How to Get Sales to Use Your Marketing Content

As a B2B marketer that is hyper-focused on getting our Sales team to use our content, there are three numbers which I find a constant personal challenge: 87, 40 and 60.

According to the CEB, 87% of new training content shown to salespeople is forgotten after 30 days. The CMO Council found that typically 40% of a salesperson’s time is spent either looking for content created by Marketing or creating their own content because they can’t find an asset that is fit for purpose. Finally, 60% refers to the the amount of content created by Marketing that goes unused in B2B organizations (according to SiriusDecisions).

So, what can be done to get Sales using your marketing content?

Firstly, Marketing needs to get its own house in order before pointing fingers at their colleagues in Sales. The first steps to understanding how content is used in your organization is to do a content audit and review your content strategy.

1) Do a content audit

Taking time to understand all the content that has currently been created in your organization is a helpful start to understand what is being used and what has fallen by the wayside.

Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at NewsCred and a former SAP exec, revealed that during his audit of SAP’s content he discovered that “over 60% of the content created by Marketing – for one product area alone – was never used by anybody.” Audits can often be uncomfortable but are hugely necessary.

Open up a spreadsheet and dedicate a row to each piece of content that you have created to date. Your column headings should include ‘URL’, ‘author’, ‘buyer stage’, ‘content topic’, ‘content type’, ‘social shares’, ‘unique visits’, etc. If you want to accelerate the process, free tools like urlprofiler and Quick Sprout can give you this information for every URL you submit.

Once you have completed your content audit you’ll be in a better position to identify underperforming content and work out why it’s not being utilized, by Sales or others.

2) Review your entire content strategy

A content strategy review differs from a content audit as it is delves deeper into the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content. Rather than focussing on content performance, a content strategy review it is more about the processes around content.

A basic content strategy review looks at the entire lifecycle of content from initial audit to planning to creation to governance within the enterprise.

The key stages after doing a content audit are:

  • Strategy

This is where you determine ownership areas and taxonomy, establish content program and production process, create a content sourcing plan and determine brand and voice definition.

  • Plan

This is where you look to make staffing recommendations, decide on CMS customization, and devise your content metadata and distribution plan.

  • Create

This is all about asset production and the quality assurance procedures that are in place to make sure each piece of content your create SEO-optimized and adhere to brand voice.

  • Maintain

This is the stage where you look at the metrics you are using to measure your content marketing, use analytics to determine if it is successful or not, and put in place a process to retire or improve underperforming content.

Have you done both an audit and a strategy review? Good. Now you can begin to engage with Sales.

3) Talk to your Sales team

Recently, we spoke to Tim Riesterer of Corporate Visions and posed the question of how to encourage salespeople to use marketing content. The three commonest complaints he’s noticed from salespeople were that Marketing created too much content, marketing content messaging wasn’t appropriate for sales environments, and the form of the content was appropriate for their various sales tasks.

All of these can be rectified easily - streamline the amount of content that you create, bring Sales into initial content messaging discussions and atomize your content so that it’s easier for Sales to consume and recommend to prospects. However, you may find your own organization has unique hurdles that dissuade your Sales team from using your content. Speak to your Sales team and find out from the ‘horse’s mouth’ where the issues lie.

4) Centralize your content and use metadata to tag it

Remember that CMO Council stat? Often Sales can’t find marketing content because it is just so distributed around the organization - siloed and unmarked. Look at ways to consolidate your content into a single content repository. This could be a custom CMS or the same spreadsheet that you used for your content audit.

Also, don’t assume that just because you have your content in one place that it auto-magically becomes easier to find a single piece of content. Make sure that each piece of content has descriptive metadata that can be used by busy salespeople to find the content they need. Metadata doesn’t just need to be ‘content type’ and ‘author’, it should extend to content topics, themes, buyer stages and so. All of these descriptors serve as useful keyword filters with which to narrow down searches for that perfect piece of content to send to a prospect. More importantly, your metadata can help you read your prospect’s mind.

5) Use Content Intelligence

The previous suggestions are all proactive steps that you can action right now. However, if you you want to scale these efforts, inevitably you will have to turn them over to smart technologies that can do the heavy-lifting of auditing content and mapping it to prospect and leads in your Sales environment.

Our sales team uses idio for Salesforce which learns from buyer reading patterns and suggests to the rep which piece of content they should send to each of their leads. This has been a boon for our sales team who often find themselves in the middle of an ever-expanding ecosystem of marketing content and a swathe of prospects whose interests and needs are changing all the time.

Through employing the above steps in our own organization, we’ve been able to turn those three numbers (87, 40 and 60) from gnawing reminders of our own content inefficiencies into helpful benchmarks that we can use to see how quickly we are winning at getting Sales to use our marketing content.

About the Author

Andrew Davies is the CMO and Co-Founder of idio, which helps leading content marketers maximize the value of their content marketing. idio's Content Intelligence platform analyzes your content automatically, understands your customers via the content they consume, and recommends the right content to the right person in real-time, on any channel. To find out more, please visit idioplatform.com and follow Andrew on Twitter @andjdavies.

In this e-book, we take lessons from Salesforce’s Content Marketing Team to help you measure your content marketing strategy. Download your copy today!

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