New research shows that reps prefer content relevance over frequency when it comes to enabling sales.
While I believe content is one of the keys to increasing sales productivity, not all marketing content serves the same purpose. Some content resources are geared toward brand awareness, SEO, demand/lead generation – and on and on it goes.
When it comes to sales enablement, however, reps are most interested in the content that is specifically relevant to them. The question is – what does that look like?
Recently, sales training and performance company Richardson conducted a survey of over 400 sales managers and reps to learn how helpful they find their organization’s content strategies. The results were interesting, as you rarely hear about the value of content marketing from a salesperson’s perspective (or at least not as often as you hear about it from marketers).
Not all the feedback was positive, as a surprisingly small percentage of sales managers felt their companies’ content helped generate qualified leads (33%) or motivated customers to buy (44%). It’s important to keep in mind, however, that numbers like these reflect A) the biases of the people being surveyed and B) the overall quality of the content strategies they are working with. To me, such a low opinion of content as an effective lead gen tool speaks more to the poor implementation of those strategies than content marketing as a whole.
In other words, those organizations might just be doing a lousy job.
With that said, some data in the survey speaks very loudly, particularly the section on how salespeople think marketing content can be used to better support their selling efforts. Most notably, reps seem to care little about the frequency of content being published; they mainly care about content relevance (See? Quality over quantity!).
So how can organizations improve in that area? Here are three things respondents said they’d like to see more of, with some additional thoughts on each.
“Create a stronger link between the content and the solutions we sell.”
This really speaks to the silly belief that content marketing can’t be promotional (one of several myths that drive me crazy). While thought leadership content (or “thought provoking”, as the Richardson survey describes it) is a great way to drive traffic, increase brand awareness and invite more people to learn about your business, it’s still marketing content. If you write a blog post about a unique challenge your audience faces, don’t be afraid to mention the fact that you have a product or solution that helps solve this issue.
Also, don’t forget that these types of resources are only part of the content marketing puzzle. Product demos, webpage copy, data sheets and testimonials are all very promotional – and very valuable to sales reps. They also constitute different types of content.
“Help me understand how this content relates to our customers.”
This can be an issue of simply losing sight of your audience when developing content. Obviously, you want to have a clear idea of who you’re writing for in all situations, but there’s also an opportunity to create resources specifically for different personas and industries.
Think about it; even the most narrow audiences can be segmented down into more specific targets with their own unique challenges and needs. This can lead to content that doesn’t just imply, but flat our states how your products or services can help X Persona in Y Industry. Promotional? Sure. Valuable content marketing for sales enablement? Absolutely.
“Help me better understand how to use thought provoking content to prospect.”
A deeper understanding of personas can also help with prospecting and email outreach. If a salesperson is given a lead, they need to know what content to share with that individual. An open line of communication between sales and marketing can help increase awareness of these resources (and save time in the process). You can also house content in an organized sales enablement portal to simplify access for reps.
This also coincides with another request from respondents in the Richardson survey, which is to be better informed of when new content is released. But once again, content relevance needs to come first.