Sales and Marketing are both fundamental components of a thriving organization. Their co-existence should be a harmonious and symbiotic relationship. Yet all too often these two departments are at odds with each other, and ready to do battle over why leads aren’t closing, or sales goals aren’t being met.
More than likely, Sales will criticize the marketing content for being off-target, and Marketing will blame the sales reps for being lazy and unmotivated. But what if Sales is right, and the marketing content is the problem? What can a supportive marketer do to be proactive and helpful and restore the alliance between the two factions?
In the eyes of a sales professional, the job of Marketing is to create an offer so clever and tantalizing that any prospect will immediately rush to the phone and close the deal within seconds. Whenever
Marketing produces content to address the earlier stages of the buyer journey, Sales may push back, and ask where the “Talk to An Agent” button is, and why it’s not big, bold, red, and pulsating. But by providing marketing content of value, from the very beginning, you’re actually doing Sales a favor by:
- Qualifying leads by their level of engagement
- Segmenting leads by the types of content they engage with
- Addressing common objections
- Preemptively answering questions that would otherwise slow down the sales cycle
Even if Marketing provides Sales with pertinent marketing content for the buyers' journey, according to HubSpot, only 20% of sales teams actually use content proactively, to engage and nurture prospects and clients.
For marketers, whose job it is to create said content, this is a frustrating statistic. But what if the content was even more relevant to the sales process - would it be used more?
Let’s talk about five ways to support your sales team with marketing content:
1. Add CTAs
Let’s say you just created the perfect blog article - SEO optimized, attention-grabbing, and, all around, an exciting topic that makes your company sound like the amazing industry experts you are. If you publish it and call it a day, you are missing an opportunity to keep your audience engaged, and to guide them through the buyer's journey.
Touch-points like this perfect blog post create the ideal opportunity for calls-to-action (CTAs) that provide further value and help your prospects become more informed. They also position your company as a trusted resource, not just a sales machine.
Would the reader be intrigued by expanded PDF version? Could a comparison guide be of interest? Can how-to guides be of use? A well-placed CTA can be a quick win and can start the pathway towards a helpful and productive sales conversation.
2. Collaborate with Sales
Content marketers are fixated on page views, clicks, and conversions. Sales reps are driven by deals, revenue, and sales commissions. The end goal for the business is the same but unless the two sides work together on the content strategy, there will always be a contentious relationship.
It’s time for Marketing to cross the room, extend the olive branch, and collaborate. This can be done by:
- Asking the reps what their sales goals are
- Talking about the barriers they are facing in achieving these targets
- Exchanging anecdotes and success stories
- Defining the marketing-sales handoff
- Creating shared KPIs
By engaging with all relevant members of your sales team (not just the sales leader), you will begin to create a unified marketing and sales process between Marketing and Sales and to identify gaps in the sales process.
These gaps are your indicators of where marketing content is needed, for education and nurturing, and where it will be most impactful for the business. By making Sales collaborate with the content marketers, and by incorporating their insight, the resulting content will be purposeful, and much more likely to be used throughout the sales cycle.
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3. Follow the Leads
If Marketing consistently drives leads, but they are not qualified, the trust between Sales and Marketing will start to break down. So as a marketer, unless you follow the leads, you are marketing in a vacuum. You can remedy this by creating workflows in HubSpot to share content with your leads that will be helpful and informative to them.
For example, if a prospective customer downloads a case study, they may be likely to enjoy a webinar on a similar topic, and then connect with a sales rep to discuss their specific use case. But if the prospect downloads the case study only, they may be far less ready to jump into the sales conversation.
By monitoring the types of content your leads engage with, A/B testing, and iterating over time, you will be able to provide your sales team with a flow of qualified leads. Sales may find that fewer leads are coming in, but they are more actively engaged, and closer to the decision making process, resulting in a much higher close rate.
4. Make Marketing Content Easily Accessible to Sales
When Sales goes rogue and distributes self-produced content that is factually inaccurate, low in quality, or contradictory to the goals of the organization, it can be a marketer’s nightmare. So it is Marketing’s responsibility to ensure that the content produced is easily accessible to the sales team.
One way to accomplish this is to build a sequence in HubSpot, which sends out a series of targeted emails that are designed to nurture a prospect over time. This nurturing content not only creates consistency across the sales process, but it also re-engages prospects and enables sales reps to be helpful collaborators in the purchase decision.
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5. Play Off the Strengths of Your Sales Team
With the right marketing mindset, everything is an opportunity. Because you have collaborated with the sales team, and you understand them better, you can now play off their strengths in your content marketing.
If there is a sales team member who is extremely articulate and charismatic, put him on camera, and include a “get to know me” video in his introductory email to sales prospects. If another rep connects much better in person than on the phone, why force him/her to take calls all day? Instead, create a landing page to arrange for coffee meet-ups.
As much as we want to unify the sales process, and create consistency around a framework, it can also become too rigid and regimented to be effective. Let your content marketing evolve, with room to experiment, and be adaptive to the strengths of the team.
The alliance between Marketing and Sales may not happen overnight. It will likely take time for Marketing to properly support Sales with content that is specific and relevant to the sales process, closes all the gaps, and speeds up the sales cycle. But it is well worth the investment to build a strong marketing content strategy, and to invite Sales to be active participants and collaborators in the process.
Let’s make this the year that Sales and Marketing get together, reach across the aisle, and start supporting each other. After all, if The Smashing Pumpkins can get together this year and tour amicably, perhaps there’s hope for Sales and Marketing after all.