Sales Content Management
Everything you need to know about digital content management for sales teams
A great piece of content is like a perfectly-prepared meal. You make it once, you eat it once, and you’re done.
However, a content management system is like a restaurant. Once word of your culinary prowess reaches the masses, more and more people will be ordering that prized meal.
You’re going to need servers to take orders, chefs to prepare food, managers to oversee operations and hosts to seat guests.
As you scale, it becomes more complex than just “cooking up” a great piece of content. It becomes more about getting the right content to the right place in a timely and effective manner.
Any organization that wants to make an impact with great content needs to develop a complete sales content management system. This post will equip you with everything you need to do so. But first, let’s define our terms.
What is sales content management?
Sales content management is not just a piece of software or purchasable commodity. Rather, it is a holistic discipline that encapsulates the entire sales content lifecycle. Sales content management is the direction and oversight of the research, production, distribution, organization, and analysis of digital sales assets.
These assets can take many forms and can be both internal- or external-facing. Some common asset types are:
- Promo or demo videos
- Webinar recordings
- White papers
- Internal sales scripts
- Pricing calculators
On its face, this list may not seem too challenging to manage manually. But when you start creating content in each of these categories things get unruly. Especially if you are tailoring content to specific verticals, demographics, and funnel locations.
It’s here where a robust, organized sales content management system really shines.
But how hard is it to create a piece of content and blast your email list with it? A fair question.
As a small organization with a few pieces of content, you could get away with lumping together the production and distribution of the assets. Just make it and ship it.
As your organization scales however, you may be creating multiple types of content for a wide swath of personas and demographics. How can you manage where the content is going? Or how it’s being stored? And how do you empower your sales reps with what they need at the right time? The management of content takes almost as much skill and finesse as the creation of it.
The bottom line is that without some sort of sales content management system, you’re on the “no plan” plan. But you don’t have to be stuck throwing things against the proverbial wall to see what sticks. Creating a sales content management system is possible for organizations of all shapes and sizes. Especially when aided by software.
What is a sales content management system?
A sales content management system is a set of processes, standards, and tools that automate and streamline the content management process. These systems can be digital or physical, completely manual or completely automated. But they must accomplish at least three core benefits:
1 Organize content effectively
2 Distribute content intelligently
3 Analyze content performance
In this post we’ll explore the benefits of sales content management systems and what makes a great content management platform. We’ll also dive into step-by-step principles to improve your sales content management, regardless of your software choice.
Benefits of sales content management
There’s no way around it: creating a great sales content management system costs time. And if you choose to adopt a software platform, it also costs money.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means you need to get crystal clear on the monetary benefits digital content management can offer your organization. It’s an investment, to be sure. But like all good investments, the ROI on this one is predictably high.
Here are some of the many benefits that a great content management system affords you and your team:
More time to sell
According to a study by XANT, the average sales rep spends 64.8 percent of their time on non-revenue generating activities. I think it’s safe to say that trying to wrangle sales enablement content is probably not the best use of your employee’s time or talents.
Especially as your content needs grow, you could be looking at a repository of hundreds of assets.
Staying organized will ensure that your sales rep can find the exact piece of content they’re looking for. So they can engage their prospect successfully. More time to sell means more commissions, which means a happier salesforce and a more profitable organization.
A better content/need fit
Most sellers are intuitive enough to pick up on context clues from their prospect and know how best to engage them with content. But what about when your library is ever-growing and it becomes impossible for them to hold all the content in their heads?
Advanced content management platforms, like Accent’s Connect, actually use AI to intelligently match the ideal piece of content for a prospect. Accent Connect will calculate the perfect content/need fit and make suggestions accordingly. This type of analysis includes many factors. For example, demographics, psychographics, funnel location, and content success rate.
It’s like having a second brain solely responsible for keeping track of digital assets. Freeing your salesforce up, to be fully present and sell effectively.
Efforts can be measured
Though it’s possible to measure effectiveness through a manual system, it’s a lot of tedious work that can be instantly done by a software solution.
This is arguably the most crucial part of sales content management. When you factor in employee payroll, contractor fees, software costs, and opportunity cost, creating a single piece of content (say, an infographic) can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Wouldn’t you want to know if that content produces a worthwhile return?
Yet most organizations just blast it to their email list and hope for the best. This isn’t a sustainable strategy, and it’s one of the most valuable things a software platform like Accent Connect accomplishes for your team.
A great sales content management platform will give you in-depth analytics on how prospects engage with your assets. This means seeing whether or not an asset drives them down the funnel. Seeing how often they download or view the content. And even seeing if engaging with the content affects their engagement with other content.
These gold nuggets of data can be plainly seen and analyzed from Accent Connect’s content analytics dashboard. And any content management platform worth its salt will provide this crucial data to you and your team.
Sales cycles are shortened
As I alluded to in my above point, digital content management systems predictably produce a shorter sales cycle.
The logic is simple. An effective digital asset management system will:
- Save sales reps’ time by suggesting valuable content to them
- Make it seamless for them to locate assets they need
- Give insights into the efficacy of specific content
- Address the the prospect’s pain points in a timely manner
- The natural byproduct of these benefits will be closing deals faster and an all-around happier salesforce.
More intentional lead nurturing
In the software world, it’s in vogue to talk about the “user journey.” This is the path a prospect takes all the way from hearing your name for the first time to (ideally) becoming a happy evangelist of your product or service.
But what’s neglected are the little “micro journeys” that often happen within the overarching user journey. This is less about the full prospect-to-advocate lifecycle. But the lead nurturing that’s done before the prospect even becomes a customer.
The word “nurturing” implies a sort of gentle guidance of the prospect toward your offering. This is the opposite of a heavy-handed hard sell. This is like your first date with a prospect.
So how do you ensure that your leads are nurtured effectively? Here are a few key ways:
- Prospects receive marketing emails that are laser-focused on their particular pain points
- Prospects receive content through social ads, marketing emails, or web automation that pertains to their location in the funnel
- Prospects aren’t receiving mixed, unclear, or irrelevant messaging in your marketing campaigns
- Sales reps know when prospects are most likely to respond favorably to their outreaches
Nothing turns a prospect off faster than receiving a top-of-funnel infographic and a bottom-of-funnel phone call in the same day. Lead nurturing requires careful consideration and reliable data.
A great sales content management platform will offer your team these precise controls. Tracking when content is sent out, to whom, and how users engage with it means your lead nurturing strategy can be both tasteful and effective.
Consistency among reps
What would happen if each player on a football team operated from a different playbook? Or each construction worker on a site referenced a different blueprint? Unfortunately, when you don’t have a central repository of content that’s accessed and utilized by your sales team, you’re subject to similar outcomes.
As the adage goes, “nature abhors a vacuum.” Well, so do sales reps. If you don’t have a content management system that’s reliably accessible to all reps, they will invariably create their own.
And when you have multiple reps using different assets in different ways, it’s a recipe for confusion and inefficiency. Without a central library, you are completely blind to content efficacy and sales performance. But even more concerning, you have no idea the messaging that each prospect is receiving.
A surefire way to diagnose this is if the messaging of each rep varies wildly from person to person. This isn’t to say that sellers can’t put their own personalities and selling styles into your content.
But if each prospect is receiving a radically different experience of your product, that should throw up a red flag. It will make the necessity of a sales content management system all the more clear.
Choosing a sales content management software
By now it should be abundantly clear that establishing a successful sales content management system without software is a fool’s errand. Possible? Yes. An inefficient use of time? Absolutely.
So how do you choose the right content management software?
Your sales content management software needs are as unique as your organization itself. However, there are a few non-negotiables that the platform you choose must have.
Integration with your CRM or marketing automation platform
Having disparate, siloed platforms to find crucial information on prospects defeats the entire purpose of a sales content management solution. The goal is efficiency, centrality, and organization. Whatever software solution you choose, make sure it has two-way integration with your CRM and marketing automation platform of choice. This way, lead data can be freely passed back and forth, saving your sales reps hours of selling time.
There’s nothing worse than showing a prospect an outdated piece of content. Collateral often travels back and forth from marketing to sales enablement to sales. Graphical changes are made, copy is updated, and features are added. Make sure the software you choose offers version control. This will help you ensure reps are presenting prospects with the newest and best content.
Organization and searchability
As your library of quality, evergreen content grows, you need a way to keep it organized. And I don’t just mean in a folder hierarchy. A good content management software will let you archive and sort by demographic, content type, funnel location, and more. Look for something with a prominent search feature and smart tagging capabilities.
AI has quickly evolved from a mysterious, unknowable idea experienced only in sci-fi movies to a very real part of our everyday lives. From Amazon upsells to Spotify recommendations, AI is everywhere, and it should be a tool in your sales reps’ tool chest as well.
Anytime you can take tedious work and give it to computers, your reward is a happier, more productive sales force. One that spends their time and talents on revenue-generating activities.
Analytics visualization and dashboards
Gathering data on content efficacy is important, but it’s only half the battle. The other part of data science is visualization. That is, aggregating and displaying relevant data in an intelligent and coherent way.
Sales reps don’t want to spend their time downloading CSV files and crafting formulas in Excel to understand the value of their efforts. Find a tool that can visualize analytics in a simple, intuitive way.
How to improve your sales content management
Let’s say you’ve chosen a content management tool or you’re planning on choosing one. What are the fundamentals of good content management? How do you use your sales content management system most effectively? The software is, after all, just a tool.
The following is a step-by-step guide to improving your sales content management. These principles are unchanging across technologies and platform-agnostic. Follow this process in combination with a great content management platform and you’ll be well on your way to optimal sales efficiency and profitability.
Perform a full content audit
This first step assumes that your organization has existing marketing content. This could be a massive archive of old blog posts or one or two white papers. The goal of a content audit is to gather all your content into one place and determine one of two things:
1 Does it need to be cut?
2 Does it need to be improved?
That’s it. If a piece of sales content is consistently getting downloaded and used by sales reps, it’s a great candidate for further refinement and improvement. If a webinar recording is getting zero traffic and is never used by sales reps, it’s probably missing the mark on messaging and needs to be cut.
The first steps to making those determinations is to gather all your content into one location. The simplest way to do this is to create a new spreadsheet with the following columns:
1 Asset name (with a link to the asset)
4 Funnel location
5 Type (audio, video, mixed media, text, image)
6 Date created
7 Downloads (or page views if it’s a blog post)
Some of these categories may not be applicable to your organization or you may want to supplement this list. The goal is to capture as much relevant data about your existing assets as possible, so tailor these criteria to your organization.
Then, take a full day and scour your website, social media accounts, and any existing databases. Log any piece of content you find, regardless of age, messaging, or branding, into this spreadsheet.
Blog posts are a bit trickier, as you have to decide if you want to log your blog as one monolithic piece of content, or each blog post as individual assets.
I recommend a third way: log your top 10 to 20 highest performing blog posts based on traffic and on-page activity. Blogs can be one of the most powerful ways to attract prospects from search, and high performers shouldn’t be overlooked.
Once you’re confident you’ve logged all your content, we can move on to the optimization phase.
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Optimize existing content and plan future content
This next phase is one of the most important and helpful in developing your content management system. It helps you decide what actions to take with your existing content and will invariably give you tons of ideas for future content. These steps may take several weeks, but the rewards you’ll reap are more than worthwhile.
Interview sales reps
You could start by referencing data like search traffic, ad clicks, and downloads (which we will do). But in my experience a better first place to start is talking with real human beings.
Your sales reps are on the front lines. They are the boots on the ground talking with real people and real decision makers. They hear your target market’s pain points every single day and are acutely aware of what makes your offering a good fit for prospective buyers.
Your first step should be a simple phone call to each of your sales reps. Have your content audit spreadsheet handy. Just have a candid conversation about their experience with your content.
Play the role of interviewer. Ask good questions. Get to the bottom of the psychology of how their prospects respond to sales content.
Which content seems to produce the most “aha!” moments with prospects? Is there a particular piece reps never use? Why not?
Are the infographics performing as well as we thought they would? Why don’t reps use the pricing calculator?
The answers to these questions will likely make it clear whether your existing content needs to be cut or repurposed.
Perhaps the data contained in a white paper is helpful in driving prospects down the funnel. But decision makers simply don’t have time to sit down and read a six-page research paper. They’d much prefer a short, informative video. That’s low-hanging fruit for content creation that requires almost no additional research.
Perform usability sessions with customers
Happy customers are excellent sources of information, even in relation to sales and marketing content.
Product owners in the software space often conduct “usability sessions” with customers to see how they engage with a particular aspect of their software. The same can be done with customers and marketing collateral. Why not hop on a Zoom call with a customer and get their thoughts on a blog post or infographic? Their feedback may surprise you.
Analyze quantitative metrics
It’s a matter of preference whether you want to start with qualitative vs. quantitative data. But it’s important that you reference the cold, hard numbers early and often. The three big sources of data you’ll want to look at are:
1 Web traffic
2 Marketing automation data
3 Search data
Between these three sources, you will get a clear picture of which pieces of content are the most popular among your prospects.
An added benefit of analyzing search data (through something like Google Search Console, for example) is that you can familiarize yourself with the language and keywords your prospects are most often using. This can be a great source of content ideas.
Identify leaks in the funnel
One of the most illuminating things about doing a content audit is sorting by “funnel stage.” It’s rare that organizations without a dedicated sales content management tool or strategy will balance their content across the funnel.
Top-of-funnel content is low commitment, low barrier to entry, and purely value-adding. It’s the free eBook, the blog post (like this one), or the webinar that purely seeks to build trust.
Middle-of-funnel content begins to educate interested prospects on how your solution can best alleviate their particular pain point. Middle-of-funnel content includes case studies, testimonials, feature/benefit one-pagers, and product-centric videos.
Bottom-of-funnel content has one goal: close the deal. This could be a webinar with an up-sell at the end, live demo invitations via email, or even a personal email from a sales rep.
How much content in each of these funnels depends on the nature of your organization, your product, and your sales cycle. But as a general rule of thumb, sorting by funnel location will give you a clear picture of which areas of the buying journey you need to supplement.
Build the content
Once you’re armed with data from your reps, your customers, and online behavior, it’s time to create the content.
Content creation is best done through a close-knit relationship with sales and marketing. This is why, as we explored in a previous post, a sales enablement manager and team is so important. Throughout the ideation and production phase, it’s crucial to have clear communication between departments. This ensures the pain points uncovered in the optimization phase are clearly communicated in the end result.
Distribute the content
Once the asset is complete, it’s ready to be uploaded into your sales content management platform of choice. From there, it can be accessed by reps, distributed to prospects, and measured for efficacy.
Analyze and iterate
The content creator’s job is never finished. It’s important to continually analyze, iterate on, and redistribute content in a way that best answers your target market’s pain points. It’s recommended that on a quarterly or bi-annually cadence you repeat the above optimization process all over again.
As your market evolves, your content must evolve, too. We know that software can either get in the way or be an invaluable tool. That’s why we’ve built the Accent Connect platform — to help you achieve optimal sales efficiency and manage your content in a way frees up your team to do what they do best.
To learn more about how we can help your salesforce reach its ultimate potential, contact us today for a live demo.