Organizations are in a constant tug-of-war: providing the most relevant training and tools necessary for sales reps to be successful, all the while trying to continually pack their pipeline with viable leads and new business.

But in today's sales landscape, where 60-90% of sales training knowledge is lost in the first 30 days of training and 80% of marketing-created content goes unused by sales teams, it's time for organizations to reconsider their tactics if they want to improve sales performance and productivity across the board.

Here are five steps you as a marketer can take to address today's sales-force performance and productivity challenges and get the most out of your sales team right away.

Step 1: Identify content needs

Find the problems and gaps with your current training and sales content, including determining what content is missing or outdated, as well as identifying issues with your content creation process.

Here's how to do that effectively:

  • Survey sales managers and reps, using an online survey to find out what they think of current content and what additional content they think could assist them.
  • Identify sales reps' gaps in skills, knowledge, and processes with short online quizzes. Conduct an audit of sales content to make sure you have the content that's relevant to each of your buyer personas for each stage of your buyer cycle.
  • Give each content piece a grade based on the seven attributes of effective sales content: engaging, actionable, reusable, trackable, findable, responsive, and targeted.
  • Interview content creators. Talk to writers, graphic designers, instructional designers, and others who build your sales content and training materials, as well as the subject-matter experts involved.
  • Map your current content model. Document your existing process for creating content, including details on how you organize and deliver content. Identify inefficiencies and gaps in the process.

Armed with the resulting information, meet with your main stakeholders (see next step) to get agreement on this new approach to sales support—and to develop realistic, measurable goals and milestones for the year.

Step 2: Select the team

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image of Marc McNamara

Marc McNamara is the chief content strategist at The Value Shift, which delivers effective sales content, training programs, and tools. He specializes in helping B2B sales and marketing organizations craft the right content and engineer critical processes for productivity.

LinkedIn: Marc McNamara

Twitter: @mcnamara_marc

image of Brian Cleary

Brian Cleary is the chief strategy officer at bigtincan, a mobile content enablement company. He is responsible for setting the technology road map, leading product and corporate marketing initiatives, and developing strategic technology partnerships and field leadership strategies.

LinkedIn: Brian Cleary