The good news: Business is booming for most MSPs, a new ConnectWise study shows. The bad news? The day-to-day grind of delivering the services customers want is increasingly intense, so MSPs are hiring fewer marketing and sales pros so they can afford technical staff. That means the people out generating new business need to work smarter.
A big part of that is a modern sales enablement strategy. A core component of such a strategy is making good use of the content your company has generated over the years, and that means knowing what you have. My advice is to build a content map — by investing in identifying available content, pinpointing new content that’s needed and establishing where and how content fits within your company’s overall goals, you enable your team to work smarter and sell faster.
The key to content mapping is to avoid relying too heavily on the intuition of one team member; rather, your map should serve multiple perspectives while keeping in mind your target audience. Here are five steps to get the most value from your content.
1. Keep your customer hat on. Remember: Content needs to be organized and managed to serve the needs and wants of sales. This is fundamental, and it should be top of mind from the start. Sales enablement – including content – exists first and foremost to help sales pros meet the needs of your customers and partners. When companies don’t adopt a customer-first mentality, empathy tends to drop, leading to ineffective, unappealing solutions for your sales channel.
2. Create a content mapping team. A solid sales-enablement team contains people with a variety of skills. Assemble as many people as possible who offer the following four abilities:
- Someone who likes to organize content.
- Someone who is an expert in your company’s content — why it exists, what it says, how it's designed and how it's written.
- Someone who is focused on helping salespeople be effective — coaching, training and mentoring.
- Someone who has spent time in the field selling products and/or services — a practical person who has “carried a bag” and knows what it’s like to pursue challenging targets.
3. Make a catalog: Sit down with your content team and consider each major segment in the sales channel. The objective is twofold: Create a concise catalog that captures the key types of content your sales pros or partners need to close deals while also seeing what you already have. During this process, it’s possible you’ll uncover content living in unexpected places that could be beneficial to the sales process. Regardless of whether you have a large amount of content or just a few white papers, your basic catalog should fit on a page or two.
While cataloging, you’ll likely encounter content gaps and receive feedback from sales. Capture any “insider knowledge,” such as a solid pitch deck that would serve multiple partners. All discoveries are crucial information, so root out as many insights as you can during this step.
In addition, document key learnings from previous investments. Yes, there are new, shiny ways to offer content to prospective customers and gain real-time visibility into whether they engage with certain content. But before you discard the “ways of the old,” see what insights you can capture from previous systems. What worked? What didn’t work? All information will serve your organization as you continue moving forward.
4. Ensure the content map aligns with your channel sales strategy and the buyer’s journey. In short, this means keeping goals in mind while managing content. Despite sounding easy, oftentimes critical considerations are overlooked, likely due to deadlines or a lack of understanding. Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Channel sales processes vary by product line, company size, go-to-market segment, geography, industry and more. One size does not fit all. Meet with multiple segments and confirm your map isn’t too narrowly focused on one group.
- Channel inputs should be appropriately weighted in your content map, as not all roles have equal impact; for example, input from successful partners or salespeople with a track record in your highest-priority markets is especially critical. While down the line you can ensure that everyone’s needs are addressed, start with the most important priorities and work from there.
In addition, sit down with both marketing and your sales channels to discuss their perspectives on the buyer’s journey. Encourage and collect insights – with leaders of all organizations present – and apply all to your content map. While the buyer’s journey isn’t the same as the sales process, supporting content should align nonetheless.
5. Consider calling in a specialist. If you get stuck, consider a library scientist. These pros have a background in organizing content and are skilled at balancing competing approaches. In complex situations where you have thousands of items from hundreds of sources, a librarian can assist with identifying the strongest content for specific circumstances. Granted, smaller-scale, less convoluted content situations likely wouldn’t need a librarian; however, it’s worth considering one should needs evolve or you run into disagreements among stakeholders. A fresh, unbiased eye can be invaluable.
6. Avoid using content labels stakeholders won’t easily understand. Content management is not a teaching method. Marketing teams often try to assign the “right” names for content instead of terms commonly used in the field. This causes confusion, tension and often costs valuable time.
During validation of your content-organization strategy, ask your stakeholders what they call various assets. Don’t be surprised if they have no idea what the difference is between a “product brief,” a “product overview” and a “product summary.” Simplify categories and use words they know — if someone isn’t sure what a name means, they will usually just ignore the content. After all, a sales pro’s job is not to become an expert on the nuances of content types but to sell products and services. So, if your partners or sales pros refer to your product brochures as “one-sheets,” make sure that term is used in your catalog. Don’t force people to guess what you’re referring to. If you absolutely must use the “real” name in your content label, it is often best to use both. For example, it’s perfectly fine to have an area called “Product Brochures (One-Sheets).”
Forgo a little elegance if it speeds things up.
Depending on the size of your company, content mapping can take anywhere from two hours to several months. Regardless of your time frame, be sure to begin by identifying teams involved with creating and managing content, as well as the audience it’s intended to support, and pinpoint current systems in place for storing and sorting content. From there, map content into the stages of the sales cycle, and identify the key types of content as well as who owns it, and how it will be organized.
With just a small upfront investment in content mapping, you’ll be setting up your sales channel and partners for success down the line, making it easy for sales reps to find what they need right when they need it.
Erica Karnes is a content specialist for Highspot, the sales enablement industry’s leading platform for content management, customer engagement and analytics.