Manufacturing Content That Sells

By Madeleine Popp | May 18, 2015

For quite a while, manufacturers have chosen to employ multiple sales channels to sell their products. This isn’t a problem within itself. However, it is commonplace for these sales reps to sell many different products for many different companies. As a result, manufacturers are actually competing for these reps to spend time selling their products. So, how do you entice them to do that?

It All Starts With Your Content

Marketing doesn’t always like to be held accountable for this, but they play a big role in the success of your sales teams. To be more efficient and effective, marketers must align their content with the sales process. They should be producing collateral that addresses and targets customers at each stage of the buying cycle. Materials oriented around the buying cycle are effective and help advance the sale.

According to Curata, the top 3 things that make content effective are:

1. Relevance to the Audience
2. Engaging and Compelling Storytelling
3. Triggers a Response/Action

Solving The Content Problem Report by Forbes Insights also named 5 characteristics of effective marketing content:

1. Actionable: content that gives customers a compelling reason to act and salespeople a means of advancing a sale.
2. Reusable: content that can be leveraged across a wide range of channels, programs and delivery devices.
3. Targetable: content that supports specific steps of the sales cycle, buyer types and needs.
4. Findable: content that is easy for customers to find, view, understand and put to work.
5. Trackable: content that can be measured in terms of use, value, and effectiveness.

There is no shortage of content in marketing departments, but unfortunately quantity does not equal quality. “Over half of sales managers do not believe that content created by marketing motivates customers to buy, drives cross sell or challenges the customer mindset” (Sirius). Involve your sales teams in content decisions, because the reality is that content is just another resource to sales reps, and it won’t be essential to them if it doesn’t produce results .

Now that you know this, what do you do? Perform a “content audit”. This should be a joint effort with sales. I won’t go into all the details because you can google it. But, the general gist is that you go through and take inventory, see what collateral you have and don’t have. Then, you ask your salespeople some questions to gauge for effectiveness, opportunities and shortcomings. Here are a couple articles to get you started on your audit: The Value Shift, HubSpot and B2C.

Make it Easy To Find

If you want more of your reps’ time and attention, it’s crucial that they are able to easily find content that matches their customer’s needs. In an industry like manufacturing, reps find themselves sinking under seas of documents. Poor access to materials is a major problem for reps. No one can find what they need! Over 40% of all marketing materials are not used by sales teams (IDC). If your reps are having trouble finding the materials they need, the chances are high that selling your products will be put on the backburner.

That’s why you should centralize your content now. Too often, marketing collateral is scattered across different repositories. Store it all in a quickly accessible, central location, like a mobile sales enablement tool. What is that? Basically, it’s a central mobile application that keeps collateral up-to-date in a single repository that you can customize, update, control and access from anywhere, even offline.

Organize it Well

So, you’ve thrown all your collateral into a single repository? Please don’t stop there. Make sure it’s well organized to reap the full benefits of the steps above. Folders are the obvious way to do this and I’m going to give you advice on how to organize them….Yes, that’s right, advice on folder organization. Trust me when I say that folder organization can go south, fast.

Here are ways you can break things down and make navigation intuitive. Organize by:

  • Sales situation
  • Customer persona
  • Stages in the buyer process
  • Attributes
    • geography
    • product line
    • type of content (press release, spec sheets, proposal)
    • dates available to use
    • status of content (i.e. draft)

For the sake of everyone’s sanity, please take the time to rename your files! Leaving a filename as def_435_specsheet_2013_045.pdf is a huge no-no! Folder organization can only get you so far people. It’s important to continue that organization all the way through by having clear filenames that summarize your document. For example, CulvertPipe_Specsheet_May15_English or BeveledEnd_Specsheets_May15_Spanish.

One more thing! Tagging documents is a great feature of a mobile sales enablement tool that helps you group similar content pieces together. A tag is a key or label that helps reps find relevant content. For example, say a manufacturer creates a tag for “proposals”. Now, a rep can go in, click on the tag and view all the materials that marketing has tagged involving “proposals”.

Attention to small details like this will save your reps a ton of wasted time and make a world of difference.

It’s Worth It And You Should Care

The manufacturing industry is very competitive and the demand isn’t letting up anytime soon. Manufacturers are constantly responding to market needs and trying to make sure that all of their assets are running as efficiently as possible. This includes their human capital.

Companies are starting to feel the pain and cost of inefficient sales teams. We understand that the thought of trying to implement consistent regulations between sales and marketing presents a large challenge. However, reorienting your thinking to view marketing and sales as a science, can help you understand the difference it can make on your whole process.

A mobile sales enablement app frees up time for your sales reps and your marketing team. Marketing becomes a data-driven content machine because they have insights into what content is working and what’s not, eliminating inefficient collateral. Sales reps can stop wasting their time looking for materials, making their own or just plain giving up. Reps now can find everything they need in an organized central place. Marketing can push updated content, seamlessly notifying sales reps so none of your products slip under the cracks or stay on shelves. Think of a sales enablement tool as unclogging the giant hairball that is sales and marketing. After it’s removed, the sales cycle flows beautifully. Now, inventory is moving and reps are advancing their sales with content that they know delivers results.

Now, with excellent content that is easily accessible, customers are presented with a consistent brand message from all angles. With this newfound simplicity, ease of use and intuitive navigation, sales reps will prefer to sell your product, and spend more of their time doing so.
digital transformation roadmap for the manufacturing industry

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