You chose a topic. You did the research. You found lots of valuable data points to support your arguments. And ultimately, you wasted a lot of time and energy writing a piece that the sales team just won’t use. What gives?
Sales and marketing misalignment is an age-old conflict, and it often results in frustration and stress for both sides. But it doesn’t have to. Here are some tricks to improve the sales and content marketing relationship and motivate reps to use your content.
1. Align with sales leadership
In a typical day, sales reps make countless cold calls, send out dozens of emails, and engage in (hopefully) a few demos. As a result, reps don’t have a lot of extra time to think about content—particularly if they don’t see the content as valuable during the sales process.
This is where buy-in from sales leadership becomes critical. If sales leadership understands the value that content can deliver, they will promote its usage with their team. As a result, reps not only become aware of the content’s existence, but are highly motivated to use it.
2. Prove your content’s value
Before you can get buy-in from sales management, you’ll need to find ways to prove your content’s value. If you’re measuring your content’s ROI and conversion rates, you should be able to offer clear evidence of how your content is impacting the bottom line—so share this insight with your sales managers.
In the end, it’s up to the sales rep to use your content, so make sure to demonstrate your content’s impact on winning over prospects and even accelerating the sales cycle. For instance, by sharing quality content on their social accounts and leveraging it in their conversations with prospects, sales reps can present themselves as thought leaders—and actually increase buyers’ willingness to engage with them. And more engagement equals more opportunity to close deals.
3. Open up lines of communication
Just as your sales team is unlikely to use content they don’t find effective in moving prospects toward a sale, they’re definitely not going to use content they don’t know exists. Make it a priority to communicate to the sales team every time you produce a new content asset. Include a quick summary of the topic as well as a few helpful tips for when to use the content in the sales cycle and what personas or verticals it’s relevant to.
4. Collect feedback regularly
Of course, communication between sales and marketing needs to go both ways. Your sales reps play an important role in leveraging marketing content and distributing it to prospects from the front line, so getting their feedback is critical.
Try sending over a straight-forward survey every few months to collect some anecdotal evidence on how your content is performing from the sales perspective.
Here are some prompts to consider using:
- Which content pieces do you find most valuable?
- What do you think makes a content piece valuable?
- How often are you using the content?
- Where are you using the content?
- What content do you feel you’re missing?
To improve the response rate, have a sales leader send an email with the link to take the survey. You can also add an incentive, such as a $25 gift card to the first 15 respondents, to drive further participation.
Make sure someone on your team has the bandwidth to review the survey responses thoroughly and incorporate some of the feedback into your content plans. And keep the sales team in the loop. I’d recommend following up with a summary of the survey results and a glimpse at your updated plans. Show them your team is fully committed to supporting their efforts, and keep in mind that ignoring the responses may sour reps on voicing their opinions in the future.
5. Supply the right content
Anything that can help your sales team win business should be in their content toolkit. Typically, this will include a variety of assets for each stage of the sales funnel: thought leadership blog posts, webinars, product overview videos, case studies, white papers, and so on.
Following your outreach to sales, you should have a better understanding of what content is most valuable to your sales team, and what assets they could use but are currently missing. If prospects aren’t responsive to your eGuides, but the sales team reports they’re going wild for infographics, then create more of the latter. And going beyond the asset types, you should also make sure you’re addressing the right topics. Ask your sales team what questions or objections they commonly get, and then create content around those topics.
6. Make the content easily digestible
Reading is a task. B2B buyers and sales reps alike want content that’s concise and showcases the key benefits of using your products and services from the outset. With shorter attention spans, this is becoming increasingly critical, as an additional 46% of B2B buyers in the past year claim to favor consuming shorter content.
Instead of focusing on comprehensive content that can take a while to produce and for readers to consume, develop shorter content that reflects a deeper understanding of the demands and challenges your prospects face. With this additional insight, you have a greater likelihood of creating content that resonates with both your sales reps and target buyers.
7. Use voice-of-the-customer data points
All of the claims that a sales rep wants to make about their product or service ultimately carry little weight, and they know it (or will soon find out). A recent survey found only 3% of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy—ouch!
The best way to get around this? Provide prospects with relevant customer stories. If your prospects can see similar companies overcoming challenges that they’re also looking to tackle, the business case for your solution becomes all the more compelling. This is becoming increasingly pertinent as 75% of B2B buyers in 2017 are placing an even greater emphasis on the trustworthiness of a content’s source compared to last year.
Case studies, testimonials, and customer stories sprinkled throughout client-facing sales decks are all super useful tools for your sales reps to capture a prospect’s attention, offer compelling proof points, and convert prospects into clients.
Staying aligned is an ongoing venture
As a marketer, it can be difficult and frustrating to align your efforts with sales’. After all, the sales reps ultimately decide whether they want to use the content and how they use it. To put yourself in the best position possible, ensure that sales leadership is promoting your efforts and that your content is concise, incorporates the reps’ feedback, and leverages customer proof points to earn your prospects’ trust. These strategies not only improve adoption from your team but also yield more effective content that resonates with your target audience.
Has your marketing team been able to improve sales’ engagement with your content? Comment below to let us know what’s worked!