4.5 Ways NOT to Get Content to Sales Teams

Marketing teams produce a lot of content. That content includes sales proposals, presentations, data sheets, and more. All of that content attracts new prospects and lets sales effectively communicate your value proposition. It is a critical part of any sales enablement activity.

But there's a problem. Sales teams aren't getting the content they need. And the reason often isn't that there's not enough content. Is it that the right materials can't be found? How are marketing teams getting content to salespeople? The age of throwing it over the wall has got to end.

Which methods of content delivery are NOT the way to go? Read on.

1. Email Collateral to Sales

Sales team, I wanted to give you a heads-up that we've written a new case study. You can find it attached. Happy selling!

This is one of the most common ways to send new collateral to sales teams. It certainly is the easiest. But what happens to these materials? A salesperson might download the document to her desktop or simply file the email and attachment away. Then, when that salesperson has an opportunity where that piece of collateral is a great match, will she remember that a good piece of content existed?

Worse still, what happens as the content falls out of date? The same piece of content is sitting on sales desktops scattered across the organization. That means old, ineffective collateral is getting used in sales situations.

2. Post It to a Social Tool

Social tools are powerful communication devices. They allow teams to communicate with each other and quickly share important information. But they're not built for managing a content life cycle. Marketing might place a new piece of content onto the company's social platform. But when a salesperson needs that content, how does he find it? He may not recall that a great banking case study exists. So what to search on? Marketing tools are only valuable if they can be found and used.

3. Drop It in a Content Management Folder

Content management tools are designed to help teams quickly store and retrieve important documents. But have you ever tried to find content when you need it? Navigating through dense folder structures is an unpleasant scavenger hunt that often turns up little. Search, you say? We're stuck with the challenge of what to search for. A great insurance industry case study might help me sell to a banking prospect. But I never would have found it if I were searching for "bank." And even if you generate large volumes of search results, you still have to filter through the results to locate what you need.

4. Organize It in a Content Management Tool

Well, you might say, there are more powerful ways to organize collateral in a content management application. You can add descriptions and metadata to make the content more discoverable. Yes, that's true. Descriptions of what industry or product or geography a piece of collateral relates to are a great way to structure content. Simplifying how metadata gets applied to your content, though, is critical to make sure that it can be found.

4.5. Via Michael, the Marcom Manager

Every company has one person in marketing who knows all the content out there. Need proposal content for an Italian prospect? He'll point you to it. Looking for case studies in the manufacturing industry? He's got two of them. So salespeople will give Michael a call and ask what content to use.

That works fine for a small sales team. But as you grow, it's just plain impractical. You need a more automated, self-service approach to getting content into sales teams' hands.

Next Steps for Sales Enablement

So how should marketing get content to salespeople? The key is discoverability. At any given moment, one salesperson may be looking for a proposal boilerplate while another is looking for a technical whitepaper. Marketing can't expect to be in all places at once. They need to empower salespeople to find the content they need when they need it.

That means organizing content by place, sales stage, geography, product, competitive situation…whatever element makes sense for your business. Then salespeople can navigate within a content management tool to find the most relevant content for a given sales situation. Tools that automatically organize content radically reduce the effort required to make your content discoverable.

Peter Mollins is vice president of  marketing for KnowledgeTree, a provider of cloud-based solutions that help companies get the right marketing materials into sales teams' hands. He has more than 15 years of experience in the technology sector, where he has helped businesses large and small operate more efficiently through the use of various enterprise technologies.

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