How Content Impacts Relationship Levels

Last week, I discussed the need for sales enablement leaders to have a content strategy that covers the entire customer’s path. Based on our 2018 Sales Enablement Study (requires membership), only 32.7% of enablement teams have implemented such a content strategy.

Only this one-third with a content strategy could leverage its performance potential. Those with a content strategy achieved win rates of 55.5%, and those without ended up with win rates of 43.3%. I guess you will agree that this impact shouldn’t be neglected nor underestimated.

Today, let’s look at the impact a content strategy can have on the level of relationships you have with your customers. The study shows a remarkable correlation between content strategy and customer relationships. Before we do this, let me provide some background.

The level of relationship with your customers impacts your performance results.

At CSO Insights, we update our Sales Relationship Matrix (SRP) every year. Details can be found in our 2018 Sales Performance Study (requires membership). The SRP Matrix is a framework for assessing sales effectiveness that keys in on two critical elements: the depth of relationships organizations have with their customers (the vertical axis) and the extent to which the sales process is formalized and deployed (the horizontal axis). The better the relationship level (from approved supplier up to trusted partner), and in general, the more mature the sales process, the higher the performance level, as measured by metrics like revenue plan attainment, win rates, quota attainment, and turnover rates. Of course, context matters, and the specific recommendation for a particular organization always depends on their current state, their size and ambitions, their goals, and their portfolio of products and services, and other factors.

Providing insights and perspective drives your level of relationship with your customer, and content plays a vital role.

Even more important than the performance levels themselves are the attributes that distinguish organizations in the lowest and the highest performance levels. And one attribute can clearly be connected to the quality of the content you share with your buyers: The ability to provide insights and perspectives. As we also know from our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, the modern buyer doesn’t want to waste time with unprepared salespeople. They expect excellence in all communication skills and they expect to learn something new, to get insights, expertise and perspectives on how to approach and solve their business challenges and how to achieve their goals. Yes, it’s about the how, and part of the selling challenge is to translate product capabilities (what) into insights and perspectives that are relevant and valuable for the customer’s specific challenge.

Providing insights and perspectives is not only a skill; it depends heavily on the quality of your content. And content quality means how well the content assets are tailored to the customer’s path, buyer roles and their challenges. All of that is covered in a content strategy, as discussed last week. And here we come full circle, and that’s what the 2018 Sales Enablement Study found:

Content strategy is linked to customer relationship strength and ultimately to sales results.


As you can see in the chart, organizations in the dark blue group (the 32.7% that have a content strategy) have much better relationships compared to the light-blue disagree group. They have more solutions consultant (50.0% vs. 38.5%), strategic contributor and trusted partner relationships (31.3% vs. 22.6%) compared to the disagree group.

Those that have a content strategy have the majority of their customer relationships, 81.3% to be precise, in the top three relationship levels: solutions consultant, strategic contributor or trusted partner. Those without a content strategy (or with a weaker one) have 77.4% in the lower three relationship levels (38.9% in approved vendor and preferred supplier; 38.5% in solutions consultant).

In a B2B complex sale, most sales leaders would agree that the status of “solutions consultant” is the minimum relationship level that is acceptable. At that level and above, you find more organizations with a content strategy than without.

Providing a high level of content quality that addresses the modern buyers’ preferences and is tailored to their roles, challenges and customer’s path does not happen in an ad hoc manner. Instead, it requires a well-implemented, cross-functional content strategy, supported by a solid content management and production process. Effective sales enablement leaders know that the effectiveness of their enablement services requires a lot of work behind the scenes regarding collaboration, governance, production process and metrics.

More details are included in our 2018 Sales Enablement Study!

If you haven’t already, have a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. Lots of “how to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

Questions for you:

  • What are your experiences with content effectiveness?
  • How do you measure your sales content’s impact on sales performance?
  • How do you measure your sales content’s impact on the quality and the level of your relationships?


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