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Moneyball: Use Content Intelligence and Analytics to Build a Successful Sales Team


If you’re a sports or movie fan, you’re probably familiar with Moneyball, the story of how the Oakland A’s used sabermetrics (applying statistical analysis to baseball records to evaluate individual players’ performances) to look at unconventional measures of success to build and sustain a winning ball club.

What if sabermetrics could be applied outside of athletics? It’s already happening. In the consumer space, companies like Facebook and LinkedIn use analytics to determine who you are likely to know or which articles you may be interested in reading. It’s happening in the enterprise too. Companies like Workday are applying analytics to gain insights such as which employees may be likely to leave the company and how to prevent them from doing so.

Now, what about using statistical analysis to create a successful sales team through a mutually beneficial partnership between sales and content marketing?

By tracking and sharing how top sales performers use, engage with, share, and annotate content, and at what frequency, other members of the sales team can learn how to incorporate the most helpful content to make them more successful. In turn, the content marketing team can learn what content translates into sales.

Say no to content for content’s sake

In 2013, Sirius Decisions reported, “60 to 70 percent of content churned out by B2B marketing departments today sits unused.” IDC weighed in with its own concerning statistic – sales team members don’t use as much as 80 percent of the content that marketing generates even though most of it is created for sales and channel enablement. Why? Most of the time it’s because the sales teams:

  • Aren’t aware the content exists
  • Don’t have the time to look for it
  • Think there is way too much content to sift through to get the content they need to close a deal

Identifying the specific problems plaguing the organization requires content marketers to connect directly with individual sales reps to determine how they use or don’t use the prepared content. You also can learn, for example, if sales reps are creating their own rogue content because they can’t find or don’t know what content is available.

Solving the content management problem is more complex today because corporate content is no longer just a list of Word, Excel or PDF files in a folder called “Marketing Materials.” Content is varied and has multiple origins. Aside from those types of files, content now consists of HTML5 mini apps, cached web links, AJAX forms, animated PowerPoint files, RSS feeds, Twitter hashtags, corporate Facebook pages, and lots more.

Just like you must think about how to cut through the information overload to reach your clients, you also must think about how to help your sales team cut through your content to reach the materials that will help them when and where they need it. A 2011 EMI Industry Intelligence Report revealed that in an average week, a technology sales professional spends eight hours developing client presentations, five hours looking for marketing collateral, and four hours searching for customer information outside the organization. The sales professional wastes 17 hours a week or 106 sales days a year.

Businesses can no longer rely on a single folder hosted on their servers to serve as the content home. They must identify or create content management and organizational solutions that enable marketing and sales teams to properly access, render, and present these new and varying types of content when and where they need them. Without such structure, the investment in creating content is effectively going to waste.

Make the sales team smarter through content measurement

Organizations need to leverage analytics to identify the content that’s closing sales. What if marketing knew which content was used by the top sales performers, how frequently they used it, and at what stage in the sales cycle it was being used? That information would enable content producers to revise or remove unused materials and prioritize content development topics, formats, etc.

This is where intelligent measurement comes in. Marketers need to evaluate products that centralize all content through a single content management system and apply a means to measure real-time use. The proper teams and administrators then can secure the analytical insight that will make sales teams more productive and marketing teams more effective.

In the early stages of sales, it’s critical to understand which messages are resonating and which presentations are being used most often that lead to closed deals. What if you found that your top sellers were using just one presentation and just five of its 20 slides? Wouldn’t that be valuable, quantitative insight into how the sales reps actually engage with marketing-provided content? What if you were able to see the changes that a top sales representative makes to a marketing PowerPoint presentation and share that knowledge across the entire field organization? That feedback loop from sales to marketing is currently almost non-existent and as a result, organizations are missing out on revenue and productivity opportunities.

When organizations track how the sales team is using content, only then is marketing able to create and deliver the most effective and valuable content to the sales organization. The sales team needs to be able to leverage the right content at the right time to make every customer interaction count.

Steps to take today

How can you avoid wasting your content efforts and better serve your sales team? Take these three steps:

  1. Seek content intelligence to understand content needs.

Use a mobile-based solution that leverages analytic technology to provide insight around who is using what content, how often, and when in the sales process. When shared, the information can help make the sales team more efficient and help marketing improve content relevancy and effectiveness for the buyer. For example, actionable insight could identify the three top pieces of content used by the sales teams in the last stage of the sales cycle (i.e., the content that closes deals), allowing similar content to be created to further support sales’ efforts.

Similarly, the analysis may reveal content gaps. For example, the sales teams may not have sufficient marketing-produced content for initial customer engagements and create their own or modify existing content. This type of content intelligence will help reduce the countless hours spent on ineffective or useless content production.

  1. Push content to your mobile sales force.

Given that most sales teams are mobile, content delivery must be mobile too. Make sure your solution is pushing relevant content to them on their mobile devices rather than requiring them to navigate through multiple silos and content repositories, searching for relevant information from their device.

Pushing content to users instead of having them search for it also ensures they use the right versions as well as the most effective content given their particular sales situation. To do this, content solutions must gather information from each individual user and push content based on role-based differentiators. For example, if the marketing team knows a sales rep is having a second meeting with a prospective client on Tuesday, it can push content that directly correlates with that company for that stage in the sales cycle to the sales rep’s mobile device on Friday so he can use it to prepare. The day after the meeting, marketing can retract access to that content unless otherwise specified.

Pushing content to your teams also ensures that they have the most up-to-date tools they need to be successful – increasing productivity by reducing the time spent searching for materials and increasing active selling time.

  1. Provide the right user experience and productivity tools.

Content is no longer limited to written documents. We live in a world rich with multiple mediums for delivering the message – video, photography, graphics, etc. For example, a leading denim-clothing manufacturer utilizes product photos and videos when it meets with retailers. It rarely uses text because it just doesn’t make sense in an industry that tells a visual story. When selecting a mobile-based content retrieval system, ensure it provides an integrated, single application experience so mobile users don’t have to jump between apps to use different content formats.


Reducing content waste will help organizations save significant time, dollars, and headaches. These simple steps can provide better measurement of the effectiveness of your content as it relates to the bottom line. With that data in hand, you can create better content in the most helpful formats and deliver it directly to sales team members so they can further prospects in the sales cycle until the deals are closed.

Want to play ball with content marketing experts? Check out the CMWorld 2014 sessions available through our Video on Demand portal and make plans today to attend Content Marketing World 2015.

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