For B2B sales teams today, content provided by the marketing team plays a more significant role in the selling process than ever. And its significance is only going to expand in the coming years; after all, it’s common for businesses to continue increasing content budgets annually. Businesses place immense value on content for moving potential buyers along the path to purchase. But for sales teams, it can add more steps, and detracts from the art–and ask–of selling.
This volume of content—when it’s not relevant to the prospect and their specific business needs—is overwhelming for the buyer to parse and process. But of course it’s also overwhelming to sales professionals, who are under pressure to search the troves of available content, identify the right content for any given point in the buyer’s path, provide a personal touch, and stay aligned over time with the marketing team’s messaging—all while trying to meet sales quotas. It’s reached the point where 84% of sellers say that content search and utilization is their top area for improving productivity. Sellers’ messaging easily gets lost in the shuffle. They need solutions for aligning with the marketing team and enabling more impactful buyer interactions that boost the bottom line.
Sales teams need to take the time to make sure the ways in which they use content are up-to-date and competitive. To be up-to-date means to create a strong content strategy, and to provide all relevant teams and stakeholders the means to discover, update, and collaborate on content. Here are four ways in which sales and marketing content can help make the most of all buyer interactions, and to prove the ROI of the content itself.
1. Identifying effective behavior
Sales teams, leaders and marketers need a clear view of what content is effective, and how buyers engage with it. They need smart content analytics to gain this understanding. Yes, landing pages can track leads, and landing page performance is an indicator of content performance. But page metrics aren’t enough for sales teams to measure their methods of cultivating leads. More data points and sources are necessary—tags, file permissions, compliance settings, content categorization, user settings, feedback from prospects and leads, and more. From this data, sales teams can draw insights around interactions with content. Those insights in turn power content recommendations when the seller turns to their available assets for the most relevant content. Furthermore, analysis of those insights can illuminate areas where content production can become more efficient through automation or other means, and identify and improve underperforming content.
2. A unified operating platform
Technology can provide invaluable assistance in managing content at scale. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are particularly valuable here, and can efficiently surface the right asset at the right time and place. AI and ML can also help automate tasks such as building customer profiles, allowing sales teams to locate and contact prospective buyers efficiently. For this tech to do its best work, the content needs to be in one unified, searchable place–and it needs to be as accessible remotely or on the road as it is in an office setting. The marketing team needs to be able to update and share content efficiently, and time is critical for sellers with time-sensitive needs. A unified platform reduces the amount of time sellers spend not selling. The right tools and strategies enable sales teams to increase their productivity in ways that benefit the overall business.
3. Analytics and insights
Data-driven insights deliver value not only for understanding content’s performance. Throughout the seller and buyer journey, those insights can ensure that engagement learnings result in greater ROI. It’s true that the trend is for businesses to increase their investment in content over time. And yet, 47% of B2B marketers don’t actually measure their content’s ROI, and 65% of marketers aren’t able to quantify their content’s real input. Marketing automation itself is insufficient for analyzing the content the sales team is using. A stronger sales enablement solution is critical. Sales teams need to identify the right metrics to prove content ROI—on whatever criteria used by the business to define good ROI—and to consistently apply those metrics. This enables sales teams to take learnings from effective use of content in one campaign or channel, and apply them to other campaigns or channels.
4. Engaging Experiences
Of course sales teams need to make sense of the volume of content at their disposal. But volume doesn’t close deals–the content used by sales needs to be personalized, engaging, useful, and memorable. Interactions with buyers must be customized and specific. It’s imperative today that sales teams go beyond sharing routine decks and demos. They’re much better served by having the ability to co-create content along with the marketing team, to suit any customer at any point along the customer journey. AI-powered tools enable marketing and sales teams to do so efficiently and effectively. Augmented reality (AR) tools can also be used to create more engaging and immersive content experiences. And, AI tools can analyze audio and video recordings of pitches and other seller/buyer interactions, and make recommendations about how the sales team presents themselves and key message points relayed.
It’s certainly a benefit to a business to have content on hand for any type of buyer interaction that sales and marketing can imagine. But the ability to search, customize, and share that content turns the burden of content management into the boon of almost endless variation. Technology turns an otherwise awkward, time-consuming process into a targeted, speedy, and collaborative one. And leveraging it, helps sales teams to finally hit the perfect balance of resonant content.