Companies have come to understand that content is king, and they’ve spent a lot of money worshipping at content’s altar. In 2014, according to Advertising Age, three-quarters of marketers said they planned to increase spending on content, while only 1.3 percent said they’d be reducing their spend. Marketing Profs’ own study of B2B marketers pegged the number planning to spend more at 60 percent. According to Gleanster, American business alone spends $5.2 billion a year on content creation.

However, without readership, you’d might as well flush that cash down the toilet. According to Sirius Decisions, 60 to 70 percent of all content sits unused, and the real numbers can be even higher. In one example cited on Sirius Decisions’ blog CDW shared that a recent project to consolidate three sales portals into one revealed that 93 percent of all content produced or stored in the portals went unused.

That’s a horrible number, but CDW has something going for it that most companies do not: it knows the scope and nature of its problem. It also has a good idea of which content is actually being used. Do you have that?

By engaging in an exercise to find out – in part, by becoming a CallidusCloud customer – has the information to start rectifying their problems. They’ve managed to archive about 70 percent of the 3500-plus content items to bring the best content to the fore. In cases like this, there’s a good chance that some extremely helpful content has been submerged in their system and is simply inaccessible to sales staff because of issues of structure.

Structure is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes sales enablement work. It allows sales reps to find what they need fast – it’s like the organization of shelves in the library, where things are grouped in a sensible way so they can be located quickly. However, for reasons that are painfully clear, it often goes ignored until the structure problem begins to crush the ROI of other enablement investments.Which 2/3 of your content are you wasting?

The rush toward creating more content is an example of this. Content is visible and thus easy to justify when developing a budget. It can be responsive to tactical demands from sales. And it’s something that’s reasonably easy to affect change around – allocate the budget, bring in the staff and get them to work on white papers, reports, videos and podcasts. All of that is great, but unless sales can find it when it’s needed this content merely an exercise in creating noise without delivering a signal to sales. And it’s an expensive approach – at $600 per content item, if a company with 2,000 content items has 70 percent of them unused, that's a waste of $840,000per year on unused content. Not only is it real money, it competes for attention and distracts sales people from high-value content. When it comes to sales, more content is not “more” – it’s simply information overload.

Other companies have swung the other way, toward a focus on delivery. In other words, they’ve shifted focus toward devices and technologies to encourage adoption. Again, these are great things, but without paying attention to structure they’ll only end up frustrating the sales force faster.

Think of it this way: if you’re hand-washing dishes after a big meal, you focus first not on the big, crusty, gooey pot the meal was cooked in and hit the glasses and plates first. You put off the big, unwieldy and difficult task until the end. Structure is that greasy pot. But you have to get to it.

Once you address the structure issue, things start to fall into place. First, you can revisit the numbers around content – is 60-70 percent going unused because it’s not good, but because it’s hard to locate? Once you make it readily accessible, you can make a real evaluation, and it may be that you can reduce spending on content after seeing the true numbers about your existing content’s effectiveness. You can certainly cull the dead wood, and you can do scoring to promote content that’s proven to work. And you can increase the amount of time sales spends selling by slashing the average of 20-40 hours sale reps spend searching for and creating content from scratch.

Next, your delivery and adoption issues will be impacted for the better. If you’ve nailed the structure, usage both on desktops and mobile devices should climb, exactly because adoption rates will be up. Again, you’ll have a better view of the performance of your now-unfettered content and you can make decisions based on an unconstrained version of reality. You can also take this to the next level – if your enablement structure is sound, you can shift from sales finding content to content finding sales when sales needs it most.

But until you tackle the structure problem, you have no way not only to get the right content in to sales’ hands when they need it but you have no realistic way to evaluate that content. So, the choice is yours: get a structure for sales enablement in place, or keep guessing which two-thirds of your content is wasteful and a drag on your bottom line. The choice is yours.

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