This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Business Journal.
Many companies, especially B2B companies, finally understand that content is what makes the sales engine run.
But once this realization is made, a vast majority of marketers fire up the content creation machine and assume that more collateral will solve their lead generation, brand recognition and sales problems.
The issue here is that as more content is created, content repositories become oversaturated and too complicated for sales reps to use.
SiriusDecisions estimates that anywhere between 60 percent to 70 percent of a B2B company’s content goes untouched.
This isn’t just a marketing problem — it’s a problem that plagues all corners of a company. You waste money employing more marketers to create content that isn’t used. Your sales reps have ineffective prospect conversations that aren’t backed by sales collateral. Your new employees aren’t adequately trained because they can’t find supporting onboarding materials.
No one knows where to find the right content for specific situations, and chances are they don’t even know that it exists. This unused content conundrum is one of the most common and most harmful barriers between marketing and sales, and can be detrimental to the success of both teams.
The issue of unused content is typically regarded as an irrelevancy issue: Marketing simply isn’t creating the right content for sales conversations, so sales isn’t using it. But according to SiriusDecisions, 30 percent of content isn’t being used because it’s irrelevant, and 32 percent of content isn’t being used because no one knows it exists or where to find it.
This leaves you wondering: which half of unused content is irrelevant and which half can’t be found? It’s difficult to make any improvements to your content repository or strategy if you don’t know where to start.
In order to determine what content should be removed and what can’t be found, your company must improve content visibility and accessibility.
Marketing needs to know how sales is using content. Understanding how sales reps as individuals and how teams as a whole are accessing and sharing content will show what content is working and what isn’t in different selling situations. This gives marketing visibility into what content is irrelevant so it can be removed from your repository altogether.
Being able to break down content usage at the individual level can also help companies understand and duplicate successful sales behavior. Additionally, sales leaders should have visibility into how content is being used, especially by the prospects and customers their reps are sending it to.
This provides a more facilitated and contextually relevant conversation opportunity, and can provide even better feedback to marketing about what content is most valuable to reps and prospects.
Next, content needs to be universally accessible — from any device, at any time, for any selling situation. Do you leave it up to your sales reps to waste time manually searching for the content they need? If so, you’re failing them.
Sales content should be finding sales reps, based on the context of the conversations they are having, without reps having to spend any time searching. If content is finding the rep, you know it’s been made as accessible as possible.
There is a huge difference between content that isn’t successful in sales conversations and content that isn’t findable. Gaining insights into what content is being used, how, and how often is the first step to understanding your content accessibility problem. If your sales reps can’t find what they want, it’s not an issue of the quality of marketing content. It’s an issue of a disorganized content repository that isn’t able to serve content to sales reps based on their specific selling situation.
Unused sales content can be a silent killer for many marketing and sales organizations. But understanding the root of this problem — whether it’s because the content created by marketing isn’t relevant or useful, or simply because it isn’t served up contextually in sales opportunities — and taking the appropriate actions to improve content visibility and accessibility will help you bridge the gap between marketing and sales.