If you’re a reader of Smart Selling Tools, chances are you understand the inherent value in equipping sellers with the materials they need to engage buyers.

But what is that value, exactly? We at Seismic recently partnered with research firm Demand Metric to find out the true value of sales content.

After surveying more than 300 marketing and sales leaders across North America, the answer was staggering: more than half of respondents estimated a revenue increase of 20 percent or more if the needed sales content was always available to their sellers at the right time and at each stage of the sales cycle.

The study also revealed insights into what it takes to actually accomplish that level of effective sales enablement. Read further below for more information on what’s really working—and what’s not working—when it comes to equipping sellers with the content they need.

1. Create automatic distribution of sales content to increase adoption

The only way sales content holds any value is if it’s being used by sellers. So how do you get sellers to use it?

The study found that one key way is through the automatic distribution of sales content through a CRM and a sales asset management platform. In such situations, 61 percent of respondents reported most or all of their sales content being used. Meanwhile, only 44 percent of organizations with a manual or random distribution system reported the same level of content adoption.

If you’re in that 44 percent, it is of utmost importance that you at least find a way to make the content sellers need available in the tools they use the most: specifically email and CRM systems like Salesforce. That way, sellers don’t need to go searching elsewhere to find the content. Plus, what better way to increase adoption of your CRM than making it worthwhile for sellers to log-in to it? By continually providing them with content that actually helps them move the needle, they will continually return to the CRM.

2. Make it impossible for sales NOT to give feedback on the content they use

On average, sellers use nearly seven different types of content in every sales cycle—not pieces of content… different types, e.g. pitch books, case studies, and analyst reports.

Despite this wide array of content being used by sellers, only 38 percent of respondents said that content creators receive ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ feedback from sellers on the content they use. That is a recipe for ineffectiveness when it comes to content improvement.

If this sounds familiar, one essential step is to establish regular feedback protocols with sales to learn more about what they’re using and why. While this often comes in the form of meetings, there are also ways to collect feedback from sales which requires zero effort on the part of the seller.

If you have content analytics in place that track which content sellers are using and, just as important, which ones they’re not using, you can begin to collect a host of information about your sales content creation efforts without having to take time away from sellers trying to move deals through the sales cycle.

And, as valuable as the anecdotal feedback which comes through the meetings is, sometimes nothing is better than true, quantifiable data.

3. Look at engagement analytics when it comes to measuring real content ROI

Determining the return on an investment is an essential aspect of any business, yet ROI when it comes to sales content remains vague for a lot of organizations. In fact, less than one-fourth of study participants said they could track sales content ROI with any precision.

Engagement analytics—the ability to track which pieces of content are resonating with which buyers and at each stage of the sales cycle—is an essential first step to helping track and ultimately improving the return you are generating on your sales content investment. With these types of insights, you can quantitatively determine which pieces of content work best, and which ones should be retired.

For example, perhaps an expensive video infographic that your team assumed would work well as a follow up after a first demo is actually being closed by prospects after only about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, prospects who don’t receive the video are actually more likely to convert than those who are. Perhaps you would think twice about how much you want to invest in that video when it comes up for an annual refresh.

With revenue gains of 20 percent, improving sales content is a huge opportunity that remains largely untapped by most marketing and sales organizations. Our study revealed that the opportunity is still there to get out in front of many of your competitors on this front… but for how much longer will that be the case?