The most important part of sales content isn’t what you create, it’s how it performs. And that means digging into the data to track the KPIs that matter most to your business.
Content has fundamentally changed the way we prospect, nurture, and close deals.
From whitepapers and case studies to pitch decks and product overviews, the volume of sales content has exploded in recent years. And marketers continue to create ever more content to influence the buyer’s journey.
Yet, curiously enough, measuring the performance of that content hasn’t gained the same traction. A Content Marketing Institute study found that, 55% of B2B marketers are unclear or unsure what success or effectiveness for content looks like.
Problem is, by ignoring performance, you forfeit the opportunity to create better content. You have no clue which pieces are moving prospects through funnel or how effectively.
When we decided to rewrite our sales deck, we knew we didn’t just want to create a new deck for the fun of it. We wanted to create a higher-performing deck to impact the success of our business. And that required us to answer the question, how is our content driving sales?
Tracking the sales metrics that matter
Just as data revolutionized marketing, data is now revolutionizing sales.
At DocSend, one of the ways we gain visibility into our pipeline is by collecting and analyzing how people engage with our sales content. We use our link-based system to share collateral with prospects in the pipeline, which allows us to track our content through the entire funnel. We measure engagement, conversions and, using our Salesforce integration, business impact.
To evaluate our content, we ask and answer three specific questions:
- How are leads engaging with our content?
- Is our content converting leads into opportunities?
- How does our content impact the bottom line?
We asked these three questions of our previous and current sales decks, and we focused on what the answers could tell us about how our content is driving sales.
We started by analyzing interactions with our new and old decks at the beginning of the sales cycle. And we used a sales metric familiar to most marketers to measure those interactions: Engagement.
Most of the time measuring engagement ends at clicks and views. But we wanted to dig deeper. We wanted to look at engagement within the deck. How were prospects progressing through our new deck, and what percentage made it all the way to the end?
For our new sales deck to be successful, it had to keep more prospects engaged for longer than our old deck. And, based on our data, it succeeded:
If you read our last post, you already know this. Our new sales deck tripled the completion rate. We went from 17.5% to 65.4% of all prospects finishing our deck. (This was huge!)
Engagement is a powerful measure of content effectiveness. Looking at engagement within our sales deck told us that the bet we’d made on storytelling paid off. Our new deck captured and held our prospects’ attention in a way that our old deck hadn’t.
What’s more, it let us know that we had given our sales team the kind and type of content our prospects actually wanted.
The most valuable pieces of sales content move deals from one stage to the next. That is, they have a high conversion rate.
We focused on how our new and old sales decks influenced the conversion of leads into opportunities. Did prospects who engaged with our new sales deck become opportunities at a higher rate than those who viewed our old deck?
The results showed that our new sales deck significantly outperformed our old deck:
We saw a 38% lift in the conversion rate between our old and new sales decks. That is, for the same number of leads, we had 38% more opportunities in the pipeline that could become won deals.
Because our content management system is linked to Salesforce, we can track our content across every stage in the buyer’s journey. We can see how specific pieces of content, like our old and new sales decks, impact how prospects progress through the funnel.
Connecting our content to conversion rates allows us to identify the content that drives the sales process forward. And what the conversion rate for our new and old sales decks revealed was that our new deck was far more effective in advancing leads to opportunities.
Impact on revenue
The final question we had to answer was, how is our sales content helping to grow the business? And that’s where content ROI comes in.
But, calculating content ROI can be tricky. Many factors affect deals won and deals lost, and attributing closed deals to just one event can be misleading. Instead, we think about content ROI in terms of influence, influenced revenue and influenced deals.
That is, what deals did our new and old sales decks touch, and what was the outcome of those deals?
When we looked at the data for our old and new sales decks, we discovered something interesting. To-date, both decks have influenced the same number of won deals. And the difference in the amount of influenced revenue between the two decks is negligible.
Wait, does this mean our new and old sales decks perform equally well?
Not quite. Because we’re in the business of selling to mid-market and enterprise companies, the length of our sales cycle fluctuates between three weeks and six months. As you can see, a significant percentage of our newest opportunities are still somewhere in the funnel:
So, what the data really told us is that the verdict’s still out. We need to give prospects who received our new sales deck more time to make their way down the funnel.
Calculating content ROI isn’t as simple as assigning a number to a piece of content and walking away. The value provided by sales content, especially by middle of the funnel content, is often ongoing. And content ROI needs to be understood in the context of what’s happening up and down the funnel.
When implemented properly, content ROI allows you to summarize and benchmark your content’s impact on the bottom line. It tells you which pieces of content are helping to move the needle and which pieces need to be shelved or revised.
Putting your sales metrics in context
Tracking sales content provides much-needed insight into what’s driving the sales process. But more than that, it puts your content in context, showing you where to leverage it for maximum effectiveness.
By analyzing the performance of our new and old sales decks, we now understand exactly how these two decks influenced the pipeline. And, even better, we can objectively say that we’ve created a high-performing sales deck.
The key to successfully leveraging your sales content is having a system in place to organize, share, and track it. Just as important is connecting your sales content to business outcomes, like leads engaged, opportunities created, and deals won/lost.
Because, here’s the thing, once you know how your sales content performs, you unlock the power to optimize it. And, as we’ve seen, high-performing sales content fuels your sales funnel.
To be continued…
This piece is part two of our three-post series on using storytelling in sales content.
In part one, we explain why and how we rewrote our sales deck. We outline our framework for creating our new deck and include actionable strategies you can apply to yours.
In part 3, we share our top five tips for telling your product story. We include examples from companies we admire and explain how to build a sales narrative that converts.