The old adage — “content is king” still remains true – especially in the world of B2B sales. Today’s buyers are conducting the majority of their research before they even speak with a vendor. When you consider only 5% of a buyer’s time is spent with sellers, it’s clear the content a seller shares is their best chance to influence buying decisions when they aren’t in the room.
But it’s not just any content. Buyers are demanding content that speaks to their specific pains at every step of the buying journey. According to Forrester, 89% of buyers say it’s important or very important that vendors provide them with relevant content at each stage of the buying cycle.
As a marketing leader, I’ve seen firsthand the power content offers and the crucial role it plays in fostering confidence and trust with your buyers — but I’d argue that how you manage the content is even more important than the content itself.
In the 2023 State of Revenue Enablement report, we found organizations continue to face major challenges when it comes to their sales content. Nearly half (46%) report that sellers spend too much time creating or personalizing content and a third (34%) say they don’t have proper insight to understand what content is actually working.
All of these challenges can be boiled down to one thing: ineffective content management.
I recently sat down with Peter Ostrow, VP Principal Analyst of B2B Sales at Forrester and Matt Koch, Head of Inside Digital Sales at Zoetis to catch up on the importance of content management and outline some key priorities for the year ahead. Watch our conversation below or keep reading for the top insights shared.
Make Sales Content Easy to Find & Share
Many of the CMOs and sales leaders I talk to complain about their sales team “going rogue” with sales content. Their sellers are sharing content that’s outdated, off-brand or worse out of compliance with industry regulations. In some cases, sellers are creating their own content rather than using the content that’s been provided to them — often under the radar of marketing and enablement teams. When we see this behavior there are two questions we should be asking — why and what can we do about it?
Rather than invest in creating new content, it’s critical to take a diagnostic approach to identify why your sellers aren’t sharing the provided content. Ask yourself and team:
- How are you delivering content to your sales and customer-facing teams?
- Is it easy to find?
- Can they search for and find what they need quickly?
Often it’s not the content that’s bad, rather its the way it’s delivered and stored that creates the problem. If content isn’t easily accessible and easy to share, sellers aren’t going to use it.
Sellers will naturally find the path of least resistance — if your content management and distribution process introduces more friction than value, don’t be surprised if it’s not well adopted. This is when we see sellers go “rogue” using what they can find or creating their own materials to get the job done.
Consider this: The way you manage your sales content needs to work for your sellers, not make your sellers work.
The good news is solving sales content management and distribution struggles will help ease the burden of content governance. When sellers can easily find and share approved content, you immediately lower the risk of outdated, off-brand or non-compliant content being used within sales cycles. And if they’re sharing content from a single repository, you can effectively update assets to reflect new brand guidelines, regulations, pricing changes or even timely promotions so the content that’s been shared with buyers is always up-to-date.
Tie the Right Content to the Right Moments
When it comes to content, a spray-and-pray approach never works. One of the key initiatives Matt Koch is working on with his team at Zoetis is active listening. The focus is understanding the unique challenges individual customers have and ensuring follow up is personalized with content tailored to the discussion.
Matt illustrated further saying, “One of the tools we leverage is Mediafly’s conversation intelligence platform which records and summarizes calls, enabling both sellers and managers to truly understand what the customer is saying… If you have a choice of 7 or 8 pieces of content that you could provide that customer, are you aligning that content with the customer’s need? Are you really listening – and then tailoring your corresponding message?”
According to Matt, the results speak for themselves. When sellers are really listening and tailoring their content to the customer’s needs, the difference in engagement is striking. And when there’s a lack of engagement with content, it gives the team a chance to dig in and see if the content could have been more tailored to the conversation or if the content itself needs to be improved.
Leverage Content Signals to Drive Deal Intelligence
Just as Matt’s team is putting conversation insights to work, you can also use content engagement insights to get a robust picture of a buyer’s needs and interests. Each digital signal offers a piece to the puzzle — what a buyer viewed or ignored, which pages they spent the most time with, what assets they shared, and who they shared them with. Every activity (or lack thereof) helps paint the picture of a customer’s needs and thought process — and can guide a seller on the most effective next steps along their path to close.
For example, let’s say you just wrapped a call with your customer, sent them a perfectly tailored follow-up message and a great piece of content that you just know will resonate with their current pain and goals. Two hours later you see they clicked into the content — awesome! — but they skipped over the first six pages and went straight to the pricing page. Or let’s say that you shared three user cases and you see that they spent a large chunk of time on one and ignored the others. From both of these scenarios you can derive specific information and insights that then inform that next conversation.
According to our research, high-performing organizations are 37% more likely than low performers to track the success of content using data and insights. There’s an abundance of content analytics available to us today. What happened to this content? Was it opened? Was it shared? While these analytics have huge benefits right now, they are also a critical component to a more robust revenue intelligence strategy. Content data, when paired with other signals, can help determine whether a deal is truly winnable and will be part of the engine determining what best next steps a seller can take to increase his or her chances of success.
Seek to Serve Your Sellers
As we look ahead to the new year and opportunities to improve sales efficiency, there’s one theme that kept emerging through our conversation: as marketing and enablement leaders, we must seek to serve the sales and customer-facing teams. They are our internal customers and are just as important as our external customers.
Build your content management strategy with them, not just for them. Treat your sellers as your customers and get them involved in your strategy.
The reality is, despite all the enablement, all the lunch-and-learns, all the SKOs, these teams will stray from the path that we’d like them to stay on. It’s our job to ask why — to learn from their behaviors. Similar to a win-loss analysis, to study them just as we do with our external customers so that we can support and serve them even better the next time and celebrate more wins together.
Ignore Generative AI at Your Own Risk
Generative AI is poised to be a game changer for B2B sales in the year ahead.
We’ve already established the importance of making your sales content easily findable for your sales team — but what if you don’t have to make them search at all? Matt shared the vision his team is working toward which capitalizes on their conversation intelligence — listening to and transcribing sales calls to not only summarize the call for sellers but also identify the best content to share after the meeting. In this scenario, you take the burden off the sellers and leverage the power of machine learning to surface that’s not only relevant to the buyer but is most likely to move a deal forward based on previous sales cycles.
However, to effectively reap the benefits of generative AI now and in the future, you must create a single source of revenue data for your AI to pull from. It is critical to ensure your data lake is carefully curated, monitored and maintained otherwise you risk producing unreliable and inaccurate results.