This is one of those no-brainer questions you probably answered automatically with no conscious thought. Of course, the answer is marketing, right? After all, everyone knows that marketing creates content, and sales uses it to sell—to close deals and generate revenue. But hold on. There’s one piece of that response that demands a second look, and that’s the “everyone knows” part. It might be more accurate as “everyone but sales knows.”
In theory, marketing folks have a finger on the collective pulse of the market. They know what customers need, what they want and the kind of content that will best convey the value proposition. So they produce this content, expect sales to use it and are frustrated when they don’t. And sales reps really won’t use it an estimated 90% of the time.
So marketing creates tons of content that sits unused. Not much ROI in that scenario. Clearly, there’s a big difference between theory and practice here. Although there are obvious benefits to cooperation and collaboration, getting there is not always easy. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.
Most of us have probably heard that more than 60% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a rep even enters the picture. While there may be some truth to this in simpler sales scenarios, the rep is still a critical component in more complex sales engagements and, for these, they need and want content.
Today’s complicated sales environment has multiple stakeholders, and the rep is the key driver responsible for navigating a maze of variables, including competitive posture, financial and pricing details, geography, size of the deal and use case scenarios—to name a few. It is simply not feasible to believe that Marketing can tweak content to meet the needs of individual reps in a myriad of sales situations.
Faced with that reality, sales reps don’t use marketing’s content because it doesn’t meet their highly specific needs. Instead, they look for other content they feel would do a better job. Or create their own. DIY content is usually frowned upon for a number of reasons. It may not be consistent with corporate branding or messaging. It may violate style and usage guidelines established to guarantee a consistent look and feel. Finally, there is the potential for such content to come off as amateurish—embarrassing at best and, at worst, an aesthetic disaster.
The bottom line is that sales reps end up spending a lot of time looking for or creating content—more than 30% of their time according to one source. And this is time NOT invested in active selling. In fact, the same source suggests that reps spend only a third of their time actively selling. But that’s a problem that goes beyond content and gets to the nitty gritty of how reps are managed and the non-selling demands on their time.
The real question is: Does it work? Does the content sales creates get the job done? Does it close deals—the ultimate responsibility of all reps? The answer, which we’ll detail in Part II of this blog series, may surprise you.