If you’re a small business selling to two or three types of buyers, finding the right content for a specific prospect shouldn’t be terribly difficult. But what if you’re an enterprise company with multiple products that appeal to diverse segments?
When you’re producing a significant amount of unique content, you need to empower sales to use it to nurture prospects and close deals. That means coming up with a way to organize it that makes sense for your company.
Let’s say your company provides integrated data storage solutions to 10 different industries, and you’re already producing great content on a regular basis.
Your marketing team is starry-eyed and full of ideas, and every time they finish a new case study or infographic, they send it over to sales with big dreams of record-setting KPIs. They log into Google Analytics expecting Everest-sized spikes in traffic. But when nothing much happens, they can’t help but wonder why.
Why hasn’t the marketing team’s content caught on like a “Hey Girl” meme? The answer may lie in an often-overlooked step in the B2B content marketing process: the method by which your sales team discovers and uses content.
Peter Mollins is an expert in the sales and marketing collateral management space, and he agreed to sit down with me to talk about how companies can get the most out of their content once it leaves the marketing department’s hands.
Mollins is the VP of Marketing at KnowledgeTree, a Raleigh software company with a new approach to content organization. He’s seen firsthand how a once-promising content marketing initiative can unravel in the presence of little or no practical support.
“In large organizations where there are 200 inside sales reps, the sales enablement challenge is really meaningful,” Mollins says. “Companies know there’s an issue. Sales reps at a tech company with a large RFP process need to be able to pull the right content quickly. They need to be able to say ‘This works at this time’ and put together a proposal. Sales is fast-moving, and sales reps often aren’t sure what content to use.
“Everyone pays lip service to the sales and marketing divide,” Mollins notes. “But sales reps aren’t angry at marketing. So often, it’s a matter of discovery.”
So how does marketing help sales discover new and updated collateral?
1. Email attachments: “Hey sales team! I’m sending over our new whitepaper geared toward prospects from large banks in Western Germany with 1000 or more employees. Please read it thoroughly and share with relevant prospects. Thanks!”
Pros: Easy to send
Cons: Sales reps forget the content exists or download it but forget where they saved it; marketing can’t update or delete content once it becomes outdated
2. Social shares: Your internal social network might seem like the perfect place for marketing and sales to share collateral, but social networks lack the search functionality and basic organizational features reps need to find content on the fly.
Pros: Encourages conversation and feedback
Cons: Lacks searchability; content has no chance of getting found once sales forgets about it
3. Content management tools: A content management tool is a powerful way to help sales find and use the best possible content. Marketers can drop a new data sheet or ROI report into a content management folder and add descriptions and metadata to make the collateral searchable.
Pros: Highly searchable; can add targeted descriptions
Cons: Sales resists learning how to use it
4. Hybrid content management and social network tools: For smaller businesses, Google Drive combined with a Google+ Community might work as a hybrid best-of-both-worlds tool. For a more sophisticated solution, a tool like KnowledgeTree offers sales reps an easy-to-use collateral management platform with both search and social capabilities.
Pros: All collateral and conversations about it live in one location; marketers can track content’s success and use results to inform future content creation projects
Cons: Using a cobbled-together version of Google Apps might be too confusing for some people
Marketing executives say their largest marketing and communications expense is collateral. IDC’s 2013 survey reported that the typical cost for document creation, publication and maintenance was $2,500 per item.
While it’s great to see companies investing in quality content, sales reps still need a hand finding and using it. According to IDC data, the average rep spends 2 hours per week looking for the right piece of marketing content and 20 percent of reps said it took them a week or more to find one type of popular content.
The right sales enablement methods can give the rest of your marketing and sales efforts a major boost. A tool like KnowledgeTree, for example, creates a community around your content. It includes features like metrics that tell marketing how often sales reps pull individual pieces of content and which content isn’t getting used at all. The social features let reps “follow” other reps’ activity and share and recommend content to their peers. And the high-level overview of content usage helps CMOs justify their marketing budget and understand how to improve their spend.
Stephanie Kapera is a freelance writer and the co-founder of Up All Night Creative, a Raleigh-based content marketing agency that helps B2B and B2C companies develop magazine-quality web content. Connect with Up All Night on LinkedIn and Twitter to find out more!