What does your sales content library look like? Back in the old days of selling (the 1990’s), the sales library was a janitor closet with a few shelves to store corporate brochures, product sheets, and other printed sales material. Prior to going into the field for their appointments, the sales team would stock up on materials to hand out to prospects. Back then it was a long and cumbersome process to produce new material. It was also expensive to print, so refreshing and replenishing supplies was rare. Consequently, the content was written and produced in a way to be applicable to a large diverse audience and last a long time. Or in other words, the content was relevant to few, meaningless to many, and rarely had any impact on actually advancing the sale.
The digital revolution has moved our content libraries from the closet to the cloud. The good news is that our janitors have more room to store their brooms and mops. The bad news is that since electronic content is out of sight, it’s also out of mind. Many salespeople may not even know where the library is located on their network or how to access it. This leads to salespeople building their own libraries filled with content they often create or modify for their own purposes. This is how you get 50 different versions of your master introductory presentation deck and proposal templates that are far from meeting the corporate standards. The sales content library ends up being no longer centralized. Instead, it resides in multiple locations on the corporate network, on individual hard drives, on a memory stick in a desk drawer and buried in the “Sent” folder of someone’s email.
It’s time to take control of your sales content. It no longer has to be an afterthought. Instead, it can be part of a well-thought-out sales process. By following these steps you can build a sales library that consists of content that’s relevant to every prospect, accessible to every salesperson, and actually has a positive impact on advancing the sales process.
The first step in improving your sales content library is to admit you have a problem and measure how big the problem is. Assess your current content resources. Determine all of the places content is being stored and catalog what you have and how it’s used. Next ask each salesperson to send a sample of every piece of content and sales collateral they use with a description of how and when they use it. You may have to offer an amnesty program so they feel safe to share. Once you have it all, store it in a centralized file that can be accessed by all and catalog its contents.
Sales Process Mapping
Meet with multiple salespeople to determine how they sell. What are the steps in the sales process? Is it the same every time? What are the variables? Does it vary with different buyer personas? Who are the buyer personas? What questions do they ask in the sales process? What are their objections? The objective of this exercise is to map sales content with the various steps in the sales process. Do you have content that supports each step, every buyer persona, and the most common questions/objections? Is the content in a format that makes sense for how salespeople use it and how prospects consume it?
New Content Development
Once you have a catalog of available sales content resources and have mapped how content is and can be used in the sales process, you’ll know your content gaps. You’ll know which content is deficient and needs to be updated or customized to meet the unique needs of a specific buyer persona. You’ll also know if there are brand new resources that need to be developed.
Just because you have a content library doesn’t mean it’s going to be used or at least used as it was intended. Each piece of content should be accompanied with a detailed description of how and when it should be used in the sales process. Some documents are meant to be used as introductory tools when the prospect is still at the top of the sales funnel and at the beginning of their sales journey. Others are geared toward overcoming objections, differentiating from competitors, and closing deals. Build a playbook that serves as an index of every sales scenario and the various content that can be used in each. You can even build email templates that the sales people can use to send the content to their prospects so they don’t have to “recreate the wheel” each time.
Technology & Training
Technology has allowed us to produce relevant content relatively quickly, easily and cheaply. Now we need to use technology to manage our content, make it accessible to the sales team, and integrate it into our sales process. The good news is there are a lot of tools on the market today that make this easy to do. In fact, many CRM applications allow you to store centralized content right where your sales people spend the majority of their work day. Once your revised library is in place, teach your sales team how to access it and how each piece should be used.
Your sales content library may already have come out of the closet. Now it’s time to bring it out of the digital hinterlands. With a revitalized sales content library, your sales content will no longer be an afterthought or a nice-to-have. It will become an integral element of a strategic sales process.