With the elimination of most face-to-face meetings, today's modern buyers require sellers to be better than ever. The extreme growth in digital engagement makes the effective use of marketing content a requirement for buyer engagement and sales enablement. But research by Neil Patel shows that:
"Sales don't even use 60-70% of marketing content. This means that about two-thirds of marketing's investment in content development – often as much as 12% of the entire marketing budget – can be going to waste. Content that should be impacting revenue by helping to close late-stage deals is just sitting unused."
And to add to this, it's imperative that the content is relevant - relevant to both the seller AND the buyer. So why do reps feel the need to create content that may not be brand compliant or follow the storyline shared by the organization's website and marketing content?
Here are 7 top reasons sales reps fail to use the marketing content available to them, and how to get them to do so:
1. They Can't Find It
Struggling to find content is nothing new for reps. When 65% of sales reps say they can't find content to send to prospects, we have a real challenge. And when it's available, but they cannot easily find and send it, it's even more frustrating. Misalignment between sales and marketing is a common problem amongst businesses that often causes this issue. For marketers to prove the value of their assets, they must make finding content simpler for reps. A sales enablement platform to identify and assess the gap, and store and manage all content is critical. If representatives have a central system of record that serves as the single source of truth for content – powered by AI with a sound tagging system – they can easily find that specific brochure, success story, price sheet, and other vital information.
2. They Don't Know When Or Who To Use It With
The sheer volume of content produced by marketers makes it difficult for reps to discern what to use with whom during each phase of the sales cycle. Different pieces are relevant for different stages. To simplify this process, marketers can tag content in ways that offer a roadmap for reps – based on factors like persona, product, use case, and buying stage, and when to use it to best advantage. Useful tagging within the sales enablement platform can help reps instantly filter for content for new conversations, as well as when conversations with the buyer pivot to a new need.
3. They Don't Know How To Use It Effectively
Effective use of content is key to successfully engaging buyers, and research shows that most reps aren't so great at it. The Sales Management Association found that while 61% of sales leaders say digital content is essential to sales, only 32% consider their organizations effective at using it. Marketing material used most effectively should help highlight the rep as an expert in their industry, engage and inform buyers, and help move the sales process forward – ultimately to purchase. Sellers need to know what content is most useful to which buyers, and where, in the process. Providing guidance on how to use content to help the buyer solve their business problem, and demonstrate ROI, will help them see the value of using marketing content – once they see how it helps build buyer engagement and motivate conversations.
4. Most Content Is Created For TOFU And Not Useful To Reps In Later Stages
Content made most specifically for the top of the funnel (TOFU) is primarily created to pique the buyer's interest and build confidence in the brand. Much of TOFU content is too high-level to help build trust in your sales reps. Unfortunately for sales reps, CMI cites that up to 51% of content created is primarily for TOFU.
Marketers should note this issue, and work to create content for the sales teams they support, to help progress the potential deal forward – drilling into the problem buyers are focused on solving and providing a path toward a solution your company delivers. More content focused on similar use cases, obtaining the buyer's business outcome, customer testimonials, value assessments, and more. These are the tools reps require to progress the conversations with buyers.
5. They're Unsure If The Content Is Current
Given the problems discussed above, it's no wonder reps may potentially use outdated content. Frustrations with their inability to quickly find tools and content they need pre-, or post-buyer meeting, often lead to downloading content and reusing it repeatedly. It takes a rep's time and energy to examine what is updated; it frequently does not get done. By using an effective sales enablement platform that syncs to the most current version of content, means reps can be confident the material they are using is always the most up-to-date. Helping to ensure that sales reps have both on and offline capabilities for instant access also helps promote the use of tat content.
6. Marketing Content Is Too High-Level To Be Helpful In Specific Situations
There is no shortage of content available to assist buyers in their purchasing decisions. But is it the right content, for the right persona, at the right time in the buyer's journey - in other words, is it relevant? Content can often be misaligned, and this does neither party any good. Ensuring that pertinent and meaningful material specific to the buyer's jobs-to-be-done, in relation to their stage in solving the business issue, is critical to progressing the conversation. As the sale advances, potential customers require information to show the value the solution brings to the organization, and convince them that your answer is the best via customer testimonials and success stories.
7. It Isn't Easy To Share Content
With email system limitations on file attachment sizes, security gateways, and more, reps have difficulty getting content through to potential buyers. Larger files like customer testimonials and product videos get rejected by email servers. Additionally, reps often want to share a story that requires various pieces of content.
By deploying a sales enablement platform that enables reps to use digital sales rooms for outreach and follow-up, they can upload the best combination of content to answer buyer questions, and extend buying conversations. Digital sales rooms that self-generate when the sales rep sends an email from the platform enable easy sharing and collaboration, and provide just what is needed to progress the buyer at the right time.
Build Trust in Marketing Content with Sales Reps
There is no shortage of content. Sales reps don’t use it because they can’t find it, don’t trust its recency, don’t know how to use it or can’t easily share it. There’s also a dearth of content for the mid-and-late stages to help support sales conversations.
Marketers and reps need to work more efficiently – potentially using a sales enablement platform to ensure that the most up-to-date versions can be located and effectively used to drive the sale's progress, by leading the buyer in their journey.
Sales reps benefit by helping buyers gain momentum toward purchase. Marketers benefit by gaining visibility into what marketing content gets used by reps – and viewed by buyers – so they can improve their efforts, and prove the ROI of content investment.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.