Sunday, November 12, 2017

Why Sales Content Management Needs More Work

There's no longer any doubt that content has become the currency of marketing and sales for virtually all kinds of B2B companies. According to the latest content marketing survey by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 91% of North American B2B companies now use content marketing in some form.

Content also provides the fuel for productive interactions between sales reps and potential buyers. Today's business buyers have become accustomed to using content to support their buying decisions, and they now expect sales reps to provide relevant content resources to complement their in-person conversations.

Unfortunately, research has shown that many B2B companies have a serious content underutilization problem. Three years ago, an analysis by SiriusDecisions found that 65% of all the content owned by a typical B2B company is not used, and that 28% of the content isn't used because it's "unfindable." (2014 State of B-to-B Content Survey)

In my experience, sales content management remains a significant challenge for many B2B companies, and new research from CSO Insights helps explain why the challenge is so persistent. The 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Report is based on survey responses from "just under" 500 sales professionals. Survey respondents represented a wide range of industries and company sizes (from less than $10 million to more than $1 billion in annual revenue).

The CSO Insights study provides a wealth of information regarding the current state of sales enablement, and it's a worthwhile read for B2B marketing and sales professionals. In the 2017 study, CSO Insights found that content had become the fourth most significant service provided by the sales enablement function, trailing only sales training, sales tools, and sales process improvements.

CSO Insights also asked survey participants about the primary approaches they are using to get content into the hands of salespeople. The following table show how the 2017 study participants responded:

As this table shows, 29.0% of survey respondents said they are using email to distribute content to sales reps, and another 22.6% said they have multiple content repositories. Only 16.7% of the respondents said they have a single repository for sales content, and a similar percentage said they use a sales enablement technology solution to manage sales content.

Using email to distribute content to salespeople puts the burden of managing content on individual sales reps, and having multiple content repositories can significantly increase the time it takes sales reps to find the content they need - if they find it at all.

This anemic adoption of sales content management solutions provides at least part of the explanation for the continuing sales content management challenges facing many B2B companies. Today's sales enablement/sales content management solutions offer robust capabilities that can streamline sales content management processes and increase the effective utilization of sales content assets.

When CSO Insights asked survey participants who are using a sales content management solution to describe its benefits, 50.9% of respondents said that it improves salesperson access to sales content and tools, and 38.0% said it reduces search time for content and collateral.

If your company has more than a handful of sales reps, these solutions should be on your radar.

Top image courtesy of Carolyn Coles via Flickr CC.

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