Sixty-five percent: That’s the amount of sales content going unused by salespeople, according to SiriusDecisions. Is that a problem? You bet it is. But it may not be the biggest content-related challenge you, as marketers, are up against.
While much of the focus centers on that 65 percent figure—and on the notion that companies are wasting major resources producing unfindable or unusable content—the bigger problem may actually lie in the 35 percent of content that actually is being used.
After all, that’s the content that’s driving your campaigns, defining your opportunity creation pitches, and shaping your sales conversations in the field. Is it possible these assets are doing more harm than good?
Unfortunately, that could be the case if your content isn’t backed by a messaging approach that actually addresses how buyers frame value and make the decision to do something different than what they’re doing today. That’s the fundamental promise that great content needs to deliver on; above all, it has to help you message for a decision.
Below, I’ve highlighted three ways to produce content so you can actually deliver on that key promise, helping you show buyers a pathway to change that favors your solution.
1. Stake out a unique perspective to drive your campaigns: You know your campaign content has to be provocative, urgency-inducing, and rich with insights that create action, not tepid virtual consumption. But you won’t be able to strike that effect and tell that powerful “why change” story unless you make it abundantly clear that you have something new to say.
So instead of responding to the challenges your prospects believe they have—which could actually reinforce their status quo position—you need to introduce issues or trends they don’t yet know about. By identifying these “unconsidered needs,” you’ll be able to expose the gaps and shortcomings in their current approach, helping you underline why their status quo is untenable. Once you’ve defeated the status quo, you’re better positioned to create differentiation between you and your competitors by linking these unconsidered needs to your unexpected strengths.
2. Use visual storytelling tools that reflect how buyers process change: In their book “The Heart of Change,” John Kotter and Dan Cohen note that almost all successful change management projects adhere to the following sequence: See – Feel – Change. In other words, humans process change visually. To take full advantage of that reality, your sales presentation tools have to help salespeople guide prospects in a way that reflects how people come to embrace change. The best way is to start with an insight that highlights an uncertainty in how they’re doing something today. You then need to show why their situation is unsafe, why your solution represents a new safe that resolves the problems you’ve identified, and then you need to provide a proof point that visually shows how you led another company away from the pain of its status quo. This sequence helps prospects see and feel the need to do something different.
3. Equip salespeople with playbooks that align your stories: The conversion gap, or the gulf between your demand generation and sales-directed stories, isn’t a problem to take lightly. When the provocative “why change” message from your campaigns is absent in your enablement content, your story alignment suffers, and more often than not you’ll lose deals that once seemed promising. Playbooks that address both the “why change” and “why you” stories can change that, acting as the connective tissue between your marketing and sales stories. You invest a lot of time and energy into generating momentum and excitement for your campaigns. Don’t squander that momentum by losing the status quo-busting thread in your field conversations.
The fact that 65 percent of content is going unused sure seems troubling. But honestly, the best thing you can do is simply eliminate the unusable content and focus instead on the 35 percent of assets that actually shape the direction of your customer conversations. But even under that approach, you shouldn’t automatically assume the content your team is using is doing you a service. If there isn’t a consistent story and distinct perspective guiding the development of that content, it could be harming you more than the content your team can’t find.