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The Sales Content Conundrum

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management

Where does it come from? How do you measure its effectiveness?  Is it different than marketing content? Salespeople are in a unique position as they deliver materials and messages to prospects and receive real-time feedback on it whether that be via actual discussion or the fact that a prospect moves through the buying cycle as a result. Often they create their own content derived from assets supplied by the marketing team that reflect these learnings as well as their personal spin on things.  In most cases, this feedback fails to make its way back to the marketing team and the problem just reinforces itself including no visibility to the gaps being filled by the salesperson’s own efforts.

There are two types of sales content that impact the productivity and effectiveness of a sales representative while engaging with prospects:

1. Their “profile” that projects their identity, expertise, and role within the company

This can take on a variety of definitions but at its core every salesperson should have an up to date LinkedIn profile that reflects their background, interests, and expertise.  From that profile, they can build their network, join groups, share content produced by others or themselves, and even write original posts relevant to their experience and the challenges faced by their prospects.

What salespeople say–publicly, as in social media or privately through email–also identifies them. The question of “whether a salesperson should blog” is a bit more nuanced.  If you have sales representatives who seek to write and are truly experts in their space, then by all means enable them to blog, but don’t walk in with the expectation that each salesperson will take time out of their day to produce content that complements what the marketing team is developing.  Time away from selling is time away from selling.

2. The content produced by marketing for use in sales

This is where there is often a disconnect between what the marketing team is producing and what the sales team is actually using.  The disconnect is usually a factor of either access to content or its relevance.

Access factors in when the materials are not easily discovered or accessed.  We often see that sales content is kept in a number of different repositories and is organized by Marketing, not Sales.  Marketing’s job is not done when the latest case studies, battle cards, or data sheets are written.  They need to ensure the various sales teams know of the content and can find what they need quickly, when they need it.  This requires a sales content management solution that is organized for sales, flexible so that it can be updated at the pace the market demands, and still is easy for marketing to manage.

Relevance comes into play when the content is delivered and but it is irrelevant to the conversation sales needs to have with the customer–it’s not the right content, messaging or data. Of course, what is relevant for one sales team may not be relevant for another.  But tracking its relevance–or content’s use by the sales team–will help publishers identify gaps.

By measuring content’s performance, organizations can solve gaps in access and relevance, and in doing so, marketing will produce better content and sales will be more efficient and effective in engaging customers with the right message.

For more perspectives on this subject, check out a fair amount debate on this CustomerThink post titled “Why your sales reps shouldn’t be creating content” that generated a lively and insightful set of comments on this topic.

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