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Is Poor Sales Content Driving Up Your Selling Costs?

Steve Diorio Profitable ChannelsBy Stephen Diorio, Founder, Profitable Channels

 

B2B leaders are constantly searching for ways to improve sales productivity and battle rising selling costs. What most don’t realize is that the quality and effectiveness of their sales content are critical to addressing these issues. If you’re selling costs are rising faster than your sales, the effectiveness and utilization of your selling content could be a big part of the problem.

Steve Diorio Profitable ChannelsBy Stephen Diorio, Founder, Profitable Channels

 

B2B leaders are constantly searching for ways to improve sales productivity and battle rising selling costs. What most don’t realize is that the quality and effectiveness of their sales content are critical to addressing these issues. If you’re selling costs are rising faster than your sales, the effectiveness and utilization of your selling content could be a big part of the problem.

Sales content — videos, white papers, other collateral, articles, case studies, blogs and training resources — has become a large and increasingly strategic part of the sales and marketing mix. Well-organized, actionable and measurable content is now critical to every aspect of sales and marketing. In particular, content is the fuel that makes solution selling, marketing automation, social media, sales enablement and e-commerce programs run. As B2B organizations adopt these modern selling systems, they will need better sales content that is designed, packaged and structured to make them run effectively.

Sales content development has emerged as a top cost driver — often representing one quarter of the total sales and marketing spend, and determining the effectiveness of the rest of the sales and marketing mix, including sales training, marketing automation, sales productivity, sales enablement and social media.

Why Sales Doesn’t Use Your Content

In their zeal to improve sales effectiveness and lower selling costs, B2B leaders usually try to improve their sales compensation structure, coverage model, training and talent. They might see greater improvement if they focused on improving the quality and effectiveness of their selling content as a root cause of these problems. Low-quality and poorly organized content leads to unproductive selling efforts, a poor client experience, higher selling costs, and in most cases, outright waste. For example:

  • Most of the content created by B2B marketing departments is not used by sales;
  • Most organizations do not tailor content by the stage of the buying cycle;
  • Most sales managers believe that content created by marketing fails to motivate customers to buy, drive cross-sell or challenge the customer mindset; and
  • Salespeople spend hours searching for and creating their own selling materials because that content is often not structured, packaged or designed to be delivered efficiently.

 

Despite these symptoms, most sales and marketing executives don’t realize that they have a sales content problem that is driving up selling costs. Organizations can fix the problem and “sell more for less” by doing two things:

1) Reengineering the content supply chain. This involves putting in place a content architecture and disciplined processes for sourcing, assembling, targeting, distributing, tracking and “reusing” sales content. These steps are worth considering because they can significantly reduce spending on wasted content that does not directly support the client engagement process or generate measurable sales outcomes. For example, by tracking prospect views of marketing videos and product demonstrations using presentation technology from Brainshark, Securities America was able to reallocate marketing dollars to the solutions with the greatest level of customer interest.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company also advocates that if organizations adopt a“disciplined,” it would cut costs by 30%, cut the rate of content volume growth in half and double the rate of customer engagement. 

2) Create more effective sales content. This sounds obvious on the surface, but in reality, few marketers and agencies can define what good sales content is. This is a big reason why B2B executives complain about spending too much on content, while at the same time not having enough good content. For example, despite increased spending on content, more than half of B2B executives view their content as ineffective and regard their inability to create enough engaging content as their biggest content challenge.

The short answer, according to our research, is that for your collateral, presentations, case studies and training to support selling at a lower cost, they need to be actionable, targetable, useful, trackable and reusable. Here’s a brief explanation of these five characteristics that you should keep in mind as you create more effective content:

  • Actionable – Content that gives customers a compelling reason to act and salespeople a means of advancing the sale.
  • Reusable – Content that can be leveraged across a wide range of channels, programs and delivery devices.
  • Targetable – Content that supports specific steps of the sales cycle, buyer types and needs.
  • Findable – Content that is easy for customers to find, view, understand and put to work.
  • Trackable – Content that is measured in terms of use, value and effectiveness.

 

B2B leaders can, in fact, improve sales productivity and maintain the quality and effectiveness of their sales content while keeping costs in line. The key is to invest in reengineering content production processes in order to make content easy to assemble, organize, deliver, track and optimize, and work to create more effective sales content that is actionable, reusable, targetable, findable and trackable. By implementing these two practices, your cost to sell will significantly decrease, and your sales content will help you convert more sales leads into successfully closed deals.

 

Stephen Diorio is the founder of Profitable Channels, a sales enablement consultancy, and an established authority in sales solutions and channel strategy.