Your sales content is good, but it can always be better.
Salespeople can use effective, engaging content to do the heavy work such as creating brand awareness, educating prospects and answering unasked questions.
Here’s how to improve the quality of your content and keep your sales enablement plans and tools fresh.
Build better content
Don’t discount where you are now. You likely have content that works well. It’s worth keeping – perhaps as is. There’s also likely content you can improve or create. Here’s how:
1. Audit your content
Most organizations have a rich library of sales content (whether you have it organized under an sales enablement plan or not). It’s probably full of tip sheets, white papers, case studies, social media posts, email campaigns, research, podcasts, videos and webinars.
Sales and marketing teams want to make content audits a regular practice, not something that happens “when you get time.”
In an audit, first look for things that aren’t working, such as:
- outdated pieces, content that doesn’t get used, inaccuracies, technology or tools that don’t function properly any more, and
- content that is out of place with your current sales strategy, funnel or pipeline expectations.
Also identify things that work, such as:
- content that closely aligns with specific, recurring questions salespeople hear and answer most recently
- pieces that align sequentially with the buyer’s journey and need to stay in that order, and
- questions and concerns that customer service or support regularly hear and resolve to identify content gaps.
2. Check your balance
Sales and marketing pros also get a chance to check the content balance with regular audits.
You want to look for areas where the content is overloaded or under-served.
Some things to consider:
- Is the early funnel stage content too complex and overwhelming?
- Do you have enough case studies that cover a wide variety of industries or customer types for late-stage selling?
- Do you have a boatload of product-oriented content, but a limited number of tips to help salespeople post valuable information on social media?
- Is there enough on-demand video available throughout the sales funnel? For instance, do you have introductions to your products, processes, facilities and services for early stages? Do you have buying guides for middle stages and tutorials and problem-solving for late stages?
3. Track how prospects and salespeople use content
Look at how salespeople and anyone involved in sales enablement use the content, plus how prospects engage with the content.
Ask salespeople what their go-tos are and what prospects use and/or ask for most. For a more accurate look, track usage – what’s pulled and what’s interacted with – in a sales enablement app.
This will help you identify the most popular subjects for content and the channels salespeople and prospects feel most comfortable using.
Consider the most popular subjects for ideas on how to create more content in different formats. For instance, if a case study is popular, consider creating a tip sheet from the takeaways or doing a video testimonial with the customer who had the success.
On the flip side, if prospects don’t engage with a webinar, you might reassess if you should keep it in the content library – or perhaps, you can use the information in a better, condensed or streamlined format.
4. Spend time on calls
Marketers and anyone who’s involved in creating sales content will want to spend more time on calls (phone, online or in person). Listen for areas where the conversations could be improved with more or different content.
Also look out for areas where salespeople could be more efficient if they knew more about a product, service, industry or competition. When you sit in on calls, you might identify new pieces of content that will answer prospect questions more efficiently. For instance, maybe a short FAQ would work better than a longer white paper in a particular complex area.
5. Line it up
Before you can improve sales content, you want to make sure it reaches prospects and customers at the optimal time.
In this step, align your buyer’s journey with the content that is most relevant at each step along the way. You might create a content funnel that lines up with your sales funnel, or build a content pipeline parallel to your sales pipeline.
Now you can see your content library (what’s left of it after an audit, plus the areas where you’ve identified) in a sequence that makes more sense through the customer’s perspective.
How to improve 10 types of sales content
Sales content comes in many forms, and there are ways to improve each one.
1. Blog posts and articles
Blog posts and articles are the most effective tool for moving prospects through the sales funnel, according to research from Chief Marketer. So you can’t go wrong with investing time and resources into turning them up a notch.
Blog posts and articles are they’re often timeless expert pieces that can enhance in-person sales meetings and online interactions – especially if salespeople or executives author them (or they’re ghost authored by another in-house expert).
Turn it up: You want to focus on accessibility and tease-ability with blog posts and articles. They’re longer pieces so salespeople need tools to tease the content. You might have links to exerts, bullet-pointed tip sheets on takeaways or email templates with invitations to exclusive papers. And you’ll want to make them easily accessible and readable from any device.
2. Reviews and customer testimonials
Reviews and customer testimonials are the second most effective kind of content for moving prospects through the pipeline. They come in many forms – from online reviews on third-party sites and testimonials on your site to longer-form client case studies and written or recorded customer Q&As.
Turn it up: Maintain a library of customer reviews and testimonials. Break it down by customer categories such as industry, company size and end-user type. Then salespeople can pull up reviews or testimonials from people who are similar to the prospects they’re talking to.
3. White papers and eBooks
White papers are the third most effective tool for moving customers closer to a deal. Many organizations use white papers or eBooks as gated content for early-stage prospects and a foundation to continue conversations.
Turn it up: White papers and eBooks are attractive pieces of content because they’re rich in research and statistics. But you can make them more effective by including insight on why the information is valuable to prospects or how they can use it practically in their professional or personal lives.
4. Social media
Salespeople can use social media to engage with prospects and customers almost any time and anywhere, so it’s the most convenient way to connect.
Turn it up: Social media’s most powerful aspect is vast reach and high frequency. Use apps to schedule frequent, eye-catching, valuable posts of existing content or links to content such as blog posts or short videos.
5. Email campaigns
Marketers usually create masterful mail campaigns so the right message hits each prospect’s in-box at the right time.
Turn it up: Marketers and salespeople should work together regularly to make sure they’re sending email messages that are in line with what prospects are asking, engaging with and responding to most at each step along the sales journey.
6. Case studies
You can use case studies in a variety of formats – video testimonials, podcasts and written documents. Strengthen them with hard numbers that define the success.
Turn it up: This is an often overlooked step that can increase the effectiveness of case studies: Review them every three to six months for different results. You don’t want to keep reporting a success that has turned into a disaster (especially a public one). And you don’t want to miss the chance to share even better results.
7. Competitor research and analysis
Salespeople need competitor research and analysis for two reasons: 1) to know how your solution compares to the top competitors, and 2) to have information at hand when prospects ask questions or make comparisons.
Turn it up: Take the analysis one step further. Show prospects their likely situation in six months if they go with the competitor’s solution compared to where they’ll be positioned using your solution.
Infographics are important to have in the content cache because some buyers are visual learners. Use solution benefits, competitive comparisons, research stats, whitepaper highlights, etc., to build infographics that accompany other content or stand alone.
Turn it up: Create custom-made infographics for each prospect. Once you have a template, you can add and delete details specific to accounts.
Get everyone involved in videos. Salespeople, service pros, warehouse workers and the CEO can show products in production or troubleshooting issues. Engineers can explain processes. Customers can talk benefits.
Turn it up: In addition to video presentations, webinars and customer testimonials, try video blogs (vlogs). You can create tutorials, demos and tours, and post them the same as – or in lieu of – blogs.
Create a library of webinars you’ve done for clients or presentations salespeople or executives have had with prospects – both of which went extremely well.
Turn it up: Test your screenshots. Prospects will view the webinar on smartphones, tablets, enhanced monitors, etc. Make sure everything is optimized for each screen – or prospects will lose interest.
What do to after the sales content is used
Content creation, use and tweaking doesn’t end. To stay on your content toes:
- Assess effectiveness with quizzes. Give salespeople quizzes on the content at least twice a year to make sure it resonates with them. If they score poorly on a certain topic or piece of content, you’ll know they don’t find it valuable or it’s time to revamp that content.
- Get salespeople involved in creating content. They’re subject matter experts. They’re field tested on what customers want and need to hear, and they can craft a good written and spoken message.
- Keep building. The work is an ongoing effort. You want to assess who’s using what content, which content is hitting home most and the level of engagement it creates. Maintain the resources to change with demand.