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December 6, 2023

How to Motivate Sales Reps to Use Marketing Content

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This article originally appeared on Spiceworks.

Why don’t sales reps use all the marketing content your organization creates? Lack of visibility, accessibility and understanding all play a role. Sales teams are often unaware that certain content exists, so they spend time making their own, leading to inaccurate product information or messaging. Sometimes, reps know about an asset but can’t find it. Or maybe they have it but aren’t sure how to leverage it.

Companies spend nearly 9% of their revenue on marketing, yet Forrester reports that 65% of marketing material goes unused. This translates to wasted time and money. G2 found that 84% of sales executives list content search and utilization as the top target for productivity improvement effectively in the sales process.

Marketing toiled over this content, so how can you motivate your sales team to use it? Who and how new materials are introduced are key. The report Getting Sellers Engaged: What Motivates Sellers to Use Your Content observed the behavior of more than 300 sales reps to gauge the impact of different introductions. Turns out, the right presenter and context can double content use. Consider the research results.

Who Should Present Marketing Content to Sales Reps?

Your gut reaction to this question might be a manager or product marketer. There’s a better option: a sales rep. Enlisting a high-performing seller to introduce the material increased the likelihood of use by 61% over a similar presentation from a product specialist. While product marketers are subject matter experts, they lack the perspective and shared experiences of sales reps. A successful seller has demonstrated to their colleagues that they know what they are talking about and have the pipeline to prove it. Sales reps understand this person has gone through the same conversations, challenges, and scenarios they’ve experienced, so if they champion materials, teammates believe they can trust its value.

One caveat to this finding is that an inexperienced sales team is more likely to be motivated by a senior sales leader. While the research did not delve into the reasoning, this may be due to the manager’s seniority.

Illustration of human head with report title, Getting Sellers Engaged, on dark background

The Best Strategy to Get Sellers to Use Marketing Content

Download Getting Sellers Engaged to learn the most effective approach for getting sellers to use your marketing content in their customer conversations.

What Is the Best Presentation Method?

The story told during a presentation can make or break content performance. Introducing content with a use-case demonstration or case study makes reps 30% more likely to use it than the material presented with only basic information. Simulated conversations and case studies demonstrate how and when collateral can be used to give reps confidence in their sales strategies.

Using a high-performing seller to deliver demonstrations can increase content use by 111% (more than double), further illustrating the value of peer-to-peer learning. A salesperson can know all the facts and strategies, but they won’t gain proficiency until they gain wisdom from experience. That’s where seasoned reps come in. By connecting, team members can share their experiences, speeding up the transfer of wisdom. Rather than every rep learning the same lesson the hard way, they can acquire knowledge through someone else’s story. This relationship of trust and shared experience makes peers effective at motivating others to use collateral.

The research also shows case studies are the most effective presentation style for sales leaders and product specialists. A demonstration is the least impactful strategy for leaders, even below basic information.

What’s the Best Way to Help Sales Reps Retain Information?

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, a model demonstrating memory loss over time, shows the average person forgets 90% of what they learned within seven days. Reinforcing the information is crucial to generate marketing material use.

Researchers used six different learning strategies and found you should vary your approach based on experience and performance.

The data recommends engaging your sellers in strategizing and creating their plans for incorporating material into their process. Questions to pose include:

  • How and when would I use this content?
  • How would I adjust the content to fit my buyers’ needs?

On average, sellers involved in the creation exercise were likelier to use marketing content than other learning techniques. This was especially true for high performers.

However, novice and low-performing sales reps were more likely to leverage content after analyzing loss potential. In this scenario, team members considered what they could lose by not using the content, like opportunities to sway or upsell clients. This method was more effective than considering what they might gain. This result was likely due to the loss aversion principle, which states that people view losses as more significant than gains, even when they are equal.

Any learning approach proved more successful than the control group, who did not engage in any activity. The research also indicates that asking the sales team to analyze the presentation itself, rather than the content, puts them in a negative mindset and makes them less likely to use the material.

What Should Be Done with the Material After Its Introduction?

Sellers may be excited to use the material presented by their peers, but if they can’t find it, it doesn’t matter. Your company must house marketing content in a central repository so the sales team knows where to look. Providing search capabilities makes the process even smoother. 

Sellers report spending 440 hours a year looking for materials, time they could spend more productively. The more obstacles you can remove, the better. Tracking content use provides insights into what’s working in the field. Sales enablement software can gather data on material utilization and sales success. By identifying which type of content works best in which scenario, you can provide feedback on content-use strategies and create better material moving forward.

Make the Most of Your Marketing Content

There’s no reason you can’t break the cycle of unused marketing materials. Leverage peer-to-peer learning by engaging high-performing sales reps and presenting use cases. Challenge your sellers to evaluate or strategize with the material. Sales, marketing, and leadership want collateral used. The data is clear — this approach can help make it happen.

The Best Strategy to Get Sellers to Use Marketing Content

Illustration of human head with report title, Getting Sellers Engaged, on dark backgroundDownload Getting Sellers Engaged today to learn the most effective approach for getting sellers to use your marketing content in their customer conversations.

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