It’s a common complaint that salespeople don’t use the collateral provided for them. In fact, research suggests that as much as 70% of that content goes unused, largely because salespeople don’t know where to find it, or else they don’t think it’s relevant.
We’ve looked before at how to encourage your salespeople to engage with content. Rule number one in this respect is to get your salespeople involved in content development. Not only does this mean your salespeople know what collateral is available, it also makes it more likely that the content you’re developing is appropriate to the customers they are dealing with.
It’s not practical, however, to have every salesperson have a hand in every piece of collateral you create. So what else can you do to help salespeople realize the benefits of marketing content?
Act like a salesperson
When it comes to the content you’ve created, you need to think of yourself as the seller and your salesperson as the customer. Your job is to convince them that they need your content. Sure, they’re not going to pay you for it, but the better the uptake, the more successful your salespeople are going to be and the bigger budget your department will get next year.
All well and good in theory, but what does it mean in practice?
- It means you can’t just send out a blank email with a new case study attached – they’re unlikely to read it.
- You need to give them good reasons why they should use the content you’ve created.
You become the storyteller – convince your salespeople to sit down with you so that they can hear your stories.
Deliver with detail
According to one study, the majority of marketers deliver content to their salespeople by one-off email or they simply make content available to download on the company portal. While a good Sales Enablement tool will make new content easily accessible, ease of delivery doesn’t necessarily equate to ease of understanding. It’s always worth giving your salespeople some detail about what the new collateral offers. Break down:
- The actual content: what is covered in this piece, highlights, key takeaways, etc.
- The types of customers/scenarios for which it would be most relevant.
- Any details of time sensitivity – does it apply to a seasonal situation, for example?
Always ask for feedback and clarify the ways in which that feedback can be submitted.
Sell your content
You spend your days putting together sales collateral in order to help your salespeople win deals. This effort shouldn’t end when it’s ready to be published – that’s only phase one of the journey. The next step is to train your sellers on how to use the content.
The chances are you didn’t pull this particular piece of content out of thin air. In all likelihood there were a lot of meetings and long discussions about how to shape it and what content would look like for every step of the buyers journey. Do you share this reasoning with your salespeople?
If you’re able to tell them that this particular content draws on X research and is relevant to Y customer at Z stage in the buying journey, you’re giving them context that will help them make the most of the material. If you can further demonstrate that this or similar types of content have achieved success, so much the better. Does it sound like I’m asking you to work up a case study in order to get your salespeople to use a case study? It’s not quite that in-depth, but the thinking is the same. We’re talking about helping the sales team understand the reasoning behind the marketing materials so that they can properly present them to your customers.
Tell them stories
We’re always encouraging salespeople to be storytellers – and since we’re currently encouraging you to be salespeople, we’re going to say the same again. Whenever you can, sit down with salespeople and tell them the story of the content you’ve developed. Model for them how you think the story should be presented to customers and actively seek feedback from your salespeople to help shape the content along the way.
Content is key
Content is only growing in importance. By 2020, it is thought that customers will manage 85% of their interaction with a company without interacting with a human. That means it’s more critical than ever for salespeople to be involved in content development and that the content for that last 15% of the customer journey is spot on if you’re going to secure the deal. Sales and marketing alignment isn’t only a buzzword or a trend – it’s a necessity if you’re going to do business with the empowered buyer.
Do you have tips for sharing content with salespeople? We’d love to hear from you!