Sales performance suffers due to poor or missing situation-specific sales information. This is still a common B2B selling problem.
Despite significant investments in sales and marketing technologies, most B2B organizations don’t provide enough of the right content to their sales and channel sales organizations.
Sales content isn’t designed and created “on purpose.” It isn’t created to meet well-defined use case requirements.
Marketing is largely responsible for content strategy and development. Yet few marketers can provide clear definitions or guidelines for what effective sales content really is. Most believe they currently create content suitable for sales. They believe the problem is lack of awareness or access to that content. This is flawed thinking.
Since content is a key success driver of any B2B selling system, sales leaders must ensure there is enough of the right sales content for sales people to perform well.
To do this, sales organizations must “requisition content” from the marketing groups that typically are resourced and budgeted to create it. This could be a key role for sales enablement professionals.
Sales Content Requisition Framework
During 20 years developing content for B2B sales and marketing organizations we developed definitions and frameworks to create sales content “on purpose, by design.”
The work of these simple steps isn’t easy. But it will significantly improve your sales content, conversations and performance.
Assess and Define Key Sales Use Case Requirements — The process to define and requisition high quality, situation-specific sales information, begins and hinges on the thoroughness of this first activity.
If you don’t know your key sales content use cases, you simply won’t know what content you need, why, or how it should be created. This work defines the “job” you need content to do. (See What “Job” Do You Want Content to Do?) It helps you determine content priorities.
Develop Content Specifications — Sales content is outsourced to creative producers. They have no idea about the use of sales content. Sales organizations must requisition content through well-defined specifications. This is similar to the way product feature specifications are developed. The success of this critical activity is determined by the clarity and specificity of this requirements doc. In our content practice this was a multi-page document. This “Content Header” is a good example and summary tool.
Oversee and Quality Check Content Creation — Execution breakdown is a predictable cause of poor sales content. Without oversight, marketing and creative developers will tend misinterpret or overlook documented specs. This needs to be monitored in process, ideally by sales enablement leaders who know what they’re looking for.
Curate Content to Deployment Repositories — Content must be ready for sales to deliver and use. This means it must be findable through good organization, tagging for search, and metadata that quickly informs on the purpose and use of each asset.
All content assets required to address each previously identified key use case scenario must be grouped or linked. For example, an email or social post to deliver a primary asset should be clearly available when a sales person finds it.
Coach Sales People on the Effective Use of Content to Sell — Using educational content to help buyers learn, “unlearn,” and reach consensus is a new sales competency. Virtually by definition, most sales professionals and their managers have never really done this before. “No content without training, no training without content.” (Tamara Schenk, CSO Insights)
Maintain Sales Content Strategy — Content strategy involves the work to answer the question: “what content must we invest in and create, why and how?”
The elements to support this decision are very similar to sales playbook elements that sales enablement is responsible to maintain as well. These decisions are dynamic and evolve with improving maturity and changing market conditions. Sales enablement leaders play an important role in keeping all of this current.
Feedback and Improvement — This is important, but I consider it table stakes. The hallmark of any good system is feedback and continuous improvement. Operating content as a system is consistent with the principle of operating the sales organization as a system. Content, and its related inputs, must be part of a continuous sales improvement process. This requires leadership that sales enablement professionals should be able to provide.
One final caution. When it comes to sales content, much more is involved than documents. Getting sales content right was written to help your organization redefine and align around a more useful definition of situation-specific sales information.