Today’s B2B sales professionals are far more likely to beat quota if their skill sets include the ability to function as a “micro-marketer.” Best-in-Class enterprises support their individual contributors by ensuring that the CRM platform is tightly integrated with well-stocked, frequently updated content libraries full of the assets that they need to effectively seal their deals.

Time is the most valuable commodity for professional sellers who are increasingly handling their own content. Why are CRMs not universally built to maximize this changing model?

An interesting dichotomy is revealed in research data compiled for Aberdeen’s recent report on From Lead to Close: Best-in-Class Sales Acceleration Techniques that Win. While fully two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents indicate an increase in CRM investment and activity over the next 12 months, only 23% of all companies report an accompanying upgraded focus on integrating content management protocols for their front-line sellers. This represents a classic example of “working harder, not smarter.” Too many companies blindly bulk up their CRM deployment with interesting bells and whistles, treating CRM adoption inappropriately as a lagging, rather than leading, indicator of sales effectiveness, rather than considering the maximization of selling time as a prime strategy.

If, however, the old maxim that “content is king” can be applied to lines of business other than the marketing organization, the most effective contemporary sales operations leaders are learning how to marry their CRM platform to the most effective techniques of content library management. In the process, they create highly effective “micro-marketers” among their elite sellers. Indeed, findings in Sales and Marketing Alignment: A Primer on Successful Collaboration speak to a number of best practices that leading companies deploy to combat the well-documented current meme around how the “buyer’s journey” has replaced the traditional sales cycle. Best-in-Class salespeople have learned, more quickly than under-performers, to customize their buyer-facing communications with non-generic, topically relevant content that speaks directly to the needs of their prospect, rather than promoting the features or benefits of their own product.

A Well-Stocked CRM Is A Necessity, Not A Luxury

When we reference libraries that support B2B sales teams, this refers to a number of content types that can be stockpiled within the CRM. In addition to marketing-generated assets such as infographics, third-party white papers, and customer testimonials, a number of more tactical document categories are essential to supporting a high-performing sales team. When Lead to Close survey respondents were asked to evaluate the extent to which their sellers were enabled by pre-prepared, accessible templates for sales proposals, contracts, quotes, and request-for-proposal (RFP) responses, Best-in-Class companies reported a 55% greater likelihood (87% vs. 56%) to have already implemented a strong or outstanding content library that was integrated with their CRM. This delta signifies one of the many ways in which top performers go the extra mile to minimize the non-selling time of their quota carriers.

Another way to look at CRM deployments in the context of content management can be found when re-evaluating survey responses to compare the performance and behavior of “CRM Expanders” versus all other respondents. This label refers to the 67% of companies indicating a planned expansion of their CRM footprint in the coming year, referenced above, and yields a noteworthy set of performance differentials. Compared with companies planning to reduce or maintain CRM focus, Expanders report:

  • 52% more proposals, quotes, or RFP responses delivered to customers / prospects (14.25 per sales rep, per month, vs. 9.40)
  • 32% higher overall team attainment of sales quota (62% vs. 47%)
  • 24% more sales reps achieving individual quota (56% vs. 45%)
  • 23% higher lead conversion rate (33% vs. 27%)
  • 11% more quotes resulting in orders (41% vs. 37%)

If we compare these two data cuts, we see in Figure 1 that the majority of all companies neglect to place enough future attention on integrating their CRM with content library initiatives. CRM Expanders are, in fact, less than half as likely as All Others to force their sellers into time-consuming searches for sales workflow assets that should be readily available and configurable in the first place. Expanders are, on the other hand, 44% more likely (79% vs. 55%) to indicate (with a selection of four or five on a 1 – 5 scale) that such proper sales efficiencies are already in place. After all, we know from Trigger Events: Making the Most of Real-Time Sales Intelligence that even sales professionals within Best-in-Class companies spend 20% of their time searching for information – and therefore not selling – although that number rises 35% among the worst-performing, Laggard, organizations, whose reps log a 27% rate. Time is, indeed, money.

Figure 1: Better Content Management = Stronger CRM Deployments