for use internally, such as by your marketing department, sales department, customer service department, or HR department. For example, an internal job aid can include instructions that your employees can use to complete a task that requires multiple actions. If they can’t remember a particular step, they can turn to the job aid to help remember. Or they can simply use the job aid to double-check their work to make sure they haven’t missed a step.
External Job Aid
Whereas internal job aids are for your employees’ use only, external job aids are meant to be accessible by customers and prospects. A case study or a white paper can be an external job aid. They are referred to as job aids because your employees can use them to address concerns, answer questions, and educate both customers and prospects and nurture them through the sales funnel. External job aids help your employees convert leads and close deals by giving them access to resources they can provide to your customers and prospects.
7 Marketing And Sales Job Aid Examples
There are all kinds of job aids that you can develop to address various situations. You may already have content that can function as a job aid without having realized it. It’s also important to note that job aids can vary significantly in substance. Some job aids may contain in-depth instructions, while others may be simple forms. Although they are so different, they can both be equally beneficial depending on how they are used. Here are seven types of marketing and sales job aids you may want to consider providing to your personnel:
1. Procedures And Process Maps
Any procedures or processes that require a series of actions can benefit from a job aid. Even if it’s for a simple three-step procedure, a job aid can be useful if an employee can’t quite remember the correct procedure or process to follow. These procedures and process maps only make sense if there are no variations in the actions that must be taken. A procedure and process map can help detail the following:
- How to add an inventory item
- How to induct a new employee
Forms, which are empty data fields, may not seem like job aids on the surface. However, they are used to collect data that can help guide your marketing team’s efforts and improve sales. The information you gather on leads and customers via forms can help you develop your buyer personas (a job aid themselves). Your sales team’s data and feedback can also be used to identify additional sales opportunities and personalize their engagement. Examples of forms include:
- Application forms
- Purchase orders
3. Flow Charts
Not all processes and procedures are set in stone in regards to the actions that must be taken. Some do have a few variations. If a process has multiple conditions, it can still benefit from a job aid as long as there aren’t limitless variations. If you have a process in which actions depend on various conditions, a flow chart is the perfect job aid. A flow chart is similar to a decision table in that it can help guide your employees through specific processes or procedures based on the conditions they’re facing. Typical uses of flow charts include:
- Troubleshooting guides
- Workflow charts
- Call plans
- Objection handling guides
4. Online Help
Providing job aids to your employees online can help reduce training time. These job aids should be for simple tasks, but they can help prevent information overload during training. They can be particularly useful for any software solutions that you’ve implemented across your organization. For example, the following job aids in the form of online help can be quite valuable to your employees:
- Instructions on how to retrieve account information
- Instructions on how to manage customer contact data
- Instructions on how to access data records
Checklists are valuable because they help ensure that your employees don’t forget a step or an item involved in whatever process they’re executing. Even if they are confident that they have completed the process correctly, a checklist allows them to double-check, thereby significantly reducing errors. For example, a real estate agent might use a checklist of all the items that their client needs to have at closing. Examples of different types of checklists include:
- Checklist of tasks that need to be completed
- Checklist of parts that need be collected
- Checklist of qualities to be inspected
6. Quality Check
Quality checks help eliminate the risk of error in various processes, including safety procedures and manufacturing processes. Previously mentioned types of job aids can be used for this purpose, such as step-by-step instructions in the form of checklists or flow charts. However, quality check job aids can also prove useful in the following:
- Manufacturing jigs
- Color-coded equipment
7. Content Creation Aids
Your content creation efforts may start simple, but they are likely to expand as your company grows. Providing content creation aids to your marketing team will be hugely beneficial. For example, using aids, your marketing team can ensure that they are creating relevant content for every part of your target audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Aids can also help them plan out and keep up with their overall content strategy, which is especially useful if you’re publishing new content regularly. Examples of content creation aids are:
- Buyer personas
- Content matrix
How To Create An Effective Job Aid
Now that you know what kinds of job aids you can create for various situations, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and develop a job aid for your marketing or sales team. While creating a job aid might seem simple enough on the surface, it can be a little more complicated than you might realize. After all, if you create a lousy job aid, it could negatively affect your employees’ performance, or worse, an inadequate job aid may not be used at all. Either way, it will have been a waste of your time and resources. Keep the following tips in mind to create an effective job aid:
Define The Challenge And The Goal
A job aid won’t be of any help if it doesn’t have a purpose. To determine what the purpose is, you need to define a specific challenge or goal. For example, if your goal is to identify your target audience so that you can create more relevant content, make sure that your marketing team has access to the same information about your audience. In such a case, you would use forms to collect data to create buyer personas. Another example is if your sales personnel use different processes to achieve the same goals, which can result in varying degrees of success (or failure). In this case, create a job aid that standardizes a single process.
Understand Your User Needs
Once you’ve defined the challenge or goal, determine your users’ needs. You can’t just develop a job aid without their input, or you may find that the job aid isn’t useful. For example, suppose you’ve decided to create a standardized process. In that case, the last thing you want to do is make it extremely complicated, especially if any of your users achieved acceptable results in fewer steps.
Speak to several different users to determine what processes they have been using, what steps they take, what order they take those steps in, and what they find challenging about the process they’re performing. Speak to both experienced employees as well as newer employees to collect opinions on varying perspectives. This information will help you create a job aid that is effective for your entire team.
Keep The Content Concise And Easy To Read
A job aid is a piece of content that your employees should be able to read or scan. If it’s a ten-page behemoth outlining 50 different steps in great detail, it won’t be much of a job aid. If anything, something like that will slow them down. Your job aids should be concise and easy to read so that your employees can glance at it and quickly obtain the instructions or guidance they need.
Carefully Consider The Format
The format you choose will have a significant impact on how easy the job aid will be to use. If the steps in the process are uncomplicated, but there are many to remember, then a checklist might be your best option. A flowchart may be the best format for a process that may have different steps based on the conditions the user is dealing with. Consider the different types of job aids you can create to suit your users’ needs best.
Make It Visually Appealing
Trying to search for specific instructions in a sea of text can be challenging. Try to make your job aid visually appealing so that your employees can scan the aid with ease and focus on what they’re looking for. Additionally, people understand visual data better, which means that they will understand instructions more quickly if you use visuals in your job aids. One thing to keep in mind is that when choosing the visuals, even if it’s just the fonts and colors of the job aid, you need to make sure that they aren’t distracting and remain consistent across all of your job aids.
Although you don’t want to overwhelm your users with information that makes the job aid more challenging to scan and read, you do want to provide context. Don’t make assumptions that the user will understand the context in which you’re detailing steps or items. For instance, briefly explaining why the user needs to perform an action will help them understand the overall process better. Just remember to keep it brief.
Make The Job Aid Easy To Access
Think about how you want to provide access to your job aids. For instance, the job aid could be presented as a JPEG accessible on your employees’ computers. You could also offer the job aid as an app. If the job aid is essential and needs to be in view at all times, you could create a laminated poster that your employees can tack onto their wall. There’s a lot to consider when you choose the way that your job aids can be accessed. For instance, if the job aid is more than a page, an online format may not be the best since you don’t want your employees to have to scroll through a document to try to find the information they need. It all depends on what the job aid is for and what the needs of the users are.
Create A Job Aid Draft
Once you’ve planned out your job aid, create the first draft. Try to edit it down so that it’s as concise as possible. Avoid using flowery language and challenging terminology. Keep it simple. Put yourself in the position of your employees and try to scan through the steps. How easy is it to just glance at the job aid and find what you’re looking for? Is the job aid visually appealing to the point of distraction? Do you immediately feel overwhelmed by a massive wall of text? Keep such questions in mind as you create and refine your job aid draft.
Test The Job Aid
Once you’re happy with your job aid, don’t just send it out. The last thing you want is for your organization to receive a job aid that isn’t effective (or, even worse, includes errors that can hurt the process). Instead, give the job aid to a select group of users and observe them as they use it. You should be able to determine whether it’s useful or not by seeing it in action; however, you should also ask the employee for input about the job aid’s usefulness.
Once you’ve tested the job aid and received input from your users, it’s time to revise it. Repeat the process until the job aid has been improved to the point where it will function as intended. However, once you distribute the job aid, keep an eye on its effectiveness, and continue to speak with department heads about its use. Some issues may pop up over time that wasn’t apparent during the testing phase. If this occurs, just go back and adjust the job aid accordingly.
Improve Your Business Processes
The business processes that you develop and implement throughout your organization can become quite complex. Because of their complexity, consider developing job aids that will support your teams’ efforts to implement and follow your business procedures and improve your overall processes. Useful job aids can help your personnel follow your processes correctly and solve any challenges that they might encounter. You’ll find that your marketing and sales personnel will make fewer errors, perform their jobs more efficiently, and become more effective at helping your organization achieve its goals.