Let’s not sugar coat things. Your sales team hates your content. They don’t think it generates enough high-quality leads. They don’t feel you know the audience as well as they do. And even when you do produce content that sales would love, they don’t know it exists or they can’t find it.
Yes, there are different goals and purposes at play here. Marketing’s goal is usually centered around generating more traffic. Sales’ goal is to close more deals. But these objectives overlap and marketing can indeed make some positive changes to launch their sales team into new levels of success.
Here are a few things your marketing department can do to make sales love your content:
1. Listen and Learn
The first step toward creating content your sales team will love is to meet with them and listen. They’ve got insights to contribute and you’re hungry for valuable knowledge from the front lines. So, get together and pave the way for real sales magic to happen!
Establish marketing-sales discovery meetings. Discovery meetings enable you to hear constructive complaints and challenges from your sales team. It also gives sales the chance to offer new ideas and ask questions.
In your meetings, you’ll want to find out your sales team’s perspective on the sales funnel. Do the marketing and sales teams even share the same picture of that funnel? Try to find out what kind of questions leads are asking at each step in the process. Where are the biggest points of friction?
Also, uncover your sales team’s view of what constitutes a “good lead.” Everyone should agree on good marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads. Ask questions like:
- Are our buyer personas well-defined
- What kind of leads are desirable and have been shown to convert recently
- What kind of leads has marketing been generating but have tended not to convert
- What does marketing need to do to improve this
Once everyone agrees, a lead-scoring system can be developed by both marketing and sales.
Listen in on sales calls. This is where the rubber meets the road. Ask if your sales team is willing to let you sit in on some live sales calls. Hear real conversations between salespeople and prospects and all the real-world sales challenges that come with such calls. This opportunity could be just as beneficial (if not more so) than your discovery meetings.
2. Optimize Your Content for Sales Enablement
Now that you’ve held discovery meetings with your sales team, you’ve gained enough knowledge to arm them with content they’ll love. Keep three guidelines in mind when firing up your content machine for sales enablement:
Stay solution-focused. You’ll be tempted to use every piece of content to push your products and services. Resist this temptation.
While it’s sometimes appropriate to create product-centered content (sell sheets, for example) you should also provide your sales team with material that adds real value and focuses on the prospect’s challenges. In your content, show prospects how to solve problems. Give them practical advice and new ideas that help them achieve their business goals.
When you’ve presented advice and solutions, show how your product helps achieve these solutions – but do this subtly and delicately. Leave it to your sales team to strike when the iron’s hot and bring out the appropriate sell-sheets.
Personalize. Some marketing departments create unique and personalized content for each company they target (a practice common in account-based marketing). Even if your marketing team doesn’t have that luxury, you should still personalize your content.
Gear each piece of content to specific buyer personas. Also, create content templates for your sales team to edit and customize for different prospects. Personalization helps your sales team stay sharp and relevant, so this step is vital.
Create content for every stage of the sales funnel. There’s a lot of content out there that addresses prospects at the top of the funnel. Smart marketers help their sales team nudge their prospects all the way through the funnel and into a buying decision.
Hopefully, your discovery meetings have resulted in a roadmap of the sales process. This means you can create content for every step of the process. What kinds of objections and questions are being raised throughout each stage? Address these questions in your content.
3. Transform Sales Reps into Sought-After Leaders
Prospects don’t generally get a thrill out of speaking with a mere “sales rep.” Reps are commonplace and every company employs them. Industry experts and thought leaders, on the other hand, are a different story. People look up to thought leaders because they’re hard to find and they offer significant value.
Once you’ve optimized your content for sales enablement, help your salespeople use it to gain reputations as leaders to look up to.
Centralize your content for repurposing. Smart marketing departments have a content library that’s easy for their sales team to access. A centralized, cloud-based repository will help your salespeople call up any piece of content that suits their needs and customize it for any unique situation.
As prospects notice your salespeople posting exactly the right kind of content online or presenting precisely what’s needed during every meeting, they’ll quickly start viewing your team as valuable industry authorities.
Offer training for online engagement. Sometimes, even the most skilled sales pros aren’t so proficient on social platforms. Offer training to help them use your content to engage their prospects online.
Blogging can be particularly valuable for salespeople to gain reputations as thought leaders. Consider training your sales team to organize content for how-to posts or gathering bits of content that answer common objections or questions. They could also benefit from training on how to promote their blog posts using relevant social platforms.
Further, help your sales team become proficient at sparking conversations on Twitter and LinkedIn, answering questions on Quora and using YouTube for vlogging and developing their personal brands.
4. Keep Salespeople Up-to-Date with Content Digests
Sales sometimes hates marketing’s content because they’re looking at the wrong content. As mentioned earlier, a centralized content library is one way to put the right content at your sales team’s fingertips. But to go one step further, it’s helpful to regularly alert salespeople to the latest content being produced. Weekly or monthly content digests are the perfect vehicles to keep sales informed.
In your content-digest emails, round up the latest posts and content, as well as:
- Summaries of main ideas, talking points and key takeaways
- The types of prospects who will benefit from each new piece of content (including where they’d be in the sales funnel)
- Products or features discussed in the new content
- Ideas about where to share the content online
When your sales team is informed of the latest and greatest content, they’ll waste less time stumbling for relevant pieces.
5. Help Your Sales Team Keep Customers Loyal
Even after deals are closed, your sales team needs help maintaining client relationships. Keeping customers loyal for life is hard work, but sales will love you for it.
Continue offering free and valuable content day after day, year after year. Such content could include:
- Tips and tricks regarding your products
- How-to videos peppered with humor and entertainment
- Fresh perspectives on industry news and trends
- Relevant content curation that keeps customers informed
The goal is to get creative and supply content your competitors aren’t offering.
Nurturing relationships with valuable content brings another added bonus. Some of your customers will turn into raving fans and brand evangelists. The best-case scenario you’re after is that your customers won’t leave you for a competitor, and they’ll speak highly about your company, leading to further sales.
Are you Ready to Create New Synergy with Your Sales Team?
Working with sales to form new content approaches can skyrocket revenue in bold new ways. A few fundamental ingredients are needed to make positive changes.
Humility. Keep in mind that your ideas aren’t the only good ones. Don’t be married to your creative work. If a different idea could work better, be willing to abandon your original thoughts and direction.
Communication. Make this a mindset. Always be ready to share thoughts and listen for new ideas.
Solidarity. Marketing and sales are in this together. You both serve the same company and you both strive for its growth and financial wellbeing.
Armed with these mindsets and the tactics outlined above, you can create highly-profitable content that your sales team will love.