When I discuss content related issues with sales executives, I often experience some kind of surprise or even resistance – consciously or unconsciously.
“Isn’t content a marketing issue?” “We have tons of content, what’s the matter?” or “We have technology in place to help manage our content.”
“Ok, and how do you think your content impacts your sales performance?” Now, we have a conversation because many executives don’t even think about this question and they also didn’t know that content actually does impact sales performance, positively or negatively. Let’s get right into it and explore the topic from scratch.
What is content in the first place?
Content is information captured in different ways and formats to drive sales effectiveness by engaging buyers and helping customer-facing professionals and their managers to have relevant, valuable and differentiating buyer interactions at each phase of the buyer journey.
And where does the content salespeople need to create business actually come from?
There are many cooks in the content kitchen, not only marketing
Imagine a team of cooks and their chef in a first class restaurant. Their goal is to create an unforgettable experience for their guests with a menu of several courses. All the different meals serve a different purpose within the whole menu. And there are cooks for specific courses, such as one for the soup, another one for the vegetables, somebody else for the entree and another colleague for the desserts. It’s no different along the buyer/seller journey.
Less than 40% of the content salespeople need along the entire buyer journey comes from marketing
Yes, it’s true and have been proved for several years. You can check this out in my sales enablement book or in the Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study. Furthermore, salespeople still create lots of content on their own which reduces their actual selling time. And of course, sales enablement creates and orchestrates content, most of the time internal enablement content such as playbooks or guidelines, or objection handlings.
We often forget product management as a content creator. Plus, there is content from sales operations and from legal (think about proposal templates, contracts, SLA, SOW templates, etc.). Now, you know who all the cooks are in your content kitchen.
As every course of a menu serves a different purpose, so does every phase of the buyer journey, and every piece of content
For example, in the awareness phase, buyers want to explore solutions to their challenges, and better understand the business impact in its entirety. Sellers in this phase should aim to create a shared vision of future success with the buyer team by showing them how solutions could look like, what the costs of doing nothing are and what goals they could achieve with implementing the best solution.
In the buying phase, buyers want to make their best buying decisions, while salespeople want to be perceived as the best buying option ever. Both require different content as they go through these different phases.
In a kitchen, a chef orchestrates their cooks to ensure a consistent menu. Who orchestrates your content menu?
The menu, consistently designed and prepared for guests is one thing. In sales, your content menu has to be consistent along the entire buyer/seller journey, each piece of content carefully tailored to serve a specific purpose.
This purpose along the buyer/seller journey a piece of content has been designed for is the only relevant design point. Not the function the content comes from. The perspective must always be the buyer journey and the buyer/seller interaction. So, the only criterion that matters is whether or not a specific piece of content serves its intended purpose along the buyer/seller journey.
The content menu a salesperson should use and share with buyers (or buyers can access on their own) should follow the idea of several courses of a menu that build on each other and create an unforgettable buyer experience. Additionally, the internal enablement content you provide to enablement and guide salespeople to prepare their buyer interactions should also create a great seller experience; empowering them to be highly efficient and effective.
Great experiences are created if content is relevant, valuable and differentiating. And that differs at each stage of the buyer journey, for buyers and for sellers.
The enablement leader is ideally positioned to orchestrate your content menu across all contributing functions along the buyer/seller journey.
Content is a complex matter and serves different purposes along the buyer/seller journey, it requires a proper content strategy.
Content strategies pay off: up to 20% better win rates
Only one-third of organizations have a content strategy in place, but they create more than 20% better win rates, based on the CSO Insights Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study
As you learned so far, content comes from different places, serves different purposes and has to be targeted to different roles, industries, etc. All of that requires coordination, orchestration and alignment along the entire buyer/seller journey. In other words, you need a proper content strategy and processes to effectively orchestrate.
A content strategy should always be derived from the enablement charter/business plan and define how content will help enablement to achieve its goals and serve the sales and business strategy. Additionally a content strategy is defined in the context of the organization’s how-to-sell approach and their go-to-customer strategy.
Organizations with a content strategy show consistently significantly better win rates than those without a content strategy. Maybe even more important: the costs of doing nothing or keeping the ad-hoc content creation and deployment chaos are worse. In fact, organizations without any content strategy usually end up with productivity and performance results that are way below average performance.
Effective enablement leaders look at content from the buyer/seller journey and define a proper strategy to effectively orchestrate all content efforts to create outstanding buyer and seller experiences.