The Sales Content Conundrum
Where does it come from? How do you measure its effectiveness? Is it different than marketing content?
Salespeople are in a unique position as they deliver materials and messages to prospects and receive real-time feedback on it whether that be via actual discussion or the fact that a prospect moves through the buying cycle as a result.
Often they create their own content derived from assets supplied by the marketing team that reflect these learnings as well as their personal spin on things. In most cases, this feedback fails to make its way back to the marketing team and the problem just reinforces itself including no visibility to the gaps being filled by the salesperson’s own efforts.
There are two types of sales content that impact the productivity and effectiveness of a sales representative while engaging with prospects:
1. Their “voice” that projects their identity, expertise, and role within the company
This can take on a variety of definitions but at its core every salesperson should have an up to date LinkedIn profile that reflects their background, interests, and expertise. From that profile, they can build their network, join groups, share content produced by others or themselves, and even write original posts relevant to their experience and the challenges faced by their prospects.
The question of “whether a salesperson should blog” is a bit more nuanced. Creating content when you are not interested in doing so or lack experience with it creates less than stellar results. If you have sales representatives who seek to write and share, then by all means enable that but don’t walk in with the expectation that each salesperson will take time out of their day to produce content that complements what the marketing team is developing. Time away from selling is time away from selling.
2. The content produced by marketing for use in the sales process
This is where there is often a disconnect between what the marketing team is producing and what the sales team is actually using. Much of this is related to convenience and visibility.
Convenience factors in when the materials are not easily discovered or accessed. Even worse is if they reside outside the core workflow of a sales professional (usually their inbox and CRM system). Marketing’s job is not done when the latest case studies, battle cards, or data sheets are posted to the sales portal and an email is sent. Marketing must proactively embrace sales enablement with an eye on delivering and implementing content deliverables.
Visibility comes into play when the content produced is delivered and there is a total blind spot around what is used, when it is used, and if it is even effective. Often this is where pieces of content are put together in “frankenstein” presentations that take the best from various decks with no feedback or review by marketing to ensure proper messaging, branding, or compliance in some cases. Frequently, these presentations and other content pieces represent the best alignment between what the company is saying and what the prospect wants to hear but there is no way to close the loop or share this front line experience back to the marketing team.
For more perspectives on this subject, check out a fair amount debate on this CustomerThink post titled “Why your sales reps shouldn’t be creating content” that generated a lively and insightful set of comments on this topic.
Image via Flickr