When you think about company assets a lot of things come to mind: human capital, physical assets, cash, or intellectual property. But, how often do you think of content as an asset?
Content exists in every part of an organization. It’s the silent driver of sales, company identity, and even how job candidates come to know your business. So, why don’t we think about it as an asset?
One of the highest impact areas for content is the sales process. At every stage, prospective customers are presented with messaging or content that someone took the time to curate.
As an example, let’s assess how many times content plays a key role in a typical sales cycle.
Before you even engage directly, a buyer will visit your website, read through your assets and blog posts, and maybe check your company out on review sites. All of these one-sided interactions create a first impression for your potential customers.
Next, your prospects might engage with your sales team. In doing so, your team will use campaign emails that have been curated, datasheets on your solutions, and product briefs to highlight your offerings. These prime your prospects to know exactly what you do and how you’re different from your competitors.
Then, as you get farther into the cycle, you’ll provide case studies, presentations, proposals, ROI analyses, and RFP responses, which demonstrate your value proposition.
Finally, as you near the end of your sales motion, you may generate Statements of Work and Proofs of Concept to validate exactly what you’ll be delivering for your customer.
It’s clear that content heavily impacts the buyer journey and plays an important role in each step of the sales process.
What Happens if Sales Teams Don’t Prioritize Content?
For most people in a company, content generation isn’t their primary responsibility. You’ve likely heard many individuals in your organization admit “I’m not a writer”. This is why, so often, sales content generation isn’t a priority. But, especially in sales, if you’re not prioritizing content, you can fall into traps that can even, in extreme cases, lose your team valuable revenue.
Purvey an Inconsistent Brand Message
If 10 sales reps have all different messages, this leads to confusion and contradictory information. In a business climate where the buyer has more power than ever before, consistency is critical. B2B buyers conduct back-channel reference calls with peers and check out review sites before they ever engage with a sales executive. If your team is not in-tune with what each other are saying to customers and prospects, buyers get mixed messages, and doubt creeps into a sale.
Spend Too Much Time Re-Inventing Content
If you’ve ever answered an RFP without a response software solution, you know the pain associated with finding the best content available in your organization. If you’re feeling this pain in every part of your sales cycle, reps are spending their time crafting sales messaging and re-inventing the wheel for each opportunity, instead of building prospect rapport, uncovering value drivers, and closing deals.
Potentially Lose Business
Sales response and content decentralization also causes dated and factually inaccurate content. If that’s the case, you may be giving a prospect incorrect information about your product or solutions.
With worldwide compliance regulations tightening, it’s critical your sales content is up-to-date. Falling out of compliance with these regulations could mean you’re unable to engage with prospects (even if you do actually comply!).
How Do We Start Prioritizing Sales Content?
Evaluate Your Sales Process
The first step to prioritizing your sales content is to get a handle on all of the content-intensive processes within your sales cycle. You may have done an audit of this kind before, but this time look specifically at your processes from the lens of content generation and creation. Where do these content resources live today? Who is responsible for updating? Who is the subject matter expert on these topics? How often do they need to be updated? All of these questions will prime you to standardize and centralize your sales responses and related content.
Centralize Your Content
To support a cross-functional effort like this, you’ll need a centralized repository that everyone can access. In this instance, desktop solutions won’t cut it. Find a sales content collaboration platform that you can house all of this content in. Bonus points if that solution allows you to also author content within it, not just store content. Once a solution is identified, create communication and collaboration channels for your sales team to generate and refresh content in tandem with marketing, product, and any other teams you identified in your process evaluation.
Test. Tweak. Adapt.
Your product and team won’t stay the same forever. Therefore, you need to continually update and adapt processes and content to fit current and future needs. What works today won’t always work tomorrow. With your communication and collaboration channels, illicit feedback from sales reps on what’s resonating with prospects and customers, and what content they use most often, so everyone can focus efforts on the specific content areas currently needed—saving everyone time.
Content is as important to your company as any of your other assets. After all, you can have the best sales team in the world with your ideal customer as a prospect, and the deal could still go sideways due to mismanaged or stale content.
You should protect your content as much as you would your intellectual property, and invest in it as much as you would your physical assets.
It’s likely you haven’t thought of sales content like this before. Ultimately, it takes a shift in mindset to fully prioritize this content and understand its importance to your sales process. But, that shift in mindset will be worth it, and pay dividends in the long-term.
If you’re in the market for a solution, Ombud’s agile platform hosts numerous sales content use cases including RFP Management, Statement of Work generation, and Proposal creation.