Where do salespeople get content?

Salespeople need a lot of content along the entire customer’s path. Where does it come from? “From marketing!” is a common response. However, marketing does not create all (!) the content salespeople need. We first asked our study participants this question in the 2016 Sales Enablement Study. We found that marketing only created 39.4% of all the content salespeople need. We asked this question again in our 2018 survey, and here are the results:

Only one-third (33.8%!) of the content, salespeople need along the entire customer’s path, comes from marketing.

Salespeople still have to create one-fifth (20.7%) of the content they need on their own. And we were specific when we asked the question: no tailoring and no customizing, we do mean content creation from scratch.

Sales enablement creates 14.3% of the content salespeople need, and product management creates a considerable amount of content (15.9%). That makes sense. Sales operations and legal also contribute with content salespeople need.

 

Let’s look a bit deeper into the matter: what “content salespeople need” actually is and why sales enablement has to play an orchestrating role when it comes to sales content.

“Content salespeople need” covers two categories: customer-facing content and internal enablement content for each phase of the customer’s path.

Customer-facing content covers for instance, all kinds of presentations (videos, one-pagers, brochures, success stories, case studies, blog posts, white papers and references) regardless of whether the content is shared in a direct seller-buyer interaction, or with a broader audience via social media for prospecting purposes. These are obviously customer-facing content types. Many of them are mostly used in the earlier stages of the customer’s path, and are often created by marketing. For content used in the buying phase that is more specific and detailed, product management is often the creator.

Less obvious but equally important are customer-facing content types that are more important in the actual buying phase, such as proposal template, contracts, contract attachment, statements of work (SOW) or SLA agreements.

What often happens is that sales enablement is too much focused on the shinier content objects that are usually more relevant earlier along the customer’s path. I can only encourage you as enablement leaders to listen to your salespeople and their managers. Ask them: What’s the most annoying fact about content? Often, you will hear statements like this from salespeople:

“The little things are missing, the right contract, the latest legally approved SLA agreement, the latest SOW; and I’m sitting here almost in the middle of the night and cannot get the signature on the contract because one of those assets is missing.”

Not having the right piece of content available to literally get a signature on a deal is an important and urgent problem that has to be fixed right away. Whatever stands in the way of closing deals that are ready to be closed requires your immediate attention.

And then, there is the internal enablement content, which is usually created by enablement teams. Internal enablement content examples are playbooks, value messaging guidelines, objections handling, configuration or business value justification tools, and battle cards. Many of these assets are the result of a close collaboration with product management, marketing, and sales operations.

For sales enablement leaders, here are five takeaways:

  • Establish a common understanding of content salespeople need along the customer’s path:
    As discussed here, assess what’s currently existing, and where it can be found. Look at both customer-facing and internal enablement content.
  • Assess your current content landscape:
    Assess for both content categories and the current content types and formats. Map them to both the customer’s path (and the buyer roles) and the function that currently creates it. Make sure that you cover all required content at least all the way through the step, “closing a deal.”
  • Discuss the implications of your findings with all involved functions:
    You may find a complex picture of various content types and formats that are created by different functions but not based on a specific process or collaboration model. And, you may also find that there is no content strategy that covers the content scope along the entire customer’s path.
  • Develop and implement a content strategy:
    We will focus on content strategy in next week’s post, because the vast majority of enablement teams don’t have a content strategy. But you need one, as those with a content strategy perform better and develop higher client relationship levels.
  • Define and implement a collaboration model and a production process:
    I have written about these topics in the past, the approaches are still very relevant and up to date. You may want to check out these blog posts here and here and here.

 

Stay tuned, we will discuss content strategy next week, and why you need one. More details are included in our 2018 Sales Enablement Study! The report will be shared with study participants and research members this week.

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:

  • Who creates the content salespeople need in your organization?
  • What did you learn after analyzing the situation?
  • What did you learn specifically from salespeople and their managers regarding their content challenges?

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