Today’s sellers are facing a buying landscape that is like nothing they have experienced before. The pandemic brought on shifts in product demands and budget cuts, while introducing new competitive threats. As the economy recovers, there are likely to be even more shifts in the sales process. In markets like this, sellers need to stay one step ahead and content provides a way for them to do that. Relevant content—delivered at the right time to the right buyer—is a seller’s best weapon for keeping prospects informed and motivated as they move through the sales funnel.
What is Sales Content Management?
Simply put, effective sales content management is the creation, organization, distribution, and management of customer-facing sales assets and internal sales training content. Creating a logical sales content management structure makes it easier to maintain, update, and retire pieces of content as markets, messaging, and products change. With a sales content management platform in place, sellers can always find the content they need to move their prospects through the sales funnel.
Table of Contents
Why Is Sales Content Management Important?
Compete in an Evolving Sales Landscape
Capture Attention of B2B Buyers
During the pandemic, sellers who usually do their best work in person were forced to move to a virtual selling environment. While many salespeople were able to master this new way of communicating, it is clear that virtual buyers are still prone to distractions: checking messages, technical malfunctions, and disruptions by people in their homes or offices. As we move forward, virtual selling—and the distracted buyer—will be a permanent part of the sales process. Highly relevant content provides a way to keep even the most distracted buyer connected. Delivering relevant content before, during, and after the call gives the buyer the information they need to remain engaged with the meeting, the product, and the salesperson.
Meet the Demands of Educated Buyers
Before they get on a call with a sales rep, buyers spend time online researching products, analyzing competition, and looking at reviews. As a result, these buyers come to a sales meeting with a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. When dealing with such a buyer, a salesperson must expect the unexpected. Access to relevant, actionable content provides a way for the salesperson to immediately provide helpful, relevant information that addresses the buyer’s specific need, while positioning the seller as a trusted resource for the educated buyer.
Benefits of Sales Content Management
Salespeople Can Focus on Selling
In today’s fast-paced sales environment, expectations are high and demands are many. To succeed, salespeople need immediate access to relevant, up-to-date content. But all too often, that content is scattered in different locations or lost in organizational silos. Research shows that salespeople spend up to ten hours a week searching for customer-ready materials. Making sales content management part of your sales and marketing organization ensures salespeople are able to put their hands on the most up-to-date, relevant content they need to move the sale forward.
Up-to-Date and Accurate Sales Content
Sales content changes quickly. Essential details such as messaging, product specifications, and regulations are constantly being revised and updated. Moreover, many organizations require content to be customized with messaging or legal requirements that vary according to the buyer’s location or market segment. Incorporating a sales content management solution into an organization gives both marketers and sales teams the confidence of knowing that their materials are up-to-date and include current brand, compliance, and product information.
A Faster Selling Process
Selling to an educated market requires salespeople to be a trusted expert for their buyers. But if the sales person can’t immediately connect the buyer with the information he or she needs, it can delay the sales process—or worse, cause the seller to lose the deal. A sales content management platform ensures salespeople get the right materials in the hands of the prospects in real time. This faster response to customer queries speeds up the flow of information and ultimately the sales process itself.
Why Sales Content Management Is Challenging
Salespeople Don't Use Content
Marketing spends a lot of time and work creating, curating, and sharing new materials intended to move the prospect through the sales funnel. But in reality, research shows that 60-70 percent of this content is never used. As mentioned previously, it is often challenging for sellers to find the content they need, so they fall back on trusted (and potentially out-of-date) materials. A bigger problem is the disconnect between marketing and sales. All too often, marketing creates materials they think salespeople need, only to find that sellers don’t use those materials because they do not support the demands of a real-world selling situation.
The Right Sales Content Gets Used at The Wrong Time
Today, marketers know more about the customer and the sales process than ever before. Marketers use that data to refine and create the right content for each step in the buying process. But again, the disconnect between sales and marketing can be vast. Often the seller will introduce the “perfect” content at the wrong time. A piece of sales content intended to close the sale, for example, is used to introduce the customer to the product.
Buyer’s Demands are Always Changing
Buyers spend more time online doing their research and analysis, consuming vast amounts of content from various sources in a range of media—blogs, videos, websites, podcasts, etc. Marketers need to keep pace with this trend and create content in the formats that reach the buyer, speaking to them in ways that engage them and advance the sale. For example, suppose a customer is viewing your competitor’s videos, and you send them a lengthy white paper on your competitive advantages. In that case, that prospect will have to work much harder to understand your product.
How to Improve Your Sales Content Management
Combine Sales Content with Real-World Sales Context
It’s not enough to make new sales assets available—sellers must know how and when to use these resources. Marketers can activate sales collateral by pairing it with messaging, talk tracks, and win stories in an engaging video format that highlights the best use of the content. Video can also be used to recommend deal-specific content based on sales stage, competitors, and other factors. Providing sellers with the content and the context to use it improves content adoption and, more importantly, closes more deals.
Reach Buyers Where They Are
In today’s modern selling environment, buyers control the sales process, directing when and how they engage in product information. For many buyers, that means choosing virtual meetings in place of a face-to-face meeting. To give sellers more control in this evolving sales environment, provide them a range of curated content experiences. This sales content should feature a blend of live web calls, asynchronous video, and customized assets. Offering a range of content to reach prospects increases the likelihood that they will engage with your content and that in doing so, will move the sales process forward.
Measure Sales Content Effectiveness
When it comes to sales content effectiveness, it’s not enough for marketers to trust their instincts—measurement matters. One fundamental way to determine the efficacy of content is by measuring its engagement. By understanding what content is accessed—and which is not—marketers can better understand what’s working for sellers and buyers. This measurement should provide analytics that measures the effectiveness of your content, topics, and messages. Most importantly, this data can measure the impact of your sales content on sales and ultimately on revenue.
What is a Sales Content Management System?
Sales content management has become a vital resource in today’s selling environment. These systems are designed to organize, manage, and activate sales content, giving sellers direct access to the content they need right when they need it. But an effective sales content management system goes beyond just making content accessible; it must also provide the context for how the seller can utilize that content in real-world sales interactions. A sales content management system that combines both content and context helps the seller speed up the prospect’s journey through the sales funnel and closes more sales.
What Type of Collateral is Found in Content Management Systems?
Collateral That Advances the Sale
External-facing sales materials move the buyer through the different sales funnel phases. These materials include content such as eBooks, blog posts, white papers, webinars, and infographics.
Internal Sales Content
Internal sales content gives sales teams access to the resources they need to do their best selling. Sales content in this category includes scripts, competitive research, product sheets, best practices, and social media content.
Effective onboarding is an important part of any sales team. Examples of onboarding content to add to your sales content management system include details on products or services, buyer personas, sales process, sales methodology pricing, competitors, industry overviews.
How is a Sales Content Management System Used?
Moving a Prospect Through the Funnel
Progressing a buyer through the various stages of the sales funnel requires access to the right content at the right time. The sales content management system makes it easy for the seller to find that relevant content. In the early stages, buyers need sales materials that develop an awareness of the market and the product or service. As the prospect moves further along in the sales funnel, the seller can share more targeted content to help close the deal.
Internal Sales Training
A content management system can also provide access to internal content that supports the seller and helps them achieve greater results. A variety of content falls into this category, including scripts, presentations, and case studies. One of the best ways for sellers to learn is from their peers, and a content management system supports that content, too. Top sellers can record their best practices, sales pitches, objection handling, and presentations and share these videos with their peers via the sales content management solution. Access to this kind of video expands the success of top performers and provides an actionable video for seller.
A Central Resource for New Hires
In the fast-paced world of sales, new hires are often immediately thrown into the deep end of selling, required to learn as they go. That’s why using a sales content management solution as a central repository for onboarding information makes good sense. It provides timely, streamlined access to information whenever the seller needs it. In addition, giving the new hire access to the sales content management system gets them in the habit of accessing this central repository and valuing it as a trusted resource.
Challenges of Sales Content Management Systems
Getting Reps to Adapt to New Materials
No matter how much content the marketing team creates, some sellers will always fall back on the same resources: the trusted PowerPoint, a favorite case study, the pitch that never fails. That’s because the new material doesn’t come with a context for how to use it. A good sales content management solution provides collateral and recommendations on how and when to use those materials.
Content Doesn't Include Sellers Input
Sellers often don’t use new content because they feel it doesn’t work in real-world selling situations. To ensure content adoption, marketers must engage with sellers to learn what works —and what doesn’t. By leveraging the seller’s expertise, marketers understand what messaging, concepts, and language resonates in the market and drives success.
Understanding Content Effectiveness
Marketers spend a great deal of time and effort creating sales content. But after all that work, marketers don’t often check to see how that content impacts the sales process. Understanding the content management system’s effectiveness requires balancing quantitative data with real-world feedback from the sellers. One vital way to get that feedback is to see it in action. Record and watch a video of the salesperson using the content in a real-world situation, then watch how the customer responds to the content during this interaction.
Must-Have Sales Content Management System Features
Pair Content with Best Practices
Your content management system needs to go beyond just organizing content. To succeed, sellers must know how to use the content you provide. Ensure your content management system can pair important information like messaging, talk tracks, and win stories in an engaging video format to highlight the best use of the content. Giving sellers access to content and instructions on how to best use that content is a winning content management strategy.
Track Urgent Communications
Information changes quickly in today’s sales environment. Market fluctuations, regulatory updates, world events, thought leadership updates all have an immediate impact on sales. Be sure your content management system can quickly share those updates with prospects and track who has engaged with the news. Knowing the effect of external communications helps reps prioritize follow-up and understand whether content has achieved its intended impact.
Provide Robust Visibility
It’s essential for marketers to understand what impact their content and collateral have on sales. Be sure your content management system can report on how your content is driving sales engagement. Of course, you’ll want to track what content sellers use, what gets a prospect engaged, and how that content moves the prospect forward in the sales process. In addition, use your sales content management solution to gain insight on other essential areas like a training exercise, knowledge assets, and sales conversation topics associated with success.
Find out how you can organize, manage, and activate content—that your sales team will love