Content Management and Sales Are Like Oil and Water

By Lindsey Tishgart | December 3, 2015

files and folders
This is part 2 of our series on various sales solutions and what those solutions mean to the sales reps who use them. Part 1 defined all of the different solutions that salespeople may encounter as a part of their technology resources.

In my last blog, I defined Content Management Systems (CMS) as solutions that “store and manage all of your business’s marketing content and sales collateral, which oftentimes include external documents as well.” A CMS (like SharePoint or Box) is a substantial improvement over using local servers to store sales material or emailing sales collateral back and forth among the team. The problem is that it’s not enough to give a salesperson access to a CMS and expect them to know where to find content, how to use it or trust that it’s up to date.

In fact, CMS (when unpaired with a customer-facing solution) can be so difficult to use that salespeople may turn back to inefficient methods of finding and distributing sales collateral (like email and storing files locally). Most salespeople want the same thing—the easiest route to prepare for and conduct meetings. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about why content management systems are important for creating and maintaining sales collateral, but why they fall short in elevating sales interactions.

Why We Need Them

I’m not advocating that any company abandon their CMS. Content management solutions are core to any marketing role. Not every CMS is made equally, but the core functionality they offer is immensely useful, including:

For sales collateral, version control is huge; if you’re emailing files as the main distribution method, you’re bound to utilize a piece of content that has either outdated branding or inaccurate information…or maybe even a draft that was never meant for public consumption. Content management is a back-end function. Distributing and utilizing the content is a front-end function. The issue is that functionally a CMS will fall short every time. Let’s explore the specifics of why that is.

They’re Not Built With Us in Mind

For departments like marketing, finance and human resources, CMS fits naturally into their content creation workflows. Sales differs from these departments because salespeople are a channel of content consumption. They don’t need to see the 15 versions before the final or access the text and image assets that make up a one-pager. Marketers do.

Salespeople are not content creators. We should be a part of the content creation process, but the content itself should come from marketing. The problem with a CMS is that the content that marketers put in isn’t necessarily content that’s made for sales meetings. Once a CMS has been in place over time, that CMS can end up a nested repository of disparate content (which can become worse if multiple iterations are unclearly marked). It becomes cumbersome to try to find anything in preparation for a customer meeting.

It’s not enough that the CMS has a search function; if something contains the keyword that I’m looking for, that doesn’t mean I would necessarily present it in the context of a sales meeting. Oftentimes, marketing believes that they’ve clearly organized the content in the CMS. Though that structure may make sense to them, the way that salespeople interact with customers versus how marketers interact makes that structure potentially irrelevant and unintuitive. And that’s the thing: structure by itself does not add context.

When salespeople lack the ability to put content in context, they’re either going to settle for content that’s not the most fitting or they’ll try to create their own. It shouldn’t be surprising then that as B2B marketers create more content, at least 60% of that content goes unused. Sales users want the right content for the right meetings. The right content for meetings only represents a fraction of all of your company’s collateral; when we have to sift through the rest instead of having access to only the most relevant content, we waste hours in admin time every week.

They’re Not Built With Customers in Mind

The keyword in Content Management Systems is management. But management has little to do with customer meetings. To expect that a CMS by itself is adequate for sales meetings is like expecting that a marketer strip away the design out of their website and turn their homepage into a list of folders. If you don’t have a great user experience on your website, visitors will immediately leave, and sales meetings work the same way.

CMS options may offer features that you think help sales users, like previewing content or quick-find navigation, but to present that content requires a cumbersome set of actions that are not relevant or easy for the salesperson in relation to the needs of a customer. A CMS simply cannot support dynamic customer interactions. Which doesn’t make it any less useful as a back-end solution; it just means that we need something more. An elegant front-end.

Stay tuned as I’ll be looking at the other elements of the sales tech stack and what their strengths and limitations are.

Click below to view our SlideShare about how your digital distribution model can kill your content…or take it to new levels.

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Filed Under “Folders” by Domiriel | CC By 2.0

john burns profile photoJohn Burns is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Mediafly, Inc and the author of Mediafly’s Sales Insight blog.  Please have a look at some of the products and solutions John has had a hand in selling: SalesKit and ProReview.

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