Who creates all the content salespeople need along the customer’s journey?

Confusing sales enablement with content marketing, or reducing the content provided to salespeople to marketing content, is like reducing the broad spectrum of all Olympic athletic disciplines to 100-meter sprints only. But there are other disciplines such as, for instance, high jump and long jump, javelin and shot put, and there are distance events, and there are marathons.

And so it is when it comes to sales content. There are not only references, case studies, whitepapers, brochures and elevator pitches. There are also proposal templates, legal attachments, contracts, service level agreements, playbooks, and guided selling scripts.

We asked the participants of our 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study which functions create the content salespeople need for their selling efforts.

Marketing creates only 39.4% of the content salespeople need for their selling efforts.

Surprised? Let’s face reality and let’s debunk a myth. The first one is that we should not name content by the function that creates it. Get rid of the term “marketing content.” It’s misleading and doesn’t add any value to the discussion. Instead, label content according to its purpose or its target group. This makes much more sense than labeling it according to the function that creates it. And this principle will show immediately that salespeople need more content types along the entire customer’s journey for their selling efforts than the content marketing creates.

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Based on these reflections, it’s no longer a surprise that marketing creates only 39.4% of the content salespeople need for their selling efforts. It’s the content that’s relevant for the early stages along the customer’s journey. It’s about success stories, white papers, presentations, brochures, case studies, referrals, email templates, as mentioned above.

Product management (12.1%), sales operations/legal (5.8%) and other sources (5.8%) provide specific content for the buying phase

Think about proposal templates, deal or opportunity qualification checklists, service level agreements, legal and contract attachments. Those content types, often created by sales operations and the legal department, are not less relevant. Instead, they are essential at a later stage of the customer’s journey. Additionally, product management often provides detailed, product-specific presentations or documentations, system architectures, and technical definitions, etc., for conversations with very technical buyer roles within the actual buying phase.

Enablement teams create 10.8% of the content salespeople need for their selling efforts.

Surprised? Did you assume a higher or a lower number? I think this number makes perfect sense, and it shows that in addition to all their other responsibilities, the enablement team must know how to create content. The special expertise required of sales enablement teams is the ability to connect the knowledge salespeople need with their content consumption preferences. So, most of enablement’s content creation efforts should be devoted to internal enablement content and tools. Think about playbooks, guided selling scripts, or value justification tools.

Salespeople still create 26.3% of the content they need on their own.

This number is still way too high. The aim should be that salespeople only have to tailor and to customize the content that has been provided. Whenever they are in a position where they have to create their content from scratch (and they are not in a particular business development role), something is wrong with the overall enablement approach. If salespeople can’t find the right content, or they are not satisfied with its quality, or they don’t know how to use the tools, then fixing these problems is the responsibility of sales force enablement.

Ultimately, what this data point clearly shows is that there is a fundamental need for sales enablement leaders to create a content management framework that allows an efficient and effective orchestration of all involved content creators for all relevant content types, internal or customer-facing, along the entire customer’s journey.

Questions for you:

How to you define content types along the customer’s journey?

How do you define and manage content management?

How do you improve cross-functional collaboration amongst all content creators?

Related blog posts:

How to Use Different Content Types Along The Customer’s Journey

Three Gaps That Lead to Insufficient Content Coverage and How to Fix Them

Building Better Playbooks

Dynamic Value Messaging: Part 1, Defining Messaging Criteria

Dynamic Value Messaging: Part 2, Different Buying Scenarios Matter

Dynamic Value Messaging: Part 3, Value Messaging Types Along the Customer’s Journey

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