Every day, enterprise salespeople ask themselves: where can I find the right content to send to my prospect?
For most companies, the default answer is Google Drive, Dropbox, or whatever file repository the company is using. But that’s not always helpful. For example, if you are looking for a previous proposal to use as a template for a new prospect in, say, the auto industry, knowing they are seeking X functionality, how can you find the most relevant sample in your company’s drive? Unless your company has very rigid file naming standards, it often involves a lot of searching around through incomplete or irrelevant search queries to find what you’re looking for.
Solving this simple issue doesn’t need to be difficult. Rather, it’s easily fixed with an effective sales content management solution. The goal of a good sales content management solution is to have a central place where sales assets are created, stored, and organized so teams can access them at any point in the selling cycle. This hub can be a cornerstone for sales enablement, but it’s also an effective way to increase your teams’ productivity and performance.
A recent survey of salespeople by HubSpot Research found more than half rely on their peers to get tips for improving. 44 percent looked to their manager, 35 percent to team training resources, and 24 percent to media.
The need for sales content isn’t just an internal issue, though. As more companies implement social selling programs for their reps, there’s an even larger need for a central hub that is accessible and has an abundance of easy-to-share resources. In fact, studies show half of sales revenue is influenced by social selling in 14 common industries, including computer software, healthcare, and marketing and advertising.
How can you get more mileage out of your sales enablement content? Here are a few best practices to get you started:
Take Note of Your Existing Assets
Whether you’re currently storing your existing sales asset library in Box, Sharepoint, or something else, it’s very likely that you have a pretty large backlog of materials, which can make getting started feeling like climbing a mountain.
Going back to basics can be the easiest way to overcome this initial hurdle: consider making a spreadsheet to take an inventory of all existing assets, noting the name of the item, what type of item it is (i.e., a video, a PPT, etc), a short description of its use, and a link to where it’s stored. This exercise is helpful when it comes to getting a better understanding of existing assets, but it also enables you to archive outdated and irrelevant content, while identifying additional content needs at your enterprise.
Address Gaps in Your Internal (and External) Content
If you want to improve your internal sales collateral, it’s important to have a clear strategy in mind and it starts with surveying your sales force. Find out if there are any pieces of content they like or refer to a lot and use this as an opportunity to update those documents. You’ll also want to find out if there are any knowledge gaps that exist in your materials. Is there something your reps could use more training on or a new trend coming down the pike they should be prepared for? Perhaps you noticed during the inventory phase that assets are out of date, don’t have complete information on them, or don’t address some new functionalities your product has. These are all good fodder for new content.
This assessment doesn’t just have to apply to your internal sales documents. It’s also a great time to determine any additional external assets you need to have for any social selling initiatives your company might have. After all, when it comes to building a business case, content is king and still significantly influences purchase decisions. According to a survey by DemandGen, three-quarters of buyers said the content of potential vendors had a “significant impact” on which they chose.
Your sales team likely spends all day talking to current customers and potential clients, which makes them a wealth of information when it comes to understanding what assets are worth developing. Ask them about their communication pain points, what prospects ask questions about and where there might be any opportunities to alleviate confusion.
But planning new external sales assets shouldn’t exist in a vacuum: your company’s marketing team is also a great resource to tap into. They spend all day crafting and refining different messages to prospects and can usually offer data and feedback on what content will sing (and which will fall flat).
Lastly, don’t forget to look critically at the customer journey for opportunities. When you have a better understanding of how your prospects become customers, you can identify where content can help eliminate friction at various points in the sales process.
Creating Sales Content
When it comes to putting together new internal and external-facing content, the possibilities are endless. Of course, it’s important to approach it realistically and strategically. Recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day and, as such, neither will all the sales collateral you want to produce. Identify which pieces are the priority and enter them into a content calendar. This easy tool allows you to set timeline goals while budgeting your time realistically.
But who says content needs to build itself or only be done by one person? Tap into subject matter experts at your company so you can divide up the creation of these assets. Your team is also a great resource for some of these items, be they sales scripts, proposal templates, blog posts, or something else.
Stuck on content ideas? Try these:
- Customer content: Case studies, white papers, blog posts, informative videos, downloadables like infographics, eBooks, etc.
- Informative content: emails, presentations, brochures, multimedia files, informational documents
- Internal sales content: sales scripts, email templates, product sheets, training materials, sales playbooks, micro-trainings, onboarding documentation, PPT templates, proposal templates, training modules, role-playing videos, sales education
Categorizing Sales Content Effectively
Sales has an information overload issue, which makes this arguably the most important step when it comes to the implementation and adoption of your sales content management platform.
It’s no secret that sales professionals are busy people, but that doesn’t always mean they’re being productive. When it takes your reps an inordinate amount of time to find the content they’re looking for, productivity (and, you guessed it: profit) takes a dip.
The stats are staggering: Aberdeen found out that sales reps spend close to 43 hours every month searching for information. That’s over 500 hours a year. Imagine what each member of your team could do if they got even a fraction of that time back.
Organizing sales content in ways that speed up the search process is not only a productivity enhancer but a likely factor in winning more customers.
Separate content into channels based on goal or subject matter. It also creates a search functionality that enables multiple methods of finding the right content.
In this paradigm, a proposal that is uploaded to the sales content management solution can be assigned to a channel, such as Automotive, as well as to other relevant channels like Proposals, Prospects, or Customers. Similar to a quantum bit of content, it can now exist simultaneously in more than one place and be found by salespeople searching from many different angles.
The beauty of a channel-based system, as opposed to a traditional folder system, is that it allows you to quickly add content to a new or existing channel with a single click. Whereas, adding new folders to a large store of existing content is much more difficult and assets tend to get lost in the process.
Tagging is another way to effectively facilitate content discovery. If you were to create a new proposal for BMW, it can be stored and assigned multiple tags, increasing the likelihood it will be easily found later.
It’s not enough to know what content exists, context is also invaluable when it comes to saving time and boosting productivity. This may be in the form of thumbnails, which can provide a clue as to what is inside the file, or a description to accompany the file name.
A leading-edge sales content management solution should also enable annotations, which leave important insights about content for others to refer to. You might note that x asset may work best for y cohort but a video would work better for z. When the ability to comment is enabled, sales reps and managers can collaborate better, outlining which assets may help with a particular opportunity or problem. That also means advice is preserved within the content portal and easily referred to later, rather than being forgotten or lost in a black hole of email.
A good sales content management system gives your team an easy way to share what they’ve learned so you don’t have to wait for a pipeline review or a sales conference to learn what’s working–the sales intelligence is right there next to the content they used.
This functionality does not exist when you simply save a slide deck to Box or a similar file storage system but saving it in a place where users can comment, rate, and suggest improvements or tweaks to the content is an action that can actually lead to more closed deals.
Perhaps unsurprisingly: 60-70% of content produced by sales and marketing teams never gets used. After all, if it’s not getting used, what’s the point? Your sales force is always on-the-go and having one, singular portal across multiple devices is a great way for them to find whatever content they need, wherever they are. Whether they’re using the portal on desktop, an iOS app or Android app, make the content as easy to access as possible.
Measure the Impact
Determining what sales content is having an impact goes much further than just knowing what your team is downloading. This doesn’t just apply to your team, it also applies to prospects. Having access to a suite of analytics can help you easily see:
- What content is being shared
- Who is sharing it
- Whom they are sharing the information with
- How engaged the prospect was with it
- If it contributed to increased sales
Data doesn’t lie: when sales teams create and distribute content that is meaningful to their audience, they are radically more effective.
Would you like to learn more about how CircleHD’s sales content management solutions can help your team deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time? We’d love to speak with you. Contact us today.