How Content Marketing is Changing Marketing-Sales Alignment / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Great content can be the glue that unites sales and marketing efforts for improved results. Here's why—and how to bring the teams together.

Sales reps are often disconnected from marketing processes, only working with leads when they’re qualified and passed over from the marketing team.

Too frequently, that means that sales representatives have little to no input in content marketing.

Instead, marketing teams prepare the content that they know will attract leads.

The content progressively leads them through the sales funnel to the point of sales-readiness, and then their job is done.

Related Article: Shortening the Sales Cycle Through Content Marketing

The Reality: Sales-Marketing Alignment is Critical for Content Marketing Success

The reality, however, is that marketing and sales teams should work in close alignment on content initiatives, with marketing teams seeking input from sales reps on the common challenges and objections they face when trying to close deals.

This disconnect often means that while marketing is devoting ample resources to content creation and marketing, sales teams are left to fend for themselves, leaving between 60 and 70 percent of sales content unused and spending their time creating their own sales assets that adequately address their prospects’ objections.

This is, of course, incredibly inefficient. Not only are resources wasted producing sales content that doesn’t meet the needs of your sales team, but your marketing team is missing out on a valuable source of expertise when it comes to creating marketing content. When sales and marketing collaborate, marketing can produce more effective, comprehensive content assets that address common objections before leads are even qualified and passed to sales.

Bringing Sales and Marketing Together on Content Initiatives

One of the most effective practices that brings marketing and sales teams together is the creation of buyer personas. If you’re like most companies, your buyer personas are not fixed, static profiles, but they’re constantly changing as markets change and consumer demands shift. The pain points that exist today may be irrelevant to most prospects tomorrow.

It’s the sales team that’s interfacing directly with prospects day in and day out, making sales an essential resource for marketing in the creation of buyer personas. Buyer personas, in turn, serve as the foundation for creating both marketing and sales content that addresses key pain points and objectives.

Sales Reps are Too Busy to Focus on Content Creation: Alignment is Key

Sales reps today are spending 10 to 20 hours per week on unproductive tasks such as updating CRM systems, navigating multiple platforms such as email and knowledge repositories, and building presentations. In fact, the process of searching for data, compiling, and finalizing presentations is the single biggest time suck for sales representatives today.

What’s more, they often end up re-creating slides and presentations that already exist – simply because it seems more efficient to start from scratch than spend hours tracking down someone from marketing who can locate it or searching through dozens of content repositories to find it themselves.

The point is that sales reps need to be spending their time doing what they do best: selling. Sales reps aren’t content creators, nor are they marketers, but they can provide valuable insights to help marketers create more effective content that powers sales enablement.

Content is the Sales Enablement Fuel

In 2012, CEB, in partnership with Google, found that buyers were navigating about 57 percent of the buying process on their own before ever engaging a sales rep. But the SiriusDecisions 2015 B-to-B Buyer Study finds that B2B buyers are actually engaging with sales representatives at every stage of the buying journey.

To keep prospects in the sales funnel, content must be highly targeted and relevant, not only to buyer personas but to the specific stages in the buyer’s journey. Having valuable content assets that gradually nurture prospects to the point of sales-readiness enables sales professionals to take on a role of strategic partner, providing valuable assets and information to help buyers through the decision-making process at every touch point.

The common objections your sales reps face when prospects are passed over to sales can reveal content gaps that are failing to adequately address these concerns earlier in the buying process. What’s more, your sales reps may be making use of content assets marketing has created for them with the benefit of seeing how it resonates with prospects. Is your sales collateral effective for overcoming objections? Does it adequately address the pain points specific to this type of prospect? Which questions frequently arise after prospects consume brand content?

Related Article: From Hello to Close: How Content Marketing Is The Salesman Evolved

Content is the glue that holds it all together. Sales needs valuable, compelling content to help them do their jobs (and save those 10-20 hours every week they’d otherwise be spending creating their own content), but sales also holds the key to the buyer insights that will drive the creation of highly relevant, engaging content.

This mutual dependency demands effective collaboration and ongoing feedback between marketing and sales. When your sales and marketing teams are in alignment, marketing creates more valuable content that attracts leads, converts prospects, and saves your sales reps valuable time. In turn, marketing passes on more qualified prospects to sales – prospects who are closer to the point of purchase than ever before – enabling sales to do the job they’re meant to do: close deals.

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