According to Aberdeen Group research, 92% of firms say producing high-quality content is valuable, but just 54% say they are effective at executing this activity. Success in content marketing depends on several factors – from producing content in a variety of formats, to distributing content across multiple channels, as well as tracking the impact of these efforts. Clearly, this multifaceted approach isn’t easy, but there are a few ways marketing teams can gain insight into what materials get the most use, find out how to focus their time on what really matters, and help shorten sales cycles by enabling sales reps with relevant information at the right time.

Tracking and ensuring the marketing team is giving sales “the right stuff”

Marketers are obsessed with analytics, but they struggle to get appropriate and actionable feedback from sales reps on what would really benefit them during the sales cycle. In fact, sales effectiveness research shows that while 60% of Best-in-Class marketing departments have extensive visibility into content utilization by sales, only 31% of Average organizations and 28% of Laggard organizations achieve the same level of insight. Clearly, there’s a sizable execution gap which many marketers still need to overcome.

In the meantime, though, these marketers often spin their wheels creating assets that are not used because sales can’t find them or doesn’t think it will add value to the selling process. In order to ensure that the collateral they create is helpful, as well as to determine what is not getting used so they can take it out of the mix, marketers need visibility into what content sales reps are accessing, how they are using it and if it is effective – much like the model set by the Best-in-Class.

Luckily, there are a growing number of new tools on the market helping marketers to design great content for sellers, as well as to manage it and gain visibility into use and value. A few of the leading products already integrate with CRMs and Marketing Automation Systems for better lead management. This way, data is funneled back to the marketing automation tool and can even contribute to overall lead scores so marketing leaders can track sales and prospect engagement to determine the best return on their marketing collateral.

Supporting Marketing’s voice at the exec table with real data 

Gathering this data enables marketing managers to better track conversion rates and revenue generation associated with their content. For example, a manager may be able to see which pieces of content are consistently used during different stages of the sales cycle in closed wins. Armed with data regarding what types of content are effective and how those pieces are supporting revenue in the form of closed sales, marketing managers can more confidently participate in strategic decisions and negotiate for resources.

Improving sales training so it helps the sales team convert more leads to customers

 Most companies currently hold a one-week crash course training on a new product launch and then little organized support follows. According to Dr. John Medina, most people forget up to 90% of what they learn in traditional training within three days. But, breaking things down into short, easy-to-digest snippets and spacing learning events at expanding intervals such as two 30 and 60 day points enhances long-term memory. In addition, incorporating video, audio, and tactile exercises into your training programs can boost memory retention by 65%.

Marketing content is not simply for customers; it can also support the sales team in those last few touch points before the prospect makes a decision. That said, sales reps don’t always understand how to use the content effectively. In fact, SiriusDecisions reports that up to 70% of marketing content is never used by sales. So, marketers need to think of sales as another persona to market to and take the same care to make sure the information is easily accessible and digestible. Moreover, Aberdeen research shows that 73% of Best-in-Class firms have even gone so far as to create central libraries of marketing-approved assets with templates that apply to different selling situations – compared to only 45% of Average firms, and 48% of Laggards. Clearly, the better that marketers are at training their reps on content usage and availability, the more valuable sales can become to customers, which ultimately results in more conversions and closed deals.

chanin5Chanin Ballance brings years of experience in technology, business management and marketing to her role as CEO at MobilePaks, a marketing and sales enablement software solution provider. She is an active member of YPO and WBENC, and frequently speaks about learning, mobile engagement, sales enablement solutions, and more. She has also been published in several prominent industry publications including: Channel Partners, Chief Learning Officer, Inc. Magazine, Marketing Profs and Sales & Marketing Management Magazine. Her Twitter handle is @chaninb.

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