Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman posted a great piece in January called “Death of a Sales Model?” In the post he looks at the shift from outbound marketing and outside sales to the growing model of inbound marketing and inside sales. That is, an approach where buyers research online and in their social networks prior to engaging with a sales team.

Marketing’s Content Challenge

This new model, where buyers have limited engagement with the vendor’s sales team, presents marketers with a challenge. How do they get the right message to buyers in the right context? And how do they know which messages are working so they can iterate? This is the Content Crucible, where messages are tested quickly — across landing pages, email campaigns, and sales engagements. The content that works gets reused and promoted, and what doesn’t is discarded.

Marketing automation and other tools have emerged in recent years to help. They segment messages, deliver them through many digital media, and measure the results. And it is important that these messages, whether they are in email, social, websites, or collateral, are constantly enhanced based on measurable results.

The same holds for the sales and marketing materials that support prospects throughout the research process – be they white papers, case studies, or other materials. And it is very true for materials that support the sales engagement. Marketing has to understand whether content is effective, and then get feedback from prospects and sales people, improve, and get the content into sales’ (and then the prospect’s) hands.

Sales’ Content Challenge

At the same time, the new model also complicates how sales people interact with prospects. Leads may emerge at any stage in their research – from ‘first look’ to ‘ready for bids’. So, it’s necessary that sales people deliver content to prospects that has been tested in the Content Crucible. That is, they should use content that has been proven to close deals or advance the sales process. And that means measurement of content’s effectiveness.

That’s where tools that manage content are so important. They can help teams get insight into which collateral is relevant and impactful so sales teams can surface winning messages for different sales stages, industries, pains, geographies, etc.

The Content Crucible Makes Teams More Effective

With a new model comes opportunities for sales and marketing teams. Teams that understand how to surface the right content in context will be more effective at helping prospects evaluate and decide on your offer.