Use Your BestContent: The Sales& MarketingLifecycle
Use Your Best Content:The Sales and Marketing LifecycleOverviewEvery day your team sends hundreds of presentations, proposals, and other collateral to customers. This salesand marketing content is long-lived and is the face of your business to your prospects. And it can make orbreak a deal.If sales people are using poor quality materials, their relevance to the end customer will suffer. Potentialcustomers use your material to build their own internal business cases and to advocate on your behalf to theirteams. If they aren’t equipped with great content they’ll be less effective.So, you must ask whether your teams are using the most effective content. Are they using case studies thatresonate with the right market? Are they using accurate product information in their proposals? And are theyusing proven, high-ROI content at the right stage in the sales cycle?The reality is that the most important content – the content that drives major transactions – often goesunmanaged. Sales people struggle to discover the best marketing material to use in a given pursuit. Marketingnever knows whether their content is valuable. And the result is marketing materials don’t get more effective.This can change. Sales and marketing teams can use the content lifecycle to deliver great content that closesdeals.What Is the Sales and Marketing Lifecycle?To address the problem we need to understand the content lifecycle—how sales and marketing content isdiscovered, used, and improved. Doing so allows us to learn how sales and marketing can collaborate toget higher quality content into the hands of sales teams at the right time and in the right context.
Discover Can sales instantly find the great content they need in the right context? Can sales find content that their peers succeed with? Can marketing control the content that can be used? Learn Can marketing see which content is generating real business? Can marketing spot important content usage trends? Can customer-facing teams provide feedback to improve content quality? Enhance Can marketing quickly adjust content based on feedback and insights? Can content be reviewed and approved fast? Is the best content quickly distributed to customer-facing teams for use?Discover the Best Sales and Marketing ContentLet’s look at an example of a sales team building a new proposal. Your sales teams want to send the bestproposals possible to their prospects. But pulling together a great proposal isn’t easy. They may needdatasheet materials provided by product development. They may use product benefits from the marketingdepartment. And they might need important company data from the sales operations team.But how do they find the right content efficiently? With thousands of old proposals, hundreds of datasheets, andother pieces of content stored across the company it is a major challenge. That’s why teams will often default towhat’s at their fingertips. And that could be old, outdated, and ineffective content that doesn’t put your companyin the best light.So, the root challenge is one of discovery. It must be simple for sales people to quickly locate the exact contentthat they need at the right time. Let’s look at the principal elements that make for an effective content discoverystrategy.Discover Content in ContextWhen a sales person speaks to a prospect in the banking contextindustry in Germany, they are in a specific context. Thecontent that will likely resonate best with the target is tuned toaddress their pain, their industry, their geography, and more.Simply sending the generic datasheet that you store on yourdesktop is not enough.So, how does the sales team locate the right content? Thecritical first step is to establish context. Ask yourself “what arethe parameters that determine an effective sales pursuit?”Does your product deliver value differently depending onthe industry? Do you have multiple product lines that deliverdifferent benefits? Are there different messages at varioussales stages?
Using these vectors you can determine how to help sales teams discover the right content. You should tagor organize content based on the categories that matter to your team. Or better still, if you can automate thegrouping of your content and surface it in context you can accelerate this process. So, a sales person will findrelevant financial case studies when looking at a datasheet on your solution for banks.Find Winning ContentIt’s not enough to find content that is relevant. Teams should also discover content that is going to lead toclosed business. How do they find winning content? You are already collecting data about which marketingcampaigns translate into closed business. You already know which products are successful and should getmore investment. But do you know which content is successfully delivering closed business?Right now if your sales team searches your content vault for a financial services proposal they’ll get a set ofsearch results. And all of those results will be weighted the same, whether they led to a win or a loss. That isnot an effective approach.Start gathering data about whether a proposal led to a win. Learn which datasheets are translating intofurthered customer conversations. Find out what the ROI is on a specific presentation. Uncover which contentsales colleagues recommend as most effective, and make this data available to sales teams when they searchfor content. That means sales people can quickly locate ‘winning’ proposals that resulted in closed business.Control What Gets UsedNot all content is created equal. Product data gets Right now if yourout-of-date, presentations lose their effectiveness, sales team searchesand proposal content grows stale. So this contentneeds to be constantly pruned. Ineffective sales your content vault forand marketing materials should be sent to an a financial servicesarchive and the best content should be promotedand surfaced to sales teams. proposal they’ll get a set of search results. AndEliminating ineffective content can be done bydeleting, archiving, or adjusting permissions. all of those results willEstablish a content team that evaluates which be weighted the same,content should be removed from active usage.Promoting effective content can also be achieved whether they led to aby the use of recommendation engines, activity win or a loss. That is notstreams, and surfacing content in the appropriatecontext. Use tools that allow you to suggest useful an effective approach.banking case studies when a sales person islooking at a financial services proposal.
Case Study: Discover Great Sales Content This major telecommunications company has offices spread around the globe. The international nature of their team complicates how sales and marketing work together to prepare customer proposals. Marketing is challenged with how to surface great new datasheets and other materials to sales. And sales can find it difficult to locate the right content for a given situation. -- Grouping Content by What Matters - The company has dozens of products and operates across numerous geographies. So, it can be difficult for sales teams to select the right materials. To meet the challenge, they grouped content by product names, geography, industry, and other elements. This allows the team to simply select a grouping and all relevant content is instantly surfaced. -- Find What Works for Colleagues - With so many employees, it is important to harness their expertise to determine what content should be used along the sales process. The company uses a recommendation engine that looks at how teams use content to surface new, relevant presentations and proposals to colleagues. -- Enhance Content Quality - The marketing team then uses a ‘collaboration hub’ to centralize feedback and input into their customer-facing content. Changes to proposals and other content can be made, reviewed, approved, and re-distributed to the right team members.Learning How to Improve Salesand Marketing ContentMarketing must make sure that sales teams always havethe best content available. But presentations, collateral,and other critical content have been overlooked and improveunmeasured. Important customer-facing content simplygoes unmanaged. Marketing needs to understand what contentcontent is working effectively and how to improve itgoing forward.But how do they gather the right information to makesmart decisions about which content to promote,enhance, or eliminate? Without analysis of whetheryour content is working, sales teams will continue torely on simply ‘what’s close’ rather than on ‘what worksbest’. Let’s take a look at what insights marketing, salesoperations, and other teams should generate to makebetter decisions about how to manage their customer-facing content.
Access What Content Works and WhyThere is a common, false assumption about marketing content.That is, once it is produced and placed into a content managementsolution that the job is done. But that is not the reality. The truth is The truth isthat when you have critical content it must be constantly curated. that when youThat means sales teams should use the best content for a givensituation. And marketing should invest in and promote materials have criticalthat are effective. content it mustThe best way to measure the effectiveness of content is to track be constantlyback to how well it performs in a sales situation. Did a proposal curated.lead to a closed deal? Did a datasheet translate into a successfulcustomer visit? Marketing should gather this data and associate itwith the material used in a given pursuit. This allows the team toquickly uncover what content is most effective.That includes looking at which content performs best in different contexts. Did a presentation drive businessin financial services but not manufacturing? Is a piece of collateral more effective early in the sales process?Marketing teams already use this approach in their email campaigns and website content management. Theymust now apply it to the collateral that sales people rely on day-in and day-out.Spot Important Usage TrendsTo make intelligent decisions about what content to promote and what to eliminate, marketing needs tounderstand how datasheets, proposals, and other materials are used by the sales team. If sales people areheavily using one datasheet repeatedly, marketing needs to evaluate whether it is the best possible content.And if good content is not being accessed by sales teams, then marketing should promote these materials tothe team. Intelligence about usage trends allows marketing to answer questions like the below. Content has It needs to be re-promoted to the sales team It should be re-evaluated for quality by marketing infrequent use It needs to be assessed for how discoverable it is Is a product or geography being effectively marketed to? Content has Should a marketing campaign help support the market the content is focused on? Do we need additional content to support its use? frequent use Are there other sales teams that would benefit from this content? Content is Do additional pieces need to be created to support other contexts? Does the material need to be adapted to better support other contexts? only used in a certain context
Gather Feedback to Improve QualityMarketing must always improve the quality of its content. Already we’ve seen that you can improve quality byusing sales data to determine marketing content effectiveness. But there are also more qualitative elementsthat can help you improve quality. That involves gathering feedback from users of content.Did a sales pitch derail at a certain point in a presentation? Are there consistent challenges with understandingthe benefits of a particular product? Does your marketing message fail to engage prospects? These moreintangible elements need to be understood. Providing a simple feedback mechanism to gather input allowsmarketing to determine how content can be revised and improved. Case Study: Intelligence Boosts Content Quality This major technology company sells dozens of different technologies to customers globally. The complexity of their product offers and distribution model make it a challenge for sales people to surface and deliver the best content possible to their prospects. One particular case relates to the delivery of sales proposals. -- Staying in Control Even at High Volumes - Because of the volume of requests for more information this company’s RFP (Request for Proposal) response team recognized an area to enhance performance. They knew that many pieces of technical and business content could be reused across multiple proposals. The RFP team can take advantage of similar content that was tailored for the financial services industry. And they needed to use content that had been proven successful in past proposals. -- Organizing Documents for Fast Access - The content that the company’s pre-sales and RFP response team develops is extremely valuable. Important content for preparing an RFP includes win information, vertical data, technical information, and success stories. So it has to be quickly retrieved. But first, how should it be organized? The company knew that organizing content with custom metadata makes storage and retrieval simpler. They defined set attributes like geography, customer vertical, submission date, software product, and other unique identifiers. And they used tools to make it easy for users to set-up their own custom metadata fields. Then users can apply standardized metadata to a document. But even more, teams should investigate technology that will automatically organize content based on the attributes that matter to your team. This can radically improve the discoverability of great content by sales teams. -- Surfacing Content You Weren’t Aware Of - With so many team members creating great content, there is a wealth of resources available to be searched. But often there are marketing documents that a user may not be aware of and not know to search for. Users receive targeted recommendations of new, relevant, and interesting documents that are listed based on how much they are helping colleagues. Plus, global activity feeds surface new content and comments from colleagues. That makes it easier to quickly find a new template or other important information.
• Intelligence Improves Content Quality - These content tags can be surfaced throughout their content tool, based on the appropriate context. So the sales team can not only search for content, they can also surface related and suggested content that can be more effective in their pursuit. Critically, the company organizes content based on its ROI and results. Did the proposal lead to a win? If so, these documents should be surfaced first – through searches or automated recommendation engines. The ROI data allows marketing to determine whether or not to promote specific proposals. It lets the team know whether content is missing and needs to be added. The result of this intelligence: higher quality proposal material gets developed.Enhance Sales and Marketing ContentBecause your sales and marketing content is so critical, it must be curated. It is insufficient to simply placeall of your content into sales’ hands and hope for the best. Marketing teams must continually improve contentquality and manage it to boost discoverability by the sales team.In the previous section we looked at the kinds of data that should be collected for marketing to determine whatchanges to make. Now let’s look at how marketing can work together with sales to improve content quality.The process of improving content quality must be efficient. Marketing needs to quickly identify the gaps in themarketing materials. Sales operations must weed out ineffective proposals. And the team must ensure that thebest quality content for a given situation surfaces for customer-facing teams. Let’s take a look at how we canstreamline these processes.Adjust Content Quickly Based on InsightAs feedback comes in around your marketing collateral, youshould act promptly. Perhaps you need to gather input fromthe development team around new product features. Or, insightmaybe you need to refine the text by pulling in a new writer.Or, you might need to collaborate quickly with colleagues inpre-sales to enhance the impact of your content.This quick collaboration around content requires simplecontent management tools to get the job done. Simplyemailing documents back and forth between colleagues isa recipe for lost input and delay. A more effective approachis via content management tools that assist with managingversions, feedback, collaboration, and enhancement.These kinds of tools radically simplify the refinement of thedocuments you create.
Review and Approve the Best Contents PossibleOnce content has been refined, it needs to be approved by the right parties. Important collateral can’t simply bethrown over the wall to the sales team. The product team should evaluate content to make sure it puts featuresin the best light. Sales leadership may need to review a proposal for quality and consistency. And marketingwill want to evaluate whether content is on-message.But review processes are often time-consuming and error prone. A survey of 1,400 global professionalsdiscovered that email was the primary vehicle used for managing approval processes. But when a proposalis emailed to ten parties for their approval, you get ten replies with ten attachments, and too much complexity.Teams need a simple, automated approach to handle reviews.For industries where content is subject to regulatory regimes, this kind of review and approval is especiallyimportant. So, audit trails that identify when a document was approved and by whom can provide a solidfoundation for ensuring that only authorized content is released into public hands.Distribute the Best Content PossibleOnce content has been refined and approved, it needsto get back into the hands of sales people. But simply But simply emailingemailing the team won’t be enough. It is critical thatcontent is delivered to sales teams at the right time in the the team won’tright context. That requires marketing to look into how be enough. It iscontent has been used, and how it should be surfaced. critical that contentReturning to our discussion of sales vectors, ask yourself is delivered towhat determines when content is useful. Is it determinedby stage in the sales process? By product? By prospect sales teams at theindustry? Regardless of the vector, it is important to tag right time in theyour documents with the right descriptor so sales canefficiently discover the content. Learn which vectors right context. Thatmatter to the sales process and which are used by salesteams to ensure that content does surface. requires marketing to look into howNot every piece of content is relevant for every user. Infact, in some cases you may want to explicitly block content has beencontent from being used by certain users. That means used, and how itwhen content is curated marketing should be careful tomanage content permissions. should be surfaced.ConclusionSales and marketing content is vital to the success of any sales pursuit. You need to deliver the most effectivecontent to your prospects in order to accelerate deals. By following the content lifecycle, you can enhance thequality of your content and ensure that sales teams are always delivering the best message to the market.