There’s an old problem in sales and marketing that still needs fixing, even to this day.

The marketing team produces content — such as sales presentations, brochures, white papers, and one-pagers — and the sales team has no idea they exist. Then, the salespeople alter documents to fit their needs and the marketing team doesn’t know about it.

Worse still, salespeople have no idea what content marketers have sent to prospects, and how well they engaged with it. And while a CRM solution is supposed to help solve the problem, it doesn’t always provide the information both departments need.

Highspot is looking at these problems in a different way, and today it is announcing a major new machine learning solution that is, according to the company, an industry first: Content Genomics.

Before we get into what that means and how it works, I’ll explain what Highspot does.

Highspot understands what prospects and customers are looking at, to a high level of detail. It understands what areas of a sales or marketing document, webpage, or presentation a reader is lingering on, and where they are leaving it behind.

But more than that, Highspot provides a full internal search engine for all sales and marketing content produced by a company. It creates a search engine for easy access to the right tools, and goes as far as to suggest content based on that search. The solution also allows for live presentation of materials via email, phone, and screen-sharing, and provides feedback metrics on those interactions.

With Salesforce integration, and connectors for, WebEx, and GoToMeeting, as well as Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, the original Highspot application is helping to bridge that gap between sales and marketing departments.

While those features are impressive, and particularly useful to B2B organizations and those that have consultative sales processes, there is one big issue left to solve.

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Companies, by and large, struggle to measure the effectiveness of content throughout the sales cycle.

Launched today, Content Genomics tracks the “DNA” of content as it evolves across an organization.

Content Genomics Enables Holistic Content Performance Analytics

Content Genomics uses machine learning to analyze content and track how it evolves as it moves from marketing to sales to the customer. By the time a sales presentation reaches the customer, it typically contains many modifications and slides that have been remixed from other sources.

“Based on our analysis of customer data, we’ve found that 80% of marketing and sales presentations are modified and remixed before they are delivered to the customer,” Robert Wahbe, cofounder and CEO of Highspot, told me via email. “Marketing teams create an arsenal of content, but when it changes in the field, they lose all visibility into its performance. They can’t see who is using it, how it is resonating with the customer, and how effectively it is helping to convert more sales. Content Genomics lets marketing and sales find out which content is performing well and what is falling flat.”

So what does Content Genomics offer that Highspot didn’t already provide?

“Let’s take a simple example where a marketer is trying to understand which slides are the most effective with prospective customers, for example, which slides do customers spend the most time reviewing,” Wahbe said. “Other than presentations using the original, unmodified file, all other uses of the various slides are invisible to the system. If a particular slide is used in 1000 sales presentations, Content Genomics understands this is the same slide; without Content Genomics it looks like 1000 distinct (and unrelated) slides. Understanding all the ways a slide or piece of content is used lets Content Genomics provide accurate analytics for content usage and content performance.”

Beyond analytics, Content Genomics also provides a way for marketing to see how sales is adapting content to both monitor and learn from the sales team. An accurate picture of how content is being used also improves other core features such as search, recommendations, and content scoring.

In many respects, Content Genomics is helping to “internally split-test” the content available to both sales and marketing.

“It is almost like testing real-time content performance, but it is fully automated,” Wahbe said. “Sales teams are constantly customizing content and figuring out what works in the field, but there is a disconnect when it comes to giving solid feedback to marketing. Content Genomics is analyzing in real time what sales is doing, and since everyone has insight into what works it makes everyone more efficient. Marketers can pinpoint how content has performed and ask targeted questions, and can also eliminate content that is not working, rather than waste time just trying to figure out what happened with the content.”

With this new addition, Highspot provide an intelligent content management system that delivers the most relevant content to the sales team, and powerful analytics for both sales and marketing teams. Effectively, it is taking machine learning and data science — two of the most cutting edge practices — and applying them to the oldest of professions.