We get it. You don’t always think of words, graphs, charts and the like as something that can speak. After all, your content just sits there on the page or screen doing its thing. That’s its job, right?

Here’s the deal: we know what happens to content, where it has to go and what it’s expected to do. Besides, we hear comments from sales reps and customers, so we have some insights. Trust us when we say your content has an end goal: maximum sales success.

If you have a hand in creating, distributing, managing, revising (updating, improving) content, listen up. We’re sharing some hints we think your content would want you to know if it could speak.

1. Respect your content

We’ve all heard it: “Content is king.” Oh, we’re not asking you to treat your content royally, but a little respect goes a long way. Making content the best it can be is your job. So this is all about sharing some observations that will make your job easier.

This is important because when it comes to the tools and ammunition sales reps need to make presentations and close sales; content is kind of a big deal. So let’s just consider respect for content and what it does as the backdrop for this entire discussion.

2. Know your audience

If you are creating content to help sales reps use in selling, it will help to know them well. What do they face and what can you give them that will help them meet their audience’s needs?

It’s nearly impossible to build content correctly (for efficient use) unless you have a window into the heads and hearts of those who will use us. Learn about how content will be put to work with clients and prospects, who are our true audiences.

3. Often, content gets forgotten

We hate to admit it, but your primary audience of sales reps will not remember content in detail. In fact, according to CEB, a whopping 87% of training content will slip away from most reps in a just a few weeks. Yikes! Don’t take it personally, though, because we recognize it as a part of human nature.

In fact, knowing that reps forget much of what they learn is not a problem but an opportunity. The key is how you deliver content to them and how you manage content after the fact. Imagine how empowered reps would feel if you could find a way to deliver everything they need to their tablets or smartphones, say, through a mobile app.

Then think how confident (and relieved) they would feel knowing that content would always be available and up to date whenever they needed to answer a question, check a fact or take a refresher. It’s all possible when you manage content with mobile technology.

4. Content is frequently not used

Ouch. We know that strikes home, but it’s true. Brace yourself because it gets worse. Would you believe that, according to the CMO Council, sales reps spend up to 40% of their time creating their own versions of what you send them? Again, there is an opportunity here for you. Knowing this, you can make certain that what you’re sending is what reps need …in a form they can access and use efficiently.

The real story here is all the potential selling time that is wasted because reps are trying to go it alone with content and messaging. Multiply that by the number of reps in large sales organizations, and you begin to get the idea. When you monetize that lost time and lost opportunity and express it in dollars, it gets downright scary.

How scary?

Would you believe $300,000 per rep per year? That’s what IDC estimates could be recouped by trimming just an hour of prep time per week. And that’s easily possible when reps get what they need so they won’t feel they have to find or make content on their own.

5. Bend, shape, and iterate your content

The story here is personalized content. Not all reps apply content in the same way. In fact, how they do so is as individual as fingerprints. So you might want to avoid putting content in uniform little packages.

You see, no two sales reps have the same learning styles, knowledge bases, skill sets or gaps in understanding. They all need different things to reach their greatest potential. And they all need it delivered in different ways.

For this reason, it’s important when building your technology solution, to incorporate opportunities for your sales reps to individualize the way they access and use your content. This means allowing them to opt into subjects where they need help, focus on areas where they need personal improvement and subscribe to have new content in their areas of interest delivered directly to their devices.

It also means giving them the power to establish preferences for visual content over written content or for interactive courses over handbooks. And it means providing short pieces of content or “bite-sized chunks” of information that are easily and quickly consumed. This allows the sales rep to use the system to group streams of information that is all relevant to their needs.

6. Technology is content’s best friend (and yours)

For us, technology is a carefree conduit through which content can slide effortlessly to its destination. No hassles. No delays. Technology’s evolution has become learning’s revolution because it enables a level of on-demand education never thought possible.

We don’t think it’s necessary to trot out a string of stats proving the depth of mobile penetration. It’s clear that mobile has tremendous influence on how we live and do business. The impact on sales reps, whose success in large part depends on being able to receive, comprehend and apply content efficiently, is inescapable.

Leverage technology to provide individualized learning opportunities for your sales reps. Give them the power to consume your content in the ways that are going to be most effective for their continued engagement and growth.

The real point is that if you’re trying to equip sales reps to do their jobs and you’re not leveraging mobile to the max, you have a serious disadvantage. The mobile devices sales reps are using today do more than afford them unheard of flexibility. They are tools with the potential to optimize their productivity if used appropriately.

7. Deliver content as fast as you can

How quickly you can get content into the hands of your sales reps depends on how direct your method of delivery is. It will be slower if you are making new information available via uploading to a central server or by printing and mailing or sending emailed copies.

Contrast that to managing content with a mobile app that allows for instantaneous delivery of relevant material. In this case, new information can be pushed out to devices the moment it’s completed. And the age-old problem of using outdated material? Consider it gone. That’s because it is accessed through the app so you can just make it disappear. It can’t be used inadvertently because it won’t be there.

If you’re all about trying to maximize the productivity of sales reps, maybe you should adopt this little slogan as a motivator and to keep your eye on the prize: max means mobile.

8. Talk about your content—please

Content is usually on its way to becoming something different—something fresher, more up to date, more accurately worded. At least it should be. Of course, the most time-honored way of finding out what reps think of content is to ask. But as simple a task as that may seem to be, we both know it doesn’t happen consistently.

It would be nice to assume that reps would take the initiative and tell you what they think. But that often doesn’t happen either. So do you assume no news is good news and settle for false security? Should you just put an equal sign between no complaints and all is well?

Here’s a better idea: Let your app provide the feedback you need to continuously improve content. An app, built with feedback in mind, can be given a voice of its own.

Feedback mechanisms built into content management apps can provide you windows in how content is used, which content is used most often, etc. You can know each time a piece of content is accessed and by whom. With this data, you can understand trends and know about the most popular (most used) topics, categories and forms of content.

The best of all this good news is that it requires zero effort on the part of sales reps. All they have to do is go out and sell. All the automated communications about how we are working become the byproducts of sales reps doing what they do best—selling.

9. Once is not enough

Of course, you know that creating content is not a one-and-done proposition. As discussed above, content is always on the way to becoming something else.

This is a discussion about mindset. It’s realizing that the old saying, ‘the only constant is change,’ really is true. And it is perhaps most true when it comes to sales and marketing content. Think beyond creation to management. This is where the idea of work in progress becomes clearer. To improve, refine and fine-tune. Success depends on iterations. Life is not static, and neither is content.

So the next time you send out content, think about what it might tell you if it could speak. By usng the nine points above as guide post, you’ll be creating valuable resources that your reps will use over and over again.

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