Sales content is perceived to be important to closing the deal, but its effectiveness is dampened by poor distribution methods and a lack of information about its usage and effectiveness. That’s according to a report from Seismic and Demand Metric, which surveyed 300 respondents in marketing (79% share) and sales (21% share).
Both Marketing and Sales Recognize Content’s Importance
Research has found almost half of B2B decision-makers believing that thought leadership has directly led to them deciding to do business with a company. As it appears, those making use of content for sales purposes also aren’t shy about recognizing content’s potential impact.
In the Seismic study, more than three-quarters of marketers rated sales content as either important (47%) or very important (30%) to closing sales. While salespeople themselves were slightly less enthusiastic, about 7 in 10 likewise perceive sales content as either important (36%) or very important (33%).
Emails and Presentations Are the Most-Used Content Types
The study’s participants on average use roughly 7 types of sales content in their efforts, and that includes about one-fifth who use at least 10 types of content.
The most popular of these are presentations (75%) and emails (74%), per the report. But at least half also use social media/blog posts (66%), customer testimonials (60%), video (50%) and product/solution sheets (50%) for their sales content needs.
Worth noting is that while email is a top-2 sales content type for small and medium companies, large companies with annual revenues exceeding $500 million are more likely to rely on presentations, product/solution sheets and social media/blog posts.
A study released last year indicated that product flyers and spec sheets (75%) are the content assets most requested by sales teams.
Meanwhile, the responsibility for creating sales content most often falls to the marketing team: half of the time, it’s their direct responsibility, while one-fifth of the time marketing and sales combine to create sales content. (In the past, research has suggested that salespeople should have more involvement in content creation.)
Sales Content Distribution is (Too) Often Done Manually
The study reveals that close to half of sales content distribution is manual (32%), random (13%) or simply not occurring (2%).
That’s in spite of a previous study from Seismic, which suggested that better content management efforts lead to more seamless internal content sharing and more relevant materials for the sales team.
This latest research suggests that automatic content distribution can have an impact in some areas where organizations are finding difficulties.
One such area relates to basic awareness of content: 59% of those who use auto-distribution say that sales teams are well or very well informed about content, compared to just 39% of those who use manual or random distribution.
Another logical area that gets a boost from automatic distribution of content to sales teams is… usage of that content! Some 61% of those using auto-distribution say that most or almost all of their content gets used, compared to only 44% of those using manual or random distribution.
This is actually an ongoing issue for marketers: most enterprise marketers believe that less than half of their content is consumed, and B2B marketers are among the most pessimistic about content consumption.
Sales Content ROI Tough to Determine
While sales content is perceived to be important to be closing the deal, the extent to which this content has a return on investment remains a question for most.
Indeed, fewer than one-quarter (23%) are able to determine ROI for either the full set of assets (15%) or individual assets (8%), with most simply estimating ROI (52%) and many not knowing it at all (24%).
Despite that, half estimate that they derive a good (48%) or very good (2%) ROI from their sales content, with another 39% neutral on the topic.
But as it turns out, those who are better at tracking ROI are also more confident in their results. Seismic and Demand Metric found that marketers tracking financial metrics were not only more likely to be able to determine ROI, but also much more likely to rate their sales content ROI as good or very good, with 80% saying that’s the case.
Where’s the Trouble? Attribution and Visibility
Some of the key issues with ROI relate to some basic problems: for example, just one-third feel confident attributing content to purchases. Likewise, few (41%) have good or excellent visibility into the impact of content on their customers, and less than half (44%) even have good visibility into which content is being used.
The analysts recommend exploring a system for sales content management and distribution, as respondents using one report greater satisfaction with the overall sales content process, ranging from creation to distribution, usage and measurement.
Such a system can in turn help marketers track the right metrics to enable ROI measurement at the individual asset level.
About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 300 marketing and sales respondents from primarily B2B (59%), mixed B2B & B2C (28%) and primarily B2C (13%) companies. Respondents come from a mix of company sizes and revenue growth environments.