Today's post is by Jim Burns, president of Avitage Consulting LLC, a content operations management firm.
Content is the currency by which your salespeople capture attention, generate interest, and provide innovative insight that earns solid relationships.
Right now, most companies still do a lousy job supporting salespeople with content that's buyer relevant, useful, and ready to deliver for specific selling situations. Although some companies have conquered this persistent problem, even the most forward-thinking firms have yet to discover a critical, untapped area for sales content.
When you think of "content," I bet you're thinking documents, presentations, and maybe videos. We refer to this as "structured content." But what about "unstructured content"? Unstructured content is content that is not constrained by document formats. For example, think of the raw language in PDFs, articles, blogs, or your recorded Webinars and videos.
According to Gartner Group, unstructured content “represents as much as 80 percent of an organization’s total information assets. While Big Data technologies and techniques are well suited to exploring unstructured information, this ‘Big Content’ remains grossly underutilized and its potential largely unexplored."
Why Salespeople Need Unstructured Content
Salespeople and marketers need this source material to improve the quality and consistency of new content they create for customer-specific purposes. We recommend that companies prepare inventories of unstructured content that is customer relevant and sales ready for each customer problem you address, selling purposes, the buyer’s role, buying stage, and even industry context.
Specific examples of inventories include the following:
- Emails (for all key selling scenarios and versions)
- Customer stories and proof points
- Facts, trends, and research findings
- Answers to customer questions and objections
- Tweets and LinkedIn and Google+ short posts
- Curated articles (company and third party) with summary explanations
- Key messages – recommended language and phrases
Marketers and salespeople need content for different purposes. We paraphrase work by Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen and ask, “What is the ‘job’ your salespeople and their buyers ‘hire’ your content to do?”
Here are some specific purposes, or jobs, your content might need to address:
- Generating attention and interest (leads)
- Supporting conversation
- Educating, providing innovative insight (aka thought leadership)
- Explaining, proving, answering questions
- Equipping third parties for conversations (referrals or internal selling)
- Coaching, training, reinforcing
To be truly effective, this content may need to be created, edited, or assembled just before delivery by people closest to each situation. This process is better, faster, and easier when it involves more editing of quality source elements than original creation.
Ask people in your organization who use Microsoft OneNote or Evernote what I'm talking about. They have "curated" useful insight, language, article links, research reports, and other raw text. They leverage curation to reduce the time and effort required to create new content.
It's time to institutionalize this behavior. If you want salespeople to sell using insight, information, and compelling stories, you had better source them. Better still, set up a process and culture (we call this Content Source) to continuously acquire additions to these inventories as new resources are created or discovered.*
Do you curate unstructured content in your organization to support sales? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.
*Try Witty Parrot to deploy Content Source to groups, across the enterprise, and into the sales channel. (Note: We are a user but not employed by Witty Parrot.)