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 sales reps use marketing content 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.”

The problem with marketing content: it goes unused

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.

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.

Why don’t sales reps use marketing content?

So tons of marketing content often 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.

1. The rep themselves is a critical componant

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.

2. The sales environment is complicated, and marketing content doesn’t always apply

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 content can meet needs of individual reps in a myriad of sales situations.

3. Reps create their own DIY content

Faced with that reality, sales reps don’t use marketing 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.

4. Reps get tired of searching for the content they need

The bottom line is that sales reps end up spending a lot of time looking for or creating marketing 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.

So, what’s the solution?

The real question is: does marketing content work? Does the content sales creates get the job done or the content the marketing team creates? What content closes deals—the ultimate responsibility of all reps? The answer, which we detail in Part II of this blog series, may surprise you.

Want to see some effective marketing content?

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