Why Bad Content is the Real Problem Facing Your Sales Team

More so than ever, content is driving sales. There are more people involved in the buying process, and more resources needed to fuel their research. “Sales executives are starting to realize they need a lot of well designed, targeted selling content,” writes Forbes. “Content directly impacts their ability to achieve top line sales results.”

Not only do sales teams need externally-facing content, but internal training content, too. According to MHI Research, the biggest inhibitor to sales success in 2014 (as it was in 2013 and 2012) is the inability to communicate value messages. For most sales organizations, having up-to-date content that details each value proposition likely means the difference between a deal closed and a deal lost.

So if sales teams know what they need, why haven’t they solved the content problem yet? Here’s the real problem: sales teams don’t need more content—both marketing and sales teams already do a sufficient job generating content. Instead, sales professionals need help with everything that happens after content creation: finding, applying, and iterating upon that content.

Here’s how the content problem breaks down, and how it affects your sales performance:

  1. Can’t find the right content.
    If marketing has created the perfect sales enablement content, but sales doesn’t know where to find it, does it make an impact? Of course not. For sales success, knowing exactly where to go to access the right content is essential.

    Today, only 23% of sales teams rely on their sales enablement systems as the single source for content and information. That means that they’re looking in several places to find what they need, and are perhaps choosing an outdated version or, worse, giving up altogether. For better communication and alignment, sales and marketing need a reliable, single source for sales content.

  2. Can’t access content on mobile.
    Even if your sales team knows exactly where your content lives, it won’t do them much good in the field if they can’t access it on their smartphones or tablets. Sharing mechanisms, such as Dropbox or Box, have somewhat remedied this, but if your sales team can’t remember exactly which file name matches to the right content, searching can be time-consuming.

    But say you have meticulously organized your shared folder, and your sales team opens up the right file…only to have to pinch and zoom their way to the right information on a static PDF. The content is uninspiring, barely readable, and definitely not suitable to show to customers.

  1. No way to update content.
    Not only are PDFs difficult to decipher on mobile, but, just like a printed page, once they’ve been created and distributed, they’re unfixable. For product marketers or sales trainers, it becomes a matter of updating, re-converting, replacing the file in a shared folder, and emailing a notice to all end-users: please use V2, not V1.

    But that’s only the beginning. Inevitably, one of your salespeople will mistakenly pull an outdated PDF from her email and spread the misinformation for potentially costly consequences. Retracting information—especially from customers—is a position that no salesperson wants to be in.

  1. Not enough of the right content.
    All of these rules assume that your sales team is reading your content, and sometimes, that’s just not the case. In fact, Forbes predicts that between 60 and 70% of marketing content is not used by sales, which, at best means a lot of wasted effort from marketing and, at worst, makes for a misinformed sales team.

    It’s easy to blame this on sales, but marketing has a responsibility to collect data on what’s working, and what’s not—which, to be fair, is not so easy to do on a PDF. Marketing teams need real-time analytics that report on the highest trafficked pages so that they can easily reproduce what content is getting the most use, and what can be set aside.

The bottom line:
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone; Forbes estimates that the content problem “remains a ‘hidden pain point’ for most B2B marketing executives because it is hard to describe, manage, and measure.” But since the first step to tackling any problem is admitting you have one, you’re already on your way to better, more manageable sales content. Stay tuned for further posts on the best solutions for this content problem!

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