6 Sales Asset Management Tips (and 10 Expert Resources) to Increase Efficiency and Close More Deals

managing sales assets workflow chartSales asset management has grown in importance over the past few years. To understand why let’s take a look at the state of B2B today. B2B sales today is more complex than ever – more use cases, more sophisticated technologies, and more stakeholders involved in each deal. This complexity means reps are faced with new and unique situations each day. To help reps succeed, companies have increased their investment on content production – developing the type of materials reps need to move each sales situation forward.

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These materials lie at the heart of B2B sales today. Whether it is slides, solution sheets, whitepapers, case studies, or video testimonials, reps need high quality supporting content to help convey their companies value message.

But, there is one major issue. New research from SiriusDecisions shows that 65% of content is never used by sales reps. With this type of waste, it is hardly surprising that sales asset management is becoming an increasingly important priority for companies who want to ensure their reps are always equipped with the most relevant and up to date materials.

This content inefficiency comes at a time when spending on content continues to grow. The failure to get the best materials before reps means outdated and, in many cases, unsuitable materials are being presented before prospects resulting in missed opportunities.

To help you avoid this nightmare scenario, we have put together 6 sales asset management tips and best practices. These tips can help you understand one of the fastest-growing areas in business today and help get the right materials or assets to your reps at the right time.

1. Organize the Chaos

When you think about all the workflows and tools at play in the modern enterprise, one word that springs to mind is chaos. Here is a helpful graphic that shows how a typical modern company operates.
chaos-2

The reason this “chaos” relates to sales asset management is that there is a school of thought out there that proposes adding yet another system and competing workflow into this mix. This approach – the portal approach – aims to solve the sales asset management issue by adding even more complexity to an already chaotic environment. Any tool that does not integrate with existing workflows and prevents sales and marketing people from working with the tools they are most comfortable with will not solve the issue.

For companies selling multiple products to multiple industries, there are even more permutations to consider. Each sales situation is shaped by a variety of factors like industry, buyer, solution, configuration, stage, and requirements etc. Every time a rep — a good rep — gets in front of a client, they are pitching a slightly different story and value message based on all the great messaging and content that marketing has created. For your sales asset management initiative to succeed, you will need a system that unlocks the full wealth of tribal knowledge at your company by harnessing inputs from all across the enterprise.

2. Minimize Manual Work

automating the management of sales assetsThink carefully before adding any extra manual work to your sales reps’ lives. Any time spent away from selling will not be appreciated by your team, nor will it result in increased sales. Your ideal solution should automate boring tasks like uploading content. Again, the portal approach whereby all sales content assets would be stored in a magic, centralized location is less than ideal. The manual work required in getting set up and then maintaining such a sales asset management solution is beyond belief.

Another issue here is that by introducing a system that requires the manual upload of files, you will be limiting the content that goes into it. Think about it, somebody – probably in marketing – will be charged with manually updating your system with new materials they deem suitable. This task should be automated or at least based on solid metrics around the type of content most likely to succeed. It is highly unlikely that this person will choose the right content every time.

3. Seek and You Will Find

Search is the key to sales asset management success. The impact of Google is such that the human mind has reorganized where it goes for information – with search or Google becoming a natural instinct. This change in human behavior – dubbed “the Google effect” by scientists at Columbia University – is worth considering in relation to enterprise content.

magnifying-glass-1020142_640Google search has become part of our everyday lives, but, when it comes to B2B enterprise solutions and especially sales asset management, the intuitive search experience we have come to expect has not materialized. Solutions that rely on basic search methods like file name are doomed to failure. With so much content being stored, reps are highly unlikely to remember the name of each file. Instead, they are much more likely to remember a certain phrase or passage that is relevant to their current sales situation.

In order to manage your sales assets successfully, you should look to provide your reps with the type of intuitive search experience they have come to expect which indexes content right down to the page level allowing for instant retrieval of pages, paragraphs, or even sentences they need to succeed.

The importance of visuals and images for your sales team should not be underestimated. After all, 90% of the information transmitted by the brain is visual. It is important that all your images, charts, infographics and slides are accessible to your reps. Once again, equipping your team with a search tool that caters for images and other visuals is important here.

4. Insight is Key

analytics-282739_640 (1) (1)One of the biggest failures in sales asset management is the failure to close the marketing sales feedback loop and the lack of insight into which materials are actually being presented before prospects. It is very difficult to develop your content strategy if you do not know which materials are being used. To succeed today, you need content analytics which measure content usage rates and success based on its association with deals that have closed.

Without this visibility, you will have no way of knowing whether or not your sales asset management project is successful or not. Again, the portal approach promoted by some vendors which measures content perfomance based on its use within the portal is not a realistic solution. This “walled garden” will only provide you with partial insight into how your content is being used. Instead, you should look towards sales asset management tools that integrate with all your existing enterprise tools and get clear visibility into precisely how your content is being used – one example would be email. If your proposed sales asset management solution does not track content shared with prospects via email, then maybe it is time to reconsider your options.

Content analytics also present you with the data and information you need to hone your content strategy. Content that does not close any deals can be taken out of circulation while content proven to succeed can be prioritized. Knowing what works and what doesn’t can provide data-based direction for your content strategy instead of developing materials you think will succeed.

The leading systems can also provide your reps with data-based recommendations. Following in the footsteps of Amazon, Google, and Facebook, these solutions use content-relevance-based ranking algorithms to present the best content for each sales situation, enabling users to view pages, navigate search results, and copy content without opening any files.

5. Publish Assets Aligned with Your Strategy

When marketing and sales teams are in-sync, marketing is able to produce thought-leadership assets that enable your go-to-market process. According to a white paper from Forbes Media, ” Sales executives realize original research and compelling insights make it easier to open doors, start quality customer conversations, generate referrals and cross-sell solutions.”

Forbes Media

Screenshot via Forbes Media

Despite the growing awareness of the impact targeted content can have on results, most organizations pay lip service to thought leadership at best. This is partly due to marketing lacking the in-house resources necessary for producing the original ideas and proprietary research required to create such assets, Forbes explains. However, when marketing and sales are in-sync and assets are intentionally aligned with sales strategy and the buying process, marketing is able to devote more resources to creating the original assets with the greatest impact potential.

Plus, when you’ve implemented the other best practices mentioned here, both sales and marketing will be spending less time re-creating assets that already exist but are challenging to locate in the context of your existing content repositories. As Brand Innovators points out, some of the most successful marketing and sales campaigns were implemented with the use of recycled visual and content assets.

6. Get More Leverage from Sales AssetsOreo Campaign

The emphasis, for both marketing and sales assets, should be on quality over quantity. Often, the most valuable assets require the most resources to create, yet these rich assets can be re-purposed and reformatted to target different channels, touch points, and selling scenarios with minimal additional effort. The Content Marketing Institute lists a few dozen different ways to get more leverage from a single blog post, for instance, including formats such as interactive white papers, email newsletters, microsites, webinars, and even data-driven content such as diagnostic assessments and calculators – all viable sales assets that support your sales reps in closing deals.

Don’t discount assets created with marketing in mind as unusable for sales. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what happens for many organizations relying on siloed content repositories; sales has its own repository and rarely, if ever, sees content designed for marketing purposes. Visibility and discoverability is key to maximizing leverage from every content asset across sales, marketing, and customer support. And as Spectacled Marketer points out, high-quality assets can continue to generate leads and revenue even years later.

Useful Resources

In addition to our sales asset management best practices, we have compiled a list of useful resources.

1. The Sales Asset Management Goldrush
@gecoble
@siriusdecisions
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 3.34.55 PM
This blog post by Edge Coble of SiriusDecisions provides a good overview of the sales asset management copetitive landscape and how its similarity to early computer video game market.

2. The Myth of Sales and Marketing Alignement
@gorbansky
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 3.36.14 PM
In a presentation at the InsightSquared Sales Acceleration Summit, Docurated CEO, Alex Gorbansky expained how the vague goal of sales and marketing alignment is somewhat misguided. Instead, in order to succeed in today’s complex B2B environment, Sales and Marketing must work as one. At the heart of this cooperation is content and an effective sales asset management system that meets the needs of the modern rep.

3. Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic
@chiefmartec
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 3.40.56 PM
Scott Brinker’s supergraphic shoes just how competitive the sales enablement or sales asset management landscape has become. With so many marketing technologies available, it can be difficult to choose which solution is best for you and your team. This supergraphic brings some order to the chaos and is as good a starting point as any.

4. How Your B2B Content Marketing and Sales Can Work Hand-in-Hand
@Alley424
@CMIContent
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Founder of Alley424 Communications, Manya Chylinski put together some interesting ideas on the role of Sales in content marketing and how reps can use content or sales assets to close more deals.

5. Salespeople Only Spent One-Third of Their Time Selling Last Year [Infographic]
@emmajs24
@HubSpot
Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 3.36.41 PM
This blog post and infographic from Emma Snider over at the HubSpot blog shows precisely why sales asset management has grown in importance. Over the past year, reps only spent one third of their time selling due to a range of issues including time spent searching for files and on manual admin tasks.

6. Best Practices Series: Sales Enablement
@ActOnSoftware

Act-On Software

This white paper from Act-On Software discusses best practices for sales enablement, including the need to align content and tools to the buying cycle and providing sales with content that they don’t need to rework to make it suitable for their various selling scenarios.

7. What Is Sales Enablement, Anyway? [INFOGRAPHIC]
@salesforce

Salesforce

Salesforce says that, “sales enablement is a collection of tasks and tools that are intended to improve the execution of key sales activities—activities like making sales calls, pursuing opportunities, managing major accounts, and targeting top prospects.” In this informative infographic, Salesforce identifies the four categories in which these various tasks and tools are categorized, including Recruiting and Hiring, Training and Coaching, Equipping, and Assessment.

8.  How to Empower Your Sales Team With Content
@Contently

Contently

Aaron Taube discusses the challenges companies face in trying to determine how content marketing fits into their sales funnel in this article at Contently, revealing insights from panel participants at Contently Summit. According to Taube, Magnet Media CEO Megan Cunningham revealed that the “fastest way to motivate salespeople to use your content is to show them exactly how much revenue it’s generating for your organization.”

9. 9 Ways B2B Marketers Should Empower Sales in 2015
@ringDNA

ringDNA

It’s not 2015 anymore, but this article from ringDNA is still as relevant today. Author Jesse Davis describes nine ways B2B marketers should be empowering sales, including providing competitor-specific collateral, alerting sales reps to content downloads, providing vertical-specific content, contextual content suggestions, and more.

10. Sales and Marketing Alignment: Best Practices for Building a Revenue Machine
@topohq

TOPO HQ

TOPO HQ shares tips and strategies for cultivating marketing-sales alignment in this article, noting that there’s clear evidence that aligned organizations are more effective. In fact, according to Forrester Research, aligned organizations achieve an average of 32% annual revenue growth compared to a 7% decline in revenue for organizations with poor marketing-sales alignment. TOPO HQ discusses the seven key points that marketing and sales must agree on in order to achieve alignment.

 

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