The middle of the pipeline can sometimes be an awkward purgatory – you’ve captured their interest, qualified, and are working the opportunity, but the prospect isn’t quite ready to make a decision. Perhaps they’re evaluating alternative options and providers, or maybe they’re pulling the team together for a consensus decision. This is a critical time to keep the momentum going. So what’s an effective way to get them to the finish line? It often comes down to quality sales content and collateral that can be shared to give you a strategic advantage.
How important is content? 95% of buyers in one study chose a vendor that provided them with content at each stage of the buying process.
In terms of content type, case studies appear to be the most successful content overall. OpenView and DocSend analyzed 34 million data points and case studies had an 83% completion rate (document was read to completion).
Ideal collateral hinges on the buyer persona, specifics of the opportunity at hand, buying process and where you are in the sales process. Keep in mind that many customers are busy and often prefer content containing shorter text with added visuals.
As we’ve noted in previous blog posts, 84% of sales content creation falls on the shoulders of marketing, which, not coincidentally, is where a business’s copywriters and designers, who develop the textual and graphic content respectively, are often housed. That means to generate the most effective sales content, sales and marketing will have to be closely aligned — clear on the objectives, data, and talking points to speak to buyers.
But the greatest sales content in the world means nothing if it’s not being utilized and properly monitored in terms of its metrics. To improve usage rate and effectiveness of your content, adopt the following best practices:
- Create a central repository with all your content with easy access.To maximize the probability of content usage, make sure that all collateral can be easily accessed via a file hosting service or collaboration software, especially for dispersed sales teams.
- Set your sales team up for successThere are a myriad of tools available via CRM, Sales, and Marketing Automation Platforms that allows for easy distribution of the collateral, at the appropriate timing. Much of it can be automated, personalized, and provides invaluable insight to the sales organization. Email templates and entire drip campaigns can be prepared in advance; email notifications can provide insight when a customer opens collateral attachments; and internal task reminders can support sales professionals with their follow-up cadence when working accounts. Much of the initial work may fall on the shoulders of marketing, but it’s essential to provide the training and support to your sales staff so that they can take advantage of the tools at their disposal. With this information, sales reps can quickly draw conclusions about which prospects are receptive to which specific types of collateral and adjust accordingly (our next point).
- Adjust your content based on feedback and acceptance rates.Creating new and compelling collateral is a task that never ends. Talk to your team to identify gaps in your content – such as a need for a case study that addresses a specific target vertical; or the need for a short video that might be easier to digest than a text-based report for busy C-suite executives who don’t have time to read but have the space to watch a clip.Another example, arguably the most critical, is how customers are responding to the content. If there’s a negative response from a particular buyer persona or vertical, that’s a signal to revise content and collateral to better address the concerns of the respective persona or industry.
Improving the ease of access to content will encourage a higher adoption and usage rate by sales reps. Implementing a structured and frequent feedback system enables organizations to analyze need areas and address those holes with revisions. Those revisions in turn will dramatically improve both the quality and effectiveness of your sales content. And with better content used more accurately, you can dramatically improve your close rate and revenues.