It sounds outrageous, but it resonates at gut level: Only nine percent of marketing-produced content is viewed more than five times by sales. If you’re lucky, the content-browsing habits of your own company’s sales teams are better. But still, content views – and usage rates – would have to get substantially better to reach respectable levels. Let’s say sales actually uses 50 percent of your sales enablement material. As far as numbers go, this is a hefty uptick. But from a content marketer’s perspective, this is still pretty lame – especially considering all of the time, thought, and sweat that goes into producing the stuff.
So back to reality: Your sales content gets less views than The Adventures of Pluto Nash. What’s a content marketer to do?
- Shake it off and hum to yourself: “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate...”
- Swallow your caustic disappointment, chomp down a half-roll of Tums, and crank out even more sales content.
- Scout around for your next installment of Sales & Content: Missing Intent. (Canvass the sales floor for clues; question potential witnesses to actual content usage.)
- Send out a chirpy email, alerting reps to “what’s new” in the sales enablement library. (Note to self: attach a treasure map with directions on where to find the booty. Thar she blows!)
These courses of action may get you through the day, but they won’t help you avoid a #SalesContentFail. Actually, one of the best ways to do that is pretty simple: Sell the sellers on the content they actually need.
What I’m talking about is not exactly content selling, but it’s related. Yes, I’m a strong believer in partnering with sales all the way through the customer lifecycle – and creating and distributing content to support that relationship. And yes, content marketers should be focused on using content to generate qualified leads, nurture valuable relationships, and close profitable deals. But we need to lay a little groundwork first.
If you want your sales enablement efforts to really take off, you must first persuade sales that your content is...
- Easy to find
- Relevant to prospects and customers right now
- Truly engaging (it really works for a specific persona and buyer stage)
- Easily incorporated into their sales process
The key word here is persuading. And it will take more than charisma to convince them.
It’s not just that sales is skeptical of the content you’re producing. To be honest, it’s probably worse than that. Over the years, they’ve grown complacent and indifferent. (Remember that nine percent number? Well, compare it to this: 57 percent of content that’s produced by sales gets viewed more than five times.)
Chances are, sales teams’ minds have wandered into well-worn grooves. Sellers – just like their marketing counterparts – have been conditioned to expect handoffs. Just as we’ve occasionally slipped into reactionary mode (“Hey – I need a white paper on CRM benefits for next week’s trade show” and we hop to it), so have sales teams become accustomed to – although likely not pleased with – marketing’s lead generation (and sales content) toss-over rituals.
How do you change this? Disrupt the status quo. Cease all random acts of content creation and delivery. Ignite a mind shift within sales by selling them on the content they really need. You can accomplish this in a six key steps:
- Snap out of order-taker mode. For every content request, ask questions about its intended use, audience and the ideal behavior you’d like it to inspire.
- Organize your content chaos. Pair a smart tagging taxonomy with new sales enablement technology to boost your material’s findability factor.
- Power up your content pitch with data. Highlight the “hot” pieces that have performed well for other reps and other marketing channels.
- Create for context. As you develop sales content, think about where selling situations and customer’s realities intersect. Familiarize yourself with the sales decks that are heavily used. How might your content mesh better with these decks? How deep is your organization’s insight into a specific buyer’s situation? If your marketing technologies and CRM systems aren’t interconnected, the sales team’s view of a buyer may look very different from yours. You’ll want to correct this mismatch if you want to accelerate sales.
- Package it right. Do sales teams know how to use your content? Do they know which pieces map to specific selling stages? A CliffsNotes one-pager might be just the thing to cut through ambiguity and confusion.
- Adapt or decelerate. Gauge sales teams’ interest in customizing your content. Adaptability will become an even more critical skill for B2B sellers in the future. Supporting sales efforts with content that can be customized on the fly for a specific selling context can shorten the buying cycle and accelerate sales considerably. How can you make your content more flexible and modular?
Get more detail on these steps by downloading my whitepaper “Epic Sales Enablement in a Content Marketing World.” In the meantime, don’t just busy yourself making sales content you can toss over to sales. Make sure it’s something you can sell.
Image credit: "Dusty Glasses" by AndreasS, Flickr http://ow.ly/LSnIp.