By Lee Mayfield, Presentek
5 Reasons Why Sales Doesn’t use Content from Marketing: and What to do About it.
Your company has invested a lot of time and money creating content for Sales Reps, so why isn’t Sales using the content from Marketing? Here are 5 reasons why and what you can do to make sure Sales makes effective use of the right content to grow the business.
- Sales can’t find the content Marketing creates
- They don’t know how or when to use content or tools
- They don’t want to look clueless in front of a customer
- They don’t think the content is relevant to customer needs
- The format or packaging doesn’t work for Sales
#1: Sales can’t find the content Marketing creates
If your front-line sales team can’t easily find content that’s been created to help the customer buy, then that content might as well not exist at all. You can instantly boost your marketing ROI by fixing this, but where do you start? There are several potential culprits to consider:
- Having too many places to look
It’s normal for content to live in various places depending on the type of content and the groups responsible. As a remedy, a lot of energy can be spent pulling information into a repository. It’s well intentioned, but let’s face it — it’s almost always out of date.
- “Needle in the haystack”
The problem gets worse as content goes in but doesn’t go out. When no one prunes back old information, the “needle in the haystack” scenario sets in. It’s only a matter of time before searching doesn’t really work — because files from 10 years ago are still showing up.
- Assuming reps will keep “checking back”
Lastly, the system or systems rely on Sales Reps perpetually “checking back” for updated info. Salespeople are busy and probably won’t “check back” — they’ll wait until they have a specific need in view and then go searching.
What you can do:
Reps need a simple organization system for content — wherever it lives — and need to be notified / reminded when something is new. Purge the old stuff, either through automation or by hand, but get it out of there. Don’t make Sales paw through all the tools in your “content garage.” Give them a nice tidy set that’s relevant to them.
#2: They don’t know how or when to use content or tools
If you’re putting your content in the hands of Salespeople, well done! So why don’t they use it? One reason is that they don’t know how. Imagine handing a well-organized toolbox to someone labeled “EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB.” Some things they’ll be able to figure out on their own, but don’t be surprised if the latest long telescoping pole for changing light bulbs in very high ceilings is not 100% adopted. Some will try the new tool, some will just use a ladder because it’s familiar to them, and others will avoid the situation entirely. It’s the same with Salespeople.
What you can do:
With anything new, people need to be instructed about the context for use. When releasing new tools or content to the field, don’t overlook context for why and how to use a resource. This can be done as a simple “cheat sheet”, launch card, or — better yet — a video clip.
#3: They don’t want to look clueless in front of a customer
In a sales portfolio, there’s both the tried and true and new innovations. Maybe the company’s future depends on Sales really embracing the new innovations. So why don’t they? One reason is that they don’t understand the new stuff — and they don’t want to look clueless in front of new or existing customers.
Marketing thinks content is teeing up great conversations — but if these are conversations Sales can’t navigate, they will avoid them. Training can be an obvious and important answer to this problem, but training on what? Lots of training is product knowledge focused, but Sales Reps need to see “what good looks like” so they can internalize it and have the confidence to steer conversations with customers toward new areas.
What you can do:
This is where coaching comes in. Find the people who can connect the new area to customer needs. They can help bring more Sales Reps onboard by explaining what to listen for, what the typical scenarios are, and how far you really need to go in a first conversation. Consider adding a coaching video to your launch kits or sales playbooks.
#4: They don’t think the content is relevant to customer needs
Marketing is trying to create useful content for Sales and customers, but sometimes they get it wrong — leading to comments from Reps like, “Yeah, we don’t use any of that.”
There are many reasons why this happens, but common threads include misperception and a lack of communication between Marketing and Sales. In defense of Marketing, sometimes there’s a corporate initiative that makes no sense.
The marketing machine dutifully cranks out content that Sales will inevitably filter out, leaving everyone frustrated. It’s critically important to capture customer reactions, and Sales is in the best position to do that. So why doesn’t Sales automatically share that info with Marketing? Reps may not see that as part of their job description.
What you can do:
Bridge the gaps between customer reactions, Sales Reps, and Marketing by creating lines of communication and cadences for dialogue about which content is effective. This information will empower Marketing to create more of what works and avoid wasting time on what doesn’t.
#5: The format or packaging doesn’t work for Sales
We did live corporate event presentations in our earlier days, and one time a presenter walked up to the control table where I was sitting, handed over a cassette tape (yes, a cassette tape) to the engineer, and said, “When they say my name, push play!” No one knew what was on the tape, but who’s going to miss an opportunity to find out in front of a ballroom full of businesspeople? His name was announced, and the engineer hit play. It was the song “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive.
I’m sure the presenter thought it would be cool to have the lyric “Taking care of business” ring out as he took the stage. Trouble was, he got to the podium in about 8 seconds — but there’s almost 60 seconds of song until you hear “Taking care of business.” I watched the presenter stand there for nearly a minute, nervously shifting and trying to kill time. Once the big lyric was sung, he gave the engineer the cut signal across the throat and that was that.
This presenter learned the hard way that an idea’s packaging can’t be one size fits all — and may even have the opposite of the desired effect when used in the wrong setting. Similarly, some Marketing content, though proven in one forum, does not work in another. It makes Sales feel awkward. They feel upstaged, not proud to show it. Especially now, Sales responds well to content that’s structured for them to have two-way conversations. It’s time to ditch the 50-slide deck. Customers have hated this format for a long time.
What you can do:
Experiment with short-form content like quick video clips that are conversation starters or single panel visuals that provide a backdrop for a two-way conversation. If Sales has ready access to collections of content around popular needs and themes, they can be more agile and go with customer interests during an in-person or virtual meeting — as well as provide rapid post-meeting content to move conversations along.
Why Sales Doesn't Use Content from Marketing by Lee Mayfield
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