Content marketing is in really bad shape. This is not just a problem for those of us who actually care about writing, but for the company as a whole. Content is crucial in supporting the sales of any organization. More than half of B2B buyers rely on content to research their buying decisions, according to a recent report.
It's not only imperative that marketers up their game in content creation - after all lead generation and sales are supposed to be the top priority for B2B content marketers - but that sales have a platform to support content distribution that will help engage buyers.
This platform needs to encompass not just the type of content that marketers produce, but also all their emails, spreadsheets, notes, reports, pitches, etc.
This platform is sales content management software.
Research organization Gartner identified the following use cases where sales content management software can help (available to Gartner clients only):
Customer-facing selling : Sales content is used to educate prospects or to evoke a purchase decision
Internal knowledge transfer : Sales content is used to convey new product information to representatives; also includes formal sales training and coaching functionality
Sales representative onboarding : Content is used to educate employees about the process, products and competitors
Partner relationship management and sales channel selling
Sales development representative processes .
This functionality can come from a standalone solution, or as part of a sales management/enablement offering. There may also be crossover with other types of software, such as learning management systems (LMS).
Sales teams work differently across industries, company sizes, and whether it's a B2B or B2C business. Your company should be generating and promoting content that reflects your buyers' interests.
A report from research organization Blue Nile found that both consumers and B2B buyers highly value data and stats; consumers are far more interested in blog posts than B2B buyers, whilst B2B buyers prefer video content.
In the report mentioned above, Gartner provides recommendations for the type of sales content management software you should go for depending on the type of content you plan to produce and its purpose.
"Sales organizations with moderate to high volumes of electronic content (for example, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and collateral based on PDF files or Microsoft Word documents) should consider basic sales content management systems to improve the oversight of collateral. Sales organizations that rely on complex, time-sensitive and precise information to advance sales cycles should pursue sales content management solutions to increase sales effectiveness (such as improving project-based or complex solution selling practices)."
It also defines capabilities that you should look for in any digital content management solution:
Content repository management for storing and distributing information
Sales process integration
We've compiled a list of leading solutions that can help sales team take advantage of the large body of content any organization creates. The sales content management software we list below is suitable for small to midsized businesses, but we also provide recommendations for enterprises at the end of the article.
Brainshark taps into the content authoring, sharing/delivery, and analytics side of the sales process. Its main features are:
A content repository to keep all information in one place
Content authoring features to turn existing content into sales-ready material
An HTML5 editor to optimize content on all devices
Ability to monitor clicks to track audience engagement
Share content via web links, social media, YouTube, and by embedding in your website
Brainshark also partners with fellow sales content management solutions Seismic and Highspot to provide end-to-end capabilities around digital content management.
Pricing: Available on request but typically the basic solution starts at $9 per user per month
Highspot is a newer entrant in the market, having only introduced its sales content management solution in 2014. As part of its sales enablement platform, Highspot makes content easy to search for and filter, as well as optimize and share. This content includes pitches.
One interesting feature of Highspot is its machine learning capabilities, which recommend the best content for sharing based on previous interactions by both you and your coworkers.
Highspot also includes analytics to track success.
Pricing: Available on request but typically starts at $35 per user per month
KnowledgeTree offers features at the content creation level, as well as the sharing and analysis stages. It allows content to be linked to projects and provides goals and milestones to enable faster content creation. It also adds in a stage for review, so no content goes out or is used unless it has been approved.
Other features include:
The ability to predict which piece of content will work best for a use case
Match content with the status of a sale
Proactively provide content to sales teams
Connect email templates with content
Integrations: Salesforce, Marketo, Box, Dropbox, Alfresco, Microsoft SharePoint
Pricing: Available on request but typically starts at $45 per user per month
Seismic's sales enablement and digital content solution is used mostly by small and mid-market businesses. Its features include:
A NewsCenter that can find the latest industry and product information for sales to use
The ability to make changes to one piece of collateral in a suite and have it update automatically across all of the material
A live feed of which content has been added and updated
Access to content from within email (Outlook) or CRM (Salesforce)
Instant feedback into which content is performing well
Integrations: Outlook, Salesforce, Dropbox, Box
Pricing: Available on request but typically starts at $32 per month
Showpad's unique selling point is its visual features, such as a dynamic mind map, which help guides salespeople to the right content. The more the process is used, the smarter and more accurate it becomes.
Other features include:
Presentation templates based on customer use cases
Pricing: Starts at $35 per month, with two pre-built packages available
These are not the only credible sales content management solutions on the market, but they are the ones best suited for small and mid-sized businesses.
If your budget stretches further and you'd like to investigate software targeted at enterprises, then here are some industry leaders to check out:
Accent - includes machine learning and predictive analytics to mainly large enterprises in the financial services industry, but has recently diversified into other sectors
Bigtincan - an AI powered sales platform that aims to recommend content throughout all funnel stages
Savo - one of the largest sales enablement and content management software providers, which typically targets companies with more than 1,000 users.
A quick note on Salesforce: it offers content management functionality within its Sales Cloud product.
If you're ready to purchase sales content management software but aren't sure which solution is best for your business, then check out our App Finder. There you can filter by business size, location, price, type of company, and devices supported.