Sales reps need content to sell.
A sales rep is like a weaver bird building nests. The weaver bird needs tiny pieces of twigs, grass, and stalks to weave together intricate nests. Its inherent skills and its ability to remain airborne for long periods are essential to creating mind-blowing nests.
But, without its tools, a weaver bird will have little use of its skills.
Similarly, a sales rep needs all the content that matches the buyer's needs and personas. Without content, a sales rep's conversations with prospective buyers will be shallow and bereft of substance.
Trouble arises when sales reps don't have the right content that they need. A 2015 research report highlighted that sales reps spend only 32% of their time on their core activity, i.e., selling. The rest ~70% is spent on non-productive activities such as updating CRMs or creating new content, some of which might already exist in some form.
In this post, we will look at five different ways how a sales rep can use their time productively to sell while using existing content.
1. Deliver Personalized Content
Sales reps deliver experiences.
When a sales rep delivers content to his prospects, he is letting them experience his brand or product. Content that does not make a buyer feel good about his decisions is of no use.
That is why sales reps should be able to bring in any content from anywhere because every content piece matters. The content that converts could be a news article, research report, an infographic, video, or the timeless PPT.
When content is personalized to suit buyer needs, personas, and problems, it attracts attention. For example, using a customer testimonial video in a sales campaign mail can help buyers understand how the product has benefited users in real life. And, when people hear their problems, mentioned by like-minded peers, they tend to notice it and act on it.
That is the power of personalization. Today, personalized landing pages display content that matches a visitor's profile. So, a procurement manager working for an airline company sees content that is quite different from his counterpart in an IT services company.
Using existing content from different sources enables a sales rep to provide a complete picture to his audience.
For example, a sales rep selling cloud-based financial software to small and medium enterprises can use the below content pieces to explain the value proposition to his audience:
- A brochure that highlights the use cases
- A news article that describes how SMBs are struggling to get their finances in order
- A case study showing an implementation
- A customer testimonial explaining its benefits
- An infographic showing the state of affairs before and after the adoption of the software
Bringing in content from across the organization helps sales reps in conveying a consistent message to their prospects. It helps in creating a canvas that has all the elements that make a meaningful conversation with prospects.
2. Making Content Discoverable
Sales reps spend 8 hours a week searching for suitable content.
For most of them, it takes longer to find a piece of content than creating it anew. That explains why sales reps put-together rogue content that lies across an organization.
Marketers must ensure sales content is easily discoverable so that it is available to the sales teams when they need it - during demos, customer onboarding, events, and while they're out in the field.
While marketers could sit alongside sales reps to observe content used during sales conversations, a better way to do it is making content comprehensive.
Here's how existing content can be made discoverable by sales reps:
Add headings to content
All content pieces must have a proper heading attached to them. A content piece with the title 'Sales material' does not help anybody. Instead, naming it appropriately '[Product Name] Demo_[Client Name]_[Date],' can make it easily findable.
Add tags to content
When content is tagged with the right keywords, it helps sales reps discover it through generic searches. For example, a sales rep searching for 'Research Reports,' might get different types of content including PDFs, URLs, PPTs, and a lot more. All of these would help in assembling the right combination of content.
Describing the content and what it contains is a good way of informing sales reps. In the case of large content pieces that are too long, they needn't engage with the entire piece. Instead, they could quickly browse through the description to know if it suits their needs.
Content descriptions should not be too long. They can be within 200 characters, and capture the salient features of a content piece.
Push the content as soon as it is available to sales reps so that they don't have to search for it. When sales reps subscribe to notifications, they know when an existing content piece is updated and can immediately share with their prospects.
Sales reps need content at their fingertips to make their pitches effective, and so making it easily discoverable makes them look impressive during customer meetings and conversations.
3. Analyze Content Intelligence
In a 2016 report, only 30% of B2B marketers said that their content was useful.
One of the reasons why existing content becomes ineffective is due to the inability of sales reps to know what is working with their target audience.
What if sales reps knew that their target audience is interested in between the 7th and 11th page of a 20-page document? Or, if they're watching the first and second minutes of a three-minute video than the other portions?
This is called content intelligence. It helps sales reps know which content is generating more interest and helps content marketers optimize existing content around these topics.
Sales content management platforms help analyze content intelligence, such as:
- The number of views - The number of times recipients view a content piece.
- The number of downloads - The number of times a content piece is downloaded.
- Time spent - The amount of time spent on every content piece or a collection of content
- Popularity - The popularity of a content piece within the sales teams
- Top users - The top users of a content piece
- Top Accounts - The top accounts that engage with a company's content
Measuring content intelligence enables sales reps to leverage existing content. Marketers do not have to rely on disjointed pieces of information to know the real ROI of existing content. Instead, data is captured every time prospects interact with their content.
Moreover, measuring audience intelligence becomes a constant feedback loop back for the marketing team. They can continuously capture metrics data that matter to them and create more of the content that is experiencing a higher uptake by their target audience.
4. Organize Content
60-70% of B2B content lies unused on sales portals and websites.
With content slated to become a $412 billion industry by 2021, marketers wouldn't be too pleased to see their efforts go unutilized. One reason why sales reps do not use content is that it is not organized based on their needs.
Content should be organized based on:
- Geographies - Geographic areas such as APAC, North America, Bay area, can have specific content
- Industries - Industries such as Manufacturing, Banking, Insurance, Construction will have content that is unique to the nature of their business.
- Target audience demographics - Millennials, baby boomers, and college students are different segments that need content specific for their needs.
- B2B scenarios - Content consumption patterns are different in B2B situations than in B2C. For example, in B2B cases, there are several parties involved, including decision-makers, executives, CXOs- so each class needs tailored content.
- Buyer's journey - A buyer goes through a journey of Awareness, Consideration, Decision Making, Implementation, before making a purchase. Each stage needs content that is specific to it.
This helps in segregating content according to its uses. Here're the different ways how existing content can be organized so that they're always available when there is a need for it.
Hosting Content in a 'Hub'
Having a separate 'Hub' for original content enables its easy discoverability and inclusion in sales kits. It acts as a centralized repository where all original content finds its place. Sales reps can pick content from the hub and use it for their campaigns and cadences.
Creating sections in large repositories help organize content into additional layers (e.g., cross-company themes like Industry 4.0, Robotics, Machine Learning). It provides a bird's eye view of what large repositories host without having to go into every layer.
Groups inside large folders can help further categorization into different types. Creating groups inside large sections enable categorizing content into different types that we've highlighted above.
5. Curate Content
Curating existing content can enable sales reps to discover unexplored uses for it and reduce redundancy. Here's how it can be done:
Sales reps store their content in multiple storage systems such as Box, Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive, local drives in PCs, etc. Later, they struggle to find the right content at the right time because of unstructured content. Instead, synchronizing external storage systems with content management systems makes it easier for sales reps to use them.
Content can be repurposed so that they serve more than one use. For example, a 90-second video can be hosted on YouTube to run an email campaign and can be later used during a sales meeting or implementation.
Auditing existing content from time to time helps in removing stale content and updating it to suit current needs. Content audits are a must to showcase branded content that is in sync with changing company policies, themes, and outlook.
Ensuring the relevance and effectiveness of existing content can help deliver a great product experience. Using the above techniques, sales reps can find newer ways to share their content and convert lackluster content into a thriving asset.