When we talk about sales collateral, we are referring to the materials your business produces in order to assist with sales, such as white papers, ebooks, brochures, references and case studies. The quality of these materials can have a significant influence on overall sales performance, because it can make your sales team’s job easier.
Nevertheless, many companies encounter problems with the production of such material, resulting in salespeople having to create the content they need on their own. Moreover, studies suggest businesses waste as much as 15 percent of their entire marketing and sales budget on material that gets thrown away.
With these issues in mind, it is important to take steps towards streamlining the production of sales collateral.
Have you ever given thought to who actually creates the content used by your sales team? You might be surprised to learn that when our research division, CSO Insights, carried out its 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, we found that marketing creates less than 40 percent of the sales collateral needed for salespeople to succeed.
This is not necessarily a problem. After all, it stands to reason that material like service level agreements and contract attachments would be created by the legal department. However, our research found that sales operations and legal departments create just 5.8 percent of sales content.
Furthermore, our most problematic finding was that salespeople themselves create in excess of a quarter of all content used in their own selling efforts. In an ideal world, this figure would be significantly lower, with salespeople only having to make small adjustments to content, or tailor it to specific customers.
Another common problem with sales collateral, and a key reason why its production should be streamlined, is the amount of money wasted through the obsolescence of sales materials. Think about your own business and consider how much money you may have wasted by throwing away material that is out-of-date due to content changes.
One survey, carried out by the CMO Council, found that 60 percent of businesses spend at least 20 percent of their total marketing budget on “consumables” like sales collateral. More than two thirds do not monitor the obsolescence of this material, but 40 percent of respondents admitted to wasting at least 20 percent of materials because of it.
Meanwhile, the problem with waste is compounded by the fact that sales staff often order sales collateral and then fail to make use of it. In fact, multiple studies have shown that as much as 15 percent of marketing and sales budgets could be wasted in total, which highlights the importance of resolving this issue.
The solution to these problems with sales collateral is to make an effort to streamline its production. This is something which needs to be emphasised throughout your organisation, so that sales enablement leaders can make it a priority and information related to streamlining can be included in sales management training as well.
For your sales enablement team, the top priority should be to create a robust content management framework. This framework can then be used to ensure that content creation is efficient and materials are distributed appropriately. As a consequence, the amount of material having to be created on the fly by salespeople should fall.
Moreover, in terms of reducing waste, businesses need to do more to keep track of obsolescence, while sales staff need to be trained to request content when it is needed. Some companies have also had success in eliminating waste by adopting a print on demand solution, where content is printed to order wherever such a policy is appropriate.