Digital content libraries are a ubiquitous part of all our lives now; it’s where we store and find everything we need for our business lives.
However, not all digital content libraries are equal: some make our lives easier by making it easy to find and share the content we need. Others make our lives harder by forcing us to guess how someone else might have organized the content and then jump through multiple steps to access and share that content.
Your Digital Library: A Force for Good or Evil?
The difference between a good digital content library and a bad digital content library is how well-aligned the organizational structure is to our needs: do they make our jobs easier by putting what we need right where we expect or do they force us to change our workflow to accommodate the library’s structure?
So how do you know if your digital library is helping or hurting your sales team?
The first question to ask is “Does the sales team use the content in the digital library?”
[Side note: if you can’t answer that question, you need better engagement analytics to know what content your sales team is using!]
- If the sales team relies on old copies of sales materials that they’ve saved to their desktops or pass around as email attachments, your digital library isn’t doing it’s job.
- If the sales team is always asking marketing for content instead of finding it themselves, your digital library isn’t doing it’s job.
- If the sales team is routinely unaware of the latest content and the newest versions of that content, your digital library isn’t doing it’s job.
Sales-Focused vs. Marketing-Focused
When setting up a digital content library, the first step is to identify who’s going to be the end-user of the content [Sales] as opposed to the people who build and maintain the content in the library [Marketing]. While both groups of users are equally important, organizing the library to align with the workflow, process, and thinking of the sales users will have a dramatically greater impact on utilization than matching up with how marketing thinks about this content.
Marketing workflows are based on the creation and management of the content, so they naturally want to organize the library based on how the content is created and how it fits into the content creation workflow. However, that workflow has nothing to do with how the content is eventually going to be used and so that organization isn’t relevant to how sales will think of the content. The sales workflow is focused on the stages of the sales process and what needs to be communicated with prospects and clients at each stage of that process. Aligning the content organization to match the sales process—the reason the content is created in the first place—is the key to creating a sales-focused library. Once the library is aligned to the sales process, salespeople will actually discover the right content and use that content effectively throughout the sales process.
5 Steps to Creating a Sales-Focused Content Library:
1. Define the Sales Process:
Most sales and marketing teams know how they sell—they do it all the time—but they rarely sit down together and clearly define the steps of the sales process [and agree on those steps!] so they can make sure sales and marketing are both talking about the same thing when they discuss sales materials. The sales process definition needs to start from the very beginning with lead generation and go all the way through post-sales discussions about recaps, renewals and retention. Each step in the sales process needs to be given a name so the goals and content needs for the step can be communicated and discussed clearly between the sales and marketing teams.
2. Align Content to Each Step in the Sales Process:
Once the steps in the sales process are clearly defined and agreed upon between sales and marketing, the next step is to clearly identify the content the sales team needs at each step of the sales process. This is the part of the Content Alignment process where real-world input from salespeople is most valuable—finding not just what content is currently used at each step of the process, but what content the sales team WISHES they had at each step of the process to be effective. Knowing the sales goal of each step of the sales process makes it easier to define what types of content would be most effective at each step
3. Identify Gaps and Weak Content:
Once you have the sales process defined and have identified the content needed for each step of the sales process, the next step is to identify gaps between your current content and the content needed to support the entire sales process. These gaps can often be filled by repurposing content already in use at other steps of the sales process or by other parts of your organization, but some of these gaps will require new content to be created. As you compare existing content to the newly defined sales process steps, you will also find content that isn’t doing a good enough job achieving its sales goals and could be improved with new or repurposed content.
4. Structure Library to Match Sales Process:
Once you’ve defined and identified all the sales content you’ll need in your new Sales-Focused Digital Library, you’ll want to make sure the organizational structure of the library matches the sales process and NOT the content creation process. An organizational structure that’s aligned with the sales process accomplishes several critical improvements:
- Makes it easier for salespeople to find content relevant to their prospects/clients based on where they are in the sales process; takes the pressure off the salesperson to translate their sales goals into the right content.
- Enables salespeople to have more relevant content discovery as they browse library content relevant to the step of the sales process they’re currently focused on.
- Encourages sales teams to utilize engaging content throughout the sales process by providing relevant content at every step of the sales process.
5. Define Update Workflow and Responsibilities:
The last step is to make sure that your new Sales-Focused Digital Library remains effective and relevant on an ongoing basis—you don’t want to do all this work only to have the library become obsolete next quarter. To keep content updated, relevant and fresh, you need to clearly define the update workflow to make sure there’s a sustainable process for keeping the content updated, identifying new content that should be added or that should be removed, and opportunities to improve or expand the available content to make the sales team more effective throughout the sales process. This requires clearly defined team member responsibilities that include not only updating content but reviewing engagement analytics, sales team feedback, prospect/client feedback and sales success metrics (win rates, pipeline growth, sales velocity) and mapping that data to content usage and engagement.