Although telling stories to influence thoughts and behavior has been around for centuries, the term “content marketing” wasn’t coined until 2001. Since then, content marketing as an industry has exploded, with 73% of major organizations choosing to hire someone to manage their content marketing strategy.
Although the responsibilities of content marketing can reach far and wide, it essentially has two main purposes:
1) To generate inbound marketing leads
2) To provide supporting materials for sales
For the purposes of this post, we’ll be focusing on the latter of these two goals. It’s been proven that, when done right, content can have a major impact throughout the buying cycle. For example, 82% of buyers view at least 5 pieces of content from a winning vendor. What’s more, 57% of sales reps cite high-quality content as a top driver for winning deals.
However, plenty of studies show that there is still massive room for improvement when it comes to enabling sales through content:
– 76% of content marketers are forgetting about sales enablement
– 31% of reps’ time is spent searching for or creating content
– 84% of reps cite content search and utilization as the top area in need of improvement when it comes to productivity
Here are 5 important strategies to make sure that your company’s sales content is serving its purpose.
1. Less is more
It’s no secret that writers can sometimes get a bit…wordy. But we’re talking marketing content here folks, not poetry, so it’s extremely important to remember that less is more. This is especially true when it comes to creating content for sales enablement, because unlike inbound marketing, where buyers are actively searching for information, outbound reps often have just mere seconds to grab a prospect’s attention. In fact, the average human attention span is just 8 seconds. Yes, that’s one second less than a goldfish.
Here are 3 key tips to help keep things short, sweet and straight to the point:
1. Wherever you can replace letters with numbers, do it. A simple stat showing that your customers increase acquisition by 35% is a lot more impactful than a paragraph about how your product drives acquisition. Numbers stand out and ultimately speak louder than words.
2. Did you know that online reviews impact 67% of consumers’ purchasing decisions? This means that, when it comes to sales enablement, the less of your voice and the more of your customers’, the better. A single customer quote or case study can be just as effective as an entire white paper.
3. One common content mistake is trying to cover too much ground in a single piece. It may be tempting to hit each and every value prop all at once, but this can actually have an adverse effect on the impact of sales enablement. While it’s important to have that one overview sheet, most materials should be focused and speak to just one or a small handful of value props. Which leads us to our next tip…
2. Every piece of content should solve an objection
Remember, while reps may sometimes be required to provide prospects with a summary of what your company has to offer, the majority of their content needs revolve around answering specific questions or handling key objections. This is why it’s so important to provide focused pieces. Remember, the purpose of sales enablement is to educate – not wax poetic about product features or functionality.
So how do you identify which objections your content should solve? The only way to effectively do this is to get close to your sales team. Sit in on their meetings, spend time on the sales floor, set up regular meetings with team managers – you get the picture. Another way to make sure that your content is hitting the right points is to create a content calendar and share it with the sales managers in your org. Review it with them on a consistent basis and make sure that they see the value in each scheduled piece.
3. Know your readers
Not every customer has the same needs or challenges. They often buy different products and require unique customizations. Unfortunately, this concept is sometimes forgotten when it comes to creating sales enablement. One size does not fit all, so it’s imperative to make sure that you are providing the right materials for different buyers at different points within the sales funnel.
One of the best ways to do this is to create a content roadmap that takes each buyer persona and journey into account. For example, say that your company sells primarily to Directors of Finance and Operations, but the the VP of Finance is usually pulled in for final decision making toward the end of the sales cycle. You should then make sure that you have content geared toward solving the objections that Finance and Operations Directors have at high, mid and low-funnel stages, as well as some low-funnel materials aimed at VPs of Finance.
4. Measure your success
Remember when everyone thought of sales as an art? It was essentially considered a skill, and reps either had it or they didn’t. But now, leading companies are treating sales like more of a science, effectively measuring the activities that lead to and factors that impact revenue. Since sales content is one of these factors, or dimensions, with the ability to influence sales outcomes, it should also be measured in a quantifiable and actionable way.
One way to start analyzing the effectiveness of your sales enablement is to pay close attention to which reps are downloading or sharing your content. Are they the top performers? Are some pieces getting more love than others? Simple metrics such as these can help guide your content strategy by letting you know which pieces your reps find most useful.
Another more telling way to measure and optimize the impact of sales enablement is by tying it to actual wins. This requires some serious analysis and sales science, which you can learn more about in this eBook. However, the insights that this exercise can reveal are second to none. For example, perhaps sending a particular white paper at a certain pipeline stage helps cinch wins 80% of the time, while using a different material results in lower conversion rates. Knowing this, you can create more content similar to your winning white paper, and shy away from materials like your low converting creation.
5. Your job doesn’t stop at writing
To restate one of the statistics we mentioned earlier in this article, 1/3 of reps’ time is spent searching for or creating content. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean that their teams don’t have content at their disposals, but it does mean that either it’s not what they’re looking for, or they don’t know that it exists. Following some of the tips covered earlier in this post can help you make sure that you’re providing the right content. But how do you make sure that your reps are actually using it?
1. Don’t assume that the sales team is waiting with baited breath and checking your content repository for your next masterpiece. Whenever you add something new to the mix, send out an email or mention it in a meeting to let them know it’s there.
2. Be sure to keep all of your materials in a centralized location that’s easy for sales to access. Some sales platforms even feature fully integrated document repositories with drag-and-drop sharing capabilities. Bonus points: organize everything into folders with consistent naming conventions and tags. The faster and easier you make it for reps to find content, the more they will use it.
3. Consistency is key. Salespeople have so many prospects, numbers and tasks floating around in their heads that sometimes they just need a friendly reminder of the resources that are available to them. Set up a monthly or quarterly meeting to remind reps of existing content. Better yet, monitor content usage and reward the most active reps.
Content may be king, but without the ability to help advance and close sales, it’s nothing. Follow these 5 tips to keep your content strategy on track, and for more sales-related posts like these, subscribe to the Base Blog!