Let us paint you a picture: revenue is down this quarter, and sales and marketing teams are siloed but they’ve been brought together to try to figure out where things have gone wrong. Marketing is arguing that they’ve provided plenty of leads and that the sales team just can’t close any deals, while the sales team is arguing that marketing provides leads but are not quality leads and they aren’t sure what marketing is doing, but they are attracting the wrong people via the wrong methods. Sounds messy, right?
Let’s get one thing straight, neither team knows what the other does. They are in their own separate worlds and completely oblivious to the fact that they are working towards one common goal: REVENUE! This friction and silo can come from several different sources including lack of communication, lack of understanding, lack of collaboration, lack of structure, or a lack of common goals beyond the general revenue figure. This is a common occurrence and can lead to steam coming out of the ears of everyone involved.
When your sales and marketing teams begin communicating and interacting with each other, you can create some serious magic. But what’s really cool is when marketing truly starts empowering sales through content marketing. Sure, this boosts revenue, but it can do so much more than that. Think lead-generating content, content that can be used throughout the sales process, content that the sales team actually needs and wants, and content that speaks to your buyers and their stage in their buyer’s journey. But how can you get there? Keep reading for our best advice.
Marketing Has to Start Listening to What Sales Has to Say
No, this doesn’t mean taking orders or having sales dictate what marketing does, but it does mean listening to their challenges and needs and acting on those! As a marketing agency, we know fully that sometimes marketing teams think they know what’s best, but that tends to close off conversations that lead to collaboration.
Conversations need to happen with sales, and they need to be structured in a way that sales can voice where they’re encountering challenges, what they need in terms of support from marketing, and the trends they see in lead quality. Not only does this give you insight into how your efforts are directly impacting sales, but it might allow you to infer from context clues what content is bringing in the best quality of leads and where the efforts aren’t producing the best results and could use a new pair of eyes. And don’t let what sales is saying go in one ear and out the other! Their input comes from real-life conversations they have with your customers and prospects that can make a big impact on your content strategy and your marketing strategy as a whole.
Hold a Regular Meeting With Both Teams
It is beyond critical in your marketing efforts to regularly connect the marketing and sales teams. Does this require the entirety of both teams to attend? No, but having a couple of brains from each side will go a long way.
ESSENTIAL TACTIC: Not only will having regular, cross-deparment meetings get you into a cadence of connecting and collaborating, but it will allow you to discuss the exact support that is needed from marketing.
These meetings should provide a setting where both teams are proactive and less reactive by speaking about what is needed and when it can be expected. Even though sales teams aren’t always fully aware of the entire content process from start to finish, or the research that is typically done in preparing a content plan, they can provide topics, ideas, or even formats of the kind of content that they feel will provide the best value for prospects and help them the most in nurturing leads.
Break Down the Buyer's Journey and Buyer Personas
If you are not a salesperson, likely, you do not know the entirety of the buyer’s journey that your sales team goes through with the majority of the prospects they receive. When you partner up with sales to truly break apart the buyer’s journey with sales, you have the opportunity to find what we like to call “golden nuggets”, or bits of information that are often overlooked but make such a huge impact on how you see the full journey from lead to customer. This could be as simple as touchpoints, pain points, preferred channels of communication, or preferred content types.
If you aren’t paying attention to how your ideal leads prefer to communicate, you’re likely going to miss the mark. With a solidified understanding of the customer journey on both sides, you will be able to quickly elevate your content to better serve your audience by identifying gaps where prospects can fall off the radar. And as a bonus, you’ll be able to view your content and marketing strategies holistically so you can ensure every step in the buyer’s journey is covered.
Let’s not forget the importance of buyer personas either! Your sales team is directly communicating with your ideal buyers and will be able to identify key characteristics that are commonly seen across the board for your personas. Your sales team can likely identify common challenges, common needs, where they find information, and many other points that will be important to you in determining the kinds of content you will produce.
Keep Sales in the Loop
Your sales team cannot be supported by content marketing if they do not know the kinds of content you’ve already produced and will shortly publish. Including a regular email to your sales team when you’re getting ready to publish or refresh content is just a simple way to make sure they know what’s happening and the resources available to them to use. How upset would you be if you had been waiting on a particular new website module from your dev team, only to find out it had been ready and live for weeks without letting you know? That would be frustrating, and sales will likely feel the same way if you don’t regularly update them on what is coming out.
How You Can Provide Extra Value to Your Sales Team
If you’re like us, you’ve got a huge library of content that spans back years. No one person can know every piece of content and a brief synopsis of each asset. It’s impossible. But you likely have a glossary that breaks down all of your content assets, the industries or pain points they’re positioned towards, and perhaps a quick summary of what the content includes. Sharing this with your sales team will make a world of difference and save them many hours in their hunt for the perfect resource for a prospect. Not to mention, marketing automation can also be sales automation if you take the extra step to set up a few additional notifications for the sales team.
Additionally, don’t forget that content goes beyond blogs and eBooks. Content expands to emails, nurtures, one-pagers for sales, webinars, conferences, or even presentation decks. By offering to work together on these materials, sales will be able to convey the message they need to while maintaining brand guidelines and messaging that typically takes a back seat. Your area of expertise is to help with content and can be a safety net for identifying gaps or mistakes within these areas that sales usually handles.
Elevate Your Content Strategy
It’s important to remember that you cannot help sales unless you have a structured content strategy. Throwing content out left and right without intention or goals is not the way to talk to your audience or help provide sales with additional leads. Your content strategy will identify the different buyer personas and buyer’s journey stages you will speak to. Not developing a strategy will ensure you run into gaps and missed opportunities.
Content marketing is not an afterthought. It truly is a focused business strategy that requires time and effort.
If you cannot maintain a well-thought-out content strategy, it is unlikely that you will see the success you’re aiming for. And if you’re just dipping your toes into the ocean of content, check out our free content marketing workbook.
Ultimately, your success in supporting sales will come from how well you can align with their team. It’s not easy to start, but once you’re on the same page the relationship will come easily. If you need tips to get started, be sure to watch our webinar on aligning your sales and marketing teams!