Content Production & Motivating Sales

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Content Production & Motivating Sales

This is more of a general discussion than a simple question, but I'm wondering if anyone else faces a similar situation and how they handle it.

Our industry can be very technical; and as marketers, my team tends to only know the basics well enough to be dangerous. However, drafting any meaningful customer-centric content always requires some field review, either by key product management staff or, more often, salespeople. We've created an internal program to incentivize our sales force to help us produce new content, but we've had mixed results. Essentially, because we're related to a couple really cool tool companies, we send them a free tool for each piece of new content they help us with. So we're building their sales toolbox as well as their literal one (I know, I don't feel good about that level of cheese either).

I've always found that most sales people want to give you the idea, but can't dedicate the time to work with you to actually execute it... And honestly, I get it from their perspective. A $25 tape measure plus bragging rights does not a commissionable quota make.

My 5-person team has 13 separate engagement programs running simultaneously (5 dedicated to types of solutions, 8 focused on specific business verticals/personas), so at any given time we all have at least one piece of new content hung up somewhere in the review process. So I'm curious to know if anyone else has found highly successful ways to keep the wheels well-greased and new content flowing? Any tips on how to get sales leadership to buy in and get involved, your content production strategies, etc. are much appreciated!

If it doesn't look cool, you're probably doing it wrong.
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Re: Content Production & Motivating Sales

It's hard. Even at a software company where the lines between marketing and sales are blurry (where I work), it's hard. Most people are not great writers or even writers, period, so they don't feel comfortable sitting down to write a blog post or editing a piece of writing.

In my experience, you really have to hold their hands every step of the way and make it as easy as humanly possible. Your job isn't to get them to work on your content. Your job is to help them work on your content. There's nothing in the world that will motivate them enough to stop focusing on their own job to do yours for you (how they might see it).

Here are a few tactics that have worked for me:

  • Sign them up for a content mission that they can get behind -- ideally one tied to their own reputation and ego. It's not enough to say, "We have to produce X pieces of content this quarter." Feature them as the expert right in the content and recognize them publicly for their participation.
  • Rather than getting them to "review" the content, treat it more like a traditional fact-checking process at a magazine. Schedule a meeting over the phone/web or face-to-face. Before the meeting, write up a quick list of the "facts" in question send it over to them so they're prepared (if they choose to be). During your meeting, walk through the facts and get them to confirm or correct each fact.
  • If you want them to actually author something, make it super easy. Schedule time to work on an outline by getting them to do a "brain dump" while you type and organize their thoughts into a coherent structure. Write a draft for them and sit them down to go over it together to find out what needs to be changed.
  • Find one champion in the sales team -- ideally someone who is pretty successful -- and work closely with them to create some content. If all goes well, get them to advocate for you among their team, sing their praises in public, and draw a connection between their content and their success in sales.

As far as I can tell, there's no silver bullet, but hopefully this helps!