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.

Why Is Sales Content Management Important?

Compete in an Evolving Sales Landscape

Today’s sellers face a buying landscape that is nothing like what they have experienced before. Coming out of a global pandemic, the economy took another tumble, inflation hit, recession fears rose, and companies cut budgets and staff.

As economic uncertainty lingers, 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.

Capture Attention of B2B Buyers

As companies began reinstituting pre-pandemic practices, sellers hoped they would return to days of in-person meeting with prospects. They discovered, however, that prospects don’t want to go back to that way of buying. Virtual selling practices worked during the pandemic, and they want to keep using them. While many salespeople were able to master this new way of communicating, buyers are still prone to distractions in a virtual setting: 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 a sales 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 buyers get on a call with a sales rep, they 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 10 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 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 salesperson can’t immediately connect the buyer with the information they need, 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. Also, research shows that who shares the content with sellers influences whether a salesperson uses the content. For example, when a high-performing seller presents the marketing collateral, sellers are 61% more likely to use it.

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 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

Foster Collaboration Between Sales and Marketing Teams

Sales and marketing teams often work in silos, which can lead to misalignment in content creation and usage. By fostering collaboration between these teams, you can ensure that sales content is created with the needs of sales representatives and buyers in mind. This can involve regular meetings between sales and marketing teams to discuss content ideas and feedback, joint planning and execution of sales content campaigns, and idea sharing within the sales content management platform itself. By working together, sales and marketing teams can create more effective sales content that resonates with buyers and helps drive sales.

Combine Sales Content with Real-World Sales Context

It isn’t 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. Marketers can also identify top-performing sales reps and enlist their help in sharing and presenting content to the sales team. This peer-to-peer knowledge exchange has been proven to have a greater impact in getting sellers to use content.

Personalize Sales Content for Buyers

Buyers are more likely to engage with sales content that is tailored to their specific needs and interests. By personalizing sales content, marketers and sellers alike can improve the content’s relevance and effectiveness. This can involve creating different versions of sales content for different buyer personas or segments, or even customizing content for specific individuals based on their past behavior and preferences.

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 will move the sales process forward.

Use Analytics to Measure Sales Content Effectiveness

When it comes to sales content effectiveness, marketers can’t rely on their instincts—measurement matters. One fundamental way to determine the efficacy of content is by measuring its engagement. By understanding what content sellers and buyers access—and which content they avoid—marketers can better understand what’s working for each group. 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.

Onboarding Resources

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?

Content Creation and Organization

Sales content management systems can provide a platform for creating and organizing sales content, such as product brochures, case studies, and sales presentations. By centralizing content creation and storage, companies can ensure content is consistent, up-to-date, and easily accessible to sales reps.

Content Distribution to Sales Reps and Buyers

Sales content management systems can help distribute sales content to sales reps, as well as buyers, either through a web-based portal or a mobile app. This can enable sales representatives to access sales content on the go and in their moment of need, e.g., right before going into a meeting with a prospect. It also makes it possible for sales reps to share content with buyers in real time.

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 sales 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 sellers.

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 sellers’ 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’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.

Guide Seller Content Personalization

Sales reps will stand out and achieve greater success if they personalize each and every interaction with the buyer. This includes sales calls, emails, conversations, and presentations. In fact, 84% of consumers say being treated like a person, not a number or a sales target, is critical to winning them over, according to Salesforce Research. One way to help sellers personalize the buying experience is to empower them to easily customize collateral and video content. Give them a guided experience that enables them to easily customize content, allow reps to edit content (PowerPoint, Excel, and Word files) from within the sales content management system, and empower reps to record personalized videos that they can include when sharing content with buyers.

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 the impact their content and collateral have on sales. Be sure your content management system can report on how your content drives 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, such as a training exercise, knowledge assets, and sales conversation topics associated with success.

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The Complete Guide to Sales Content Management

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