Eighty-two percent of customers expect an immediate response to their sales and marketing questions—meaning your sales reps should always have the answers they need at their fingertips.
However, in reality, your reps likely have to double-check technical specifications, security-related questions, and other requests for information internally before responding to prospects—which can slow down the sales process and reduce buyer trust. (Let’s not even get into whether their answers are on brand or not…)
That’s why having a centralized library of accurate, up-to-date sales content that’s easy for your sales team to access and search could be such a game changer—but that’s easier said than done.
Content wikis and cloud-based shared drives force reps to spend time combing through lengthy documents to find what they need. And the second some of that content becomes outdated, reps won’t ever trust it or use it again. Instead, they’ll bombard internal subject matter experts with repetitive requests for information—or, at worst, send out inaccurate responses.
However, with the right tools and processes, having a well-organized and easy-to-search sales content library is possible. Read on to learn how to build and maintain an accessible repository of accurate sales knowledge so your reps can act quickly and confidently in every customer interaction.
Stage 1. Building your sales content library
Building an intuitive and always-up-to-date sales content library will help your team to meet your customers’ desire for a speedy response and provide consistency in your responses at every customer touchpoint. Here’s how to approach the process for optimal success:
1. Pick a centralized, easily searchable location for your content
Your content library should be a centralized hub that houses all of your best company knowledge. Creating a single source of truth for all your sales-related content will help eliminate any guesswork for sales reps about where to go to find the right information.
But it has to be easy to access as well as to manage both your content and your users.
Here are some pros and cons that can help you evaluate which content management solution is best for your library:
Cloud-based shared drives/document management systems (DropBox, Google Drive, Sharepoint)
- Improves discoverability and access to complete documents
- Integrates with sales software solutions
- No limitations on the types of documents you can store
- Not always organized in a way that’s easy to search
- Not easy to search across long documents for specific information
- No simple process for keeping information current and accurate
- No built-in, focused review systems
- No way to easily leverage the information stored for multiple use cases (eg. RFPs, RFIs, Security Questionnaires, Due Diligence Questionnaires, proactive sales proposals, pitch decks etc.)
- Requires internal buy-in to properly manage and own content upkeep
Response management software (e.g., Loopio)
- Customizable content library building capabilities
- Easily searches across projects and content
- Includes simple process for keeping information current and accurate
- Includes built-in features for content reviews and tracks last reviewed dates
- Integrates with sales software solutions
- Designed to store content so it can be easily leveraged for multiple uses cases
- Must find subject matter experts to manage and own content upkeep
- Not designed to store video or audio content
Whatever solution you choose, consider how easy it is for reps to access it where they work. Can they use it via a browser plugin or on a mobile device? Can it be integrated with tools they already use like Salesforce, Slack, etc. so they can find answers where they work? Having these options will be important for ensuring long-term adoption.
2. Make it organized and intuitive for everyone
To build a content library that’s easy to use, it helps to plan out your structure thoughtfully. Think about creating categories and subcategories that make sense for your business. The more organized your content library is, the easier it will be for sales reps to search.
Your categories should be broad. They could be broken out by:
- General company information (boilerplates, executive bios, operations information, etc.)
- Products and/or services
- Business units
Categories shouldn’t be too granular. They’re also hierarchical, which means you can then use subcategories to organize content within each category.
If you think of your categories like filing cabinets, then subcategories should be folders within each cabinet. Your sub-categories might include:
- Product features or functionality
- Case studies
- Security standards and protocols
- Implementation information
To make your categories and sub-categories easy to navigate, try to avoid using ambiguous names, and keep them as distinct from each other as possible. You can also add tags to the content where appropriate to include internal jargon (e.g., using AWS instead of Amazon Web Services) and improve search results.
3. Populate your library with only your most up-to-date content
If you import all of your old content into your library, you’ll likely have to do an audit before it’s usable. Instead, try bringing in only your most recent winning RFPs and security or due diligence questionnaires. They will likely provide key information about products and services that answer the most common questions your sales team receives from prospects. And, since it will be up-to-date content, your library won’t need to be reviewed before reps start using it.
It’s good practice to extract only the most critical facts or statistics from these documents versus creating a library full of huge blocks of dense text, which are harder to search and quickly read for answers. Focus on using simple and concise language that’s useful for surfacing the best search results.
Plan to add to the library slowly over time. You could add new questions your sales reps face as they become more frequent, or as new content is developed and approved for sales proposals, RFPs or similar sales documents.
Now that you know how to build and populate your content library, let’s discuss how to keep it useful over the long-term.
Stage 2. Maintaining your content library
Your library will only be used by your reps if the content within it is accurate and fresh—but this is often the greatest challenge for any content repository.
Here’s how to make sure your content library stays updated so it continues to deliver value to your entire organization:
1. Identify and engage your core subject matter experts (SMEs)
The ultimate goal of your library is to make your sales team self-sufficient, so they don’t have to repeatedly bother SMEs for answers. Look around your company to identify SMEs who can be a point person to update their business unit’s content for the library.
These contributors should come from your:
- Product team (by region) for technical response accuracy
- Marketing for messaging that’s consistent and on-brand
- Security/Infosec to outline security standards and protocols
- Proposal/RFP management team for the best answers to sales inquiries
- HR/Operations for general information about the company
2. Establish roles and permissions
Next, develop a process that outlines everyone’s role in updating and approving content. You’ll need to create permissions within your sales content library to identify:
- Who can curate, add, and update content (e.g., SMEs)
- Who needs read-only access (e.g., sales reps)
Not all reps will need to access the same information. With the right permissions, you can prevent them from pulling in content from products or regions that aren’t relevant to their customer response. (How you organize your content can also help with this!)
Also, make sure to properly reward employees who regularly update and curate the content. It will help to motivate them and encourage others to keep using and updating your library.
3. Create a feedback loop
Your team will always be getting and answering new prospect inquiries. Have a plan or process in place to capture net new content so your library always has the best possible answers within it.
Here are a few ideas for how you can do this:
- Regularly review new RFPs, security questionnaires and sales proposals for updated answers to questions
- Comb through sales recordings/calls for great answers to add to your library every few weeks
- Have reps submit FAQs they want answered or to upvote the best responses to questions they’ve received on a monthly basis
4. Develop a process for proactive reviews
It’s important to create a review cycle that will notify SMEs when it’s time to identify and update outdated content, or add net new information when needed. This cycle is valuable for content that changes on a regular basis, such as quarterly financials.
For some content, pre-scheduled monthly reviews may make sense, but it might also be overkill. Each business unit and content owner should provide input on the right cadence for their team.
Create an appropriate approval path for validating this new content upfront. Additionally, make sure everyone knows who needs eyes on what and when, and who can escalate to other team members to avoid confusion.
It can also be beneficial to regularly evaluate content that needs to be deleted and to identify content gaps.
Finally, keep your processes for content updates consistent, and review your library upkeep strategy every so often to make sure it makes sense. Conducting an annual audit of what you’ve built so far will reveal areas for improvement, and will ensure your content is always accurate, relevant, consistent, on-brand and marketing approved.
Stage 3. How to ensure library adoption
Engaging with sales team stakeholders will help you get alignment around your content library strategy and on training processes, goals, and roll-out plans.
Before creating your plan, consider getting input from your end-users around how they’d like to be trained, and what they’d like to learn first.
Your training plan could include:
- Working with sales enablement to walk through the most relevant use cases
- Using existing training tools and processes (e.g., a learning management system)
- Conducting training webinars for core users and people with edit permissions
- Creating reusable training resources (e.g., a best practice guide and short videos)
Ask early adopters to provide feedback on how to improve training or how to use the platform. Likewise, engage internal influencers or advocates of your sales content library to encourage adoption among their peers.
Added benefits of creating a content library for sales
A sales content library of pre-approved content that’s easy to access can be a company-wide tool. It can help every member of your staff to directly and indirectly close more deals faster, and increase customer satisfaction in the long-term.
Here are a few examples of how:
- Teams can respond to RFPs, RFIs, and security questionnaires more consistently and confidently
- Customer experience/support teams can use the library to reduce response times to customer phone calls and emails
- Sales can develop presentations, pitch decks, proactive proposals, and security whitepapers quickly
- HR/Operations teams can onboard new team members faster by leveraging library content to teach them about the company and its products
- Marketing can easily tap into technical content to create marketing materials and campaigns
Request a demo today to learn how Loopio can help your company create and maintain an on-demand library of your sales content.