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. It is an ongoing process that adapts to changing customer needs and quickly adopts new forms of content and methods of delivery.
Today’s successful sales content shares the following basic attributes:
Engaging and Interactive
Content must be easy to understand and use. It must be up to date, easy to digest, conform to branding guidelines, and be available from any device at any time. Unless content is engaging and useful, customers and prospects will disregard it, and it will not serve its primary purpose of advancing the sales process. Leading sales and content marketers are investing more in multimedia and interactive formats rather than longer, text base forms of content, because audiences are busier than ever and prefer to receive information in short bursts of time on whatever device they happen to using. Content with an element of interactivity can better engage the customer with a company’s brand and create a relationship in the customer’s mind between the offering and the desired outcomes such as increase profitability, higher sales, or faster return-on-investment.
For example, interactive return-on-investment models enable the customer to create their own compelling events and adds urgency to the sales process based on information that the customer generates internally, rather than using data supplied from a vendor. Interactive content creates brand engagement in a low-risk, but compelling environment, and is one way to advance the sales or restart a stalled sales cycle. However, the interactive content must be visually appealing, easy-to-use, and accurate if it is to succeed.
Effective content provides new insight or thought-provoking ideas that challenge preconceived notions and inspire the prospect to action. It may advance new ideas through thought leadership or subject matter expertise that is valuable to the customer. For sales reps, valuable content enables them to move the sales process along and helps to cement a relationship with the customer that positions the rep as a trusted adviser or valued peer, rather than a mere order-taker that wastes the customers most valuable resource – time.
Sales content must be constructed such that it can be leveraged and reused across multiple channels and delivery media. It should be customized able to address the needs of the specific target buyers for the specific challenges or needs. Just as web advertising is often constructed on the fly using resources from a Content Management System (CMS) to deliver precisely targeted messages, the best sales enablement collateral delivers exactly the right message for a specific persona at the exact point in the sales process when they are ready to hear and receive the message.
Making content reusable helps to reduce the cost of producing assets while simultaneously improving the effectiveness of content and reinforcing messaging and branding. Consistent messages can be created once and used and distributed in countless ways. For example, some companies have had success by creating content that sales reps can easily personalized by adding a unique message. This might take the form of adding a personalized introduction to a canned video, or using content in webinars and at trade shows.
Reusability could also take the form of message or content snippets that can be readily combined to create customized, interactive collateral. The same concept could even be applied to traditional content such as slides for a presentation. By using the library of slides, cross-indexed by target persona, role, industry challenge, benefit, and sales need, a sales rep can easily assemble a concise presentation that encompasses exactly the right tone and message for a client meeting. Multiple spec sheets representing various products or configurations could be combined into a single data packet, or several video vignettes could become an engaging showcase of customer success or endorsements.
Customers prefer to do much of their research on their own without relying on the sales force to present information and guide them through the process. When they have access to engaging content and collateral, they will use it to educate themselves about the product. However, if the sales rep is unaware that the customer has accessed content, a major opportunity to connect or reconnect with the prospect may slip by.
Reps need the ability to provide access to the specific content that matches the customer need in the stage of the sales cycle, but the rep also needs the ability to know when the prospect has accessed and consumed the content. It is also helpful to know how long the prospect spent with the piece, or if they forwarded it to members of the organization, or just took a cursory look at it. This knowledge enables reps to create a strategy for their next contact with the prospect, and can provide extremely valuable insight for prioritization and sales forecasting.
No matter how good the content is, if the sales force can’t find it quickly when they need it, that content will remain unused. Any resources put into creating content are wasted without an effective content management system that helps to identify and deliver the right collateral for a particular situation.
A content repository should have the ability to provide secure access to users inside the firewall, such as a company’s own sales force, and to users outside the firewall such as customers and prospects. Users today have little patience for paper brochures and data sheets, so enabling them to browse and research the offering on their own time is a better solution.
In addition, an accessible online Content Management System or Content Repository allows the sales rep to orchestrate collateral to meet a specific buyers needs. Targeted content that addresses the user by role or industry, for example, is more effective than general-purpose content. In addition, sending a prospect to a personalized, curated page to learn about the product is often perceived as value-added activity performed by the rep on the prospects behalf.
However, before the rep can orchestrate these customized content portals, they must be able to find by the appropriate collateral. All content should be tied with data or metadata that identifies the appropriate persona and sale stage, allowing them to encounter and discover content when it is needed. Other ways to make content findable is including QR codes, and links to sales materials, articles, as well as websites. All content should be searchable, version-controlled, and up-to-date.
Understanding each buying persona and their decision-making role is crucial to ensuring that content is engaging and moves the conversation forward. Collateral meant to influence an executive must address the business strategy, return-on-investment, and overall value of an offering. It must enable reps to position themselves as peers of the executive in order to advance the sale and give the right to communicate directly at that level without going through lower rungs of gatekeepers and intermediaries. Decision-makers whose role is responsible for P&L will focus on higher level values and benefits and return on investment, while end-users and lower-level employees will nearly always show interest in detail features and specifications. Reps and marketing departments should not attempt to address the different needs of these audiences with a single piece of collateral.
Effective content must be memorable to be truly useful. The value of sales content is as much a matter of how something is said as how the information is presented. Not only must a message be presented in a way that appeals to the target’s needs, it must also be stated in a way that separates the company’s offerings from those of the competitors. Either the message must be uniquely compelling, or the delivery must be uniquely memorable; otherwise, the content will not move the sales process forward.
Want to learn more about developing a sales content strategy? Download our eBook: The Currency of Content. To learn how Bigtincan can help with the organization, utilization, and delivery of your sales content, request a demo today!