In this era of the enabled customer – one in which research is at the customer’s fingertips and in which the salesperson must provide value when it’s asked for – sales enablement and sales content management is critical. Salespeople can’t keep an index in their heads of what content is new, what content has been proven to work, and what content is the best fit for the prospect sitting immediately in front of him or her. They need an automated tool to help them.
This content management function is a core part of sales enablement. It comes into play during the selling process, and it also plays a role in on-boarding new salespeople. But, because the term sales enablement has been so poorly served by the vendor community for so long, businesses often fail to match solutions to their problems and needs. The result is wasted investment and continued frustration on the part of salespeople as they see deals slip away for want of a better tool.
In most cases, companies really need a system of organization that can classify content, evaluate its value in selling, track its age, and deliver it when the salesperson needs it. That addresses the needs of both the enabled customer and the evolved salesperson. However, if you look around the enablement landscape, you often don’t see structure as the number one priority. As a result, businesses invest too much time, talent and treasure in enablement tasks that don’t pay for themselves and actually make it harder to increase sales performance.
What you need is a coherent taxonomy to understand your content and put it in the hands of salespeople when it’s needed most. But many businesses refuse to do that and instead go after lesser parts of the equation, much to their detriment.
If you are like most businesses, here are three things you don’t need to do:
1.Increase your investment in content
The last few years saw a spike in content creation, followed by a plateau. In 2011, businesses told the Content Marketing Institute that 26 percent of their total budgets went to content creation. That swelled to 33 percent in 2012, and then shrank to 28 percent in 2013 and to 24 percent in 2014 before flattening out at 28 percent in 2015 and 2016.
This might seem to suggest that business has come to its senses and after a boom year in 2012 content creators have come to their senses. In reality, there’s still too much content being generated. That causes problems in several forms, most of which stem from the lack of a functioning taxonomy. First, content is created that duplicates existing content. That’s a waste of time and money. Next, the sheer amount of content causes visibility problems and prevents the right content from being identified when it’s most needed. Third, it’s creating a glut of undifferentiated content, so even when it’s located there’s no guarantee that it’s the most effective content on a subject or even that it’s written for the customer audience the salesperson is trying to address.
2.Get hung up on the mode of delivery
How will your sales team and your customers consume your content? Will they look at it on a desktop, a laptop or a notebook? Will it be on a smartphone or an iPad? Will they print it out and lose it on their desks? The answer is: yes. All of the above. But the question is moot if your sales team can’t find any of it. You may have a piece of content perfectly attuned to the specific needs of a customer and formatted to beautifully display on a mobile device. This means nothing if the sales person can’t locate it and get it to the customer’s device. The recommended course of action is to get your content management taxonomy organized and then begin to concentrate on the details of delivery later as you refine your sales content strategy.
3.Get everyone in the organization to create sales content
This seems like a wonderfully egalitarian idea: get everyone to contribute to sales content, thus harnessing the ideas of the entire company. Marketing, sales, engineering and even HR can have a hand in the process, and soon you’ll have a vast library of material!
But, as we said above, a vast amount of material can cause its own problems if not fit into a well-planned taxonomy. Further, without someone owning the sales content and coordinating efforts, your content will suffer from duplication, wildly-varied formats and levels of quality, and missing elements (including tagging) which can make good content invisible within the content management solution. The other factor to consider here is that, in this scenario, you’re counting on content from people who are not paid, measured, managed, or bonused with content as a priority. An initiative that starts with enthusiasm will quickly peter out as business realities dull people’s eagerness to contribute. Having an owner or team of owners can ameliorate this: content from non-traditional sources should be cultivated, encouraged and managed by this editor class, which can result in a better quality of material and a more consistent pace of new material from expert voices outside the content team. Instead of a big cattle-call for content, a consistent and managed approach will help to not just keep the flow of contributions coming but ensure they are current and guided toward priority personas and vertical markets.
To see how CallidusCloud Sales Engagement can help you focus your sales content to better serve the empowered customer and the evolved salesperson, sign up for a sales enablement demo.