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How to Make Content Development a Big Priority for Sales Teams

Erika Desmond

By Erika Desmond on Oct 17, 2017

Look, it’s no secret that salespeople can be one of your most valuable assets when it comes to content development.

There’s no question that they could provide critical insight into the types of content that would work best for your clients.

But I’m sure you’ll agree that actually getting them to collaborate isn’t that easy.

And so that’s why I put together this post:

To show product marketers like you five strategies you can use to incentivize your sales reps to work with you on content development.

Intrigued? Then let’s get right into the first one.[box type="download"] Bonus: Want to know more? Find out how salespeople can lead content development. Get the guide now >>[/box]  

#1. Allow Sales Reps to Vote on Your Ideas

I’m sure you’ve been here before:

You send out an email to the sales team asking for content ideas and what do you get in return?


Not even one damn reply.

Considering you’re creating the content to help sales, it probably makes you want to do this, right?

But the truth is, getting reps to send over their own ideas might honestly be too much to ask.

Think about it: when your paycheck relies on closing deals (as it does for sales reps), every minute of your workday counts.

There’s absolutely zero time to waste on non-essential activities.

And unfortunately, your request for content ideas falls into that non-essential category.

So, if you want salespeople to actually respond, you need to cut down what you’re asking for to the smallest possible request.

And that’s where a quick, one-question survey can come in handy.  

You can use a free tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to build a short questionnaire that lists a handful of potential content ideas and just ask reps to vote on the topics they’d most like to see for future content.

Here’s a quick example I put together in less than five minutes:

Much easier than asking reps to come up with their own ideas, right?

And if you really want to increase engagement, here’s an easy add-on:

Throw in an easy, cheap incentive to motivate people to complete it.

Something like the first team to 100 percent completion gets a 12-pack of their choice, or you’ll buy a couple pizzas for lunch should do the trick.

And that works for one simple reason:

Salespeople are competitive as all hell.

And the more you can take advantage of that, the more success you’ll have getting reps to actually participate.

So, that leads nicely into the next tip...

#2. Play Into Salespeople’s Competitive Nature

Fact: In order to thrive in sales for the long-term, you need to have a healthy relationship with competition.

That’s because sales - by nature - is a competitive sport.

You compete against other companies, other reps on your team, and to a certain extent, yourself and your own confidence.

And as a product marketer, you can use that competitive spirit to your advantage.

Here are a few quick ideas:

  • Post a leaderboard for reps with the most ideas contributed over a period of time (and make sure you make a big deal when anyone surpasses another to feed into that competitive edge).
  • Create a small incentive program. Just like I mentioned before with the survey, a small, cheap incentive can go a long way toward getting reps more engaged in the content development process.
  • Get leadership involved. See if sales managers might be willing to call out the leaders in their weekly team meetings (or better yet, invite you to the meeting to read off and praise the leaders).

The goal should be to get your reps to feel pumped up about making contributions (like Tom here), instead of it feeling like a chore.

#3. Offer to Ghostwrite Ideas They Suggest Under Their Name

Of course, you can’t always rely on pizza parties and leaderboards to get your reps involved.

It’s a good way to jumpstart their engagement, but I’m sure you’ll agree that a long-term strategy for their contribution to content development needs to offer a bit more.

And what better incentive than something reps can actually impact their ability to close more deals?

That’s exactly what ghostwriting posts offers.

Reps can have content created in their name, which undoubtedly boosts their credibility and builds trust with customers.

And you get a constant flow of new ideas contributed by people with a true pulse on the needs of your target audience.

#4. Spend Time on the Sales Floor to Pick Up New Ideas

Look, the sad truth is, sometimes you can do everything right and still your reps won’t cooperate.

It’s incredibly frustrating, but remember: they’re on a quota and time is money.

But even when salespeople fail to actively contribute to content development, there’s a way you can get their ideas:

And that’s to set up shop on the sales floor and just listen to your reps on the phone.

You probably know this: every salesperson has a particular “pitch” or way they talk about your company’s product or solution.

And by listening to those pitches, you may find yourself inspired with ideas for content that would support reps in closing deals.

For example, you might hear one sales rep say that your solution has more daily-active-users (DAU) than any of your competitors.

And as a follow-up to support that argument, you create a chart or graph that actually displays your company’s DAU compared with the competition.

Ultimately, this is the best way to get ideas from sales when the reps are too busy (or otherwise unwilling) to actively contribute.

But, there’s another way sales can get involved with content development without actually suggesting ideas themselves:

#5. Ask Sales to Put You in Contact with Their Best Clients

Any sales rep with tell you that they always have a small group of clients that make up their best relationships.

And reps are always on the hunt for new, interesting ways to strengthen those relationships.

So, once again, here’s a situation where you can help your sales partners while also benefiting yourself:

Ask reps to give you 10 minutes on a call the next time they connect with those clients.

I’ll admit, it’s not immediately obvious how that benefits the salesperson, but think about it:

Salespeople can position the call as an exclusive opportunity reserved for top clients to have a direct influence on the future of your company’s content.

It’s really a win-win-win scenario:

Reps benefit from the opportunity to provide “white-glove treatment” at a low cost.

Customers benefit from the opportunity to see the content they most desire come to life.

And of course, you gain critical insight into the content your target audience would like to see from your company.

It’s an easy way to bring sales and marketing together to achieve your individual goals while also helping each other succeed.

But Whatever You Do, Don’t Do This…

Those five strategies are a great launch pad to getting your reps contributing to content development.

But there’s definitely one thing you need to be careful to avoid:

Whatever you do, don’t go above your sales reps’ heads and talk to leadership about ideas.

That’s because if leadership comes down on the reps for not contributing, it might seriously damage your relationship with the sales team.

And besides, you don’t need that now.

These 5 strategies are a sure-fire way to spark engagement with your sales team and get their valuable contributions to your content.

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