How to overcome content clutter
What do you think is the number one challenge for sellers? Building a reliable tech stack? Nope. Filling the pipeline? Not quite. Market uncertainty? Reply hazy, try again.
According to our 2021 Modern Selling Study, today’s greatest sales challenge is having access to relevant content.
Case studies and customer testimonials. Whitepapers and reports. Presentation decks, videos, interviews, and e-books. For sellers, each piece of content represents a potential conversation with a prospect, a new way to demonstrate value, and a unique route to answering a pain point.
But for nearly one-third of sales orgs, relevant content is inaccessible.
The problem is getting harder to solve, too.
Our teams are remote and hybrid. Sharing information between teams is a tough challenge itself, let alone public, prospect-ready content. Since the pandemic, the number of sales teams reporting content access issues skyrocketed by 45%.
In our new virtual-first world, organizations must streamline content for all customer-facing roles strategically and cross-functionally. Here’s how.
Step #1: Assess your sales content
Instead of investing resources to fix a challenge you don’t know the size and shape of, your first goal is to work out whether or not you have a content clutter problem.
Sure, that’s kind of vague—but you’ll know it when you see it. Is one lost e-book a problem? Probably not. What about a whole library of sales scripts that live on someone’s personal Dropbox? Yeah, that’s a major issue.
To audit your content management, here are some self-assessment questions:
- Do we have content in multiple places, shared drives, and folders?
- Do we have a lot of old and irrelevant content out there?
- Does our sales force create a lot of their own content?
- Does our sales force ignore our marketing content?
- Do we have little transparency into content effectiveness?
- Does some of our content have outdated branding?
There isn’t a hard threshold for content clutter. Generally, the more you said “yes,” the more likely it is that your organization has content clutter. If you’re sitting at four or five yeses, let’s talk about how to fix it.
Step #2: Map your content requirements
Before you start updating, adjusting, and killing content, you need to know what assets you have and which ones you’re missing.
Take your sales process and list out each stage or milestone. Below we’re using our eight-stage B2B sales process. Work through each stage, listing out all the content your reps might need.
We’ve completed the first stage, Lead Generation, below.
|Engagement and Opportunity|
Be exhaustive. List out everything your reps could possibly need: videos, whitepapers, solution briefs, product sheets, e-books, case studies, testimonials, email templates, battlecards, and so on.
Once you’ve done this for every sales stage, you have the skeleton of a content library—all your needs lined up, not quite as neat as ducks in a row, but close.
Step #3: Audit your content
It’s time to look at what you’ve got. Create a central database or spreadsheet and ask your reps to add everything they currently use in the sales process—literally every single content asset.
This can be daunting. Even small sales teams can have hundreds or even thousands of content items on their hands. You’ll see personal experiments, out-of-date assets, duplicates, obsolete documentation, old branding, and lots of other content horrors. It will look messy, disorganized, and chaotic. Don’t worry, this is part of the process.
Remind everyone of the end result (easy access to relevant content) so they stay motivated to see the project through to the end.
Tackle your content library piece-by-piece. Say you need a data sheet for lead generation. Collect all the existing datasheets, cherry-pick the best elements, and create a new asset. Have your reps give feedback and critique your drafts. Tweak, refine, and improve them bit by bit. Get content in front of your buyers, and see how it performs. Tweak again if needed.
Once you’re happy with an asset, save it to a centralized repository like a communal Google Drive or a buyer experience platform like Showpad. Rinse and repeat until you have one awesome asset for each need.
Often, sales orgs will spin up a content committee to own the process. These teams are usually cross-functional with folks from sales, marketing, product, and customer success. Individual members take ownership for particular assets but they review content, design, tone, format, and so on as a group.
Step #4: Improve, adapt, and refine
When you’re fixing content clutter, it can feel like there’s a start and finish line. You start with a chaotic mess and finish with an organized content library. Once you have a new asset for every requirement, you’re done, right? Well, not quite.
New requirements emerge. Markets evolve. The product evolves. This means your sales enablement content needs to evolve as well.
Empower salse reps to share ideas, criticism, and feedback. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Set up content request forms. Make it easy for reps to request new assets like a vertical-specific e-book or an ROI-focused datasheet.
- Include content reviews in your one-on-ones. Ask reps what’s working and what’s falling flat.
- Study your analytics. If one rep is performing well above the baseline, dig into their conversations. Maybe they’re leveraging certain assets that other reps aren’t. Or maybe they’re positioning content differently. If someone stumbles upon a good idea, share it with your team.
Not glamorous, but impactful
Sales content management doesn’t win headlines. You won’t find many LinkedIn influencers writing posts about how to architect your content library or drive adoption within your team. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
The content you share with your reps directly influences their performance. Hiding content away on inaccessible Dropbox folders puts reps at a disadvantage. They have to work twice as hard just to get to the starting line.
But if you put great content at their fingertips, they’ll have what they need to captivate buyers, drive deals forward, and close revenue.
Once you’ve solved content clutter in your sales org, it’s onto the next challenge (and there are plenty). Learn more about the problems facing sales teams in the 2021 Modern Selling Study.