Like your home, your business could do with a good spring cleaning every now and then.
Mountains of sales content pile up naturally from day-to-day operations. It’s a common strategy in sales, especially in early stage startups, to create more and more content. But if it’s not managed, the hordes of materials can overwhelm sales reps and hurt performance.
Decluttering and organizing your sales materials will create space, time, and relief. With this breathing room, you could spend more time on strategy. You could start new projects or even try out experimental content.
An audit will give you an overarching view of your company. This broader view will allow you to operate to your full potential.
Why audit your sales materials?
You can’t work to your fullest if you’re scrounging around for the right content. Sellers know this. A full 68 percent of sellers have to sort through five or more archives to find what they need. This is time they could be spending with customers.
Time spent searching for content is also highly dispiriting. Almost half of sales reps are overwhelmed with the amount of content available to them. This leads to a further drop in performance as morale falls on your sales floor.
It’s important to note here that an audit and trim is more than a cull. It’s a strategic reorganization. Expect cascading, beneficial outcomes throughout the rest of the business. Through this deep dive, you might stumble upon insights you weren’t aware of when you started the audit. Many companies end up finding huge caches of useful content lying around unused simply because it was hard to find.
Also, according to the bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, decluttering should also just feel really good. After streamlining your work, you may well feel relieved, lighter, and open to new perspectives.
What does a proper audit of sales materials look like?
Six steps to an effective audit
Your sales strategy is special and unique, so it deserves its own bespoke audit. There are, however, some must-have steps in such a comprehensive review:
1) Set objectives.
You need to identify goals before auditing. Otherwise, if the vision of the audit is not clear, it will become muddied and ineffective. Fewer employees will buy into the process if the reasoning is fuzzy.
Here are some goals DocSend set for themselves that could be a good starting point for your business:
- Increase the average completion rate for our sales deck by 35%.
- Achieve 95% usage across all sales content and all sales reps.
- See 5% lift in opportunity creation rate after updating messaging.
- Increase the total value of content-influenced revenue by 10%.
A good to time think about ROT— that is, redundant, outdated, or trivial content — is when you’re beginning the audit. These might be easy to identify and can be quick wins before you dive into the deeper analysis.
It might also be a good time to think about trying out new types of media. What about an infographic, white paper, or video?
2) List your current inventory.
If your content isn’t already all in one place, freely accessible and transparent, like Triptych’s, then you’ll need a map, guide, or spreadsheet. Some things to put in the spreadsheet might include:
- Date created
- Date used
- Type of content
- Stage of the deal
Only after all your content is listed and categorized can you investigate it further.
3) Find out how your current content performs.
Get to know what your content is doing. More than half of B2B marketing professionals are fuzzy on what “success” or “effectiveness” for content is. So, set clear parameters from the start.
Look at your goals from earlier in the audit process and use them as a benchmark. Flag content that’s underutilized and set it aside for later discussion.
4) Verify and discuss your findings with your sales reps.
Halfway through the audit, it’s time to take stock. Your sellers are the employees closest to customers. They have an optimal view of what is working at the skinny end of your sales process.
There might be factors sellers identify, outside the spreadsheet, that you didn’t consider. For example, they might pass on comments from customers concerning what they did or didn’t like about their journey. In talking to sales, you might discover opportunities for alignment or the scaling of processes.
5) Find the gaps.
Map your buyers’ journey, if you haven’t already. Then, compare it with your metrics in previous steps. Find out where you are leaving buyers behind.
For example, at the top of your inbound sales funnel, perhaps you will see white papers and blogs doing well, getting good hits and engagement. But, product overviews and case studies are ignored almost entirely. This indicates that prospects are stumbling at the first hurdle and more work needs to be done after the first touchpoint in your sales channels.
6) List actions.
This could be as simple as writing “keep,” “kill,” or “redo” next to each piece of content in your spreadsheet. As an alternative, you could rate each out of five stars.
Once your audit is complete, how do you decide how much of your sales materials to trim?
Hoarder or minimalist: Which audit strategy is best?
Sales professionals are confronted with a growing array of content types, media, and channels. The natural impulse is to consolidate and optimize your content in response.
Meanwhile, the cost of keeping digital content is getting cheaper by the decade. Does it make sense just to keep it all in a searchable database? After all, the cost per byte of storage media has dropped exponentially for three decades.
Ann Handley of MarketingProfs suggests quantity is the wrong focus. “I don’t think ‘how much’ is the right question,” says Handley. “It’s more about how effective your content is. Focus on whether it’s meeting your objectives: Is it igniting conversations? Is it enabling relationships? Is it sparking business?”
Auditing should be a regular thing
Auditing is an essential process, but how often should you do it? Some businesses do it every year. Others find value in a refresher every quarter. Once you complete your first audit, you will be in a better position to judge how frequently you’ll need to repeat the process.
Once you’ve completed your first sales material audit, measure how much it takes out of your regular workday. Compare that with how much value you extracted. Evaluate, refine, and repeat.
Remember that auditing gets easier and faster as you gain the experience, tools, and confidence that come from repetition.
Lose the clutter and freshen up your sales content
As you repeat this decluttering and organizing of your sales materials, you’ll find that it’s not about losing dead weight. It’s actually about creating space. This space helps you to think, act, and execute your sales strategy to its fullest potential.
If getting started with an audit seems daunting, take some fun advice from Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” Auditing and trimming your sales materials can be personally rewarding.
An audit also rewards your business because it’s the one true empirical view on your sales content system.
Make it an opportunity to fine-tune and optimize. Streamline your sales processes and save copious amounts of time and money in searching for content and onboarding new sales hires. As the end product, your sales reps will sell more and more often.
This is a guest contribution by Jessica Dunn of Triptych.