What types of content do salespeople need? There are two different types of content they need to be successful: External-facing content provided by marketing like eBooks, case studies, etc and internal-facing content is sales enablement content like competitor research, product training, etc.
For years now, the hoopla around content has focused on content marketing and content’s role in the buyer’s journey. Yes, content is critical in the digital era where people self-educate before talking to salespeople. You’ve got to create customer- and prospect-facing content.
But what about content for your salespeople?
Sure, sales reps can use all of the terrific, relevant content that the marketing team has created for educating and informing target audiences. However, salespeople also need internal content assets.
Today’s post takes a look at what sales reps need, and ways to manage it, for better sales efficiency and productivity.
Types of Content Salespeople Need
In the minds of many sales and marketing professionals, content has become synonymous with marketing. Much of the content created by marketing is valuable to the sales team. However, salespeople often need content that is outside of the typical “content marketing” realm.
[bctt tweet=”#Salespeople often need content that is outside of the typical “#ContentMarketing” realm. ” username=”SEAmersonTX @VanillaSoft”]
Here’s a look at the types of external content (marketing) and internal content (sales enablement) your team needs to access.
All eBooks and White Papers
These assets are typically part of the early part of the buying process; however, sales reps need to be aware of these content offers. After all, these marketing materials may be the very magnets that draw in the prospects your sales development reps (SDRs) will reach out to. SDRs and others in the sales organization should be aware of, and understand, the content as a way to kick off conversations and warm up cold calls.
Informative Blog Posts
Salespeople can look through the corporate blog itself to find the best blog posts for their sales efforts, but why saddle them with that? Well-written, informative posts can be quick reference materials on a new product or hot industry topic, or reps can use them as an asset in their sales cadence outreach. Learn other tricks about how to start your own blog to ensure a smooth process and strategy.
Case Studies and Testimonials
Arm your salespeople with access to strong case studies and client testimonials. They add social proof to the claims your sales reps share with potential clients. A full library of case studies and testimonials that cover the various verticals and customer types you serve can also help salespeople prepare for speaking with specific customer types.
[bctt tweet=”Arm your #salespeople with access to strong 💪 #CaseStudies and client testimonials.” username=”SEAmersonTX @VanillaSoft”]
Interactive and Multimedia Content
If your company has a robust video marketing program or a podcast, ensure your team knows about the newest or most impactful episodes that can help them with their prospecting and sales efforts.
Interactive content, another important form of content, can also help your reps have better sales conversations. An online pricing calculator can come in handy for your rep to use with a prospect during a cold call. The team needs to know the content is available and where to find it.
Social Media Content
If your company uses an employee advocacy platform like GaggleAMP or Everyone Social, you already have a great way to make social content readily available for your sales team and other employees. If you aren’t using any formal employee advocacy program, consider sending a daily or weekly heads up (or post it on a Slack channel) about upcoming posts that your team may want to share or interact with.
Remember, social selling has become a way for sales professionals to develop awareness with target prospects and build relationships. The right content and guidance can help them improve their social selling success.
Other External Content
Is your marketing team producing SlideShare decks, tip sheets, infographics, and other types of content? Make sure your sales team knows about it — especially if the asset is used to generate leads.
Onboarding and Sales Training Content
You owe it to your new hires to take onboarding seriously. Don’t leave newbies frustrated or confused about what to do next, how to do it and why. New salespeople who feel you aren’t really ready for them, due to your lack of formal onboarding and training, will get frustrated and leave. Or worse, they will stay and take up valuable space.
Some examples of onboarding content for your new sales hires include:
- A checklist of things to do on the first day (arrive by 9:00am, get your security badge, drop by the manager’s office at 9:30, etc.)
- Instructions on how to use different office systems and equipment (how to connect to the network, how to use the phone system, most importantly — how to use the fancy coffee maker)
- The employee handbook (a PDF, Word, or Intranet page)
- Other instructions specific to your department, such as
- Training materials for using your team’s sales technology (video tutorials, interactive training tools, and other internal documents)
- Sales process training videos, manual
- Product training manual and videos
- Vertical training videos and documents
Just remember that with onboarding, documentation and videos aren’t enough. Spend time with new hires for some hands-on training, too.
[bctt tweet=”With onboarding, documentation 📑 and videos 📹 aren’t enough. Spend time with new hires for some hands-on training, too. #SalesSuccess #SalesTraining” username=”SEAmersonTX @VanillaSoft”]
You should also make ongoing sales training for all team members a priority. Buying behaviors are rapidly changing as technology gives more and more power to the decision maker. Help your salespeople evolve with your target audience.
Training content will typically include materials you purchase, such as:
- Training simulations
- Or in-person training sessions
Competitor Research and Analysis Materials
Part of sales preparation is knowing the competition. Make this more manageable for your salespeople by removing the burden of research from their plates. Research for them so they can focus on prepping for calls rather than scouring the internet for details about the competition.
Examples of competitor research and analysis materials include:
- Analyst reports
- Competitor battle cards and cheat sheets
- Email updates of any competitor news
- Copies of any sales and marketing collateral from trade shows
- Links to competitor content with talking points about your own product in comparison
Your prospects will know about the competition; your salespeople should, too.
Product Training and Mastery Content
In addition to onboarding and sales training content, you need to provide your sales team with content that supports product and industry mastery. Remember, buyers are educating themselves to a greater degree these days. They expect your sales representatives to know your product inside and out. You can bet many of your would-be customers will understand your product well enough that they will be able to spot a poorly trained rep from a mile away.
Your customers, particularly B2B, will expect your reps to understand the industries you sell to and the issues that your product solves for companies competing in that industry.
Product and industry mastery documentation may include:
- Internal product training videos
- A documented sales solution map describing typical prospect pain points, challenges for addressing the issue, a diagnosis (what does the customer need), the prescription (which of your products will cure the problem)
- Industry-specific training programs (in-person, video, or online)
Many people hate sales scripts, and I get it. In fact, I recently had an online live debate with Benjamin Dennehy on this very topic, which was a very heated discussion. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be stuck “reading” what to say next. That type of content doesn’t lead to authentic conversations. However, teams do need a set of talking points for each of your campaigns or specific sales activities. A talking points guidelines will give people a framework. They have the freedom to communicate naturally coupled with a list to help them remember to hit all the right topics and bust common objections.
When you have documented buyer personas, you enhance your sales team’s ability to get into the psyche of your target customers. This type of content helps sales development reps make the right outbound prospecting choices. It can help salespeople relate to decision makers as a person — not just a number.
Your persona documentation can take a variety of formats from complex spreadsheets, informative videos, and easy-to-scan infographics.
Sales Communication Templates
Your sales team wants to reach their goals each month. Asking them to create content from scratch gets in the way of that goal. Instead, work with your marketing or communications team to set up the following templates. They provide a foundation that reps can customize while keeping the branding and messaging consistent.
- Your sales and marketing teams should work together to develop a solid foundational presentation deck that acts as a template for reps to use.
- Develop a consistent proposal format for all of your reps to use.
- Email templates help sales reps quickly craft prospecting and stage-specific emails.
Content and Sales Productivity
Maybe you think all content creation belongs to the content marketing team. According to CSO Insights, marketing only creates 33.8 percent of the content that salespeople need throughout the sales cycle.
Then who else is creating content?
Sales reps are still creating one-fifth of the content they need on their own. The CSO Insights study shows this is original, not customized or tweaked marketing content. That new content equals time not spent selling. CSO Insights reports that the following teams create the rest of the material required by sales:
- Sales operations
- Sales enablement
- Product management
- And other departments
[bctt tweet=”#SalesReps are still creating 1/5 of the content they need on their own. 🤨#SalesEnablement” username=”SEAmersonTX @VanillaSoft”]
This content chaos creates a couple of problems. First and foremost, reps who spend time creating content spend less time making sales calls. Second, all the content coming from all these disparate sources can create confusion and waste time when people have to go hunt down materials.
Here are a few tips on how to make content more useful and user-friendly for your sales team.
1. Perform a sales content audit.
- What content do sales reps have access to?
- What do they need?
- Who creates content for the sales cycle now?
- How does new content get requested?
- Where does all the content live?
- How do salespeople discover or find out about content that’s available?
2. Address issues in the sales content audit that put an obstacle between salespeople and information as well as between salespeople and productivity.
- Develop procedures for new content creation to prevent salespeople from having to spend time on content development.
- Create a robust sales playbook.
- Set up a sales enablement team or at least assign a person who is responsible for orchestrating the sales content strategy, communicating what’s available, and managing relationships with all internal sales content creators.
3. Leverage technology to make content accessible. You may opt for a full-fledged sales enablement solution, or you could use the content management feature that comes with your sales engagement platform.
4. Make your sales content actionable and user-friendly with the right sales engagement software:
- Logical-branch scripting
- Email and SMS with customizable templates
- Sales cadence automation for distributing select content at different points in the sales follow up process
Tame Sales Content Chaos
Content availability has been a game-changer for the modern buyer. Don’t let self-educated consumers and B2B buyers get a leg-up on your salespeople. Serve your internal customers with content just as carefully as you do your external customers.