Part III: Challenges of Creating Effective Content
Many companies create and distribute reams of content but it has no effect on sales success for a variety of reasons. Having too much content or the wrong content can be just as detrimental to sales efforts as having no content at all.
Companies tend to develop content in an undisciplined way, with content requests coming from a variety of sources with little or no thought to creating a cohesive plan that tells a consistent story and supports specific stages in the sales cycle. To achieve effective content, companies must develop a content strategy based on a well thought out editorial calendar, an understanding of the target buyers and their specific needs and an understanding of the sales stages including steps the buyers take on their own before making contact with the company’s sales force.
Supporting the sales cycle is the single most important aspect of successful content; otherwise it leaves the customer or prospect frustrated by outstanding questions or issues. Providing information too early or late in the sales cycle is nearly as bad as not presenting it at all. This requires careful analysis of each piece of content before its creation to ensure understanding of the audience’s mindset.
In addition to supporting the sales cycle, effective content must appeal to a unique point of view for a specific buyer. This entails ensuring that content addresses the concerns of a particular role and that it clearly delineates the value to that buyer. It must address the buyer’s mindset at a specific point in the sales cycle while painting a picture of the future value and benefits that buyer will receive with successful use of the product in question.
Most content created in a traditional marketing environment is “one off,” with little or no thought given to other ways to use the content most effectively. This results in a heavy burden on content creation teams as every piece is created from scratch. This results in a great deal of heavy lifting during content creation, which wastes resources and contributes to a lack of consistency in the overall content library. Understanding how to make content reusable is an important part of effective sales enablement.
In addition, some content management systems make it difficult or impossible for reps to find the content they need when they need it. As a result, reps waste time searching for content or spend time creating their own collateral. Creating content not only wastes a rep’s valuable selling time, it may not follow branding guidelines or be off message. causing confusion in the customer’s mind. Lastly, many marketing collateral creation teams struggle to address the newer formats for collateral that buyers have embraced. Stuck in the mindset of whitepapers and presentations, content creation teams miss out on the benefits of newer ways of addressing customers or new channels of content distribution such as Twitter, YouTube or other social media. Since customers today prefer to do their research before engaging with the sales force, not having accessible and engaging content available across multiple channels means that the company will be shut out of many possible deals simply because the customer doesn’t know who the company is or what it offers.
Effective sales enablement content addresses all of these challenges in a structured way that amplifies the impact of each piece. However, creating impactful content is not a simple undertaking. It requires a thoughtful, reasoned approach to match the design of each content item with the necessary attributes and sales stages. It is an ongoing process that adapts to changing customer and business needs and that quickly adopts new methods of content delivery.
Now that you understand the challenges of sales enablement, see part four to help define effective sales content attributes.