Most marketers treat content like a tactic, not a product offering. Content truly focused on what your buyers and customers need to know becomes integrated with your products—just represented by media that you create and publish.
For a litmus test, ask whether your content is valuable enough that your buyers would pay to have access to it.
When evaluating the value of your content, consider whether it includes:
What gives a solid content marketing strategy the props to be thought of as more of a product development workflow than a one-off campaign is that it doesn’t end. Just as your products continue to be viable year after year, so should your content that relates to them.
As your products evolve, your content must keep pace. You introduce new products, just as you introduce new thinking represented by content to match them. Your products gain new features and capabilities as customer needs shift and technology reveals new opportunities to make customers lives easier. Whether that’s in the products themselves, or how they’re made, you also have new content opportunities.
Content has many jobs to do. From creating brand awareness, positioning your products against competitors, and attracting your target audience to creating buying intent and building customer loyalty, lifetime value, and advocacy. Content’s jobs are never done.
For this post, let’s focus on content’s job for sales.
Sales content must focus on creating buying intent. To do this, it must either instigate inquiries from your buyers or invoke curiosity and engagement when used by a sales rep or dealer rep in outreach or in support of conversations.
The main point about sales content is that sales reps must be able to use it effectively to engage buyers and forward sales conversations. Sales content should help to build rapport and relationships and have buyers see sales reps as trusted advisors.
The 2020 Benchmarking Sales Readiness and Sales Enablement Report from the Sales Management Association found that while 61% of sales leaders say digital content is important, only 32% consider their organizations effective at using it.
There are several reasons for ineffectiveness in using digital content.
Sellers struggling to find content is nothing new. On average, they must navigate at least six different repositories to search for content. In defense against the time sink that causes, many sales reps have downloaded content to their laptops and continue to use what’s worked in the past because searching for new content is unwieldy.
Marketers intent on proving ROI for content will benefit by lowering the effort for sales reps to find content. Let’s say a buyer asks if there’s a case study about using a specific product feature. Your rep should be able to find and share it in minutes, not after a prolonged, fruitless search that necessitated an email to marketing to ask for it, while they wait…and their buyer waits.
Product content is wonderful. Your reps need it, and so do your buyers. But what buyers really care about is problem solving and validating their choice by proving the value they’ll get by choosing your products.
Rain Group’s Virtual Selling Skills and Challenges Report finds the top five influences on buyer purchase decisions include:
Notice that not one of these is “show me your product features.” Buyers need sales reps to help them understand how to solve a business problem or take advantage of an opportunity. This is the foundation that gives them validation for choosing your product. Sales content provides information that helps buyers gain confidence that they’re making the right decision to move forward.
Now let’s look at the fourth reason…
This is where the product approach to content comes into play. Think about when you launch a product. You don’t just put it out there and tell the sales team to go sell it. You create messaging, differentiation, brochures, solution briefs, videos on how to use it, web pages, and more.
Your sales content doesn’t need that big a push, but it does need some help to ensure your reps use it to best advantage. And marketers have the expertise to do so.
Your reps are unlikely to read all the content you publish. Even more challenging is keeping track of it.
This is why a central library with AI-powered tagging is essential. You can add tags for persona, product, buying stage, region, problem solved—cover all the ways your reps will search for it. Your reps need only look for it in one place. And it must provide access whether they’re online or offline.
Once that problem is solved, think about what they need to know in the context of a buyer to use it. Look back at that list above. If the content helps with those influences on the buyer’s decision, tell them how.
Provide a cheat sheet or a short video that cuts to the bottom line. It should cover:
Keep these content insights focused on what a buyer wants to know and stay clear of product features. The most you need to include related to product is which of your products helps solve the problem the content is providing guidance about.
Make sure this content cheat sheet is connected to the content it references so sellers don’t have to go look for it. By matching up the “how to use” with the “what to use” you’ll be helping your reps act smarter and in concert with what buyers want and need to move forward in making a purchase decision.