You’ve painstakingly created content backed by research and strategy. But chances are that 60-70% of it will never be used by sales, according to Sirius Decisions. Sales and marketing alignment seems a far-off dream.
You’re not alone. Sadly, only 46% of B2B marketers would say that their sales and marketing team are highly aligned (CMI and LinkedIn 2018 research study). Which means they’re missing out on 32% higher revenue and 38% higher win rates, according to the Aberdeen Group.
There could be multiple reasons content isn't used. If content is created in a vacuum without insights from sales, or other customer facing areas/ people within the business, it could be that it isn't what buyers are interested in - in which case why would sales want to share it with prospects? It could be as simple as sales people didn't know it existed. In most cases lack of alignment and communication between teams is probably at the root of the issue.
It’s time to talk about collaborating on content.
Sales And Marketing Alignment Starts With Your Buyer Personas
Your buyer personas form the foundation of what your content marketing strategy should look like. Yet in organisations when sales and marketing are not properly aligned, only 15% of companies collaborate on buyer personas. Contrast with this highly aligned companies, where 58% collaborate on buyer personas, according to CMI and LinkedIn research.
HubSpot provide an excellent template for building buyer persona's and this process can and should involve insights from all across the business. Marketing can provide research-backed insights and a framework of what goes into a buyer persona, whilst sales’ customer-facing insights are invaluable. The result is a much more refined and accurate buyer persona.
Discuss And Agree Your Content Marketing Strategy
Marketing understand how to match content to the buying cycle and will be up-to-speed with what type of content and format is working best now. But sales can also offer valuable insights.
Sales probably already use internal, non-marketing content and external sources to become a trusted advisor and close sales effectively. They’re also likely to know exactly where the content gaps existing throughout the buying cycle - whether that be a case study, demo tool or even help with LinkedIn InMails.
The most relevant content for your buyers and prospective buyers will come from a collaborative approach to your content strategy.
Voice Of Customer Data
The most compelling content speaks in the words of your prospects and customers. We all know it’s not just what you say, but how you say it! It can help with everything from homepages and sales/ landing pages to emails and social posts.
This is where sales and marketing alignment really can shine.
Marketing can review sources such as online forums, testimonials, tweets, LinkedIn posts and more to see how your prospects describe their pains and you/your competitors’ products/services.
Sales can help them even further, as they sit on a goldmine of useful data. They can recommend clients to interview and identify useful sales calls to listen to.
All of these can provide a bank of swipeable key words and phrases to help improve everyone’s conversion rates.
Make It Easy To Share And Suggest Content
As content marketers, we can moan that sales teams are ignoring 60-70% of our content, but the research suggests they don’t know where to find it. Or maybe they haven’t had sufficient training in how and when to use content effectively in social selling.
For social selling, it’s more important than ever that people establish their own professional brand online. It creates a much more authentic experience when experts and even regular employees create and share their own content.
Yet sometimes sales teams feel stuck. This is where employee advocacy tools can help. Marketing can curate and feed in their own content and external content, along with suggested messages, which sales can then tweak and reshare.
Many tools have approval processes in place so that any adapted or new posts then pass an approval process. Most also allow employees to submit and share their own content, enabling marketing to see what topics they believe are important.
Arrange Weekly Joint Meetings And Reviews
Most sales and content marketing teams will have regular meetings to assess targets, review what’s working (and not) and discuss ideas to improve results. Imagine how much more productive it would be if these meetings took place together?
Marketing would be aware of barriers to sales, trends customers are discussing NOW and how sales are overcoming it. As well as anecdotes that inject storytelling into content. If sales are using the content effectively, they can provide further insight into what content works.
Meanwhile sales can be kept up-to-date with what the most popular content is, which clients have been viewing high-value pages on the site, and both can share any new invaluable research or tools they’ve come across.